New Jersey Officials Renew Controversial Newark Super’s Contract

New Jersey state officials have announced that they would be renewing Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s contract — an announcement that many parents and local clergy alike did not want to hear.  Anderson received a three-year contract that will be renewed annually, which will result in a 1.6% raise each year on her $251,500 salary.

At a rally held at City Hall on Monday, community leaders who are against state control of schools, called for her to be taken out of office.  They also want her One Newark plan to be left behind, a plan to consolidate and relocate more than 25% of the city’s schools, including changing public schools over to charter schools, writes Peggy McGlone for New Jersey On-Line.  Charter schools in the district currently serve 20% of students.

Local clergy claim the plan was not fully discussed with the community.

One Board of Education employee talked with Mark Bonamo of PolitickerNJ, describing how Anderson works.  The employee states that although she is smart, she works in theories that are impractical for the community at large.

“No one is vested in it.  Instead [she] just steamrolls.”

In an effort to appease the clergy and parents, New Jersey Education Commissioner David Hespe announced the development of a community group who would review the plan, possibly creating improvements:

“The goal is to improve communications so the school district can continue to work toward meaningful education reform,” Hespe said in a statement. “I think everyone can agree that there are improvements that can be made to One Newark in order to provide a high-quality education for our students. Community support and engagement is crucial to reaching that goal.”

Pastor Mamie Bridgeforth of the Faith Christian Center Church does not believe in the validity of the group:

“There’s no intended desire (to listen),” Bridgeforth said. “There’s a basic lack of honesty. We have no confidence in the entire process.”

Anderson said she was “honored to reaffirm my commitment” to her work.  Since being appointed in 2011, she has improved graduation rates, hired dozens of new principals, and instated a new teacher contract, which included the introduction of merit pay.

A former Newark Public School employee talked about a breakdown among staff that is happening under Anderson.

“There is a shrinking, very small group of about four die-hard Cami supporters. This is the group that she engages with. Then there is another group of people at a senior-staff level who are just waiting Cami out, and who want to see her go,” the former employee stated, describing a total group of about 300 employees. “You have another group of people who over the last six months who have flat out quit and who have gone on to other opportunities. And the fourth group, unfortunately, is the largest group of more than 200 people at the central office who are just waiting for their pink slips because they’ve been told [by Anderson] they’re going to be let go.”

Recent documents suggest that as many as 1,000 teachers will be let go in the next three years.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie announced in September of 2013 that he had planned to renew her contract, and he did not care about community approval.