Last night, nine members of the Newark Students Union participated in a sit-in at the NPS Board of Education meeting to protest Cami Anderson’s One Newark plan. Outside, dozens of others protested Anderson’s reforms in the street. (Here’s more coverage from Bob Braun and Rosie Efthim.)
The students inside 2 Cedar Street presented a list of demands to Cami Anderson, insisting that she resign immediately, that local control of the education system be restored in Newark, that public schools be fully and fairly funded, and that all schools currently open remain open.
And as she typically does when Newark residents challenge her in public, Anderson cut the meeting short and left the building.
Today, Anderson released a statement accusing the students of being “coached by adults to stage a sit-in” and labeled the protest as a “politically orchestrated event.”
UPDATE: Read the Newark Students Union’s response to Anderson’s statement here.
What’s clear from Anderson’s statement is that she, an outsider hired by Chris Christie and Chris Cerf to “reform” Newark’s schools, finds the children who are directly affected by her damaging reforms to be incapable of a) recognizing the injustice that’s being done to them, b) organizing themselves in opposition to that injustice, and c) being intelligent, knowledgeable, and motivated enough to articulate their dissatisfaction without “coaching” from politically-motivated adults.
But not surprising. Anderson’s beliefs are consistent with the implications inherent in state-takeover situations: that the people who live in struggling urban areas cannot be trusted to make decisions for themselves or act in their own best interest.
Remember that under the One Newark plan—most recently, because of the just-released results of the “school choice” enrollment plan—many students are being forced to go to schools they did not “choose”—and, many times, to go to schools that are far away from their homes. Still others still don’t know where they’ll be attending school for the 2014-2015 academic year. As Bob Braun observes, fewer than 60% of students who participated in the enrollment plan were matched with schools they requested; everyone else is pretty much out of luck. And if families choose to appeal their placements, they’ll forfeit the spot Anderson’s crew reserved for them and they’ll have to re-enter the application process with no guarantee of a different or better placement. By virtually all accounts, Anderson’s attempts to push “school choice” have proven disastrous.
In essence, families are at the mercy of a woman who has made it her mission to destroy the community she’s being paid nearly $300,000 to serve. What’s ironic is that Cami Anderson is unapologetic about using children as pawns to advance her own political agenda—yet she claims that those same children, when they become upset enough to spend the night in a Board room to stand up for themselves and their peers, are actually the victims of politics. (Just not her politics! Someone else’s politics!)
To summarize Cami Anderson’s reformy philosophy: Newark parents and children are so incapable of understanding what is and isn’t in their own best interest that any concerns they voice simply must have been fed to them by a politically-motivated opponent of Anderson’s reform plan. Thus, dissent is meaningless and inauthentic–and it should be ignored.
Congratulations to the Newark Students Union for standing up to Cami Anderson. People all over the country are giving you the credit you deserve–even if she’s trying to undermine your efforts.