In one of the most powerful posts I have ever read, veteran journalist Bob Braun (retired after fifty years as an investigative reporter in New Jersey) bluntly declares that state policy in Newark is racist.

He writes:

“The eighth-grade graduation ceremonies at the Hawthorne Avenue School this morning–the last of their kind–provided an island of sanity and goodwill in the ocean of madness that is state educational policy in Newark. One of the best-achieving schools, not just in the city, but also in the state, has been stripped of its leadership, declared a failure, and is ready to be turned over to Chris Christie’s corporate wolves who devour the poor and what little they have. Parents and teachers and even some students shook their heads and wondered how this could happen. There is an explanation. It’s called racism.


“Racism. The implementation of policy based on race–implemented in such a way that members of a dominant race realize an advantage over members of a less powerful one. Just 12 hours before the graduation ceremony, Deborah Gregory Smith appeared at yet another useless school board meeting and used the word. Racism.

“I know I have been told not to use the race card,” said the head of the Newark NAACP. But she did. Giving Cami Anderson another contract, she said, was racist. Gov. Christie, who refuses to come to Newark to face the people his family ran from 30 years ago, is racist.

“That is racism,” she said. And she is right.

“What else do you call it when Lamont Thomas, the principal of one of the most spectacularly achieving high schools in the country (yes, I said country)–Science Park–gets a “partially effective” evaluation, probably because his students were the core of the Newark Student Union? What else do you call it when Regina Sharpe, the principal of the highly successful University High School, is fired?

“Racism. I call it racism. Anderson certainly hasn’t offered any alternative explanations.

“Racism. General and specific. Generally, not following the law to insist that New Jersey schools be integrated. Not following the law to insist that New Jersey schools be fully funded. Not following the law to provide decent jobs, housing, and health care in areas that are predominantly black and brown. Not following the law and allowing a return to local control. Not following the law and allowing Newark to become, in the words of Cory Booker, the “charter school capital of America.”

“And here are the specifics in Newark:

“Let’s face facts. Cami Anderson is a white woman living the life of white advantage thanks to her $300,000 salary and to her friends in Montclair and Glen Ridge like the Plofkers and the Cardens and the Cerfs. Her sponsors and bosses, Chris Cerf and Chris Christie and David Hespe, are white men, also well advantaged, enjoying the advantages provided by the politics of racism to help ensure their maintenance of power.”

Read it all.

And read about the resignation of Lamont Thomas. Cami Anderson insulted him by rating him “partially effective,”, and he resigned.

Braun writes:

“Anderson, who believes in the powers of disruption theory, had done things like this in the past. She is especially fond of humiliating strong black school leaders. She had just told the principal of Hawthorne Avenue School, the highest achieving neighborhood public school in the system, to reapply for his job–although all the teaching staff members were allowed to stay without reapplying. Earlier in the year, Anderson had suspended James and four other principals for raising questions about the “One Newark ” plan to replace neighborhood schools with charters and other privatized schools.”