Dispute erupts over school reform in Newark, NJ

SAMANTHA HENRY Associated Press Published:

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) -- The New Jersey district that received a $100 million commitment from Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg to remake its schools is engulfed in a dispute over proposed large-scale teacher layoffs.

Nearly half the money given by Zuckerberg has been invested in a 2012 teacher contract that allows for top teachers to get merit pay and peer reviews.

Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson has requested a contract waiver that would allow her to base layoffs on teacher performance in addition to seniority. She says the change would boost teacher quality.

Teachers union officials, some state lawmakers and hundreds of parents have said Anderson is disregarding the contract and acting with little community input.

The battle has grown so contentious that it threatens to derail some of the planned reforms in the struggling district.