Bullying people, whether mayors or teachers, is clearly a cultural norm in New Jersey.
Five Newark public school principals were suspended indefinitely on Friday, including four who spoke at a community meeting opposing proposed changes to the state-run school district, according to two sources who sought anonymity because they are not authorized to speak to the press.
A video on YouTube shows four of the administrators with mayoral candidate and Newark Councilman Ras Baraka, who is on leave as principal of Central High School, at the meeting at the Hopewell Baptist Church. The Wednesday meeting was held to oppose Superintendent Cami Anderson’s One Newark reorganization plan. The suspension of the fifth principal was the result of an incident unrelated to that meeting, according to the sources.
A letter from the district’s head of personnel, Vanessa Rodriguez, informing the principals of their suspension on Friday, was obtained by The Star-Ledger. In it, Rodriguez writes that "an investigation has been launched regarding an incident that occurred on or about Jan. 15, 2014. As a result, you have been placed on suspension effective immediately. You are not to report to any Newark Public School facility until further notice."
Diane Ravitch has the background on what triggered retribution against these principals:
Cami Anderson, the current Newark Superintendent is a former Teach for America teacher and a graduate of the unaccredited Broad Academy, which is known for advocating the closing of public schools and the handover of public schools to private management.
Cami has learned her lessons well, it seems. If they oppose you, make them pay.
Anthony Cody has transcripts of what they said at these public meetings. Some of what they said now reads like self-fulfilling prophecy:
Deneen Washington: This is not the first ... we've been penalized for years, told to keep quiet. For years we've had bad evaluations, and issues have been created around funding, inequities within the city of Newark. I'm from here. I grew up six blocks from here Prince Street Projects. I am a fighter. You may not hear my words all the time, but now? I'm tired. I'm mad as hell. I'm trying to get my staff riled up and mad as hell too. Because that is the only way that they will listen.
Dorothy Handfield. I'm the prior principal at Belmont-Runyon Elementary school. As my colleagues said, we've been quiet for too long as administrators as to what's been going on in our buildings. We've been making it happen for our children regardless of the resources that have been taken away from us year after year after year, and it's just gone on too long.
Jersey Jazzman has a splendid rant about it, pointing out that Cami Anderson is there to serve the public, not punish it. That's the Christie Culture, though -- make them pay for opposing your all-knowing policies. Nothing to debate here, kids, just move along. I love his summation: "When you've lost your principals, you've lost your principles."
Amen. More to come on this as it unfolds.