Trying to fend off the relentless privatization of Newark’s public schools—with all its implications for the system’s children and employees—is a nascent, fragile coalition of unions, students, parents, and politicians that took to the city’s icy streets Dec. 9 for a “day of action.”
The Newark schools are about to be reshaped according to the avaricious, right-wing fantasies of a Christie administration that practices contempt for the poor and for minorities as a matter of policy. The “One Newark” program, despite its mainstream media hype as a means of ensuring better opportunity, is on its face a plan for closing, rather than improving, public schools and enhancing charter schools and their private sponsors. This alone should drive thousands to the streets of Newark Monday for the “day of action” designed to “reclaim our public schools.”
Governor Chris Christie reversed his position against equal treatment of New Jersey students with respect to tuition charges just in time for the November election, just in time to “connect” with the voting segment most interested in this issue. Just in time to boost his numbers for a big win, and, no doubt, garner national attention and thus appear to be GOP presidential material.
More than two weeks after I published the letter, the Newark schools administration has owned up to the existence of a message over Cami Anderson’s signature that warns crime would go up if Newark children stayed home from school. But Anderson is throwing her chief flak catcher under the bus for the furor the alleged “draft” letter caused. “This mishap rests solely on my shoulders and I apologize for any misconceptions this might have caused you or the people of Newark,” wrote Matthew Frankel, who bears what now strikes me as the ironic title of executive director of communications.