Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Newark at the boiling point. Cami Anderson is their Michelle Rhee

Mayoral candidate Ras Baraka, standing outside Weequahic High School in Newark, attacks Cami Anderson's "One Newark" plan. (Frances Micklow/The Star-Ledger)

Cami Anderson is Newark's Michelle Rhee. She's brought the city to the boiling point with the unveiling of  her “One Newark” plan for school closings and charter school proliferation in much the same way as Rhee did in D.C., before being run out of town by angry voters. Anderson is Gov. Christie's hand-picked schools chief and the community is demanding she be fired. She became notorious last month after suspending five school principals for speaking out against her plan.

Last week, AFT Pres. Randi Weingarten joined school and activists in protesting the plan, which will affect a quarter of the city’s schools. She addressed a packed board meeting promising AFT support for the fight against the plan [see video]. Anderson’s plan includes giving charter schools access to current district buildings, moving some schools to new locations and remaking others into charters. Shades of Chicago.

Weingarten's appearance marks a major shift in the union's approach in Newark and in her relationship with New Jersey's scandalized governor. I still have troubling memories of Weingarten and Christie fawning over each other on Morning Joe, over the deal they cut on the Newark teachers' contract. It was the worst display of seat-at-the-table unionism I had seen in years. Both hailed the deal as a "model" for the rest of the country. Now the state's teachers and communities like Newark are paying the price. I'm glad to see the apparent shift.


Wasn't N.Y. Mayor Bill de Blasio great Monday night on the Daily Show? Funny when he wanted to be. Serious when he had to be.
“I don’t wear the Che Guevara T-shirt at work,” the mayor said, after joking that he kept a portrait of Guevara, the Marxist revolutionary, in his office. “I have thought about that.”
 Mr. Stewart pressed the mayor about his battle with Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo over how to finance universal prekindergarten programs, suggesting that the state and city could split the bill. “Why can’t we go 50-50 on this bad boy?” Mr. Stewart asked.
BdB instead proposed  tax increase on those NY'ers making over a half-million or more, to insure that the money would be there, an increase he said that would amount to the "price of a small [daily] soy latte at Starbucks."

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