Martin Luther King Jr. Holiday History Review... 'The Newark school district is not a military dictatorship, and Ms. Anderson is neither an army general nor a police chief...' Newark schools supt. suspends five principals -- all African American -- for opposing 'One Newark' charter schools plan

Less than a week after another major New Jersey political scandal became the subject of public debate, the superintendent of the public schools of Newark, New Jersey, put the city's corporate "school reform" in the same league as Governor Chris Christie's George Washington Bridge scandal. How? Cami Anderson purged five principals from the city's remaining real public schools after they opposed corporate Newark's plan to convert more city schools into charter schools, an Anderson plan called "One Newark".

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (left) and Newark school chief Cami Anderson (right) teamed up, along with former mayor (now Senator) Corey Booker to implement corporate "school reform" and the charter school attack on public education in the state's largest city.The principals, who spoke out publicly, joined parents, teachers and students in opposition to the corporate reform that has taken over New Jersey's largest city, just as corporate reform long ago took over Chicago, the nation's third largest school system. In their comments to the public, the principals had noted that "One Newark" was not true -- that there are two Newarks (and two New Jerseys) because of the intense racism of the local and state leadership, in ways personified by both Governor Chris Christie and Supt. Cami Anderson.

The first telling of the story was on the Internet in a You Tube video by January 16, 2014. Here are those insubordinate principals, explaining why they finally had to speak up:

The remarks by the four principals were made on January 15, the actual date of the birthday of the civil rights leader. They joined others across the nation who are noting with an every louder voice that corporate "school reform" is the latest iteration the injustices and segregation that Dr. King fought until his assassination on April 4, 1968.

To add a point to the current debate: The suspensions of five the African American educators was done by a white political appointee during the time honoring Martin Luther King Jr., and were done by a corporate appointee who has never taught a day in Newark's public schools. The difference between the Newark scandal and current events in Chicago is singular: In Newark, principals finally showed their courage and spoke out in the tradition of Dr. King and his legacy. In Chicago, the principals are still gagging themselves out of fear of the power of Mayor Rahm Emanuel and his appointed school board.

The word got out about the Resistance to the latest onslaught of corporate "reform" first got out via a grainy You Tube video in which four of the principals showed up at a community meeting to announce that they were going to refuse to tell the parents of children at their schools to exercise the false "choice" promulgated as part of the hoax used to expand charter schools. The viral expansion of the video prompted the white head of the school system to immediately purge the schools of leadership.

One of the major architects of corporate school reform is U.S. Senator Cory Booker, who served as Newark's mayor during the years that Cami Anderson and others ramped up the attacks on democracy in Newark's public schools. Like the other dictators who push the policies of corporate school reform -- from Barack Obama and Arne Duncan to Booker himself and Cami Anderson -- a major link among the slick apologetics and apologists for the attacks on public education is Harvard University, whose mystique mesmerizes some Americans, despite its centrality in the reign of the plutocracy and the "Billionaire Boys Club." Following the suspensions of the principals, political leaders in Newark began demanding the ouster of Anderson and a return to democracy in a school system that has been claimed to be "failing" for more than a decade under New Jersey's corporate reform laws. The ending of the mayoral reign of Corey Booker, who now joins Barack Obama among the neo-liberal rulers in Washington, also had an impact on the willingness of people in Newark to speak out. Anderson was appointed by state officials with the approval of Booker, who promoted the Chicago Plan and similar corporate "reform" actions during his years as Newark's mayor.

By January 20, demands were rising for the removal of Anderson and the reinstatement of the principals. As one report noted:

Statement by Ras Baraka:

"Today Cami Anderson indefinitely suspended four Newark principals: Tony Motley of Bragraw Avenue School, Grady James of Hawthorne Avenue School, Dorothy Handfield of Belmont-Runyon, and Deneen Washington of Maple Avenue. She suspended the four principals because they spoke at a public forum on Wednesday in opposition to Ms. Anderson's widely criticized "One Newark" reorganization plan which includes closing or "repurposing" nearly one third of Newark's public schools.

"Ms. Anderson's action in suspending the four principals is the last straw in a chain of inept, and horribly out-of-touch decisions. The people of Newark need to hear the views of those within the school system who disagree with Ms. Anderson. The four principals have a constitutional right to speak out. The Newark school district is not a military dictatorship, and Ms. Anderson is neither an army general nor a police chief. Her behavior must be governed by the principles of our democracy.

Despite the fact that he had never taught a day in his life and had been raised in the privileges of Chicago's University of Chicago community (Hyde Park), Arne Duncan was chosen by Chicago's ruling class to operate the city's corporate "school reform" regime following the dumping of the controversial Paul G. Vallas by Mayor Richard M. Daley in June 2001. By 2008, Duncan had proved that his complete lack of experience was insignificant compared to his willingness to repeat the official version of reality. After serving as "Chief Executive Officer" of Chicago's public schools from 2001 through 2008, Duncan became Barack Obama's Secretary of Eduction in 2009 and is now the longest-serving Secretary of Education in the history of the cabinet position. "Whatever one thinks of Ms. Anderson's political and educational ideology, she has proven time and again that she holds in contempt the opinions of the people of Newark. From the beginning, she has not consulted with Newark's parents, community and political leaders, or professional educators on any significant decision. Most recently, she announced and began implementing her 'One Newark' reorganization plan on the people of Newark with no consultation and no advance notice. In doing this, she ignited a firestorm of opposition from outraged citizens.

