Newark residents begin petition drive to block Christie plan for closing city schools

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Hassan Manning, president of the Maple Avenue School PTA, hands out petitions
Hassan Manning, president of the Maple Avenue School PTA, hands out petitions

 

 

Residents of Newark’s South Ward yesterday launched a city-wide petition drive to ask the Legislature to block a state-imposed reorganization they say would “hurt children and destroy communities.”

Hassan Manning, the PTA president at the Maple Avenue School, one of the more than 20 city schools that will be shuttered, redesigned, or turned over to charter management, said he and other school supporters were “shocked” to learn the elementary school would be closed.

“We had no idea,” said Manning. “It will destroy our sense of neighborhood and hurt local businesses. The sense of family will be gone.”

He and about 30 other residents rallied briefly in front of the school and then began canvassing the neighborhood seeking signatures for the petition aimed at state lawmakers. The petition reads:

“In late December, 2013, just days before the start of winter vacation, the Christie administration informed Newark families that it was closing many of our public schools and turning others over to private management.

“The school closings and privatization would: Eliminate local public school options for thousands of children, forcing some to take two to three buses to get to school; Destroy school communities that go back more than 80 years; Remove historic public buildings from community use.

“Yet we, the people of  Newark, whose children attend those public schools, were not consulted in any way before the Christie administration made this decision.

“In fact, Newark residents have been shut out of all decisions affecting our public schools, as we battle two decades of state domination.

“But we are fighting back! We want to save our public schools and we need your help!

“Please sign this petition, asking the New Jersey Legislature to require a community vote before public schools can be closed or privatized. Many New Jersey legislators pledged to oppose forced school closings. Now it is time for them to show that they really meant it.

“Public schools belong to the people, and the people of Newark should get to decide what happens to our children and our public schools!”

The state-imposed reorganization plan, entitled “One Newark,” also is expected to result in the loss of jobs for teachers and other school employees, many of whom are Newark resident.

The petition drive follows by a week a press conference by city and state officials who condemned the state plan. Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-Essex) called it “an atrocity.”

That press conference was held in front of Newark’s historic Weequahic High School. That school also will be closed as a traditional high school and turned over to charter management. The school’s alumni association, made up of some of Newark’s most famous high school graduates, announced it also would oppose the state-mandated plan.

Next week, parents and staff members at Bragaw Avenue school also are planning a rally in opposition to the plan.

 

7 comments

  1. Newarkbluesman

    We intend to not only keep our schools open but to regain local control and get a qualified Superintendent.We are also going to expose the criminal way 18 th ave school was given to Team Academy,a school where Chris Cerf was a founder,he gave it to his former partner in Edision schools.We are at war and you can’t beat Newark when we are together.

    Bb Braun: Let’s talk about this.

  2. Marie

    @Newarkbluesman, we in the ‘burbs will help out in any way we can. Bob Braun knows how to contact me if you want help.

  3. Michael Turner

    Bob,
    You are either misinformed or purposely misleading readers. Whether or not you agree with the closure of Weequahic – a school that is built for 1,500 students and has a current enrollment of a little over 500 with a 29% HSPA graduation rate – the two schools that will replace it are not charter schools. Both Eagle Academy and Girls Academy are schools created by Newark Public Schools. Their principals are chosen by NPS, their teachers are NTU members, and they follow the same rules as any other NPS school. I would recommend that you visit Eagle Academy in particular. They do incredible work for young men of color.

    Bob Braun: How odd that the Weequahic alumni association independently, after discussing the issue with the school’s principal, concluded the school would be closed. Also, please don’t pretend Eagle academies are indigenous to Newark and are purely public schools. Cf. http://protectportelos.org/rally-ten-reasons-against-co-locating-eagle-academy-into-berta-dreyfus-is-49/

    • Newarkbluesman

      There are 52 cards in a standard deck.When you shuffle,their are 52 cards. The order changes not the substance.Let us fix what is wrong,if you ask the teachers they can fix the problems.Finally after decades of overcrowded schools,we now can set up labs,art,music,tech rooms that were used for classrooms.

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