Teach For America to form Unified New Jersey HeadquartersJune 18, 2013
NCTQ Ranks Teacher Preparation Programs in New JerseyJune 19, 2013
Yesterday’s Trentonian has an A.P. piece that considers the impact on Newark Public Schools (and Newark in general) if Cory Booker leaves for a senate seat in D.C.:
With Booker a heavy favorite to win and leave for Washington in four months, many wonder: Will his successor be able to sustain the attention and money that has flowed into this city based largely on Booker’s outsized personality?
“If Booker goes to the Senate, then suddenly Newark is another high spending, low-performing struggling community. And there are a lot of those,” said Frederick M. Hess, a philanthropy expert with the American Enterprise Institute. “If he leaves, I think it would definitely be a substantial setback in terms of trying to keep the philanthropists and national advocacy organizations interested.”
Certainly, much of the funding and attention to the city is due to Booker’s charismatic advocacy of inner city issues (including education), not to mention his history of charging into burning buildings to rescue people and then tweeting about it. Panasonic and Prudential moved headquarters to Newark because they were impressed with Booker. Mark Zuckerberg’s $100 million grant was more a vote of confidence in Booker than in Newark’s troubled schools.
Now, Superintendent Cami Anderson’s stewardship Newark Public Schools is pretty well-established and she’s made good progress in her Leviathan-esque mission to shepherd improvements in school culture, teacher performance, and student outcomes. Yet that progress is a fragile piece of work beset by well-aimed arrows from Newark’s insider politicos, the old boys’ club that shuns change.
Anderson has had a steadfast mayoral partner in Booker. It’s another thing entirely for Anderson to collaborate with the favorite for Booker’s seat, Ras Baraka. Baraka, a foe of state oversight and school reform tenets, is both a City Council member and the principal of Central High School. (The man must not sleep!). What’s Baraka’s views on Anderson’s agenda?
Last month the City Council voted for a moratorium on all Newark public school initiatives. The resolution was sponsored by Baraka, who told the Star-Ledger that “[t]here have been serious decisions that have been made that will affect this community for decades and have no basis in research or empirical data” and “the stakeholders have been locked out by the state’s refusal to return our district to local control and the superintendent’s penchant for disregarding an elected body.” The website Baraka2014 explains that “test-based incentives do not address why teachers may not be optimally effective or why students are underperforming.”
And so on. All the money’s on Booker to win his senate race, and Baraka appears to be the favorite as his mayoral successor. No one knows what that change in leadership will mean for Newark’s nascent journey towards improved public education.