"The suspensions are the final outrage. Ms. Anderson's tenure has outlived whatever usefulness it had. I call on Governor Christie to remove her immediately before she can do any more damage." [

As the community outrage grew and protests against the tyranny escalated, finally the state's major newspaper, The Newark Star Ledger, also reported the story:


5 Newark principals suspended indefinitely, allegedly for opposing One Newark plan

Longer school day? No way, many parents and students say

By Peggy McGlone, updated January 20, 2014 at 10:53 AM

NEWARK Five Newark public school principals were suspended indefinitely on Friday, including four who spoke at a community meeting opposing proposed changes to the state-run school district, according to two sources who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press.

A video on YouTube shows four of the administrators with mayoral candidate and Newark Councilman Ras Baraka, who is on leave as principal of Central High School, at the meeting at the Hopewell Baptist Church. The Wednesday meeting was held to oppose Superintendent Cami Andersons One Newark reorganization plan. The suspension of the fifth principal was the result of an incident unrelated to that meeting, according to the sources.

A letter from the districts head of personnel, Vanessa Rodriguez, informing the principals of their suspension on Friday, was obtained by The Star-Ledger. In it, Rodriguez writes that "an investigation has been launched regarding an incident that occurred on or about Jan. 15, 2014. As a result, you have been placed on suspension effective immediately. You are not to report to any Newark Public School facility until further notice."

The four principals who attended the meeting are H. Grady James of Hawthorne Avenue School, Tony Motley of Bragaw Avenue School, Dorothy Handfield of Belmont Runyan School and Deneen Washington of Maple Avenue School. The fifth suspended principal is Lisa Brown of Ivy Hill School.

Two of the principals declined to comment, the other three could not be reached.

The principals work at schools affected by the One Newark plan. Hawthorne and Bragaw are targeted for use by charter schools and Maple is set to become an early childhood learning center. Belmont Runyon has been designated a "renew" school, which means new leadership will be installed and teachers will be asked to reapply for their positions. Browns school, Ivy Hill, is designated for "redesign."

Newark school spokesman Matthew Frankel said it is "unequivocally false" that the four principals were suspended for voicing their opinions.

"It is NPS obligation to ensure families and students have a safe environment as well as ensure equitable access to an education," Frankel said. "The matter is currently being investigated and is confidential.

Leonard Pugliese, executive director of the City Association of Supervisors and Administrators, the union representing principals and other chief school administrators, said he was outraged at the suspensions and the lack of information provided by the district. The four principals were not told if they would be paid during their suspensions, or how long the suspensions would last, Pugliese said.

"CASA is opposed to these suspensions and we will vigorously advocate on behalf of the suspended principals, both about these suspensions, and any other future disciplinary action that may grow out of the investigation," he said. A meeting with all five is set for tomorrow, he said.

A YouTube video of the meeting shows the four principals speakiing after Baraka calls Andersons plan "an attack" on the South Ward. They say their schools are improving despite district cuts to personnel, including guidance counselors, reading specialists and librarians.

In the video Washington says she has told her parents to boycott next years enrollment system, which allows families of students to choose up to eight schools if they want to change or are in a school that does not offer their grade.

"Im going down fighting. Im no longer going to stand still and stand quiet," Washington says in the video. "Im a fighter and Im mad as hell and Im trying to get my staff riled up and mad as hell as well."

Baraka Sunday called for Andersons firing, saying the suspensions are "the last straw in a chain of inept, and horribly out of touch decisions. The people of Newark need to hear the views of those within the school system who disagree with Ms. Anderson. The four principals have a constitutional right to speak out. The Newark school district is not a military dictatorship, and Ms. Anderson is neither an army general nor a police chief. Her behavior must be governed by the principles of our democracy."

Grace Sergio, the president of the parent-teacher organization at Hawthorne Avenue school said she was not surprised to learn of James suspension.

"We were kind of expecting it, basically. (Anderson) is going to try to shut up whoever wants to speak out," she said.

Sergio said James "has done wonders for our school" during his six-year tenure, including the last four as principal. She predicted the suspension will strengthen the schools opposition.

"If anything, it just put more wood on the fire," she said.

As the scandal grows, more attention is being paid to the background of Cami Anderson, who was brought into Newark's schools from the outside. Immediately before becoming Newark's superintendent, Anderson had worked in New York City's schools during the corporate reform regime of former mayor Michael Bloomberg. But Anderson's resume is like a "Who's Who" of corporate reform. In addition to holding an MA from Harvard, she has long been associated with Teach for American and New Leaders for New Schools. According to one on line biography: "Cami was superintendent of alternative high schools and programs for the New York City Department of Education. Cami has served as executive director of Teach For America New York, where she founded a board of business and education leaders, increased funding by over 300%, and launched Teach For America Week. She served as chief program officer for New Leaders for New Schools, which was recognized by Fast Company and Harvard Business School, Education Week, the US Department of Education, and The Teaching Commission as one of the most effective principal preparation programs in the country. Cami graduated with a BA in education and anthropology from the University of California at Berkeley and an MA in public policy and education from Harvard. She is a Fellow of the second class of The Pahara - Aspen Education Fellowship and a member of the Aspen Global Leadership Network."


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