Newark Public Schools elections (2014)

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2014 Newark Public Schools Elections

General Election date:
April 23, 2014
Table of Contents
About the district
Method of election
Elections
What was at stake?
Key deadlines
Additional elections
External links
References
See also
New Jersey
Newark Public Schools
Essex County, New Jersey ballot measures
Local ballot measures, New Jersey
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Three seats on the Newark Public Schools advisory board were up for general election on April 23, 2014. Board members Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson and Philip C. Seelinger Jr. ran for re-election, while fellow incumbent Alturrick Kenney decided to campaign for a seat on the Newark City Council instead.[1] Baskerville-Richardson, Seelinger and newcomer Reginald Bledsoe ran as the "Children First" slate endorsed by mayoral candidate Ras Baraka.[2] Although challenger Donald G. Jackson Jr. edged out Bledsoe for the third seat by less than 100 votes, both Baskerville-Richardson and Seelinger won re-election.

About the district

See also: Newark Public Schools, New Jersey
Newark Public Schools is located in Essex County, New Jersey
Newark Public Schools is located in Essex County, New Jersey. The county seat of Essex County is Newark. Essex County is home to 787,744 residents, according to the United States Census Bureau.[3] Newark is the largest school district in New Jersey, serving 35,543 students during the 2011-2012 school year.[4]

Demographics

Essex County underperformed in comparison to the rest of New Jersey in terms of higher education achievement in 2012. The United States Census Bureau found that 31.8 percent of Essex County residents aged 25 years and older had attained a bachelor's degree compared to 35.4 percent for New Jersey as a whole. The median household income in Essex County was $55,027 compared to $71,637 for the state of New Jersey. The poverty rate in Essex County was 16.1 percent compared to 9.9 percent for the entire state.[3]

Racial Demographics, 2012[3]
Race Essex County (%) New Jersey (%)
White 50.0 73.8
Black or African American 42.1 14.7
American Indian and Alaska Native 0.7 0.6
Asian 5.0 9.0
Native Hawaiian and Other Pacific Islander 0.1 0.1
Two or More Races 2.1 1.9
Hispanic or Latino 21.3 18.5

2013 Party Affiliation, Essex County[5]
Party Registered Voters  % of Total
Democratic 229,181 46.58
Republican 45,808 9.31
Libertarian 143 0.03
Green 76 0.01
Other 51 0.01
Unaffiliated 216,799 44.06

Note: The United States Census Bureau considers "Hispanic or Latino" to be a place of origin rather than a race. Citizens may report both their race and their place of origin, and as a result, the percentages in each column of the racial demographics table may exceed 100 percent.[6][7]

Method of board member selection

The Newark Advisory Board consists of nine members elected to three-year terms at-large by the district as a whole. There was no primary election, and the general election was held on April 23, 2014. Three seats were up for election in 2014 and three seats will be up for election in 2015.[8]

The filing deadline for school board candidates to get on the ballot in the general election was March 4, 2014 and the deadline to amend a petition or withdraw was March 10, 2014.[9]

Elections

2014

Candidates

At-large

  • Crystal Fonseca
    • Community relations and outreach, Jersey City Incinerator Authority

  • Ronnie Kellam
    • Student, Essex County College
    • Security officer, Conway Stores and McDonald's Corporation

Election results

Newark Public Schools, At-Large General Election, 3-year term, 2014
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngPhilip C. Seelinger Jr. Incumbent 20.1% 2,894
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngAntoinette Baskerville-Richardson Incumbent 19% 2,734
     Nonpartisan Green check mark transparent.pngDonald G. Jackson Jr. 16.8% 2,421
     Nonpartisan Reginald Bledsoe 16.4% 2,352
     Nonpartisan Crystal Fonseca 12.1% 1,743
     Nonpartisan Rachelle Moss 8.3% 1,198
     Nonpartisan Shakima K. Thomas 4% 575
     Nonpartisan Ronnie Kellam 2.8% 405
     Nonpartisan Write-in votes 0.3% 48
Total Votes 14,370
Source: Essex County, New Jersey, "2014 School Board Election," accessed June 11, 2014

Endorsements

Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, Philip C. Seelinger Jr. and Reginald Bledsoe received endorsements from Newark mayoral candidate Ras Baraka as the "Children First" slate.[2]

Campaign finance

Candidates received a total of $30,232.00 and spent a total of $1,888.00 as of the second campaign finance filing deadline on April 14, 2014, according to the New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission.

Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, Philip C. Seelinger Jr. and Reginald Bledsoe, who ran as part of the "Children First" slate, received a total of $12,923.00 and spent a total of $1,888.00. Crystal Fonseca was the only other candidate to have filed a campaign finance report as of the second filing deadline. She reported $17,400.00 in contributions but no expenditures.[10]

Past elections

What was at stake?

