Boycott the cruel “One Newark” plan


Deseret Segura, 16, comforts her sobbing grandmother, Deseret Richardson, 83, outside the "enrollment center" in Newark.
Deseret Segura, 16, comforts her sobbing grandmother, Deseret Richardson, 83, outside the “enrollment center” in Newark.

Angry men and women stood in the unforgiving noontime heat before television cameras Wednesday to explain why Newark parents should boycott the opening of school next week–but none  was more persuasive than Deseret Richardson who didn’t come there for that reason at all. Richardson, 83, barely able to walk, was forced to be there, to enroll her granddaughter in school and, when she left, she was sobbing.

Deseret Segrua, 16,  brushes tears away from the eyes of her grandmother, Deseret Richardson, 83.
Deseret Segrua, 16, brushes tears away from the eyes of her grandmother, Deseret Richardson, 83.

“Why are they doing this to us?” cried Richardson, an immigrant from Dominica who raised six grandchildren, two of them war veterans. “Are they doing it because we are poor?”

A helpful school security officer  found Richardson a chair and moved it to place outside Newark Vocational Sc hool–the so-called “enrollment center”– where there was just a little shade. The woman had dressed in formal clothes, a long-sleeve top and a long, black skirt because, well, that’s how you dress when you are dealing with people in government. You showed them respect and you hoped they would show it in return. But to Deseret Richardson, the  school system, under Gov. Chris Christie and his superintendent, Cami Anderson, wasn’t showing anyone respect.

“I tried to explain to them that I have watched these children all their lives,” said Richardson of her grandchildren. “I have taken care of them when there was no one else. And I will do that until I die. But they didn’t want to listen.”

Richardson lives near Barringer High School. Has for years. That’s where her other grandchildren had gone, including the sailor and the solider and the young man who made it into Cheney State. That’s where she intended to send her youngest granddaughter, also Deseret, Deseret Segura.

But Cami said no. Cami has a plan she calls “One Newark.” She won’t tell anyone how she devised the plan.  Cami–who lives far away with rich friends in Glen Ridge and has enough money not to worry about such things–insisted this woman somehow find a way to get her namesake all the way across town to Shabazz High School.

Thousands of children  are being forced to attend schools outside their neighborhoods. It is destroying the system. It is destroying the city.

And this is what this cruel woman calls “school choice.”

“I will not send her across town to a place I know nothing about, I will not, if it’s the last thing I do, I will not,” Deseret Richardson wept.  Her granddaughter daubed the old woman’s eyes with a tissue and repeated softly, “It’s ok, Te-Te,” her pet name for her grandmother. “It’s ok.”

Some people who had been at the press conference witnessed what happened to Deseret Richardson and Deseret Segura.

“This is so unbelievable, why is Cami doing this?” asked Daryn Martin, a parent leader who is part of the effort to persuade parents across the city to keep their children home from school next week. “It makes no sense.”

Oh, yes, it does makes sense to people with the mindset of a Cami Anderson. This is a test of wills. Anderson, the willing and ambitious tool of a governor running for president, has to show she can push a city around–because then Christie can show the rest of the country what a badass tough guy he is. A Jersey Guy, say the sycophantic media who are trying to ride his broad coattails to salvation.

Tough guy? No, just a punk. A man who can be cruel to grandmothers and children with special needs who will be getting on to buses in the dark just to please his warped sense of power. Meanwhile, he sends his kids to $35,000-a-year private schools like Delbarton because, he says,  money doesn’t improve education.

“I am the decider,” he told the city’s newly-elected mayor. He doesn’t have to listen to anyone. Not old women. Not children. Not to elected officials.

Not to Ras Baraka. Not to Deseret Richardson.

This is not about human needs. This is not about treating people with the respect they deserve. This is about Cami Anderson, as cruel and frigidly cold as any bureaucrat could be, enforcing her will on a city made up of tens of thousands of people like Deseret Richardson who remember a time when registering your children for school meant walking across the street and signing up with the principal. As it still does in white suburbs.

