Public schools

Department of Ed Investigating Whether Newark School Reorganization Plan is Racist

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maybe the people who want to save our schools don't have time for early afternoon weekday rallies
Labor Notes

In 2012 the state-run board of education in Newark, New Jersey, unveiled a reorganization plan, "One Newark," that integrated charter schools into the public school system, converting some local public schools to city-wide charters and creating a standardized city-wide enrollment application for participating charters.

Charter schools have exploded in number in Newark since the first ones were opened in the '90s. They provide an opportunity to parents to give their children a better education. I have seen this first-hand living in Newark almost my entire life and as a student and teacher in the public school system there. Charter schools were, and continue to be, popular among Newark parents if not it's political class, which has used the public school system, as it has other public institutions, like a jobs and patronage program.

The One Newark plan was supposed to expand the opportunity for residents to send their children to charter schools. It still is—the plan will continue to be implemented when the school year starts in six weeks. But now the plan has found itself the target of a Department of Education investigation into whether it is discriminatory, because the school closings and moves involved (accompanied by three charter school openings) disproportionately affect black students. That impact shouldn't be surprising—the failures of Newark's public schools system disproportionately affects black students so proposed remedies, to be successful, should focus on increasing the educational opportunities of those same students. The feds and politically-active parents opposed to charter schools seem to disagree.

The Star-Ledger reports:

Jitu Brown, Journey For Justice's national director, framed the school battle as a human rights issue that disproportionately affects African-American families "You will not force failed education policies on our children any longer," Brown said. "We want sustainable community schools, and a world class education for our children regardless of race or economic status."

The Newark district said it will cooperate with the investigation.

"While the initiation of an investigation is a routine matter, we take all allegations seriously," Charlotte Hitchcock, chief of staff and general counsel for Newark Public Schools, said in a statement. "We remain steadfast in our belief that the One Newark plan is not discriminatory and is, in fact, predicated on the goals of equity and excellent educational options for all of our students regardless of race, socioeconomic status or learning ability."

The reorganization has been under fire since it was first presented. Community pushback led to some changes, including a reversal on the decision to convert Weequahic High School to single-sex academies. Hawthorne Avenue, which was supposed to be turned over to a charter, will remain a K-8 district school.

In May, Newark voters elected city councilman and local high school principal Ras Baraka mayor. The victory was hailed by charter school opponents as a mandate for their work because the other candidate was an advocate of charter schools. He was also a weaker candidate. From what I actually saw on the ground in Newark, Baraka's victory had more to do with how much more visible and active he was in the community than his opponent. Since taking office, Baraka has been more focused on bringing more law enforcement agencies into Newark to fight gang violence than schools and has, despite his rhetoric, not made any major moves to scuttle the state's school reorganization plan, a smart move considering charter schools' popularity among actual residents in Newark and not just the professional political and community activists who profit from the status quo.

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  1. this is just like what happened in Cincinnati 20 or so years ago. We had some of the best inner city schools in the United States because Magnet schools could basically be whatever they wanted. We even had a Physical Education school that cleaned up in sports tournaments.

    Then some affirmative action appointee took over the school system, said it was racist or some other bullshit, and ran it into the ground in no time flat. By the time she was fired, the schools were as bad as any others in the country…

    Reppin the 513…

    1. Only Progressives could have that unique combination of arrogance and venality to champion, in the name of inner-city Black Americans, polices that have been proven, time and time again, to be injurious to inner-city Black Americans.

      1. Oh and guess what else? Now only white and Asian students are even able to get into our top schools, and the black kids are left to fend for themselves in some of the most violent, backwards schools in the country! Yay equality!!!

        1. in some of the most violent, backwards schools in the country!

          Oh come now! As long as Detroit exists, isn’t that a bit of hyperbole? I mean, isn’t that the city motto “At least we’re not Detroit?”

          1. The current motto is “They don’t speak Latin in Cincinnati because you’re stupid” actually! 😉 jk

            1. Quia tu non stultus Cincinnati Caesare

              City Motto?

              (Sorry, I did a machine translate)

              1. Not even close 🙂

                1. Sue me, the only language I speak is a bastard dialect of English, and that one not very well.

              2. How would you translate this HM? “Because you do not fool Cincinnati Caesar?”

                1. Romans, they go the house, I believe.

                2. Is Cincinnati Caesar one name or do you mean “Cincinnati, Caesar”?

                  1. Don’t ask me, that’s just what Google Translate shat out.

                    1. Off the cuff I would say “Quia non fallis urbem Cincinnatiensis, O Caesar”

                    2. No, I meant how would you translate the “Latin” that UCS provided us with!

                    3. It doesn’t make sense. It’s not clear if “cincinnatus” is in the singular genitive or the plural nominative, much less its relation to the ablative form of “Caesar”.

                    4. That’s what I thought. I was just giving a shot to what it might kind of mean. Like if I said: “you a pink elephant, nice, friend.” And you had to grasp at what it meant in Spanish.

      2. The policies are designed to provide secure jobs to progressives indoctrinating kids with progressive ideas. They have nothing to do with helping inner-city Black Americans, Asians, or Whites either.

        1. Hey, have you ever heard of the term “disposition”? It is used in many fields, like medicine to describe professional attitude. For example, medical schools are entrusted to only graduate doctors with an ethical and caring disposition, that is the doctor isn’t some crazy psycho or an amoral Dr. Mengele type. In schools of Education, there is the same idea. That is teacher colleges have the responsibility to ensure they weed out those who might harm their students, be it by thinking humiliating them if they get the wrong answer is acceptable or if they get their jollies by forcing high school-aged schoolgirls to lift their skirts to so that they could swat their bottoms with a switch (I always had problems with that one). However, the concept has been transformed, in many schools, to ensure that Education graduates must conform to certain political and ideological views. That is, if you have the chutzpah to tell your Ed. prof. that you think parents should be able to choose what school to send their children without consequence, you might be viewed as having the wrong “professional disposition” to teach.

          1. I hadn’t heard of “disposition” in that sense. It explains a lot.

  2. Department of Ed Investigating Whether Newark School Reorganization Plan is Racist

    I wonder if the answer they come up with will be “Yes”.

  3. Is that actually what they are investigating? Whether this plan is racist? Was the DOE ever not 100% useless?

  4. “Journey For Justice”

    That has Derp written all over it.

  5. “sustainable”?

    1. We want fair trade, gluten free community schools.

  6. If those are teachers holding up the posterboards in the photo, they ought to be fired simply for doing such a rotten job designing them. I mean, who can’t properly plan a PLACARD for pete’s sake?

    And who in their right minds would want to “save” Newark’s “schools” as they are currently constituted? Newark didn’t turn into a hell hole overnight and I’d bet the schools not only reflect that hell hole, but helped create it as well.

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