As the recently elected Councilman At Large, I was inclined to meet with all who impact our quality of lives here in the City of Newark and give them the benefit of doubt for moving our city forward. Unfortunately, in terms of education, I was greeted with a letter sent out by current Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson, who only 11 years ago, was merely Cory Booker’s campaign manager. (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nW7zm0BLhsk&list=PLorBRaoEC9gTrpRKV1JNIECZrFTxtjjEC)
This letter was sent to over 700 families within the Newark School system and specifically stated that, because teachers were away at an annual conference for two days, crime would go up with the students not being in the classroom. Mrs. Anderson retracted this letter after heavy criticism of its content began.
I was appalled by Cami’s implication that Newark students not in school automatically resort to criminal acts and make our great city “less safe”. I also referenced an Administrative Law case in Passaic (County), New Jersey, where a tenured teacher was FIRED merely because she posted on Facebook that she was teaching future criminals.
I spoke on both of these situations at the Newark City Council meeting held on November 18th and other council members equally expressed outrage and concern about the insensitivity of the letter sent out by Mrs. Anderson. I specifically requested that the council look into demanding a letter of apology and a meeting with Mrs. Anderson to explain the content of her letter.
In an age of promoting equality, fairness and unity, age old stereotypes cannot be perpetuated. To move Newark in a positive direction students and families must be encouraged that they can achieve a bright future and do great things in the classroom as well as their community. To imply otherwise is a pessimistic, negative and degrading belief which partially explains why there is still a significant disconnect between the leadership in the State controlled Newark Public School district and the community it is constitutionally obligated to serve.