overall quality of schools barely changed,
so just having a choice didn’t mean that
children ended up in better schools. And
transportation wasn’t made available to
all kids, which limits the meaning of city-wide choice when 40 percent of families
don’t own cars. The plan closed three K- 8
very low-performing district schools and
replaced them with three K- 4 charters,
which significantly improved opportunities for those kids. But the school closings
and consolidations displaced thousands
of students and caused chaos in district
schools, which is why there was such a
loud public uproar.
Why did Anderson leave her job?
She was forced out. It wasn’t her choice
What has been the reaction in Newark?
People are generally glad that there’s
some movement to return control of the
schools from the state to Newark, but
wary of how long that could take. At the
grassroots level, there’s no more affection
for Chris Cerf than there was for Cami
Anderson, but he has signaled that he’s
going to address problems caused by One
Newark and also launch some initiatives
[Mayor Ras Baraka] has long wanted—
like possibly a community school with
extensive social services for kids and
families. Those things would be popular
in the community and might buy some
good will for him.
If Newark was to be a test case and a
national example for education reform,
what were the lessons learned?
The main lesson I learned during the
four years I spent in Newark is that
you have to listen to the people on the
ground, because there’s a lot of them
who know exactly what the problems
are and how to fix them. And if you
alienate them, you have no chance.
Was it the plan or the implementation
that was flawed, or both?
Both. Well, I think the plan was flawed, so
no matter how well you implemented it, it
wasn’t going to work. What happened in
Newark, though, was that the implementation caused an explosion. ;
Tammy La Gorce is a frequent contributor.
Prepare to climb.
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