In interview, ex-Newark school chief laments 'well-orchestrated drama' around reforms

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for
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on October 15, 2015

Newark School Superintendent Cami Anderson and Gov. Chris Christie talk at the Newark Teacher's Village grand opening ceremony on Halsey Street in Newark, NJ, on Wednesday, September 25, 2013.


NEWARK – Former Superintendent of Schools Cami Anderson is speaking out about her controversial tenure, saying she would accept the post again despite what she called the "well-orchestrated drama around school reform in Newark."

In an interview with non-profit education site The 74 Million, Anderson lamented the political resistance to her efforts to partner with charter schools and implement an open enrollment system, which culminated in large-scale protests that featured posters of her profile soaked in blood.

She told the outlet that taking on a system "characterized by patronage and machine politics" took its toll, but that she believed she left the state-controlled school system in better condition than she found it in.

"I came to Newark with a clear mandate to fix a broken system. We made substantial progress in five years to do just that," she said.

Anderson also told the outlet that many parents and other community members privately expressed support for her reforms, but that "the circumstances made it nearly impossible for them to show support more overtly."

Department of Education Deputy Press Secretary David Saenz confirmed that Anderson has now officially off the state's books, after three months of paid administrative leave.

Though she technically gave up her duties as superintendent in late June, the arrangement allowed her to collect three months of severance pay (about $64,000). An annual bonus of up to 20 percent of her $255,019 salary, based on whether or not she reached a number of goals laid out by the state, remains under review, according to Saenz.

In the interview, the former school chief also took on questions about whether race and gender played a role in the opposition to her efforts, and "The Prize", a recently published book by longtime Washington Post reporter that calls into question the strategy around implementing a $100 million gift from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg aimed at reforming education in Newark.

Read the entire exchange here.

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