Archives for category: New Jersey

Jersey Jazzman says Governor Christie has complete control of education in four urban districts in his state, and his appointees have haughtily introduced changes without community consultation or consent, sowing chaos and dissension, and protests by students and parents.

In Newark, as much as half of the students are boycotting Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” reorganization.

In Camden, the district is run by a man who has no experience running a district or even a school.

He concludes:

“State control didn’t start with Chris Christie, and there were plenty of administrative problems in New Jersey urban districts long before he came to power. But there’s little doubt things have degenerated under his failed leadership of our city school districts.

“Transportation, staffing, employee morale — these are among the primary concerns of a school district leader. You simply can’t run a school system unless you address these basic issues, and you can’t expect lightly qualified and lightly experienced superintendents — like Anderson and Rouhanifard — to know how to address the complexities of providing these needs when they both seem hellbent on deconstructing their districts in favor of a “portfolio” model of charter school expansion.

“Jersey City’s Lyles and Paterson’s Donnie Evans are another matter. I would never say either was inexperienced: Evans has a very solid resume, and as I’ve said before, Lyles, even though she is a Broadie and served in Joel Klein’s NYCDOE, has been a career educator and knows first-hand how schools are run. That said: if experience is almost always a prerequisite for success, it is never a guarantee. It’s certain that all of these jobs come with the proviso that the superintendent must adhere to the Christie school program: slashed budgets, merit pay, gutting tenure, test-based evaluations, and charter school proliferation.

“Even if these superintendents are capable and working in good faith, they are constrained by Christie’s ideologies. There is ultimately only one man responsible for the failures of governance in New Jersey’s state-run school districts: Chris Christie. Whatever problems may arise from returning Newark, Jersey City, Paterson, and Camden to local control, they couldn’t possibly be worse than continuing to suffer under Christie’s incompetence.”

- See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/09/under-govchristie-state-control-of.html#sthash.1fexVWKh.dpuf

Bob Braun, veteran education reporter, says that Barringer High School is in chaos, due to poor planning by the district leadership, i.e., Cami Anderson.

 

The school, intended to hold 600 students, has been divided into two schools, each with 700 students.

 

The principal of one school was fired by Anderson, and the principal of the other quit before school started.

 

He writes:

 

“Barringer High School in Newark was in chaos today after scores of students and parents marched out of the North Ward school–the oldest high school in Newark–to protest teacherless classrooms, foodless lunch hours, and class sizes reaching into the sixties….Wilhelmina Holder, a parent leader who is head of the Secondary School Coalition, said Barringer has been in a state of “chaos” since school opened Sept. 4. Many students sent there under Anderson’s “One Newark” plan either have no schedules at all or temporary schedules that are changed every few days.”

 

 

 

 

Bob Braun has been writing about the abusiveness and insensitivity of Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan. He has written that it has disrupted the lives of children and families, with no goal other than to sweep away neighborhood schools and impose charter schools. Newark has been under state control for nearly 20 years. In short, the people of Newark have had no say in the governance of their city’s schools, and now Chris Christie and Cami Anderson have decided to turn them over to private management.

Braun reports that the real heroes in this struggle for democracy are the high school students of Newark. While most of the adults seemed resigned and ready to bow to authority, the high school students went into the streets to protest. A group of them chained themselves together, sat down in the city’s main thoroughfare, and blocked traffic. The newly elected Mayor Ras Baraka tried to protect the students. He ran for office as an opponent of Cami and “One Newark,” but he has no power to stop her.

Braun wrote:

“Newark’s public schools will be saved from privatization only if supporters are willing to take risks. Yesterday, Newark finally saw some risk takers–the high school students and handful of adults who blocked Broad Street for eight hours, refusing in a very adult way to give up their lines despite an effort by police to plow through, and a mayor who risked criticism for not arresting the students.

“The children are doing what the adults are not doing because the adults are too scared to do it,” said Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson about the siege of board headquarters at 2 Cedar Street organized by the Newark Students Union. The school board member spent most of the day monitoring the protest.

