Um, About Those Two New Camden School Board Members…April 24, 2013
Newark’s Superintendent Cami Anderson “Responds” to her Board’s No-Confidence VoteApril 25, 2013
Last night the Newark Advisory Board cast a no-confidence vote for Superintendent Cami Anderson by a margin of 9-0.
Newly-elected Newark Advisory Board President President Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson announced to “loud applause,” “[l]et it be it resolved, the Newark Board of Education has no confidence in the vision, leadership and direction of the state-appointed superintendent, Cami Anderson.”
There’s lots of reasons for the vote: Anderson’s perceived lack of respect towards Board members and a certain lack of transparency; resentment towards district budget cuts and school closings; the new teacher merit pay contract; charter school expansion; the recent triumph of a slate of new board candidates that campaigned on a sort of kinder, gentler anti-reform platform; the absence of reform-oriented Shavar Jeffries, who chose not to run again for the Board in order to prepare for a mayoral campaign.
Teacher Union President Joe Del Grosso, who actually worked with Anderson on the merit pay agreement, kvelled,
“Your vote of no confidence was magnificent,” Del Grosso said in brief comments at the meeting. “I’m glad for once that people listened to the oath they took, and that they serve by authority of the people.”
So, tumult in Newark. What’s new? The exchange occurring in the comment section of the Spotlight piece. While there’s the usual paranoid remarks about loss of local control and evil Comm. Chris Cerf and the triumph of cackling hedge fund edu-entrepreuneurs, a few readers boldly inject a few facts into the mix. It’s not the usual circle-jerk (excuse the crudeness) of anti-reform zealots. A few readers provide some context and moderation.
The first commenter proffers the usual bluster: this is all about “the expanded power of the NJ DOE” – remember, Newark is one of (now) four school districts under state takeover and the Board there is merely advisory — and “the train wreck of education reform advanced by Eli Broad, ALEC, and the Governor’s Koch brother supporters.” It’s all, he or she says, going exactly according to that nefarious plan.
The next commenter eagerly agrees, and offers a fact-free version of a NJ’s small Interdistrict Public School Choice Program, which next Fall will include 6,000 kids, or .02% of NJ’s public school enrollment.
“A plan that now includes the silent suburban district killer Interdistrict School Choice,” writes someone named Galton. “ Strangled by caps on levy increase, surplus Superintendent salaries, some districts are seeing their bottom line wiped out and schools decimated by Christie/Cerf Choice.”
But wait – a voice of reason: someone named Jennifer corrects Galton’s distortions: “You are aware that interdistrict choice predates Christie/Cerf, correct? And that the Rutgers Institute on Education Law and Policy also recommended expanding and making the program permanent.”
And (be still, my heart) yet another:
So, Galton, you would have power devolve to the Newark school board? And you think that would improve the quality of the Newark school system? And you do not think there is bloat and excess administrators in the district? And you are content with keeping open half-empty, failing schools at full cost? How would you propose to close the $56mm deficit?
Participation in the inter-district school choice program is voluntary. No school or district is being forced to do it.
Can we have a reasonable debate on complex issues without resorting to ad hominem tactics or distortions of fact ? Those commentators not only think so but do so. They get my vote of confidence.