Newark school boss Anderson cracks down on critics, suspends five principals in one day

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H. Grady James--too successful?
H. Grady James–too successful?

At Newark’s Hawthorne Avenue School, the test scores are up, higher than state-imposed goals—and certainly better than those of the highly touted “Renew” schools favored by the administration. The hallways are quiet. Teachers and administrators get along. And this was all done despite central office’s stripping away of faculty resources and shameful neglect of the building. So, in the crazy, bullying logic of Gov. Chris Christie’s administration of city schools, it was time to suspend the school’s successful  principal, H. Grady James. He was just too good to be allowed to stay.

Time to suspend him—and to try to smear his reputation by saying he was involved in some sort of “incident” now under  “investigation.”  The “incident” was a community meeting at the Hopewell Baptist Church last Wednesday where he spoke, praising the efforts of his students, teachers and parents.

James was one of five principals indefinitely suspended in one day by Cami Anderson, Christie’s agent in Newark. The others were Tony Motley, Bragaw Avenue School; Dorothy Handfield, Belmont-Runyon School; Deneen Washington, Maple Avenue School, and Lisa Brown, Ivy Hill School.

Dorothy Handfield
Dorothy Handfield

Four of the principals—James, Motley, Handfield, and Washington—had spoken at the community meeting two days earlier. They tried to answer questions from local residents  worried about what would happen to their children as Anderson moves toward a wholesale transfer of public school assets to the KIPP Schools, a charter organization that operates TEAM Academy Charter Schools. Questions Anderson wasn’t answering. See and hear what they said here.

Shortly before noon Friday, the four were ordered to show up at district headquarters at 2 Cedar Street and handed letters by Vanessa Rodriguez, the district’s “chief talent office.”  The letter states:

Tony Motley
Tony Motley

“Please be advised that an investigation has been launched regarding an incident that occurred on or about January 15, 2014. As a result, you have been placed  on suspension effective immediately. You are not to report to any Newark Public School facility until further notice.”

An incident? Since when is an open public meeting an “incident”? An “investigation”? It was videotaped and witnessed by hundreds of people.

The principals were individually called in and ordered to hand over their keys and their email was instantly blocked.  Dennis McKeever, an attorney for the administrators’ union CASA,  was present.

Brown did not speak at the community forum and was not handed the letter received by the others. Sources at CASA say she had other differences with Anderson.  They also said she could not report to 2 Cedar Street yesterday because of an unspecified emergency.

(Update:)  Brown was suspended because she supported the school’s PTSA president, Daryn Martin. Anderson stripped Martin of his office and banned him from setting foot in his children’s school. A security officer handed him the letter banning him as Martin stood on the sidewalk outside the school.

Newark councilman Ras Baraka, a candidate for mayor–and the only candidate who is opposing Anderson’s privatization plans–has called for her immediate resignation. He hosted the community meeting at which the four principals spoke.

Deneen Washington
Deneen Washington

Anderson’s crackdown on criticism of her plans to radically transform the Newark schools was unprecedented. Never in the modern history of the Newark schools—certainly not in the 50 years I have been writing about them—has a school superintendent suspended so many administrators at one time. And never has a central administration resorted to political retribution for dissent so swiftly and so harshly.

But a lot is on the line. Christie’s reputation as a “reformer.”  Anderson’s job. The future of KIPP Schools and the millions it is investing in Newark real estate.

It comes at a critical time for the Christie regime. Bridgegate has tarnished the reputation of the man who has presidential ambitions and the Legislature has begun a massive investigation–a real investigation of a real incident. His office also is under investigation for misusing public money meant for rebuilding parts of New Jersey damaged by Superstorm Sandy. A lawsuit alleging the governor used the state Attorney General’s office to quash indictments against political allies in Hunterdon County is making its way through the courts.

One of the leading candidates for mayor in the city, Ras Baraka, has campaigned against the Anderson plan—and the Legislature is considering a bill that, supporters say, could stop the city from closing schools.

Desperate times at 2 Cedar Street. And, apparently, Anderson believed desperate times called for desperate measures.

