State's pick for Newark superintendent resigns from charter school lobbying group

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Former New Jersey Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, seen in this file photo, is being recommended as the next state-appointed superintendent of Newark Public Schools. (Tony Kurdzuk/The Star-Ledger)

By Dan Ivers | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com 
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NEWARK - The front-runner to take over the soon-to-be vacant job running the city's school district has resigned his post at one of the country's most prominent charter school advocacy organizations.

Chris Cerf, who Education Commissioner David Hespe has nominated to take over as Superintendent of Schools when Cami Anderson leaves next week, tendered his resignation from the National Alliance for Public Charter Schools' Board of Directors on June 22, organization spokeswoman Riya Anandwala said in an email.

The move came the same day that Anderson and state officials publicly announced their decision to have her vacate the position overseeing the state's largest school system, which she had held since 2011.

Cerf had held the position since April, when the NAPCS welcomed both he and former U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu to the 16-member board. In a press release issued at the time, attributed the additions to "their time and commitment to the charter school movement."

The release also cited Cerf's professional background, including his time as New Jersey Education Commissioner from 2011 to 2014, and his more recent work as the CEO of Amplify Insight, which pushes data-driven instruction in schools.

Cerf's ties to charter schools have drawn criticism from some in Newark as the state Board of Education prepares to vote on his nomination next week.

At a meeting last week, School Advisory Board President Ariagna Perello said the board was prepared to work with Cerf or any other new superintendent, but reiterated their desire to see "One Newark", the highly controversial school reorganization plan, put to a stop.

Charter schools have flourished in Newark since the plan was implemented in 2013, and now educate approximately 40 percent of the city's students.

On its website, the NAPCS bills itself as "the leading national nonprofit organization committed to advancing the public charter school movement."

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