Newark Schools Chief Out
Kudos to NJ Gov. Chris Christie for not renewing the contract of Newark Superintendent Cliff Janey, a pseudo-reformer who was Michelle Rhee's predecessor in DC. Now Christie needs to give control of Newark schools to Mayor Cory Booker and he needs to find a genuine reformer who can shake up one of the worst school systems in America – but also one with great potential, given the huge spending per pupil, the manageable size of the system, and the presence of top charter schools like KIPP/TEAM, North Star/Uncommon Schools, and Robert Treat Academy.
In delivering the news to Mr. Janey, Mr. Christie also sent out a message that Newark would be a battleground to test some of his education-reform ideas, which have met with resistance from the teachers union. Because it is controlled by the state and not a local school board or mayor, Newark's school system is one of the few that allows Mr. Christie to be especially forceful in pursuing his agenda.
"Newark can and will be a national model for education reform and excellence," the governor said in a statement. The city's students "simply cannot wait any longer," he said, adding that the new leadership "will move quickly, aggressively and with accountability" to make changes to the schools.
Per-pupil spending in Newark is about $22,000, yet about half of the city's children don't graduate from high school.
Even for those who graduate from Newark schools, the future is bleak. One study showed that 98% of Newark students attending a local community college required extra help in math in 2008, and 87% needed it in English. In a speech in June, Mr. Christie described Newark as an "absolutely disgraceful public education system, one that should embarrass our entire state."
Here's another jaw-dropping story I just about Newark: the local colleges like Seton Hall have found that the valedictorians from Newark's public high schools need a full year of remedial courses before they're ready to do entry-level college work – the VALEDICTORIANS! Imagine the academic level of the rest of the senior class…
- SEPTEMBER 2, 2010