Cami Anderson waited out 65 hours during a civil disobedience action by the leadership of Newark Student Union. During that time she avoided her office as calls for her to show up and address student concerns came via social media from all over the country and the street below filled with Newark parents, community, clergy, the press and even Mayor Ras Baraka.
Today she finally walked in and talked for about an hour. Officials asked students not to record the conversation or let anyone know she was coming. But then Newark Public Schools released their statement during that meeting. It was a savvy, but bad-faith, effort of NPS to gain back some control of the disastrous PR effect this sit-in has had on Cami, on One Newark and NPS.
The occupation will end at 5:30 today, as students come downstairs to talk to the press. Now they shift their focus to Chris Christie, another absentee figure and a politician already dealing with public relations problems, but who bears ultimate responsibility for the mess Anderson has made.
Here’s what the students said a about targeting Chris Christie:.
Statement of the Newark Student Union:
“After 65 hours of occupation, we, the Newark Students Union, met with the state-appointed Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools, Cami Anderson, in regards to her lack of communication with the students, parents, and the broader community of Newark, NJ. Due to her continued inability to have an open and constructive dialogue with us, she has inevitably created a deep mistrust against the administration and its policies. At this point, the students remain committed to the demand that she resign immediately and return to the monthly public school board meetings beginning Tuesday, Feb. 24th. We must continue the dialogue and develop a process for selecting her replacement.”
Students occupied the NPS offices for four days, finally securing a meeting with Ms. Anderson. By the end of the meeting it was clear to students that Ms. Anderson demonstrated no greater commitment to the Newark community or a democratic process for selecting her replacement. Students and the Newark community will continue to escalate demands for Cami Anderson to resign and to restore local control to the Newark Public School System. What became most clear during the week is that the escalation to demand local control moving forward will directly target “the Decider”, Governor Chris Christie.