Bob Braun covered politics and education in New Jersey for the Star-Ledger for 50 years until his recent retirement. He now has his own blog, which is an invaluable source of information and insight into New Jersey political doings.

Here he writes about the ouster of five Newark principals by state-appointed superintendent Cami Anderson. Four of them spoke at a public hearing about the pending closure of their public schools, which will be handed over to KIPP. The fifth was suspended because she supported the president of the school’s PTSA, who was banned from entering the school his children attended.

Here is how the story begins:

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.

Braun’s article is maddening. It all seems so unfair. These principals were ousted the way a corporation fires a dangerous or possibly criminal employee: They were called to central headquarters, where their keys were taken away, and their computer access blocked. They were told not to enter the schools until further notice.

Governor Christie and Commissioner Chris Cerf want to privatize the entire Newark school district, to make it like New Orleans. Cami Anderson is their agent. She bullied the principals the same way that Christie bullies teachers and mayors.