This site recently posted an article critical of The Star-Ledger for failing to identify fully the author of an op-ed piece praising North Star, a charter school in Newark. The newspaper’s guest writer, who was identified only as a parent, had posted on her Linked-In page that she was employed by the charter school with significant responsibilities. She denied that she was paid by the school and deleted the Linked-In entry. It’s important to note I did not criticize the woman; I called out the newspaper (the same newspaper that, today, thinks it is front page news for a charter school to try to enroll poor students).
The scores on the latest round of statewide tests–the so-called PARCC tests–were bad everywhere, but Newark’s fell far behind New Jersey’s statewide averages, according to the state-operated school district’s release of the first round of results Tuesday night.
The federal intervention in the state-operated Newark school system is, in fact, a victory both for the parents who sued to obtain it and, ultimately, for the cause of educational equity. But it may not immediately help the children who were hurt by the Christie Administration’s clumsy and misguided efforts at “reform.”
Later this morning, PULSE–a Newark grass roots organization–will be holding a press conference to discuss what appears to be a rare victory in the struggle of city parents to retake their public schools from pro-privatization reformers. PULSE members—it stands for Parents Unified for Local School Education–are elated at the outcome, but the “voluntary agreement” reached between the US Department of Education and the state-run Newark schools leaves far too many questions to allow unalloyed joy.
A small but vocal grass roots organization in Newark has won a major, if limited, victory for city school parents and children hurt by the so-called “reforms” imposed by the state under Gov. Chris Christie—including school closings, the “One Newark” enrollment plan, and other practices. The federal government is demanding action to find and help those students.
Today, charter schools–funded by taxpayer dollars–will send their amateur and professional lobbyists to Trenton to block a bill that would place a moratorium on new charter schools until their impact on traditional public schools can be studied. The bill wouldn’t affect already existing charter schools so these lobbyists are foot soldiers for charter expansion in the take-no-prisoners war of Wall Streeters against traditional public schools. Like other well-financed lobbying organizations, the charter lobby buys its politicians and tries to destroy its critics–because all that counts to the money people behind it is continued expansion. An expansion that robs scarce public money from the neediest children.
Today The Star-Ledger published an op-ed column by a woman identified as Natasha Levant in which she credited the school her son attends, the North Star Academy Charter School in Newark, for “changing” her son’s life and “saving” him. The newspaper described her only as “a resident of Newark and mother of five.”
Two of the largest national charter school chains–KIPP and Uncommon Schools–will be using their students and their students’ parents Monday in a massive lobbying effort aimed at ensuring the expansion of their businesses in Newark. The drive comes just as resistance to school privatization in the state’s largest school district has collapsed because of a deal between Newark Mayor Ras Baraka and Republican Gov.–and presidential hopeful–Chris Christie.
Nothing beyond silence, resignation, and acquiescence comes out of Newark’s once united and vocal pro public school community anymore, but there are three questions that should be answered. They probably won’t be until it’s too late to do anyone any good. Here they are:
Just days after state-imposed schools superintendent Christopher Cerf and Newark Mayor Ras Baraka announced a joint, top-down program with the holders of what’s left of Mark Zuckerberg’s money to develop “community” schools in the city’s South Ward, a grass-roots organization based in the ward with a national focus–Parents United for Local School Education (PULSE-NJ)–wrote to federal education secretary Arne Duncan to demand he help ensure genuine community schools are established. PULSE-NJ has filed a federal civil rights complaint against the state administration. PULSE-NJ’s letter follows: