Teachers, students protest potential layoff of 1,000 educators at meeting

Hundreds of parents, students and teachers attended a meeting in Newark to protest the proposed layoff of up to 1,000 teachers in the city's schools. (2/25/14)

NEWARK - Hundreds of parents, students and teachers attended a meeting in Newark to protest the proposed layoff of up to 1,000 teachers in the city's schools.

State-appointed Superintendent Cami Anderson and her staff were notably absent from the meeting, calling previous gatherings "dysfunctional" and the scene of numerous personal attacks.

Newark schools could lay off 1,000 teachers after asking the state to use effectiveness instead of seniority to decide who to let go.

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Union officials want to fight that decision. "It's against the law,” says Wendell Steinhauer, of the teachers union. "We believe this is opening the door to neglecting seniority rights of teachers.

At Tuesday's meeting, many Newark teachers said they believe their rights, and those of teachers across the state, could be compromised. Attendees filled up an auditorium and an overflow cafeteria.

Statewide teacher evaluations and tenure reform from Gov. Chris Christie's administration began this school year. In Newark, changes by Anderson are breeding animosity.

One student says she feels it's degrading for the superintendent to ask for students to speak and act, and then not show up to listen. "She's not doing anything to fix all the wrong she's done to the district," says Khadijah Bhatti.

Anderson has made it clear that she and other members of school leadership will no longer attend the meetings.

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