Three seats on the advisory board were up for election on April 23, 2014. The board has served in a strictly advisory capacity since the state government took over administration of the district in 1995.[11] Despite this lack of legal authority, recent Newark school board elections featured competitive elections and endorsements from significant politicians such as then-Mayor Cory Booker. Local political operative Anthony Salters referred to the annual school board elections as a "blood sport."[12] Star-Ledger journalist David Giambusso argued that the board's composition "reflects Newark’s political leanings and can drastically affect how reform efforts [...] are received in the city."[13] Board Chairperson Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson won re-election, despite initially announcing her intention to run for a seat on the Newark City Council instead.[14][15][16]

Issues in the election

Replacing Superintendent Cami Anderson

Six of the eight candidates who ran for the Newark Advisory Board participated in a candidate forum hosted by the Newark Trust for Education on April 8, 2014. Neither Rachelle Moss nor Shakima K. Thomas attended. All six participants broadly agreed that the state should relinquish control of Newark Public Schools and that Cami Anderson should be removed as superintendent. They also agreed that Superintendent Anderson's "One Newark" reform plan is flawed and that the district's central administration does not reach out to the community enough. Significant differences in opinion arose only when the candidates discussed how to find Superintendent Anderson's replacement. Crystal Fonseca, Ronnie Kellam and Donald G. Jackson Jr. argued that the district should hire an internal replacement who is already familiar with the Newark school system. Reginald Bledsoe, who was the only member of the "Children First" slate to weigh in on the topic, suggested that the district should conduct a statewide search for a new superintendent and added that experience in urban education should be a primary qualification.[17]

Issues in the district

Superintendent Cami Anderson

Local control and reform proposals

Since 1995, the New Jersey state government has exercised control over Newark Public Schools. In 2013, the Newark Students Union led two mass boycotts against state control of the district in April and November, with the April walkout reportedly drawing about 1,000 students.[18][19] Superintendent Cami Anderson, who was appointed by Governor Chris Christie, had put forward a controversial district reform plan labeled "One Newark" that includes school closures, teacher layoffs, Teach for America hirings and changes to the district's enrollment system for both traditional and charter schools.[20] American Federation of Teachers President Randi Weingarten sent a letter to Governor Christie criticizing Superintendent Anderson's plan to use teacher performance evaluations instead of seniority in deciding which teachers to layoff. She concluded the letter by arguing that the state should relinquish control of the school district.[21][22]

On March 27, 2014, Newark residents staged a rally in Trenton, New Jersey to protest the Superintendent Anderson's "One Newark" reform plan. Attendees in the state capital included Advisory Board Chairperson Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson, Newark mayoral candidate and City Councilman Ras Baraka, State Senator Ronald Rice and New Jersey Education Association President Wendell Steinhauer. Journalist Mark Bonamo estimated that more than 200 Newark residents joined the protest in opposition to state control of the district and the superintendent. During his speech to the crowd, Baraka argued, "We have the right to govern our own lives. We have the right to govern our own school system. We have a right to keep our school buildings open. [...] No one wants this One Newark plan, and no one wants Cami Anderson. One of the first steps that we make sure happens is that she gets the first ticket on the first train out of town. We've had enough."[23] Newark Students Union President Kristin Towcaniuk added, "The momentum to take back control of our public schools is growing and cannot be underestimated. [...] Chris Christie's appointed puppets are trying their hardest to privatize our schools and layoff experienced teachers, all while ignoring the law that requires the state to properly fund Newark schools."[24] On April 3, 2014, more than 500 students joined a walkout to demand more funding for Newark Public Schools and to rebuke Superintendent Anderson's "One Newark" plan.[25]

Advisory Board relations

Superintendent Anderson's relationship with the Newark Advisory Board had also grown increasingly contentious. During a January 2014 board meeting with hundreds of parents, residents and district educators in attendance, Superintendent Anderson was heckled continuously by the crowd. AFT President Randi Weingarten also attended to denounce Superintendent Anderson's reform proposals, encouraging the opposition in the crowd by pledging AFT's support and stating, "the nation is watching Newark."[26] Superintendent Anderson and her staff left the meeting after community activist Natasha Allen allegedly referred to the superintendent's biracial child by asking, "Do you not want for our brown babies what you want for your brown baby?"[27] In February 2014, Superintendent Anderson announced that she would no longer attend board meetings on the basis that they "are no longer focused on achieving educational outcomes for children."[28]

