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Dispute erupts over school reform in Newark, NJ

March 9, 2014 • Business


FILE – In this May 4, 2011 file photo, Cami Anderson gestures while talking to the media after being named chief of the state-run Newark Public School system in Newark, N.J. More than three years after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg committed $100 million toward remaking Newark’s struggling schools, the district is engulfed in a dispute over proposed large-scale teacher layoffs that is threatening to derail wider reform efforts. Nearly half the money has been invested in a 2012 teacher contract that was hailed by Republican Gov. Chris Christie and the nation’s top teacher’s union official as an example of adversaries joining forces to rebuild a struggling urban school district. But the implementation of the contract, including a dispute over emphasizing teacher performance in determining layoffs, has devolved into a bitter fight between Anderson and teachers unions over the future of New Jersey’s largest school district. (AP Photo/Julio Cortez)

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) — More than three years after Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg committed $100 million toward remaking Newark’s struggling schools, the district is engulfed in a dispute over proposed large-scale teacher layoffs that’s threatening to derail wider reform efforts.

Nearly half the money has been invested in a 2012 teacher contract that was hailed by Gov. Chris Christie and the nation’s top teacher’s union official as an example of adversaries joining forces to rebuild a struggling urban school district. The contract, partially funded by the Facebook money, made Newark the state’s first district to allow for teacher merit pay and peer reviews.

But the implementation of the contract, including a dispute over emphasizing teacher performance in determining layoffs, has devolved into a bitter fight between Superintendent Cami Anderson and teachers unions over the future of New Jersey’s largest school district.

Newark’s schools were brought under state control in 1995 following years of mismanagement, chronically low test scores and crumbling infrastructure in the city of 280,000, where the median household income is less than half the state’s average. Zuckerberg was persuaded by Login to read more

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