Rick Hess has an admirable record of inviting people who represent different points of view to speak and answer their critics at the conservative American Enterprise Institute. Rick invited me to speak when my book The Death and Life of the Great American School System: How Testing and Choice Are Undermining Education was published in 2010. I spoke, and then a panel of three people commented. One liked what I had to say, two disagreed. I responded. The auditorium was full, and a good time was had by all.

 

Rick recently invited Cami Anderson to speak about what she is doing in Newark, where she is the Superintendent, appointed by Governor Chris Christie. Newark has been under state control for nearly 20 years. Anderson is so controversial in Newark that she no longer attends meetings of the Board of Education, which is powerless. Newark has no democracy. Anderson has the power to do what she wants.

 

When Rick learned that a group of Newark students was coming to challenge Anderson, he was outraged that her freedom of speech might be abridged. He moved the meeting to a closed room.

 

Jersey Jazzman reports here on what happened, and includes a video of Anderson’s speech. She says that the number of critics in Newark are few in number. Jersey Jazzman disagrees. He points out that the mayoral election was a referendum on her plans. The following “few” are her critics, who did not have an opportunity to question Anderson at AEI:

 

Mayor Ras Baraka, who was elected in a race that became largely a referendum on Anderson.

 

His opponent, Shavar Jeffries, who lost because, even though he criticized Anderson, didn’t go as far as Baraka by calling for her removal.

 

The Newark City Council, which called for a moratorium on all of Anderson’s initiatives.

 

The Newark School Board, which, though powerless to remove her (we’ll get to that in a minute), voted “no confidence” in Anderson’s leadership and has tried to freeze her pay.

 

The students of Newark’s schools, who have walked out repeatedly to protest her actions.

 

Parents who have filed a civil rights lawsuit, alleging One Newark is “de facto racial segregation.” (It is.)

 

The teachers union, which claims Anderson has repeatedly refused to follow through on the provisions of the contract she negotiated.

 

77 of Newark’s religious leaders, who have said One Newark could be “catastrophic” and must not be implemented.

 

Anderson should have had the opportunity to confront some of her critics, perhaps Mayor Baraka and a representative of the students. She did not lose her freedom of speech. The people of Newark lost their democratic rights long ago. When will the people of Newark have the right to choose the school board that represents them and makes policies that reflect their wishes, as 95% of school districts in America do? That’s the debate that never happened.

 

 

 

 

– See more at: http://jerseyjazzman.blogspot.com/2014/11/reality-leaves-newark-and-invades-rick.html#sthash.0ZTlh7E1.dpuf