After Anderson experienced this vitriol last month, certainly caused by anti-reform groups who are opposing charter schools and the closure of schools, she decided enough was enough. So this month, instead of joining the circus, Anderson issued a statement declaring she would no longer participate:
"We have come to realize that one particular venue—the monthly meetings chaired by NPS’
School Advisory Board (SAB)—are no longer focused on achieving educational outcomes for
children. The dysfunction displayed within this forum sets a bad example for our children, and
it’s no longer a place where meaningful interaction and dialogue occurs between NPS and the
public. As a result, Superintendent Anderson and the NPS Leadership team will no longer
attend these meetings until the SAB can commit to ensuring a space conducive to open
dialogue with the community."
I was particularly pleased that she included the statement about the bad example these meetings have set for Newark's children. During the many circus experiences I have endured, what was most upsetting was the eventual inclusion of our district's children. The most striking example of this was during a hearing for a teacher who was appealing a decision of non-renewal of his contract. This teacher chose to have the hearing in public because he wanted to the community to understand what was happening to him. As he made his case and others commented on his performance, audience members cheered and jeered as they would while watching a spectacle under the big top. In the audience were many of the teacher's high school students, who eventually joined in. This man's career was hanging in the balance and people were hooting and hollering.
In a democratic society we have an obligation to prepare our children by teaching them to engage in discourse with passion and integrity. Instead, many public bodies are experiencing the pure venom of small political factions who will do anything to get their way. Children who participate in events created by these factions learn that it is okay to make personal attacks, to lie, to reduce the dignity of professionals, to disrespect public officials, and to just be plain mean. Is this good preparation for democracy? Thank you Cami Anderson for refusing to join the circus. Hopefully more leaders will follow your example.