Newark, New Jersey schools superintendent Cami Anderson’s contract has been renewed, which is now good for another year.
During the announcement, Education Commissioner David Hespe had nothing but good things to say of the reforms implemented by Anderson.
“Cami has worked tirelessly to implement positive education reforms that have benefited Newark students and parents,” Hespe said in a statement. “We look forward to continuing to support the progress that has taken place in the district.”
Anderson accepted the position, hoping to continue to make progress in the state with her administration.
“I am proud of the progress that my administration has made over the past three years in increasing graduation rates, teacher and administrator quality and school choice, but know that there is more work to be done on behalf of our students in the year ahead.”
However, not everyone was pleased with the decision to renew Anderson’s contract. Many in the city, including Mayor Ras Baraka, political activists, and a number of city politicians have repeatedly requested that her contract be terminated. At a hearing earlier this year, state legislators on the joint committee on public schools continually criticized her actions.
A four-day demonstration held by the Newark Students Union last week called for her resignation, and the Newark Public Schools Advisory Board passed a motion earlier that week asking the state to not renew her contract, writes Naomi Nix for NJ.com.
Critics argue that Anderson does not engage with Newark families and civic leaders during the implementation of her reforms to the school system.
“This is devastating for the Newark Public Schools community,” State Senator Teresa Ruiz said in a statement. “At a time when the district desperately needs to go in a new direction, the state has made this terrible decision.”
Much of the criticism pertaining to Anderson has come from her “One Newark” program, which sought to reorganize the school system through relocation of schools, replacement of school principals, the start of a district-wide lottery system to decide on school enrollment, as well as an increase the amount of space offered to charter schools within district buildings.
Anderson’s salary will increase by 1.6% under the new contract to $255,016. She had been eligible for a 20% bonus for the 2013-14 school year based on her previous salary of $247,500 as long as certain criteria were met. The state education department announced that she had received a bonus of slightly less than 15% for her work, which included creating family snapshots for all district schools, increasing the graduation rate by 3%, and the creation of a three-year portfolio plan based on equity.
The department went on to say that Anderson had increased enrollment, kept a large number of highly-rated teachers, and boosted the number of K-8 schools in the state rated “good.”
However, she was not able to decrease the number of chronically absent students in the district by 5%, nor was she able to boost the number of 11th graders who met ELA or math college-ready benchmarks on the ACT by 3%.