A couple of bombshells dropped out of the NJ DOE yesterday. First, from Kevin Shelley at the Courier-Post:
CAMDEN – A secret Department of Education proposal called for the state to intervene in the city’s school district by July 1, closing up to 13 city and charter schools.
But while reserving the right to exercise his “statutory authority,” Gov. Chris Christie has no plans to enact the DOE scenario, according to his spokesman.
“It never made its way to the governor’s office,” said Michael Drewniak. No one from the governor’s office was involved in preparing the document, he added.
Justin Barra, a DOE spokesman, called the proposal one of many “recommendations” for the city’s struggling school system.
“It is irresponsible to portray this document as anything other than a preliminary look at the options the state would have to improve failing schools or to portray this as a plan for intervention in Camden. It is not,” said Barra in an emailed statement.
He said the DOE is conducting “an in-depth evaluation of Camden … to identify the role the state can play to better support school and district improvement. No determinations will be made about how best to support student improvement in Camden until this detailed evaluation is complete.”
Well, looks like everyone in the Christie administration is running away from this one. But is anyone surprised they might try this? The DOE is running Newark with a minimum of citizen input, tightening its grip on Paterson, clearing the path for Broadies (What’s a “Broadie”? Look below) in Jersey City*, meddling in Perth Amboy, overriding citizens voices in Trenton, laying plans in Cherry Hill, helping friends in Highland Park… Why would Camden be let off of the hook?
So, who’s coming up with the big takeover plans?
The intervention proposal, which was obtained by the Courier-Post, was written by Department of Education employee Bing Howell.
He did not respond to a phone call and email seeking comment.
Howell serves as a liaison to Camden for the creation of four Urban Hope Act charter schools. He reports directly to the deputy commissioner of education, Andy Smerick.
Howell’s proposal suggests that he oversee the intervention through portfolio management – providing a range of school options with the state, not the district, overseeing the options. He would be assisted by Rochelle Sinclair, another DOE employee. Both Howell and Sinclair are fellows of the Los Angeles-based Broad Foundation. [emphasis mine]
Kinda like Old Faithful at this point: Broadies spewing up regularly. The proposal calls for the usual round of school closings, because instability is just so freaking great for kids living in difficult conditions. But here’s the part that’s going to raise eyebrows: