Search This Blog

Saturday, April 26, 2014


So apparently, uber-reformy, Christie-appointed Newark schools superintendent Cami Anderson likes to compare herself to a surgeon. Her sister is a surgeon, so apparently that’s why Cami knows all about it. Surgeons, she says, get to do Big Lifesaving Things all on their own, without the hoi polloi breathing down their necks and telling them what to do. Just like school superintendents should. Makes perfect sense, right?

That’s the argument she made during a recent public appearance caught on tape (scroll to the end to see for yourself). Peter Greene does a mighty good job of skewering Anderson’s fine bit o’ reasoning in his Curmudgucation blog. He points out, among other things, that before a surgeon does her thing, she has to gain the consent of the patient: “Before she could set foot in that operating room, she had to convince people that she had a plan, that the plan was good, and that they should agree to it.” Cami Anderson’s One Newark plan, quite obviously, has convinced no one. (Other than Star-Ledger editor Tom Moran, that is. He is mystifyingly easy.)

See, the thing is, Cami Anderson is an administrator. If she were an actual teacher, then maybe her analogy might have at least made a little sense. Of course, if she were an actual teacher, she wouldn’t be doing what she’s doing to Newark schools. And that’s the whole point, really. She’s not like the doctors on the front lines, saving patients’ lives. She’s more like the hospital administrator piling on the paperwork, imposing senseless bureaucratic requirements that prevent doctors from getting their jobs done, implementing cost-cutting measures that harm patients, and doing everything she can to please her bottom-line-oriented masters rather than the patient population her institution is meant to serve.

But since Ms. Anderson seems to like to imagine herself as a godlike physician with the power of life and death, and seems to believe her One Newark plan for Newark schools is just like heart surgery, let’s just see how what she’s actually done, and what she proposes to do, compare with what doctors would want for themselves and their patients. I call this little game, SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“Let’s help patients by closing down the medical facilities that serve vulnerable populations!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“Unveiled in December, the plan calls for the relocation, consolidation and closing of one-quarter of the schools in the state-run district.”

“After we’ve closed all the neighborhood medical facilities, let’s make people travel clear across town for their care!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“School spokeswoman Chanelle Figueroa said the district “has no details yet to share” about the transportation options referenced in the letter. There is no busing in Newark, and many parents said distance to schools is a major flaw in the reorganization plan.”

“As long as we’re closing hospitals and moving patients around, let’s do it in a way that violates patients’ rights!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“The choice, based on arbitrary and capricious classification, to subject disproportionate shares of low income and minority children to substantial disruption to their schooling, shifting many to schools under private governance, may substantially alter the rights of these children, their parents and local taxpayers.” New Jersey Education Policy Forum

“Let’s evaluate doctors by patient outcome with no regard to factors completely outside the doctor’s control and no transparency in the process!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“According to Baker, his and others' research has found that the methods used to determine one of New Jersey's primary measures of student progress, student growth percentiles, ‘are particularly bad - that they merely reflect the demography of the students served because they don't try to control for anything but prior scores.’ He added, ‘As a result, in New Jersey, the schools with more low-income kids, more nonproficient special education kids and so on have significantly lower growth percentiles,’ before clarifying that it was unclear what weight the student growth percentiles played in Newark's teacher evaluations. Documentation provided by the district did not state how teachers' annual evaluations were determined beyond including observations ‘from an outside, independent, experienced organization’ based on a ‘Framework for Effective Teaching.’ When asked, the district did not provide the name of the independent evaluators.” TruthOut

“Let’s punish people who speak out against plans to close hospitals in underserved communities!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“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.”

“Let’s fire hundreds of experienced physicians and replace them with recent college graduates with some first aid training!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“Superintendent Cami Anderson, Governor Chris Christie‘s appointee, proposed a systematic overhaul of the school district in 2013 titled “One Newark.” The reform plan includes school closures, teacher layoffs, Teach for America hirings and changes to the district’s enrollment system for both traditional and charter schools.” Ballot News

“Let’s pay some doctors more than others for doing the same job, based on arbitrary, meaningless measures!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“To achieve fairness in the merit-pay system, policymakers will attempt to adopt objective measures of student learning, usually a test. But this approach leads to major pitfalls, such as narrowing the curriculum, gaming the system through teaching to the test, and victimizing struggling students and their families through blame or worse. In addition, the literature is full of challenges to the validity of even the most highly regarded tests (Popham, 2008; Wiliam, 2010). Besides, tests are typically designed to measure student learning—not instruction or teacher effectiveness.” ASCD

“Let’s use hundreds of thousands of dollars in donated funding to pay politically connected consultants instead of helping patients!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“One of every three dollars of private money spent so far in Newark’s bid to reform its schools has gone to consultants and contractors, many with ties to Mayor Cory Booker and acting state Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, records show.”

“Let’s transfer all the very sickest patients out of the nicest hospitals and into the most run-down ones, then punish the doctors there when their patient outcomes are worse!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“I’ve explained that Newark charter schools in particular, persist in having an overall cream-skimming effect in Newark, creating demographic advantage for themselves and ultimately to the detriment of the district.” School Finance 101

“Let’s work for a boss appointed by a guy who thinks we’re lazy, good-for-nothing deadbeats protecting sweet, cushy jobs doing absolutely nothing all day!” SAID NO DOCTOR EVER.

“Nov 2, 2013 - Teacher Melissa Tomlinson calls Christie out on the failure factories comment during a campaign stop in Somers Point. The two have a brief exchange, during which Tomlinson said he told her "I'm tired of you people." According to the governor, what he actually said 'It's never enough for you people. No matter how much money I give, it's never enough for you people.'"

So if Cami Anderson WERE a doctor – would you want her to be YOUR doctor?