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Tim Lisante LinkedIn page:
by Maura Walz on June 28, 2010 8:54 pm
International Univ of Graduate Studies, Ph.D.
Dr. Lisante's former boss, Cami Anderson, is the very same current NJ Superintendent who is alienating Newark parents.
Hey, Cami Anderson–don’t run away, answer the questionLINK
I’ve listened to the tape many times and, as best as I can determine, Natasha Allen said this to Cami Anderson at Tuesday night’s Newark school board meeting: “I’m trying to figure out, like, do you not want for your brown babies what we want for ours?” That’s when the superintendent abandoned her responsibility and ran away.
I spoke to Ms. Allen afterwards and asked her to repeat what she said and she offered a fairly close paraphrase. Ms. Allen was not speaking from a script, she was speaking extemporaneously and from anger, so the words might have been a little different when she repeated them to me.
I took it as a sincere question from one young mother to another that really meant this:
Why can’t you understand we want for our children what you want for yours?
I found nothing offensive about the remark. I found it poignant and honest and direct–and maybe the most important challenge thrown at Ms. Anderson the entire evening. And I am seriously puzzled by why the superintendent chose that moment to run away from her responsibility to explain her disruptive plans to the residents of Newark.
I’ve read some accounts that the state-appointed superintendent was “driven” from the meeting. That is utter nonsense. She left freely–and, indeed, the audience booed her for running away. The city’s residents wanted an answer to the question–why doesn’t a state official have the just plain human decency to understand the pain of others?
Ms. Anderson appears, on the tape, to be shaking her head and saying, “Not my family, not my family.” I get that public officials don’t want their private lives dragged into the public sphere–including public officials like Gov. Chris Christie who put his family into taxpayer-funded campaign ads posing as ads aimed at raising money for relief from Superstorm Sandy.
But let’s be real here. Natasha Allen is not a school employee afraid of losing her job. She is not a politician running for office. She is a mother–her daughter Sapphire Allen, a 16-year-old honor student t at Newark Vocational, also spoke that night–and she came to a recklessly overcrowded venue Tuesday night to express her fears and her anger about what the superintendent was doing to her child and all other “brown babies” in the city.
“I used the words ‘brown babies’ because it’s the black and Latino children who are the most hurt by her plans,” Ms. Allen told me.
Ms. Allen was direct. She set the tone early, insisting she would not call the superintendent “Ms. Anderson” because she felt the boss of the Newark schools had shown disrespect for the city’s residents and children. She expressed anger about reports–so far denied by her press spokesman, Matthew Frankel–that the schools superintendent moved to Montclair.
So there it was: One woman, one mother, against another. Face to face. One woman asking another an important personal question. One mother asking another mother why Ms. Anderson doesn’t understand that, despite poverty, despite racism, despite the state’s criminal neglect of its cities and their schools, the mothers of brown babies love their children as fully and as passionately as more affluent, more fortunate, mothers love their babies–brown or white or black.
The superintendent owes Ms. Allen an answer. She owes all parents an answer. Not as the former executive director of Teach for America. Not as Christie’s $300,000 agent in Newark. Not as one of Time magazine’s up-and-comers. Not as a school superintendent.
But as a mother. Cami Anderson–this is a woman who has disrupted thousands of families in Newark with a plan that will close their schools, require them to put their children in unfamiliar neighborhoods. She has insulted parents by suggesting their children would cause an increase in crime if they stayed home from school because of the teachers’ convention.
So how about an answer? To my paraphrase of Ms. Allen’s remark: Why can’t you understand we want for our children what you want for yours?
Or, as Ms. Allen put it that night: “I’m trying to figure out, like, do you not want for your brown babies what we want for ours?”
You can’t run away, Cami Anderson. Come back and answer the damned question.
Cami Anderson: A national embarrassmentLINK
The stark, black screen says it all. “Please stand by. Starting soon…The story of Newark.” Nothing is exactly what did happen–nothing ever did appear on the blank YouTube screen that was supposed to provide a live feed of a speech Thursday by Cami Anderson to the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) in Washington, D.C.
Anderson, already an embarrassment to herself and the state of New Jersey, never did speak, at least not publicly. She canceled her PUBLIC speech. Why? Because a busload of 40 students, parents, and other community residents showed up to hear what she had to say and, perhaps, to ask her a few questions. They had to go to Washington because Cami Anderson won’t talk to them in Newark. Won’t attend public board meetings. Hasn’t since January. The Hermit Queen of Newark.
