Greg Costikyan writes, "Newark public school students have occupied the office of Cami Anderson, the state-appointed superintendent of Newark's public school system, in protest against plans to privatize the entire city school system over the protest of the city's mayor and virtually its entire population."
They have been there since yesterday and plan to stay there until their demands are met. They are calling for Anderson's resignation (her contract ends March 1st).
Newark schools have been under direct state control for about 20 years. Anderson was appointed by New Governor Chris Christie and apparently needs to answer only to him. The city has a school board but their role is entirely 'advisory.' Anderson stopped attending meetings of this body about a year ago and has gained the reputation of being entirely inaccessible to the community. She was recently summoned to meet with New Jersey Legislators but was unresponsive to several lines of questioning.
Newark educators, parents, students, clergymen and other local leaders are increasingly frustrated and furious with the state of Newark school governance. Recently elected Mayor Ras Baraka campaigned on stopping Anderson's unpopular One Newark plan, which proposed closing neighborhood schools and replacing them with corporate charters, while centralizing 'school choice' by eliminating zoning and having all families apply to the city for assignment to any school. Other community complaints point to crony deals in connection with charter approval and real estate and mismanagement of Mark Zuckerberg's donation of $100,000,000 to Newark's schools.
The students attended a school board meeting yesterday evening in hopes of addressing Anderson, who was characteristically not in attendance. They then went to her office in the same building and announced that would wait there until they got to speak with her (or until she resigned.)
Coverage of the occupation in progress:
Occupying Cami's Office