TEAM Academy has been amassing tens of millions of dollars—much of it from taxpayer-funded sources like the state Economic Development Authority (EDA)—to buy up and renovate public school buildings as the Christie administration moves to turn much of Newark into a charter school district. It was done in New Orleans and Newark already is well on its way. The EDA is headed by close Christie associate Michele Brown. Until recently, Tim Carden, a former business partner of state Education Commissioner Christopher Cerf, also was a member of the EDA board–and Carden is head of several corporations raising money for TEAM Academy Charter Schools.

The schools represented by the suspended principals are slated to be part of the Anderson/KIPP  scheme, called “One Newark” by Anderson.

James was suspended just hours after hundreds of Hawthorne Avenue parents staged an early morning rally to show support for their school, slated to become part of the charter domination of the city.

“We were shocked to learn Mr. James had been suspended,’’ said Grace Sergio, head of the school’s PTSA. “It’s clearly part of the effort to silence any criticism of the plan to close our school and neighborhood schools throughout the area.’’

The closing down of public schools and the simultaneous opening of charters in their place  is an apparent effort to give TEAM Academy an entire swath of Newark’s South Ward. It will showcase what the privatized regime—with resources denied to the public schools—can do for the city.

Lisa Brown
Lisa Brown

The process already has begun with the so-called “universal application”  that Newark families have been told to fill out to determine which school their children will attend in the fall.

Sergio says parents will refuse to participate in the procedure.

“This is our school, our neighborhood, our community,” she says. “We are staying here.’’

49 comments

  1. USA

    How is a superintendent in a state run district allowed to sell off Newark schools? She’s not because she’s not that smart. but likes media Coverage it gets her. She’s a bully thst’s why she suspended them- doesn’t like when people don’t agree with her. And she can’t debate it because she is a terrible public speaker – her minions always have to get up and answer questions for her. Christie and Cerf are the ones selling the schools for personal gain. Cerf … and Christie’s wife runs hedge funds. Can’t wait to see Cami take the fall for one of them. And she’ll never see it coming.

    Bob Braun: I am not absolutely sure what you said about Cerf is accurate and so I edited your comment to keep us both out of trouble. It is true he owned a consulting firm that worked for the Newark schools and came up with a draft report that is related to “One Newark.” It also is true he and people who run charter schools were once business partners. He also was a trustee for a Newark charter school–as was Cory Booker. If you have evidence for your assertion about ownership of charter schools, I will be the first to print it. Thanks.

  2. kelly tiernan

    First amendment rights? As a former nps employee, I know and have worked with some of the suspended administrators. They always did what was right for the children, going above and beyond. It is a shame.and disservice to every parent,teacher and more importantly everychild what cami Anderson is doing. Maybe Cami Anderson should sit in a class and learn about democracy and the first amendment.

    Bob Braun: I agree with you, but, while I can’t speak for the principals involved, this looks more to me like an act of civil disobedience that they pursued on Rev. Martin Luther King’s Birthday. Bravo to them. Ironically, Anderson held a session with principals in which she had them discuss “Letter from a Birmingham Jail.” Apparently, she needs a refresher course on King’s legacy.

  3. Harriet Knevals

    WTF…and I don’t usually use that word nor am I generally a supporter of Newark principals (except John Moses, Kathy Duke-Jackson, and Ras Baraka), but this action smacks of the atmosphere of retribution that taints anyone appointed or supported by Christie. I know it’s not your thing, but as a teacher who went on strike “back in the day”, it’s time for the entire city of Newark to pull together and stage a massive walkout. I mean everyone should demand that Anderson and all her cronies leave immediately. How dare she? And don’t get me started on Adubato?

    Bob Braun: Who says it’s not my thing? Things change. Thanks for the note.

  4. Becca Field

    I believe Harriet is right. We cannot do what we have been doing – it is not enough. We need to turn the corner to a higher level of protest that will stop this abuse of power.

  5. V Morton

    Thanks for writing about this Bob. Apparently the Star Ledger wants to keep this all a secret. I didn’t see a thing about the rally at Hawthorne Avenue School or the suspensions in today’s paper. I know for a fact that Lisa Brown has the respect of the staff and students at Ivy Hill School. What a shame!

    Bob Braun: The Ledger ran a story about the morning rally at Hawthorne Avenue on its NJ.COM website. I am at a loss to understand why it is ignoring the suspension of five principals. That’s a legitimate news story no matter what side the editorial writer is on. Perhaps something will appear in Sunday’s newspaper.