Principal suspensions

On January 17, 2014, five Newark principals were suspended indefinitely by the district administration. The district refused requests to explain the exact cause for the suspensions, stating that it was "confidential" but acknowledging that it was due to an investigation "launched regarding an incident that occurred on or about Jan. 15, 2014."[29] Four of the suspended principals spoke in opposition to Superintendent Anderson's "One Newark" reform proposal on January 15 at a community meeting. Newark Councilman Ras Baraka denounced the suspensions and demanded Superintendent Anderson's ouster, arguing that the principals "have a constitutional right to speak out" and adding that, "The Newark school district is not a military dictatorship, and Ms. Anderson is neither an army general nor a police chief."[29] The five principals and a local parent who was banned from the premises of a district school for vocally protesting Superintendent Anderson's reforms have filed a federal lawsuit against the superintendent. In the lawsuit, they argue that she violated their constitutional right to free speech and claim that the district administration was engaged in a "concerted effort to undermine, intimidate and coerce" both the community and district employees. The day after the lawsuit was filed, three of the principals were reinstated to their schools and the other two were reassigned to different schools in the district.[30]

Key deadlines

The following dates were key deadlines for the Newark Public Schools election in 2014:[9][31]

Deadline Event
March 4, 2014 Last day to file nominating petitions
March 10, 2014 Last day to withdraw or amend a nomination petition
March 13, 2014 Drawing of names for candidate positions on the ballot
March 26, 2014 Last day to file first campaign finance report
April 2, 2014 Last day to register to vote
April 14, 2014 Last day to file second campaign finance report
April 16, 2014 Last day to apply by mail for an absentee ballot
April 23, 2014 Election day
May 13, 2014 Last day to file final campaign finance report

Additional elections on the ballot

This election did not share the ballot with any other elections.

Recent news

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See also

External links

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Suggest a link

References

  1. Alturrick Kenney for Councilman-At-Large, "Home," accessed March 17, 2014 (dead link)
  2. 2.0 2.1 Politicker NJ, "Baraka's School Board Slate Set," March 6, 2014
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 United States Census Bureau, "Essex County, New Jersey," accessed February 18, 2014
  4. National Center for Education Statistics, "ELSI Table Generator," accessed April 22, 2014
  5. State of New Jersey - Department of State, "Statewide Voter Registration Summary," September 24, 2013
  6. United States Census Bureau, "Frequently Asked Questions," accessed April 21, 2014
  7. Each column will add up to 100 percent after removing the "Hispanic or Latino" place of origin percentages, although rounding by the Census Bureau may make the total one- or two-tenths off from being exactly 100 percent. This Ballotpedia page provides a more detailed explanation of how the Census Bureau handles race and ethnicity in its surveys.
  8. Newark Public Schools, "Welcome," accessed February 18, 2014
  9. 9.0 9.1 Edison Township Public Schools, "Nominating Petition for Annual School Election," accessed February 18, 2014
  10. New Jersey Election Law Enforcement Commission, "View a Candidate or Election Related Committee Report," accessed April 17, 2014
  11. The New York Times, "Judge Orders a State Takeover Of the Newark School District," April 14, 1995
  12. The Star-Ledger, "Newark school board election creates entangled alliances," April 15, 2012
  13. The Star-Ledger, "School closing plan dominates Newark board election," April 1, 2012
  14. Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson for Newark City Council, "Home," accessed March 24, 2014 (dead link)
  15. NJ Spotlight, "Profile: She's the Point Person In Battle Over State Control of Newark Schools," February 12, 2014
  16. Facebook, "Antoinette Baskerville-Richardson," accessed March 24, 2014
  17. Newark Trust for Education, "At Forum, Newark School Advisory Board Candidates Show More Consensus than Contrast," April 16, 2014
  18. Al Jazeera, "Newark students walkout over cut backs," April 10, 2013
  19. Teacher Under Construction, "Newark Students Organize Boycott, Demand Local Control of Schools," November 1, 2013
  20. The Washington Post, "Gov. Christie’s new crisis: Protests grow over state control of Newark schools," February 27, 2014
  21. American Federation of Teachers, "Letter from Randi Weingarten to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie on the school crisis in Newark," February 26, 2014
  22. The Star-Ledger, "Newark schools chief warns of massive teacher layoffs; wants pink slips tied to performance," February 25, 2014
  23. Politicker NJ, "Crowd calls for Cami Anderson's removal as Newark school super at Statehouse rally," March 27, 2014
  24. The Star-Ledger, "Newark's fight against school reorganizaton plan moves to Trenton today with noon rally," March 27, 2014
  25. Politicker NJ, "Newark student protest calls for return of local control," April 3, 2014
  26. NJ Spotlight, "Raucous Newark Crowd Drives Superintendent From School Board Meeting," January 29, 2014
  27. The Huffington Post, "Newark School Chief Cami Anderson Ditches Rowdy Meeting After Remarks About Her ‘Brown Baby'," January 30, 2014
  28. The Star-Ledger, "Cami Anderson, Newark schools superintendent, at loggerheads with school board," February 27, 2014
  29. 29.0 29.1 The Star-Ledger, "5 Newark principals suspended indefinitely, allegedly for opposing One Newark plan," January 20, 2014
  30. POLITICO, "Chris Christie faces new uproar in state’s largest city," January 27, 2014
  31. Essex County Clerk, "2014 Important Election Dates," accessed March 5, 2014