So those 40 people who yesterday followed her to Washington literally scared her speechless, poor dear. Little Miss Muffet fled indecorously from her tuffet when people like Sharon Smith and Michael Dixon and Kristin Towkaniuk tried to sit alongside her. She recorded her comments “for media only,” according to AEI officials.
That shows how far media has sunk into corporate sycophancy. They are supposed to represent the people, not join in secret cabals with organizations like AEI and privatized school entrepreneurs.
Anderson, the highly-paid toadies she brought with her on the junket to the nation’s capital, and staff members from the AEI, a conservative think-tank, made asses out of themselves by panicking and declaring a small group of perfectly well-behaved and properly registered people “a security breach” and first tried to evict them, turned the lights off in their own auditorium, and then called the police.
A security breach? Some crazy guy with a knife hopping the White House fence and entering the executive mansion–now that is a security breach. Kids and adult chaperones showing up for a buffet lunch in Washington DC is a field trip.
What a spectacle. Like elephants stampeding in the presence of a mouse.
“They just showed a lot of disrespect,” said Roberto Cabanes, a spokesman for NJ Communities United, which helped arrange the trip to Washington, along with organizations including the Newark Student Union, PULSE, and the People’s Organization for Progress.
Cabanes said the Newark residents properly registered and paid their fees for the event and behaved well when they got to the room in the building on 17th Street NW where Cami was scheduled to speak. But one of Anderson’s $175,000-a-year assistants, Peter Turnamian, noticed some familiar faces among the people who came to hear Anderson talk about her “successes” and “triumphs” in Newark. Not the sort of faces normally seen at the events of an organization run by some of the biggest capitalists in the nation–including that patron saint of free enterprise and maniacal public policy, former Vice President Dick Cheney.
(Turnamian, before he became one of Anderson’s roadies, is probably best known for founding a charter school that billed itself as “The Best School in Newark,” a charter school subsequently ordered closed by the state because it was such a failure. Naturally, he would be working for Cami Anderson.)
Turnamian warned the nervous biddies who run the AEI of the dangerous “security breach” and tried to have some of them evicted. Meanwhile, the 11:30 a.m. program was delayed. The AEI folks then said Anderson’s talk would be given elsewhere, perhaps in a lavatory or slop closet somewhere in the building–then finally gave up and canceled Anderson’s antic road show. The Washington Post, however, reported Anderson may have given the speech “without an audience.” Turns out, that’s exactly what she did.
Making us wonder: If Cami gave a speech and no one was there to hear it, would it still be a pack of lies?
The answer is: Yes.
When the students and parents tried to explain the reason for their presence to what was left of the AEI audience after the cancellation was announced, the organization’s staffers decided to combat the security breach by turning off the lights. How better to ensure the safety of people inside a building than to plunge them into darkness? That should have made everyone feel more secure. It understandably got the Newark residents angry.
Want to laugh? Here’s how the AEI describes itself: “The American Enterprise Institute is a community of scholars and supporters committed to expanding liberty, increasing individual opportunity and strengthening free enterprise. AEI pursues these unchanging ideals through independent thinking, open debate, reasoned argument, facts and the highest standards of research and exposition.”
Independent thinking? Open debate? Reasoned argument? Does all that include refusing to answer questions from constituents–and turning off the lights? And hiding behind closed doors?
Luckily, a friend inside was keeping us abreast of what was happening via instant messaging. We then decided to “FaceTime” so we could see and try to hear part of the proceedings but the noise level and lack of satellite signal eventually ended that solution. At about 8:00, our friend on the inside alerted us that many people left and there were plenty of seats available.
I told that to one if the many officers in the hallway and asked if we could be let in to occupy those seats. He replied, “It doesn’t work that way. They’re not allowing anyone else in.” Really?
So my colleagues and I quickly texted and posted via Facebook to the Union leaders. By 8:20, we were ushered in to the vacated seats. Just in time for the hullabaloo.
I believe Ms. Allen and all Newark parents deserve an answer to that question. I also commend the Board for continuing the meeting although that was not what Ms. Anderson wanted. They showed the community respect and it was returned with gratitude. The people of Newark are informed and have valid points. They will not be pushed around (and anyone who grew up in Newark knows that). If the powers that be think this was the climax of events, they are sorely mistaken. This is a taste of Newark citizens waking up and getting READY to fight. We are relentless and focused. In the words of a Newarker, “You don’t mess with mine”. Looks like gloves are coming off.
Bob Braun: Thank you for your insightful note. Twice in one week the Anderson administration risked the welfare of the city’s residents–first by keeping schools open in a storm and then by scheduling what it new would be a heavily attended meeting at an inappropriate site. Mindless.
Bob Braun: Nicely put.