“But did it make a difference? Will the risks taken by the students and Mayor Ras Baraka–the courageous actions taken yesterday by both –hasten the end of Anderson’s tenure? Will it quickly end the “One Newark” plan that has brought so much pain to so many city families?

“Maybe not. But this is what they will do: They will keep the fight alive, keep the light shining, in the face of the inertial forces that would try to gloss over the pain Anderson is causing and bring on a complacent, apathetic business-as-usual attitude that will allow Anderson to continue her plans unimpeded. Without the students, Anderson would be free to act without, not just restraint, but even without notice.”

Braun wrote:

“They’re coming for you.

“They’re coming for you in Wisconsin. In California. In New York–and, yes, in New Jersey. In places like Newark and Paterson–ask Paterson teachers about the great contract they “won” from the state-operated district. And. remember, the Democrats for Education Reform (DFER), the people who almost made Shavar Jeffries mayor, believe tenure and other protections are the dam that “must be burst” to reform education.

“Think about it. Those are Democrats. They might eat your rights elegantly with some fava beans and a little Malbec–but they will do it every bit as effectively as the Koch Brothers who would just as soon have public employee union leaders jailed and shot.”

The kids were heroes. It is a very small gesture on my part to add them to the honor roll as heroes of American education. They are standing up for public education. They are standing up for democracy.

Paul Tractenberg, a distinguished law professor at Rutgers University, challenges the idea that all-charter districts based on the New Orleans model are a magic bullet for Newark, Camden, and other low-performing districts in New Jersey. He notes that for the past four years, we have been bombarded with propaganda films like “Waiting for Superman” and “Won’t Back Down,” intended to convince us of the superiority of privatized charter schools over traditional public schools.

But, Tractenberg notes, the evidence is missing. Contrary to media hype, the Recovery School District in New Orleans is one of the lowest-performing districts in the state. No miracle there.

He asks questions that the propagandists for an all-charter district can’t answer:

“Do we really believe that the education of our most vulnerable students will be enhanced by constant churning of their schools and teachers? Do we really believe that we will improve education by replacing experienced and credentialed teachers with bright young college graduates — B.A. generalists as we used to call them in the early days of the Peace Corps — who are trained for six weeks before they are placed in the nation’s most difficult classrooms for their two-year commitments? Do we really believe that, despite growing evidence to the contrary, charter schools will begin to fully serve the needs of special education and LEP students? Do we really believe that balkanizing our already undersized New Jersey school districts to the charter-school level, where each charter school is technically an independent school district, will satisfy our state constitutional mandate of an “efficient system of free public schools”?

I have just finished reading Kristen Buras’ book about New Orleans. I will review it soon on the blog. It is the counter narrative to the reformer boosterism about New Orleans, “Charter Schools, Race, and Urban Space.” It tells the story of the past decade from the perspective of black students, parents, teachers, and communities. It is a story of dispossession, of white supremacy, of community destruction. The publisher put a crazy price on the book, but I hear there will soon be a reasonably priced softcover. Buras shows that the destruction of public education in New Orleans is no model for other cities.

This post by Jersey Jazzman is part of a dialogue about Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan to close public schools and open charter schools in their place, without consulting with the school board or the community. Mark Weber, aka Jersey Jazzman, asks, whether the plan is racist? Does it have a disparate impact on black students and black teachers? Jersey Jazzman says yes.

Tom Moran, chief editorial writer for the Star-Ledger of New Jersey, responds here to the open letter written by three New Jersey bloggers, posted on their sites, and at blue jersey.com.

Here is Jersey Jazzman’s reply to Moran.

Moran was offended by the tone of the bloggers’ letter to him. The bloggers are offended by Cami Anderson’s One Newark” plan, which seeks to charterize large numbers of Newark’s public schools without consulting the Newark community.

