Today’s guest blog was written by Jordan Thomas, a senior at Newark’s University High School where he is valedictorian and earned a 4.5 GPA. He was admitted to Princeton, Harvard, Yale, and Rutgers and will attend Princeton in the fall. He plans to go to law school and become a Constitutional lawyer. He was the student member of the Newark School Advisory Board for this school year. He delivered these remarks at Tuesday night’s board meeting.
“Prudence, indeed, will dictate that Governments long established should not be changed for light and transient causes; and accordingly all experience hath shewn, that mankind are more disposed to suffer, while evils are sufferable, than to right themselves by abolishing the forms to which they are accustomed. But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government, and to provide new Guards for their future security.”
This passage, derived from our nation’s founding text, the Declaration of Independence, details an individual’s natural propensity to tolerate, or, in some cases, suffer, rather than to excite disruption, engage in public denunciation, or demand absolute reformation in times of hardship and deficient leadership. Candidly, I admit that I have been one so guilty of remaining reserved and civil in both action and speech through the duration of the struggle that has occurred in the Newark Public Schools system these months past, blinded by a false sense of hope, a chimerical sense of promise, and a foolish belief that my words and admonitions would be heeded if conducted in a manner that coupled professionalism with discretion.
Unfortunately, an unspeakable decision that has been unveiled last week has revealed that approach to be ineffective, and, as stated by our founding fathers, there comes a time in which one must no longer hold his tongue or contain his extreme dissatisfaction.
That time is now.
Last week, a decision by the district was revealed to restructure the administrative body of University High School. Consequently, Principal (Regina) Sharpe and seven vice principals were notified that they would be losing their jobs. Sadly, and quite typically, little explanation was given to the students of the building as to why their beloved administration was being released except for a plethora of rumors that can scarcely be determined as true or false.
As a student of University High School since 7th grade, I can assure you that, had the courtesy of an explanation been granted, it would matter little as there is no valid reason for the termination of an administrative body that had developed a strong rapport with the students and that was doing a phenomenal job of managing issues caused primarily by previous inefficient policies of the district.
Truthfully, it is laughable that we, the Newark Public Schools system, dare to consider ourselves an organization of professionalism and respectable business when common business practice mandates that any company reorganization, unless elicited by intolerable factors, be conducted progressively so as to allow the new employees to become acclimated to the system. If, hypothetically speaking, the current administration was terminated due to low performance, the decision to radically replace the entire administration at once proves to be an ineffective means of rectification as the new administration will spend most of next year becoming accustomed to the culture of the school rather than leading successfully, and, judging by past actions of the district, may likely be terminated as well for their ineffectiveness.
Thus, concealed by a hasty, incompetent decision, one finds the termination of the administration at University High School to both stimulate a recurring cycle of failure and to reveal a malicious intention to ruin the esteemed institution.
This…action is a deliberate component of a district-wide initiative to ensure the perpetual deterioration and failure of strong Newark public schools and the rapid proliferation of corporate-backed charter schools…
Perhaps the most portentous fact revealed is the realization that this unjust and unsubstantiated decision to eliminate an effective group of educators in one of Newark’s most successful schools is not simply a display of spite or vengeance toward the administration at that school in particular. Rather, this confounding action is a deliberate component of a district-wide initiative to ensure the perpetual deterioration and failure of strong Newark Public Schools and the rapid proliferation of corporate-backed charter schools, a devious initiative apparent in the multitude of school closures that transpired in December, in the unmanageable school budget approved in April, and the progressive implementation of the One Newark Open Enrollment Policy.
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. once had a dream that individuals of all races could coalesce and coexist in perfect harmony. Similarly, I have a dream that students of both public and charter schools could coexist and be afforded true choice when selecting the best option for the acquisition of their education. Yet, in the current state of the district, what we have seen is that dream continually deferred as policies and statutes are incessantly contrived with the design of eradicating our right to effective public education, and fortifying the daunting abundance of charter schools in Newark.
Hence, I challenge the entire community of Newark to continue to advocate and to fight for what is rightfully theirs. There remains strength in numbers, and our voices will not be heard until we unite in masses. They say it takes a village to raise a child. Imagine how many individuals it takes to help the 40,000 students of Newark that are currently being targeted.