Reactions to Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s Departure

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On Anderson’s retirement

Cami Anderson: “I didn’t know it was going to happen today.”

John Mooney, founding editor of NJ Spotlight, on NJTV: “I certainly would make the argument that the schools are better off than they were 20 years ago, Certainly there’s been some progress.”

Maria Ortiz, principal of Luis Muñoz Marin Elementary School, said she was distraught by the news of Ms. Anderson’s departure. ‘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.’”

Randi Weingarten, who as the president of the American Federation of Teachers personally oversaw negotiations over the Newark contract in 2012 and hailed it at the time, on Monday called Ms. Anderson’s departure ‘an opportunity to undo the many mistakes made under her leadership.’”

Mark Biedron, president of the state board, said he hopes the change in superintendents can help Newark children. ‘If this leads to the people of Newark having local control over the school district, then I think it’s a good thing.'”

Assemblyman Patrick Diegnan: “I think it’s a positive step. Regardless of Cami’s motivation, she was a divisive factor in Newark,” Diegnan said. “Everybody’s got to get back on the same page.”
Senator Teresa Ruiz: “It’s been a troubling and difficult last several years under Cami Anderson for families, students and faculty.”

New Jersey Communities United: “The community of students, parents, teachers and concerned residents has never been about the narrow goal of Cami’s resignation,” Trina Scordo, the organization’s executive director, said in a press release. “The movement in Newark to reclaim our public schools has been about local democratic control, increasing the resources and funding needed to strengthen Newark’s public schools, developing community schools and ensuring a strong future for our children. Unless her permanent replacement is selected by the Newark community, and until Newark’s schools are properly funded, the movement to reclaim our public schools will continue,” Scordo added.

Noble Milton, a father of a graduating senior at Newark’s Science Park High School, a selective magnet school, referring to Anderson’s One Newark plan that offered universal school choice: “She was disrupting schools that are working. Especially schools like Science. I think you should pair kids who want to work hard with kids who want to work hard,” he said. “You’re trying to disrupt something that’s working — if it’s not broke, don’t try to fix it.

On Chris Cerf as Anderson’s replacement:

Newark Mayor Ras Baraka: “My focus would not be on replacing her,” said Mayor Ras Baraka. “It would be on transitioning back to local control.” And, “I would need some assurances that local control is real. If anybody else comes, of course they should engage the community better (than Anderson has), but it should be a transitional person for a very short period of time.”

Also, “Listen – we don’t want anybody appointed by the state, ultimately,” Baraka added. “[Christie] didn’t have to do anything. [Anderson] could have remained. So something is changing. And whatever it is, Newark needs to be a part of the change. And we’re going to make sure that we are.”

John Abeigon, Director of Organization for Newark Teacher’s Union, said he fears Cerf “bleeds basically the same dogmas that Cami Anderson believes.

Ross Danis, president and CEO of Newark Trust for Education: “A lot of people are surprised. I think they are more surprised about the Chris Cerf part than the Cami Anderson part. I don’t think I would have predicted that the former commissioner of education, who was actually responsible for helping bring (Anderson) here… would then be appointed the superintendent.”

“Patrick Murray, director of the Monmouth University Polling Institute, said the leadership change looks like a victory for Ms. Anderson’s opponents in Newark, but tapping Mr. Cerf suggested the governor was determined to continue the same educational agenda. ‘Christie is sending a very clear message that this train is still moving along the same track, There’s going to be absolutely no change in policy.’”

A Newark resident on Cerf: “This isn’t even about out of the frying pan and into the fire anymore. This is about pouring gasoline into the pan,” said one irate Newark resident overheard in the crowd, pleased that Anderson is gone. “And then throw napalm in the mix for extra flavor. What the f*** are they thinking?”

Statement from Newark Students Union: “For last three years the Newark Students Union has been fighting against the defunding and privatization of our education. Cami Anderson’s resignation does not put an end to our fight. We must continue to fight for democratic local control in our city. We don’t want former commissioner Cerf as the superintendent of NPS, we want the right to choose who will lead our schools. This is ‪#‎OurNewark‬ “

NJ Spotlight: Neither side was saying much more, but the expectation is that Christie and Baraka will put in place a plan to return local control of the schools to the city after more than 20 years of state operation.

Lucious Jones, “outspoken parent activist and frequent thorn in Anderson’s side”: “They gave us back the keys to the community.” When asked whether Cerf was seen as a more promising than Anderson, he said, “We’re willing to start somewhere. If that means starting again with Cerf, I think he at least has some sensitivity.”

Donald Jackson, Newark Advisory School Board member: “That’s not a good replacement.”

John Mooney: “Anderson’s departure was long rumored.”  And, ‘I think there was a sense that she was not going to last out her full contract and it was a matter of some timing. I think the surprise to it was that it germinated very quickly over the last week or so and the fact that Chris Cerf is going to be coming in to replace her. I mean, he was very closely aligned to her,’  Mooney said. ‘He appointed her to this job and had been one of her strongest cheerleaders and now is coming in and it’s an interesting choice. Her big issue had been her relationship with the community. Whether he can calm those concerns, we’ll see. That’s going to be the big question going forward.’”

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