Cerf: Newark school budget deficit is all Cami Anderson’s fault
Cami Anderson? I don’t know Cami Anderson and, besides, it’s all her fault. (MIke Simpson)
The state official running the Newark schools conceded at Tuesday night’s school board meeting that his predecessor–a woman he appointed–created a $63 million budget shortfall by relying on assumptions that “turned out not to be true.” Christopher Cerf, who named Cami Anderson to the Newark job four years ago, quickly added he didn’t believe she and her staff had deliberately lied about the budget or had done anything illegal.
Cerf, the former state education commissioner and a business entrepreneur whose company held contracts with the Newark schools, was then quickly put on the defensive by a school board member who accused him of budget manipulations in the effort to prevent the district from running out of money by the end of the year.
“This is a crisis,” said Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson of the budget shortfall that has resulted in a spending freeze at schools throughout the state’s largest school district. Baskerville-Richardson demanded that Cerf admit his own responsibility for the district’s financial troubles.
He angrily replied, “Okay–I accept responsibility.”
But, clearly he did not, all but dismissing the financial troubles as a problem he can resolve by the end of the year. Meanwhile, principals have complained they cannot pay for basic supplies and services like security because the district has frozen individual school budgets to save money to prevent the state-operated district from running out of money before July 1, 2017.
Achievement gap points to ineffectiveness of decades of reforms
The vast achievement gaps in the Smarter Balanced test scores released this month point to the ineffectiveness of reforms over the past 15 years or more that were intended to close those gaps, raising the question of whether a new set of reforms being implemented in California are more likely to succeed.
Those new reforms range from the Common Core standards to the Local Control Funding Formula, which allocates additional funds for high-needs children, grants local districts more decision-making powers, creates a more comprehensive accountability system that focuses on deeper learning skills, and moves to a model that emphasizes support for schools and teachers rather than imposing punishment or sanctions.
Only 28 percent of African-Americans and 32 percent of Latinos who took the test in California met or exceeded standards on the English language arts section of the Smarter Balanced tests, which students took for the first time this spring. By comparison, 61 percent of whites and 72 percent of Asian-Americans met or exceeded standards in English language arts. The differences in math are even wider. Only 16 percent of African-Americans and 21 percent of Latinos met or exceeded the standard in math, compared with 59 percent of whites and 69 percent of Asian-Americans.
ADDRESSING RACIAL AND ETHNIC INEQUALITY
These differences come against the backdrop of the fiercest national conversation on the causes – and effects – of racial and ethnic inequality that has occurred at any time since the Civil Rights Movement.
The fact that the disparity is so wide in a “blue state” like California is even more troubling than in states where educational and political leaders have been less committed to serving students from diverse backgrounds. In addition, during the past two decades, California has beaten back the anti-immigrant sentiments surging through other states, especially against Spanish-speaking immigrants. Latinos now wield considerable political clout in the state, and have helped drive education reforms here.
Breakin’ it down: The District 3 City Council race, Kshawma Sawant vs Pamela Banks
Our focus is on education and that has generally meant for us at the Seattle Education website sticking to the school board races during election season but with the mayor and City Council member Tim Burgess insinuating themselves into the Seattle Public School district with the city’s preschool program (more on that later) and attempting to control the school board, we have begun to look at the city council races more closely.
Because of this, we will be publishing posts about the City Council and school board candidates during the campaign.
To start things off, here is a great video that a Seattleite made about the City Council race in District 3 between the incumbent Kshawma Sawant and Pamela Banks.
You know how we like to follow the money so the first thing we did after viewing the video was check out Pamela Banks’ donors and it is a rather telling list. It is similar to the same donor list as Tim Burgess’. Coincidence? I think not.
Donors on the real estate development side of things:
Photo of the Day: Camden parents confront Norcross, Sweeney and Hespe
3 very different expressions on Steve Sweeney, Don Norcross, George Norcross
as Camden parents confront them
PHOTO: April Saul, Camden, NJ: A Spirit Invincible (on Facebook)
Inside, a $35 ticket conference hosted by the New Jersey "School Choice" Education Reform Alliance (quote marks, mine). Inside, the man who's made Camden his philanthropic playground, opened opportunities there for business friends to score, and put his name on a few some buildings - George Norcross, who also runs quite a few NJ Democrats. Next to him, two two beneficiaries, his brother Donald, for whom a seat in Congress was procured, and Senate President Steve Sweeney, the Norcross operation's presumptive pick for governor. Also there, NJ Education Commissioner David Hespe, appointed by Gov. Christie to grease the way for privatization targeting NJ's minority-majority cities.
Outside, about 50 fed up Camden parents, who say they represent many more who aren't available in the middle of a work day to crash a big wheelers' get-together.
These are Camden parents who are are tired of people who don't live in Camden calling the shots about how their kids are schooled and excluding their input. They object to the way their children are turned into commodities for the privatizers of education. Camden's only under state control two years and they already see the need to shake it off. And they want Christie-appointed Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard gone.
Rosi Efthim :: Photo of the Day: Camden parents confront Norcross, Sweeney and HespeNewark's had 20 years of state control. Only after voters vaulted a public ed activist - Ras Baraka - into the mayor's office over the pro-charter candidate backed by Sweeney and Norcross, and after years of parents and students directly confronting Christie-appointed super Cami Anderson, did Newark's picture even begin to change. Among protesters today were Newark school board member Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson and NJEA officers Marie Blistan and Sean Spiller. Camden is organizing.
