Anderson Steps Down as Newark Superintendent


Superintendent of Newark, New Jersey schools Cami Anderson has stepped down from her position, resigning eight months before her contract was set to expire.

When he made the announcement concerning her leave, set to take place on July 8, New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe praised Anderson’s “bold educational vision.”  He went on to say that would be recommending to the state board of education that former state education commissioner Chris Cerf take her place with a three-year contract.

Anderson had been nominated by Governor Chris Christie to take on the role in 2011, but has been the subject of criticism by Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and others who were less than pleased with her efforts to overhaul city schools, arguing that she did not listen to the needs of parents and community leaders.  However, those who support Anderson approve her methods to change the enrollment system, consolidate schools, and replace failing teachers and principals in the district, writes Leslie Brody for The Wall Street Journal.

Her critics have held rallies over the last year in the hopes of ousting her from office, with students at one point occupying her office overnight in protest.

John Abeigon, Director of Organization for the Newark Teachers Union, said “good riddance” to the news of her leaving office.  He said she had hurt children in the district when she had laid off hundreds of staff members at various schools.  He went on to say that her support of charter schools took away resources needed by the public school system.

Enrollment in area charter schools has been on the rise recently, which in turn has resulted in funding cuts for public schools.  Last year found 36,100 children attending public schools in the district, while 12,900 enrolled in charter schools.

The teachers union also came at odds with Anderson over her proposal that teachers be dismissed not solely based on seniority, but also based on performance.  A decision concerning this is still pending with the state education department.

After the announcement, Anderson said she was happy with what she was able to accomplish while in office, such as the negotiations of teacher contracts to include merit pay and improving student discipline methods to lessen suspension rates.  High school graduation rates rose from 56% to 70% while she held the role, and preschool enrollment has also seen an increase, writes Kate Zernike for The New York Times.

Not everyone is happy to see her leave.  Maria Ortiz, principal of Luis Muñoz Marin Elementary School, expressed her disappointment at hearing the news.

“She is extremely brilliant,” said Ms. Ortiz. “She made some very bold strategic changes that were very controversial, but overall, the goal was to have the best teachers in the classroom.”