Three New Jersey bloggers–Jersey Jazzman, Marie Corfield, and Ani McHugh–here jointly respond to Tom Moran, chief editorial writer for the Star-Ledger and chief cheerleader for Newark’s state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson. Their open letter was jointly posted on their blogs at 7 a.m. This morning. Although Moran has ignored them and any other critics of the Christie-Anderson plan to eliminate public schools in Newark, they are hoping that their collaboration might get his attention.

They write:

“Until now, your pieces in the Star-Ledger about Newark’s school system and the reorganization of the district have been ill-informed and reckless. You’ve ignored the warnings of teachers, parents, community leaders, researchers, and students, preferring instead to cling to recycled talking points crafted by those with scant little experience in education policy, but much to gain in profits.

“You’ve paid a price: like your ridiculous attempt to walk back from your disastrous endorsement of Chris Christie, your continuing effort to support State Superintendent Cami Anderson while distancing yourself from the consequences of her catastrophic leadership has shredded any integrity you had left as a journalist. Any standing your newspaper had left as a champion of the people of Newark has also eroded: as with Anderson, no one in the city trusts you or the Star-Ledger’s editorial page anymore.
“Shame on you for refusing to educate yourself about the policies you endorse.”

“But as awful as your previous meanderings about Newark’s schools have been, at least you never had the bad taste to try to pawn off Anderson’s failures and your own poor judgement to others. At least you never tried to make the case that the impending disaster of One Newark was the fault of anyone but the Christie administration, its appointed superintendent, and her enablers in government and the press.

“This week, however, you crossed that line. We have tried individually in the past to get your attention and set the record straight to no avail (see all the links later in this piece). Therefore, we—professional educators with a combined total of seven degrees, a PhD in the works, and 38 years of teaching experience—who, along with countless others across this state, have stood against the illogical, faith-based, and racist education policies you espouse for Newark regularly from your position of influence, have come together to deliver you a message.”

They document that Newark’s charters do not serve the same population as Newark Public Schools. They do not have the same proportion of students who are poor, have special needs, or don’t speak English.

They write:

“The sad truth is that parents in your town of Montclair (or any other mostly white, mostly wealthy suburban community) would never willingly subject their own children to what’s happening in Newark right now:

“Public schools being closed without community input

“Children in the same family being sent to different schools in different parts of town on a transportation system that’s never been tested

“Tax dollars going to a school system that is separate and unequal: that segregates the neediest students from those who are the easiest and least expensive to educate

“The harsh, unforgiving “no excuses” disciplinary policies that are characteristic of so many charter schools

“Mass layoffs of education professionals

“A superintendent who has been a colossal failure at fiscal management

“Schools in such disrepair that they are unsafe to occupy

“A superintendent who refuses to listen, who refuses to attend board of ed meetings, and who is not supported by the community

“In fact, the parents of Montclair are fighting back right now, but you have not written one word about it. Why is it okay for them to fight back, but when the parents of Newark do so, you accuse them of “shrieking” and being “shrill and unreasonable”? Are the parents of Newark not smart enough to know what’s good for their own children? Don’t you think they can smell a rat as well as someone from the ‘burbs?

“Public education belongs to the public. The board of ed is answerable to all the people. But in Newark? Meh, what do those people know? They have no money, so they have no voice. They aren’t the right skin color, so they have no voice. They can’t write big campaign checks, so they have no voice. They aren’t concerned parents. They are, in your words:”

They write much more.

You can read their cri de coeur, their plea for fairness for the children and parents of Newark here, here, here, and here.

This is a column that will raise the rafters, curl your hair, or make you shake with rage. It should.

Bob Braun, who started his own blog after writing for New Jersey’s largest newspaper, “The Star-Ledger,” for 50 years, is furious. This week, when schools start in New Jersey, the children of Newark will get on buses and be distributed to schools across the district. This is Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan, and Braun is fearful that children will be lost or harmed. He calls on the ministers (this was published on Saturday) to pray for the safety of the children.