    • Becca Field

      Dear Mr. Braun, Really you are at a loss why the SL has not covered it yet? You know better than most, I presume, how they work – or their dysfunctional nature. You commented on the endorsement, no doubt with some restraint.

      Mr. Moran is wrestling with his demons perhaps – having to deal with both the GWB scandal of his idol Christie and his biggest hero of education anywhere, Cami Anderson. If the paper covers it, he will spin it, but yes he needs the time until Sunday perhaps. Good spin (or bad spin) takes time.

      Bob Braun: Thank you for your note, Ms. Field. I make a distinction between the news and editorial side of The Star-Ledger. This is a distinction often not understood by those outside the business. The news side still has excellent young reporters with whom it was my privilege to work. The editorial side–well, not so much. When the wall between the two is weakened, then the newspaper loses its credibility. I am hopeful the new education writer Peg McGlone and/or its Newark reporter David Giambusso will do a creditable job reporting about the suspension of five principals in one day. I don’t expect to be disappointed–although I am nervous about the lack of any coverage at all on NJ.COM and Ledger Twitter sites. I guess I should say I hope I wont be disappointed. No matter what you think of the state administration in Newark, this is definitely a news story that should be covered by any credible media outlet.

      • Becca Field

        It is good to see that you have more confidence in the wall between the editorial side and the news side. There have been glimpses of good reporting there still – even investigative – but I find it stays clear of hallowed ground. And Cami walks in Moran’s hallowed ground in my opinion.

        Bob Braun: Yeah, to him, she walks on water.

  6. c.

    When exactly did the parents, community members, students, teachers, voters, taxpayers, citizens, and school administrators lose all their rights to have a say in the public schools their tax dollars pay for?

    • J. Johnston

      the tax dollars that pay for newark schools come from outside newark… less than 10% funding from within the city. why does it cost up to $10,000 more per student in newark? layers of management and waste from the school board and administration.

  7. D nice

    Personally I know for a fact that 2 of the 5 principals are kind of getting what they deserve. I worked with one of them and another colleague worked with another principal. I say that to say this. I was at the meeting and I agree with them wholeheartedly. However maybe this is a wake up call for them to listen to their staff and not penalizing them for speaking the truth. One of the principals the one that I worked with used his personal vendetta and penalized the students. How is that administrator for the kids? That principal will have a rally at 730 on Tuesday morning.

    • jessie pinkman

      First off, Christie and Anderson need to resign.

      Now, for the truth……I know for a fact as well, that one of these principals had it coming. S/he also abused their privileged power base to run off teachers, force others to retire, and had some put in rubber rooms. Reason being: they didn’t jive with his/her views politically.

      Karma does carry some weight.

      No THIS wasn’t fair, but neither was taking advantage of power to make life miserable for teachers who didn’t agree with them.

  8. D nice

    As far as thus takeover goes parents should boycott the applications. This ridiculous public school vs. Charter us ridiculous. Charters get our elite students and leave schools with low achieving students. Charter schools get to pick and choose the students that they want and if they don’t want them they place them back to their feeder schools. It’s funny how these public schools beg for technology and repairs but those Charters get everything from the door? The superintendent needs to answer why is that?

  9. Donald E Rich Jr

    Ok this is starting to become a disturbing issue I was there at the meeting and I applaud the principals for standing up for what they believe and how dare CAMI Anderson suspend them for the right to speak as I thought this is America am I correct and we have that right of freedom to speak… CAMI Anderson is a fraud as we learn from the parents of the Eagle ACADAMY who spoke Wednesday she Is a modern day Hitler that’s trying her best to destroy our city and our youth and yes we want her gone . I believe it’s time for a major boycott of the schools and march on her office and the governor office to show we aren’t taking it anymore and I plea with the charter schools since they claim that they are for our children and what’s best for them and stand beside us with the protest.. I believe if they are with us stand with us and work as one we can have both schools which I believe if we do work as one our children can accomplish more with their education not to try to push the other out

  10. Maria Piacente Galeota

    Interesting isn’t it….the trickle down theory is hard at work here….when the big chief in Trenton is a Bully….all the little chiefs are bigger bullies!!!! Very sad! Hope all the hard working teachers and principals win this one…..for the sake of the children and their parents.

