By David Cruz
After almost four years on the job, Newark’s state-appointed Superintendent, Cami Anderson, gathered her senior staff and summoned some of the local press to a breakfast presentation that served as a reintroduction, long on highlights and short on acknowledgement of the turbulence that has characterized her tenure. Recalling her first days on the job, Anderson says she found a system in disarray.
“We actually ran the numbers several times because so many of us couldn’t believe that we weren’t seeing any real demonstrable growth in our student outcomes over too long a period of time,” she said.
In her version of the last three school years, Anderson sees herself as the engine of change, who took a school system that was hemorrhaging students by the thousands, drowning in low morale and righted the ship by dumping the ballast and unfurling new sails.
“This year we retained 95 percent of our highly effective and effective teachers and nearly 40 percent of our ineffective teachers chose to exit the system,” she said.
Anderson says her controversial One Newark plan has been a rousing success. And the woman who critics say is the tip of the spear of a city-wide charter school takeover, contended that — through constructive engagement with charter operators — she forced concessions from them.
“We’re also going to steer into some of the more difficult issues with the charters like student retention from grade to grade as well as discipline policies system-wide, so that you don’t have different schools playing by different rules,” said Anderson.
Anderson had her contract renewed by the state this year, but with some caveats that are intended to force her to be more transparent and subject to stricter oversight by the state.
Anderson still dismisses the motivations of her harshest critics. She differentiates between those with legitimate educational concerns and those who simply want her gone. Judging by the tone of today’s speech, neither is likely to get everything they want.