Cami Anderson wants Newark to look like New Orleans, so she must break up any attachments to neighborhood schools, destroy the idea that the school has anything to do with the community. So the children must be dispersed, far from home.

This is Braun’s message to the ministers, to Governor Christie, to Cami Anderson, and to Tom Moran, the chief editorial writer of “The Star-Ledger,” who thinks Cami walks on water. Braun writes:

“While I am not a religious person, I will take a lesson from one of the readings scheduled for services tomorrow, at least in Catholic churches, the denomination in which I was raised. The first reading comes from Jeremiah 20:7-9:

“Whenever I speak, I must cry out…outrage is my message.”

“So where is the outrage in the face of the mistreatment of thousands of Newark children who will be transported all over the city in a transportation plan that won’t be implemented until the first day it will be used? No feasibility tests. No dry runs. No studies to determine whether it will work. Every first day of school in every community is chaotic under the best of circumstances–imagine what it will be like Thursday.

“Where is the outrage? For The Star-Ledger, I wrote about education for nearly 30 years. When some suburban school superintendent tried to alter the district lines of one school to adjust for enrollment changes, the community would rise in anger and often block the plan. In Newark, massive changes and disruptions are about to occur–and, yes, there has been anger and there has been outrage, but no one is listening. No one outside the city cares….

“Let us hope nothing happens to the children of Newark. But also pray for justice if harm does befall even just one of these precious young people. Justice for people like Gov. Chris Christie, who knows how to buy friends, even among clergy, but who does not know how to feel for the city’s children. Justice for people like Cami Anderson who, by my measure of thinking, somehow managed to lose her soul in her strivings for personal ambition. For David Hespe, the education commissioner who, like Pontius Pilate, washed his hands of the problem….

“We know what is about to happen is only happening because the residents of the city are poor, powerless and possess a skin color darker than that of Christie, Hespe, and Anderson. We know this would never happen in a predominantly white suburb.

“I am sorry to have to say this to the people of Newark: To many of your brothers and sisters in New Jersey, you–and your children–simply don’t count very much. They blame you for taxes. They blame you for school failure.

“Christie has all but said that the education of Newark children is not a moral obligation or a civic challenge. Rather he believes it is an expense that he would rather not have the rest of the state pay. He would be just as happy to see everyone in Newark disappear and just leave the gleaming towers owned by his friends standing.

“The “One Newark” plan is a slow means of doing just that. The poor and the needy will be isolated and driven from the city. A chain of privately operated charter schools will be made available for the eventual gentrification of the city. The powerful will allow a small percentage of people of color to attain success but there will be no effort to save the rest from poverty. Their children will be warehoused.”

Here are his words for the chief editorial writer of the state’s largest newspaper:

“I know of at least one colleague who is so blinded in his worship of Cami Anderson that he cannot see she is inept and arrogant and consistently unable to make wise choices. I don’t know why he believes that but, God forgive me, I do resent that he believes I will have contributed to the travesty when “One Newark” fails.

“This colleague, a columnist and chief editorial writer for The Star-Ledger (a newspaper I served for nearly 50 years and deeply loved), contends those who oppose what he admits is an “untested” plan “don’t seem to give a damn about the children.”

“Who would want their own children subjected to an “untested” plan? Why is it okay for Newark children to be used as guinea pigs, but not Montclair or Scotch Plains children? How can someone be so unforgivably blind and indifferent to others? How can a major metropolitan daily print such offensive rot? Where are the editors who exercise reasonable restraint on this man’s hero worship?

“How can a sentient being write such incredibly stupid words? I guess I have to hold with Friedrich Schiller that “Against stupidity, even the gods are invictorious.” Those opponents are parents. If he–or Star-Ledger reporters–would bother to look into what’s happening, they would see the opposition is run, not by unions, not by politicians, but by moms and dads, by people who care about their children.

