New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s administration has announced that Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, who the governor had appointed and defended despite a rebellion against her reform policies in the city, is leaving her post.
Appointed in 2011, Anderson was supposed to turn Newark schools into a “national model” — or, at least, that’s what Christie (R) told Oprah Winfrey. She has spent her time in office turning much of the city — including former allies — against her with her “One Newark” reform plan and what critics say is her refusal to listen to anyone else but herself. She alienated city residents so much that last year, they elected a new mayor, Ras Baraka, whose campaign focused on attacking Anderson’s reforms, and who had been calling for resignation.
One Newark, which eliminated neighborhood schools in favor of a citywide lottery that ostensibly gave parents more school choices, wound up leading to the closure of numerous schools, mass firings of teachers and principals and a rise in charter schools. At least seven complaints of civil rights violations have been investigated by the U.S. Education Department. Last year, dozens of clergy in Newark warned Christie that school reform was causing so much “unnecessary instability” that they were “concerned about the level of public anger” over the issue.
Despite all of this, Christie last February announced he was giving her a fifth year on the job, for which she earns a salary of $255,000, plus a 1.6 percent cost-of-living raise and a 15 percent bonus off her salary. Christie has the right to decide who runs the Newark school system because it is under state control and has been since 1995. It hasn’t been improved since.
And now, the Christie administration announced thatAnderson is leaving office by July 8, and will probably be succeeded by none other than Chris Cerf, who was the state education commissioner from 2011-2014.
On June 3, leaders of the Newark Board of Education leaders submitted a petition to the state Board of Education asking that Anderson be removed from her immediately because of “inefficiency, incapacity or conduct unbecoming a superintendent.”
In addition, Christie is thought to be getting ready to announce that he will run for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination. Hmmm.
Here’s the statement issued by the administration:
Commissioner of Education David Hespe today announced that Cami Anderson will be stepping down as State Superintendent of the Newark Public School District.
“Superintendent Anderson has worked tirelessly over the last four years to implement a bold educational vision for the students and parents of Newark,” said Commissioner Hespe. “Under Cami’s leadership, the Newark school district signed a landmark teacher’s contract, implemented One Newark, and increased flexibility and support in virtually every school in Newark. We know that these positive educational reforms will continue to benefit the students and parents of Newark for years to come.”
Superintendent Anderson will depart the district by July 8, 2015. By July 8, 2015, Commissioner Hespe will recommend to the State Board of Education the appointment of Chris Cerf to the position of State Superintendent for the Newark Public Schools. Mr. Cerf will be recommended for a three-year contract consistent with initial contracts in other state-operated districts including most recently Camden.
Governor Chris Christie and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka plan to issue a more detailed statement in the coming days on this leadership transition to establish a common vision and path forward for the future of the Newark Public School District.
Governor Chris Christie named Cami Anderson as State Superintendent of Newark on May 4, 2011, and she was officially appointed State Superintendent by the State Board of Education on June 1, 2011. Immediately prior to her appointment as Superintendent, Anderson served as the superintendent of Alternative High Schools and Programming for the New York City Department of Education.
Chris Cerf joins the district after having served as the New Jersey Commissioner of Education in the Christie Administration from January 2011 to February 2014. During that time he worked extensively on improving education for Newark students and families. He has comprehensive experience in large city school leadership positions having served as Deputy Chancellor of the New York City Department of Education during the Bloomberg Administration. During his career, Cerf has also served as Associate Counsel to President Bill Clinton and Law Clerk to Justice Sandra Day O’Connor. He has also taught high school history for four years. He most recently served as CEO of Amplify Insight.
Anderson issued her own statement:
Today, I am announcing that I will step down as Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools at the close of the academic year. I have worked for four years to usher in critical improvements to the school system that have leveled the playing field for Newark students and paved the way for academic and social success. I am extremely proud of what my team and I have collectively accomplished.
We achieved a substantial increase in graduation rates – from 56% percent to 70% percent. We created a merit based teacher compensation program, implemented a restorative justice program that has decreased suspensions by 37% percent, and we improved access to schools through universal enrollment. I am very grateful to everyone who has supported us in these efforts.
Now, after twenty-one years in state control, Newark Public Schools are finally in a stable condition and can begin the return to local leadership. This is in large part due to aggressive initiatives and infrastructure improvements that have been implemented during the last four years. With so much of the necessary—but sometimes controversial and difficult—change behind it, the Newark Public Schools will be well served by new leadership that can build on this foundation. Having taken on the challenge of forging a new path, I am confident that others will be able to move the Newark Public Schools forward and reach new heights.
I am a lifelong educator and will always stand up for justice for young people. I look forward to continuing to serve students and communities. I hope my work in Newark will serve as an important roadmap for school districts across the country that are working to provide excellent schools for all students.