Friday, November 14, 2014

Right-wing think-tanker Hess lectures Newark "rabble-rousers" on civility

Community "rabble-rousers" protest Newark One in Feb. 2014.
More lectures on civility from right-wing think-tanker Rick Hess directed towards Newark parents and community activists [Hess calls them "rabble-rousers". No really, he does.] who traveled to D.C. to protest Supt. Cami Anderson's speech at AEI. Once Anderson and the think-tankers caught wind that the angry community members were planning to make their voices heard, they quickly flew the coop and re-staged Anderson's performance in a room without an audience. It seems she can't go anywhere these days without be dogged by angry Newark residents.

Anderson, appointed by Gov. Chris Christie, is the architect of  “One Newark”, a corporate-style reform plan to relocate neighborhood schools, convert others to privately-run  charter schools and re-engineer still more traditional public schools by replacing all their principals and firing hundreds of teachers in violation of the contract. It's a plan that devastates already resourced-starved Newark neighborhoods.

The Washington Post reports:
The plan for the 35,000-student school system has been the target of lawsuits, a federal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education and student boycotts. It was a central factor in last spring’s mayoral race, which led to high school principal Ras Baraka winning office in large part because of his opposition to One Newark. Baraka wrote to President Obama last month and asked him to intervene on behalf of the community.
"I’m opposed to all of it,” Baraka said by phone Thursday. “She has forced this down people’s throats, and the people don’t want it. We need a new superintendent.”
Tensions have grown so much in Newark that Anderson no longer attends meetings of the locally elected school advisory board, where her opponents regularly railed against her, hurling invectives.
Anderson & Christie
But to the why-can't-we-all-just-get-along-minded Hess, African-American and Latino families demonstrating peacefully but loudly to save their schools is equivalent to "vitriolic and even threatening tactics." To Hess, it's all about civil debate, so long as he controls the speakers and the agenda. To show how fair minded he is, he boasts:
 Over the years, I've hosted "reformers" including the likes of Arne Duncan, Rod Paige, Joel Klein, Kaya Henderson, Michelle Rhee, John Deasy, Jim Shelton, John White, Deb Gist, Howard Fuller, and Campbell Brown. I've hosted those who come at things very differently, such as Randi Weingarten, Diane Ravitch, Dennis van Roekel, Lily Eskelsen Garcia, Debbie Meier, Carol Burris, Kevin Welner, and Larry Cuban.
He writes:
But it's the hypocrisy that bothers me the most. A group that claims it is disenfranchised and silenced, and wants only to be heard, adopts tactics that stifle debate.
"Claims it is disenfranchised and silenced"? Did Hess really say that?

Well, let's put it this way. They may still be disenfranchised, but they weren't silenced for long at AEI. Maybe he should have included some of them among his approved list of "reformers".

A real policy debate would have taken place BEFORE the schools were closed and privatized, not after the fact. Parents and community were excluded from the debate then and they were excluded (not invited) to the debate by AEI. Instead they made their voices heard the best way they could. They were heard again last May, in the city's mayoral election when they elected Mayor Baraka, a militant opponent of Anderson's and of "One Newark". And yet the program remains.

Hess should know that people still have the right to protest against oppressive government policies, while those bureaucrats enforcing those policies still have the right to run and hide from the community.

It's a free country.


  1. Hess looks at the "rabble" with disdain. They're much too rude and noisy for his taste.

  2. Hess should have brought in Chris ("Sit down and shut up") Christie and the Ferguson P.D. to restore order.

  3. I knew Anderson as a novice teacher in NYC in 2000. There were plenty of red flags then. Someone should stop her. She is clueless and reckless.

  4. Thanks for caring about us in Newark!


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