  11. Lisa Rodgers

    Newark — I stand behind you. I may live 50 miles south, but we are doing our best to get the word out. We all need to pick up the phone and call our legislators, CNN, NBC, ABC,CBS news along with the Washington Post, The Star Ledger and DEMAND that they report on this. This is an abuse of power, and an abuse of the first amendment. Time to call the lawyers! Thank you Bob for doing this.. at least someone has the backbone to report on it!

    Bob Braun: Thank you. It is a legitimate news story and I am a little surprised it hasn’t been picked up by mainstream outlets. Not every day five principals are suspended. I have faith The Star-Ledger will get around to it eventually.

  12. Rev. Tony Johnson

    Many on the Left label as “fascist” almost anything authoritarian. Not all forms of authoritarianism are fascist. Not all forms of authoritarianism integrate the state and business corporations. The Christie regime does integrate state and corporation. Therefore, I believe the suspension of the five principals truly earns the often over-used declaration: This is what fascism looks like.

    Bob Braun: Hard to disagree.

  13. Ben ONeal

    Civil Service employees be aware! Anderson has received permission to eliminate your position. Most are Newark residents who will not be able to find employment opportunities.

  14. Tom Stark

    Not a Christi fan but the Dems are also to blamed for the charter schools in Newark. They approved Cerf as Education Commissioner knowing he had ties to the charter schools. I could never under stand that when the Dems say they are Public School supporters.

    Bob Braun: Starts with the man in the White House. How many times has Christie said the President agrees with him on education–and, for once, Christie is right. I think it’s the proximity to the Wall Street bond traders that all successful politicians–except Elizabeth Warren and a few others–have.

  15. Newarkbluesman

    Just read education week mobile version and they have the story and the Jerseyjazzman blog.This is a blunder that Cami could have avoided,I know the details so I can say,very bad legal advice and refuses to listen to those who tell her the truth.Her lack of Newark knowledge is a very serious disability.She is being scapegoated,can not wait for pink hula hoop part 2.That may be the Rubicon

  16. M.

    Cami Anderson’s suspension of the five principals is a clear violation of the First Amendment’s guarantee of freedom of association, and therefore unconstitutional. They are being suspended because they associated at a community meeting with someone who has different political views (about privatization) than Anderson. It would be interesting to know whether the principals brought a lawsuit, because they would probably have a good chance of winning.

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  18. Source1

    Bob, you’re keeping the story alive. Thank you.

    I ask all who read your column to look at the faces of these beautiful people. Young Principals, men and women, who chose to dedicate their lives to children. Young faces, full of hope. Suspended, for what? Public shame, for what?

    We elders out here can’t abandon them during their time of need. We must do our part to keep the story alive. Keep the conversation going….soon or later, someone will surely listen, comprehend the truth, and act in the interest of both the children and the adults who serve them.

    Thanks again Bob…for keeping the story alive…

  19. Bud Freedman

    Bob,
    After just previously sending you a Contact note (about “the old days” – please check it), I had just now subscribed to your website.
    Then, this is the first article I have seen and I am again proud of you for fighting “the good fight”!! Having grown up in the South Ward (Bragaw Ave., Weequahic, and Rutgers Newark), and as a WHS Alumnus (and also as a retired educator), I feel very strongly about maintaining these Newark public schools – as PUBLIC SCHOOLS! Our WHS Alumni are trying to assist those fighting to save these schools.
    These apparently arbitrary suspensions, handled not unlike the Gestapo tactics of the 1930s in Germany, should be vehemently opposed by all the parents of these schools’ students, as well as the entire community of the South Ward — and all of Newark!
    Hopefully, the Legislature will act quickly to preclude such further outrageous acts that appear to have one purpose: to kill public schools in Newark. Please continue to plead the “Common Sense” aspects of informing the public about this very critical matter!! Thank you!!

  20. Rosie

    Cami Anderson needs to be FIRED.
    She was placed in that school system as superintendent with the direct instructions to close schools. Doesn’t matter if they were improving. In fact, Anderson didn’t want them to improve. Remember she came from NYC where this was going on regardless of what the school community wanted. Anderson is only interested in one thing: making a ton of money selling out school staff and students.
    Teachers and parents can scream, cry, protest all they want. These people DO NOT CARE.
    What they do care about is lawsuits and civil disobedience. Time to get organized.

