March 11, 2014
By Marc Bussanich
Newark, NJ—Ras Baraka won the endorsement of the Newark Teachers Union on Monday, March 10 to become Newark’s next mayor. Just as Bill de Blasio faces the challenge of charter school expansion in New York, so does Mr. Baraka as the school district’s superintendent, Cami Anderson, seeks to close public schools in favor of expanding charter schools. Video
Asked about his reaction to de Blasio catching heat because he didn’t give everything the charter school movement wanted—approving 36 co-locations out of the 45 co-locations former Michael Bloomberg wanted—Baraka said it’s unfortunate that New York’s new mayor is being attacked.
“Allowing one school to have greater resources at the expense of another school is something that he should not support. It has to be about equity across the board,” said Baraka.
Mr. Baraka is not entirely opposed to charter schools. LaborPress asked how could charter and public schools co-exist in Newark.
“Charter schools can be good in terms of innovation and best practices and we can share best practices across the city….but we have to move the city forward collectively, not separately,” Baraka said.
Joseph Del Grosso, NTU’s president, said the union also isn’t opposed to charter schools but wants a cap on the number of charter schools that can operate within a school district.
“Newark’s 2015 school budget will spend more money on charter schools than on its public schools. That is a problem. A cap on the number of charter schools is the intelligent thing to do. We could [then] co-exist, and there could be viable competition between public and charter schools,” said Del Grosso.
Democratic Senator Ronald L. Rice, who has lambasted Cami Anderson’s One Newark Plan to expand charter schools while closing public schools, said he believes that Cami may soon be on the way out, but not before the One Newark Plan passes.
New Jersey’s largest newspaper, Newark-based The Star Ledger, reported recently that the state’s outgoing education commissioner Chris Cerf will become the CEO of Amplify Insight, a private consulting firm for charter schools. The incoming commissioner, David Hespe, served as education commissioner during Christine Todd Whitman’s administration.
“I believe that [Cami’s] final objective is to pass the One Newark Plan and to transition these consultants to Amplify, and then we’ll get the B team coming in. That’s just my personal suspicion,” said Price.
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