Newark’s West Side High School erupts after a popular teacher is fired. Where is Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent? At yet another education conference, this one in San Francisco, extolling the virtues of charter schools.
According to Twitter feeds coming from an individual and a charter school organization, she is in San Francisco at the annual summit of New Schools Venture Fund. She was conducting a seminar about “re-imagining urban school districts.” She was reimagining urban school districts while students at West Side High in her district were locked down and, according to some news reports, sprayed with mace.
Is this why she is paid nearly $300,000 a year by taxpayers from throughout New Jersey? To go to yet another conference?
The state-appointed superintendent of New Jersey’s largest school district just came back from a conference in Arizona where she managed to offend the people of Newark—again—by belittling their concern about her “One Newark” plan and threatening to unleash her brothers on her critics.
And Anderson is scheduled to attend yet another conference in July in Colorado at the Aspen Institute where she will make a presentation about a project she is doing for the institute’s action forum. The project has to do with hiring new leaders for the education reform movement—apparently including the nine assistants who make $175,000, thanks to Cami.
Finally, Anderson went off to this latest conference the day state Sen. Ronald Rice (D-Essex) announced he had to cancel the May 6 hearing of the Joint Committee on Public Schools that he leads. He had to cancel it because, while Anderson has no problem going to California, Arizona, and Colorado, she just can’t seem to make it to Trenton, New Jersey.
Trenton is hardly as nice as San Francisco. Who could blame her?
That was the second time in six weeks that Anderson blew off the joint legislative committee that, under the state takeover law, has responsibility for monitoring the state’s behavior in the takeover districts of Paterson, Jersey City, Newark, and Camden.
Neither Rice nor Anderson gave explanations why she wasn’t coming to the hearing—but the experience probably would not have been pleasant. Rice wanted to investigate her “One Newark” plan and her closeness to the charter schools to which she had sold public property and plans to lease more.
All these junkets while more than a third of the teaching staff faces layoffs. All this traveling in a state facing an $800 million deficit. All this absence from her post when the city is torn apart by her “One Newark” plan and the school budget faces a $40 to $60 million deficit. Did the Newark schools pay for all this traveling? Mark Zuckerberg? The Foundation for Newark’s Future? A contractor? Curious minds want to know.
Seems a bit irresponsible to me. Maybe she’s just bored of all us here down below looking up at the Great Education Reformer.
Hey, I have an idea–why doesn’t she just resign and go on a lecture tour? Maybe write a book?
I called the hotel where the conference was held and neither she nor her partner were registered there. Or, if they were registered, they didn’t book the rooms under their names.
It was a really bad day for her to be out of Newark, given what happened at West Side. I received reports that violence erupted after a popular teacher was fired by the central administration. I also have received reports mace was used. Two New York television channels—ABC and CBS—apparently carried stories, according to reader reports to me.
Someone texted to a reader from inside the building. The reader asked whether he was okay. The response: “Yeah, a teacher (long term sub with no contract) was fired yesterday afternoon. A sub came in (and) kids went a little nuts, spraying a fire extinguisher and roaming halls and messing with property. Some were maced. It settled down by noon but by then the news came and the asst. Superintendent was there as well Mike Dixon.”
Dixon is a vice president of the Newark Teachers Union.
News Channel 12 reported that police were called by security guards. The station also reports that Rashon Hasan, the newly-elected president of the Newark school board, promised to investigate how the students were treated. The television report did not feature Cami Anderson.
She must have been too busy in San Francisco.
Anderson’s speech in San Francisco, according to the Twitter feeds, touched on what she called “educational malpractice” and she reportedly said, “The current system benefits a lot of people–least of all children.”
She also said: “We have a moral obligation to not commit ed malpractice, which is to leave kids in failing schools.”
Is it malpractice to leave a school district torn apart by controversy? A community that, according to a letter signed by 77 members of the clergy, is ripped by a “venomous” anger?
Clearly, this was a pro-charter conference, hardly a surprise. This is how the New Schools Venture Fund, which provides private money to support Anderson’s plans, reported the topic of the session:
“Under the direction of visionary leaders in a growing number of places around the country, charter schools are being brought into the center of reform strategies, not just to provide new options for some students, but to transform an entire public education system, based on a diverse portfolio of autonomous school operators. In this session we’ll talk with state and local leaders about their bold efforts to redesign public school systems using a ‘portfolio approach.’”
Visionary leaders—like Cami Anderson?
Anderson’s “One Newark” plan closes neighborhood schools and “launches” new charter schools. It has badly divided the city. But read the tweets at #NSVFSummit. She may be a no-show here in Newark, but she’s a real hero to the charter school crowd.