  21. Maryam Bey

    Bob,
    I posted the below open letter requesting the superintendent’s resignation the other evening under your “One Newark” – Good News for principal banned from NY City schools blog. At that time, I like other life long residents and community leaders in the city, was simply insulted by Ms. Anderson’s blatant disregard for the mass number of children attending neighborhood schools and the community-at-large. Today, I am beyond furious with Anderson’s strategic plan to silence and bully anyone who has the courage to speak out against she and the Governor’s plan to dismantle the Newark Public Schools and take over our city. However, Anderson and Christie should understand that with her latest act of suspending five (5) talented and respected principals, as well as a veteran Cedar Street employee in our community, they have crossed the line and are about to witness the true nature of how strong the Newark family truly is. This, what is happening in our city, can no longer be about Politics or how we Educate our children. This situation is nothing more than an issue of big business guaranteeing the execution of their plan to overtake our city by any means necessary. Please continue to disseminate the “truth” to our community!

    January 8, 2014

    Cami Anderson, State Superintendent
    Newark Public Schools
    2 Cedar Street
    Newark, New Jersey 07102

    Re: Open Letter

    Dear Ms. Anderson:

    I write this letter regarding your decision to close our schools and why I believe this is a gross error in judgment and lack of respect for neighborhood schools, parents and our children. My name is Maryam Bey. I was a school board member, inducted in 2001 for three years, and school board president 2002-2003. In my more than three (3) decades of community service, my greatest honor thus far, was to serve the children and their parents in the Newark Public Schools and it was most challenging during my tenure.

    Although we have never officially met since your becoming the State Operated Superintendent, I did meet with you briefly in the summer at the administrative office building when we were planning the redesign of West Side High School. During our planning for West Side High School, I publicly stated my concern that all the work our team did, along with the Urban League for the students of West Side High School, would be undermined if the school closes or is turned into a charter school. We were assured, without a shadow of doubt, closing the school would not be an option, would not happen and any rumors of it happening, were just that – rumors. We now know these were no rumors and obviously the intent was always there.

    It is clear to me, your decisions regarding the closing of schools, firing staff and referring to our children as criminals is being done with malice, disrespect and no concern for the majority of our children who attend Newark Public Schools. Your malicious attack on public education is being orchestrated and executed in such a way that has, is and will continue to bring great harm to our children, teachers and community. I have remained cautiously quiet, because it was important to give you the benefit of the doubt. We, the minority group of concerned parents, community leaders and grass root organizations throughout the city, who have no other interest than the success of our children here in Newark, would never fight against superior schools for our children. Those of us who were truly desperate to see an improved education system and greater opportunities for our children, truly believed you would do what is right, fair and just for the students of this district, and never imagined our children would become pawns in a political fight over public education and what is financially beneficial to wall street, corporations and the new “education business.” You must understand, Ms. Anderson, your decisions while they may positively impact the lives of some children, will never benefit the mass number of students n our city and in fact, place them in a dangerous situation and undermines instructional staff and administrators who have been committed to our children.

    You have been very successful in the art of pitting parents against each other, by using their desperation for a better education for their children against them. That behavior is unacceptable and immoral. Thus, I am requesting detailed clarification.

    Recently, I came across a document entitled “Money for Nothing, a report on the performance of the Newark Public School District,” which was released in 2008, by what is considered an organization in support of charter schools. After a thorough review of this document, it is clear to me that there was a formula outlined for the takeover of Newark schools and property and you are following that plan. A plan authored by a company created to assist in the advancement of charter schools, Excellent Education for Everyone (E3). In chapter three, “Student Achievement and Graduation Rates,” Weequahic HS, Malcolm X Shabazz HS and West Side HS, are referred to as “dropout factories” and strange enough, you intend to close these schools. However, are you not taking into consideration that since this report, great changes and improvements have been made at these schools, some of which were your initiatives? More shockingly, in chapter nine, “Recommendations for Reform,” fourteen (14) recommendations for the “reversal of the districts’ long failure,” were given and it is sadly obvious that you are following this plan to the letter and how insulting this action is given the fact that you weren’t the Superintendent in 2008 and did no further research regarding the issue.