But that was before large charter school corporations like KIPP and Uncommon Schools made friends with people like Cami and smelled the chance to make millions through their friendships with women like her and politicians like Christie and Cory Booker. Screw the people–there’s money out there to be made because taxpayers pay for charter schools even though they are privately operated and give high salaries to their administrators. They’re going to turn Newark into the charter school capital of New Jersey–maybe even the United States.

Daryn Martin, a boycott leader, talks to the press about plans to stay away from schools next week
Daryn Martin, a boycott leader, talks to the press about plans to stay away from schools next week

The boycott effort has gotten off to a late start, but Sharon Smith, a leader of  the boycott-organizing PULSE (People United to Lead the Struggle for Equality),  hopes more and more organizations–especially churches–will join the effort. Councilman John Sharpe James, from the city’s South Ward, was there to endorse the boycott and he said Baraka supports it as well. Council President Mildred Crump came  to lend her support and held Deseret Richardson and promised her she would try to fix her problems.

“How can they do this to people?”Crump wanted to know.

Parents who want to know more about the boycott are encouraged to go to PULSE headquarters at 962 Bergen Street or check in on the Web at #NPSboycott4freedom. PULSE will hold an information session at Clinton and Tracey this week during a 24-hour vigil for peace beginning Friday at 6 pm.

Smith says parents should keep their children at home. For those who cannot, she says, PULSE will provide safe havens in churches and retired teachers to watch the kids and provide instruction.



  1. […] journalist Bob Braun tells the story of a poor black grandmother trying to register her granddaughter in the high that she wanted to […]

  2. Every time you think the so-called reformers can’t sink any lower, they surprise yet again.

    Bob, I’d like to thank you not just for your excellent reporting, but for the moral outrage you bring to the story, which is in proportion to the crimes being committed.

  3. Bob,
    I read your blog and I cried….

  4. One Newark as we all know is idiotic, it makes as much sense as the SGP that they are pushing on the schools and teachers.

    The thing is that I am not sure that Christie or Anderson would be bothered by a boycott. I have a strong feeling that they really don’t care whether the students show up or not, it is obvious they care little about students education only about control!

    If I lived in Newark, I would simply send my child to what ever school I wanted too, after all are they not pushing school choice?

    I think instead of a boycott, they should simply send their child to their school of choice. Now that would be a cog in their wheels!

  5. Hey You should investigate the credentials and professional references for these so called teachers. One so called teacher is using their girlfriend as a professional reference at Citizen Schools. Investigate that. Some charter school teachers really are not qualifed to teach they are just cronies. Wasting our money

  6. What kind of food donations do you need? Is it for the kids? The adults? Is there a food wholesaler who delivers that we can order from when we are donating from a distance? Please advise! I’m so proud of the bravery and commitment you are all displaying!!! Solidarity!

    1. Mireille – please contact me regarding you questions about food at Many thanks.

  7. Philo, Newark Parent
    People do not understand the degree of destruction these two heartless fools are causing to our kids. The school my child was sent to a school 45 minutes away from where we live. I have gone to 2 Cedar Street several times and all they can tell me is that I have no choice. No choice of school for my own child? what I intend to do is to send her to school to the closest school around us. Hey!!Newarkers, this hurricane Anderson is worse than Katrina, we must unite to send her packing quickly.

  8. I was recently granted sole custody of my nephew due to my mothers passing. I myself am a full time college student and worker. Due to Newark One, my child was not assigned a school and when I went to enrollment services today all but one of the schools left were across town. Furthermore the school that was left in my district is one of the worst schools any student could attend. With no where to go I had no choice but to enroll him in a Catholic school, which is causing me to spend less time with him since I will now have to work extra hours. Shame on you Cami, you have not helped you have only made our lives more difficult.

  9. […] defensive administrator who planned to close schools that were meeting their improvement goals and sending families across the city whether they wanted to go or not?  That is not “crazy government run […]

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