End the squabbling in Newark schools: Editorial

By Star-Ledger Editorial Board
on September 26, 2014

Newark school board members have focused all their energies on opposing Superintendent Cami Anderson's school reform plan.

 

In the latest kerfuffle over Newark schools, the advisory board has voted to stop payment on Superintendent Cami Anderson's salary.

This was predated by Anderson's refusal to attend school board meetings. People, can we please just get along? For the sake of the kids, both sides need to settle down and start over.

The board's latest irrational sabotage is no better than what it's done in the past. This is the same group, remember, that voted to freeze all school reforms in Newark. At Tuesday's meeting, its members sought to use the fiscal control the board finally regained this summer to target Anderson. They vowed to withhold her pay until she makes a return to their board meetings.

They know this is just a tantrum, because Anderson holds the ultimate veto powers in any disagreement with the board. This vote was pointless and bitter. The board complains that it doesn't get the information it needs from the district, yet at the same meeting this week, it voted down a contract -- funded by a private foundation, not the district -- that would allow a credible third party research group to assess the impact of teacher evaluations.

What sense does that make? The school board has once again shown that it is not particularly interested in trying to improve the schools, just indulging in political fights for no constructive reform.

The state has been running this district for decades, and it hasn't worked. So question to the board: Don't you ultimately want to return to local control? This isn't helping. It is only digging the hole deeper.

But while this week's tantrum was foolish, Anderson isn't blameless either. The central argument being made here is right: She should return to board meetings.

In February, she announced she would boycott the school board until its president restores some semblance of order at the raucous public meetings. Well, now there is new leadership: Rashon Hasan, the current president, took over back in April.

He is not just sitting with his head back, legs crossed, enjoying the moment like his predecessor did. He is trying to regain control of these meetings.

Anderson's staff argues that Hasan hasn't yet achieved enough sway over the room to make things more productive. But where's the proof of that? Anderson should return to these meetings and find out for herself.

"As we work to make ourselves more constructive as a board, we also want to make sure the superintendent can meet us halfway," Hasan said.

Sounds reasonable to us.

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