    You continue to support segregation of our schools by leaving overcrowded, dilapidated buildings, however in the politically strong east and north ward schools without change. I am the first to agree with you that our educational system is in need of profound change and repair, we have failed our children in public schools and some staff must be replaced, however; to consciously destroy and close schools is not and cannot always be the answer. Infusing resources and exceptional staff is the key and what you promised when you arrived.

    In the three (3) plus years you have occupied the space of our leader in education, we have yet to see the “best practices” you promised shared. If in fact, you had used your time here in our city cultivating a true relationship between our successful charters and struggling public schools, wherein best practices were shared, we would not be in our present predicament. However, that was not a recommendation in the 2008 Money Matters report and obviously, not beneficial to those who have a financial and/or political interest in the expansion of reform and honestly, that is what makes your plan questionable. Instead, you closed some schools, renewed others, did no planning for those neighborhood schools unaffected and ignored and now you deem them failures and shut them down? This cannot be a plan created for the betterment of our children and your intent must be explained.

    Further, you renewed 13th Avenue, Camden, Peshine and Chancellor, wherein staff was released and jobs were lost and now you propose the “re-renewal” of those schools. One must ask why? Did your initial renewal plan fail or are you simply out to reduce staff once again? Yes, parents are calling for a better system and yes some charters are doing great work and successful. But if changes are being made because Money does Matter or the Pink Hula Hoop or Kingston Education Holdings, Inc., must expand and make a profit for the wall street bond holders, you should be ashamed as an educator.

    You exhibit your disdain for our children by agreeing to place them in harms way by justifying that the failure of schools means we should close neighborhood schools, send those students across town to other schools and sell our schools to charter schools. How is that helping and educating our children? Yes, there are schools that need immediate change and some teachers that need to be removed from classrooms. Accountability and lofty expectations are necessary and executing an educational agenda that prepares children in Newark for a world class education is the epitome of success for our children. You cannot be allowed however to continue to commit an assault on our school system. As the educational leader, you must support all children and do so in a way that does not hurt and cause harm to our students, economy or community.

    Newark Public Schools has a billion dollar budget, less students, and the state has operated this district for 18 years plus years and still continues to fail the student, which means the State does not and has not had a plan for success. There is no excuse for the consistent failure of our schools under the states’ watch. These facts clearly demonstrate that this is about the color green (money) and not the education of our brown and black children.

    Our children are not for sale. You have turned the clock backwards to the “new education Jim Crow” and that is dangerous for our children. You have not engaged parents or community, simply because you do not respect the parents and community. The clear inequality you have perpetrated on our children and community has nothing to do with education. You are not considering how constantly changing principals, sending children across town and hiring unskilled, uncertified staff is detrimental to our children.

    I do not fault parents who want a better education for their children and enrolling them in charter schools is not my issue. However, it is not choice either. The choice is for parents to have schools they can choose and witness the reform of their neighborhood schools.

    Finally, your actions in destroying our schools will ultimately destroy our children and when you think of them as criminals and treat them as such, true service can never be the ultimate goal. You would do us a great service if you submit your resignation to the governor, so the planned financial takeover and destruction of our community and the children of Newark can immediately cease.

    Sincerely,

    Maryam Bey

    MB:
    c: President Barack Obama
    Arne Duncan, Secretary of Education
    Senator Cory Booker
    Community at Large
    Newark Teachers Union
    Newark NAACP
    Governor Chris Christie
    Chris Cerf, Commissioner of Education
    Mayor Luis Quintana
    Newark Mayoral Candidates
    Newark Municipal Council Members

  22. D nice

    First I would like to apologize because this is not my soapbox so I have to think in a more positive light. Secondly, would like to say that the 5 principals that spoke out was absolutely correct and I support what they were saying. Not only do we have a bully in Trenton but his protégé is now the superintendent of Newark public schools. What we all need right now is the unification of all administration, staff, and employees. We have to look at the big picture which is to put an end to this nonsense. I wonder about this did the superintendent ask the students what they would like? What happened to the wood shops, home economics, and stenography classes? We need to continue to put the pressure on in masses. Then and only then will we see progress. We need to leave education as education and leave politics as politics. The students don’t gain a thing out of this. She doesn’t have to worry because she is chauffeured to and from work. What about these students? Oh right I guess she is thinking about our students. BRING BACK MARION BOLDEN!