“Yes, Mr. Editorial Writer, black mothers and fathers proud are about their kids, worried about them, wanting the best for them, working in ways you could never understand to help them. Just because they don’t live in the suburbs where you live, just because they don’t look like you, just because they can’t live on one job but need two or three to survive, doesn’t mean they d0n’t love their children. Please, you and your newspaper are abandoning the city and you haven’t cared about it for decades anyway (I know, I was there)–so why don’t you just shut up?

“Please, just shut up.”

Bob Braun is New Jersey’s Jeremiah. Outrage is his message. He will not be silent in the face of injustice. He will not curry favor with the powerful. He is angry. And, unlike those who are playing games with the lives of the children of Newark, his conscience is clear.

From: “Parents Unified for Local School Education (PULSE)”

Date: August 26, 2014, 7:04:33 AM EDT
To: okaikor@me.com

Subject: Statement from PULSE on Newark Boycott

Statement from PULSE
CALL TO ACTION

On December 19, 2013, the Superintendent of Newark Public Schools announced the “One Newark Plan,” which threatens to displace students from their neighborhood schools. In response, Parents Unified for Local School Education (PULSE) is currently working with the Newark community, particularly in the South Ward, to implement a boycott of the Newark Public Schools starting on September 4th, 2014.

The ‘NPS Boycott 4 Freedom’ is an act of resistance and a statement against the One Newark Plan – Governor Christie and Superintendent Cami Anderson’s destructive practices. These practices have consistently worked to tear our communities and schools apart, leaving our schools and students in need of resources, and community driven neighborhood schools that are culturally relevant and responsive to the needs of the students and community. The parents and community members of Newark can no longer allow these practices that are not only lacking research and democratic ideals, but will potentially harm our children, and community. Governor Christie and Superintendent Cami Anderson are not acting upon our concerns, and we have decided to escalate our actions so that they can no longer continue to ignore our concerns. This boycott is a statement to all that the people of Newark demand the right to run and operate the school district through a democratically elected and empowered school board; in other words, local control of schools. We cannot allow Governor Christie, the state appointed Cami Anderson and the One Newark Plan to dictate how we educate our children.

The most recent revelation as written about in Bob Braun’s Ledger on August 13th regarding the long overdue plans for safe transport of our children under the One Newark Plan reveals that Superintendent Cami Anderson is woefully unprepared. The plan is deficient, if not dangerous, and will not even be implemented until well after the school year begins. We will not allow our children’s safety to be jeopardized by a superintendent and plan that does not care about our children. We will not subject our children to the malfeasance of the NPS leadership. We will do what is right for our children.

Starting in August PULSE has organized community canvasses to discuss the boycott with residents, focusing on the South Ward, and to gain support. The response can best be characterized as relief that there is a movement growing to provide an alternative to the One Newark Plan.

We are working with community leaders, clergy, teachers, nurses and elected officials to ensure there is a clear understanding of the purpose and plan for the boycott. We are establishing Freedom School locations that will provide safe educational environments for the children participating in the boycott. This boycott will succeed when our community demonstrates solidarity in the face of Governor Christie’s callous disregard for the people of Newark and the destructive One Newark Plan being implemented by his state appointed Superintendent. We all have important roles to play in the boycott.

We welcome support and look forward to working with all of us who share the vision of ensuring our children have equal access to excellent public education in a Newark Public School district under local leadership.

General Inquiries:

call 973 544-8359
info@npsboycott4freedom.com

What is needed:

Volunteers
Canvassers
Phone bankers
For Freedom Schools
Space
Food Donations
Instructors
Volunteer

For volunteers click here : Help now!

P.O. Box 22645
Newark, New Jersey

Parents Unified for Local School Education | P.O. Box 22645 | Newark | NJ | 07102

Veteran journalist Bob Braun tells the story of a poor black grandmother trying to register her granddaughter in the high that she wanted to attend, that her children had attended, and being treated with disrespect.

Braun hopes that Newark parents will boycott Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” plan, where she chooses and others are expected to obey.

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