About April Saul: I found the photo above on Saul's Facebook page, called Camden, NJ: A Spirit Invincible. Saul is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist specializing in documentary photojournalism. She has a deep body of work at the Philadelphia Inquirer, where she is on leave on a Alicia Patterson Foundation Fellowship to document life in the city of Camden. More on April Saul and her work here and here. Blue Jersey:: Photo of the Day: Camden parents confront Norcross, Sweeney and Hespe:
ALBANY — Gov. Andrew Cuomo met with Cardinal Timothy Dolan, the Catholic archbishop of New York, several weeks before re-introducing legislation to grant financial assistance for parents whose children attend private and parochial schools.
According to newly posted schedule records, the Democratic governor huddled with the Catholic prelate as well as with James Cultrara, the Catholic Conference's top education official, and Anthony de Nicola, a fund manager and board member of the group that pushed for the tax credit, on April 13 at the cardinal's residence in midtown Manhattan. Cuomo later held events around the state to rally support for the tax credit, which lawmakers did not enact.
The schedules also show:
-- Cuomo met with a trio of teachers' union leaders, Karen Magee of NYSUT, Michael Mulgrew of the UFT and Randi Weingarten of the AFT, on April 10, and again on April 22. The unions were vociferous opponents of the tax credit plan.
-- The governor met with Jose Cabañas, the Cuban ambassador, 10 days before he led a trade mission to the island nation. Cuomo also called officials at the U.S. Department of State on April 17, the Friday before he departed.
-- The governor and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio held a one-on-one meeting on May 27. A month later, after the conclusion of the legislative session, de Blasio accused his “friend” Cuomo of undermining his agenda.
Race and Class Collide in a Plan for Two Brooklyn Schools
Parents and students at Public School 8 Elementary School, right, in Brooklyn Heights and at Public School 307, left, in Dumbo, Brooklyn.CreditMichael Appleton for The New York Times, left; Sam Hodgson for The New York Times
At Public School 8 in Brooklyn Heights, the auditorium’s stage is crowded with music stands that were stored there when the music room had to be turned into a first-grade classroom.
The prekindergarten program was cut because of lack of space. And with the school operating far above capacity, 50 families who live within its zone — which also includes Dumbo and much of another Brooklyn neighborhood, Vinegar Hill — were placed on a waiting list for kindergarten last spring.
To the city, the solution for the overcrowding at P.S. 8 seemed obvious: move those two neighborhoods from P.S. 8’s zone and into that of P.S. 307, which is nearby and has room to spare. The proposal, however, has drawn intense opposition, and not only from the families who would be rezoned from the predominantly white P.S. 8 to the mostly black P.S. 307. Some residents of the housing project served by P.S. 307 also oppose the rezoning, worried about how an influx of wealthy, mostly white families could change their school.
For all its diversity, New York City, by some measures, has one of the most segregated school systems in the country, in part because many elementary schools are effectively closed off to children who live outside their zones. And although the Brooklyn rezoning is mainly a response to crowding, it is becoming a real-life study in the challenges of integrating just one of the city’s schools.
It is also, perhaps, an unavoidable result of the gentrification in its part of Brooklyn. For many years, the area that came to be named Dumbo, for Down Under the Manhattan Bridge Overpass, was a decaying industrial district with relatively few families.
Shirese Casenave, 51, who grew up in Farragut Houses, a public housing complex that now sends many children to P.S. 307, said she recalled some of her friends being bused to P.S. 8. “They had a choice,” she said.
That has changed, as Dumbo has become a thriving neighborhood where condominiums regularly sell for millions of dollars. Saying that the crowding problem was urgent, the city’s Education Department plans to present its proposal at the end of the month to the District 13 Community Education Council, which represents school parents in the area and has the power to approve rezonings. The department is hoping the council will vote on the proposal in time for the boundaries to take effect next year.
South Brunswick Board of Ed Tries to Oust Education Advocate
Melissa Katz, far left, is watched by a police officer.
In every generation, you hope there will be people who are active and engaged in the community in which they live. You hope they are smart and willing to devote time to contribute and make things better in their corner of the world. New Jersey is lucky to have a lot of such people, especially in education advocacy.
One of those people is a young woman named Melissa Katz. She is smart and funny and completely dedicated to becoming an urban educator. She is deeply involved in state advocacy for public education, seeing it not only as duty to a greater good, but also with the intent of saving a profession she dearly loves. Her future students will be very lucky to have her as their teacher.
Yesterday, I had a conversation with Melissa, actually I should say another conversation, about how her local Board of Education does a not great job of informing the public about their meetings -- specifically with regard to making their meeting agendas public. What is made available to the public before every meeting, via the district website, is a single page with an outline of a meeting. It looks like something the Business Administrator might start with before filling it in. As a member of the public, you should be able to look at an agenda, 48 hours in advance per the Open Public Meetings Act (OPMA), and discern what will be discussed. You should be able to decide if there is business you need to attend the meeting for -- either to comment or just to hear the details. South Brunswick Board of Education does not do this. You must attend the meeting to get an actual, full agenda.
Several members of the public have previously brought this to the Board's attention and nothing has been done. Melissa was troubled that the public comments had been ignored. We talked about the best way to approach the Board to ask for an explanation. This, with the full understanding that a Board does not have to respond to the question itself at a meeting. So, Melissa went home and looked at surrounding districts' websites for their Board agendas. All of Education Lessons From A Sparkly District: South Brunswick Board of Ed Tries to Oust Education Advocate:
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