  23. Noah E. Gotbaum

    From our experience in NYC we learned quickly that the only language these Corp reform bullies like Cerf and Gov Obese understand is legal. Time for public school advocates in Newark to use the judicial system to fight this outrage.

    • Becca Field

      Sadly Mr. Gotbaum while you are correct about the need for legal action, the Newark school district is well in the court system – having filed (and lost) a challenge to the second set of QSAC scores that were lower than ones 6 months earlier (lowered for the sole purpose of maintaining state control) and parents are part of the Title VI case at the Federal Level. Just two I know about. No doubt new legal challenges need to be mounted but they have yet to really help.

  24. Newarkbluesman

    This trickle down bullying has reached epic proportion under the Christie administration ,it caused Anderson to believe she would get seniority ended.The legislature thought differently,I am sure she will again try and bully the seniority issue through the commissioner,seeking a waiver.The bullying is not going to end until we end it.The ball is in our court,we can remove her soon.Let her come out with her seniority agenda she will unite many groups together and Cerf,they need to go,hopefully they will continue to make mistakes,helping our cause.

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  28. Jacqueleen Bido

    THE PEOPLE OF NEWARK WILL NOT BE SILENCED… WE NEED EVERYONE TO JOIN THE MOVEMENT AND SPREAD THE WORD… TO PROTECT OUR CHILDREN …. OUR COMMUNITY … OUR RIGHTS!!! NEWARK TOGETHER … NEWARK STRONG!

  29. P. Grunther

    Wouldn’t MLK day be the right time to stage a mass demonstration? If the Newark Teacher’s Union could organize something quickly, I’d sure get the word out and attend a rally. Bob – do you have the connections to get some organizers together and call for a demonstration?

    • Becca Field

      P. Grunther, While I do not know that nothing is happening today, I do know that the unions ability and commitment to fight this has not been nearly what is required to truly fight back. While parents, educators, administrators and community members need to unite in this fight, the union has the ability to lead (see Karen Lewis in Chicago) but here in Newark there has been little reason to hope they will come out and do so. I hope they do what you suggest. It would be refreshing. And I do know there are those in the union trying hard to push a more active role.

      Bob Braun: I agree the unions should do more but they have been under assault for years. All groups should, for the duration of the crisis, forget the past, forget their differences, and united to slow down an ill-conceived plan. Smart, conscientious leaders-not ideologues and opportunists like the Christie/Cerf/Anderson crew–would have begun to involve all segments of the population in a carefully constructed planning process that would have addressed the problems of demographics, declining population, aging buildings, changing educational needs. Instead, in private and for their own reasons, Christie/Cerf/Anderson with their charter school partners decided they knew precisely what Newark needed.

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  31. Pingback: Newark school boss Anderson cracks down on critics, suspends five principals in one day - United Americans
  32. Newarkbluesman

    The ledger finally wrote a sanitized version of a 21 century witch hunt.As far as Chicago where striking is legal,I see nothing to brag about.Imagine if we had the right to strike. None of what you see here would of happened without the Newark Teachers Union.Time to stand up for your union and be there for the betterment of all.Keep your politics for another day.

    Bob Braun: There is no question but that the union has to take a leading role. Yes, it is illegal to strike–but it was illegal in the 60′s and 70′s, too. Men and women were beaten and jailed for months to protect the rights of workers. That should never be forgotten.

  33. Pingback: Bob Braun: More on the Outrage in Newark | Diane Ravitch's blog
  34. Pingback: News Roundup for February 1, 2014 | Teachers' Voice Radio
  35. Pingback: Bob Braun on Newark and the Pink Hula Hoop | Diane Ravitch's blog
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  37. Pingback: Chris Christie and the Media’s Race and Class Bias | ReignFall
  38. Autumn Moon

    A very good reason to keep “tenure” for teachers and administrators. We must be able to speak up without fear of reprimand. Please join the BAT rally tomorrow in DC!
    Vote out Chris Christie!

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