Happy Holidays, Newark teachers and parents–your school is closing.

The agony has begun. Or, really, just continues. Newark teachers and parentschristiecami are about to find out how many more public schools will be closed or turned over to Chris Christie’s friends in the privatization movement. They’re about to find out how many jobs will be lost.  According to a document circulated by the Newark Teachers Union, some 22 schools will be affected.

Merry Christmas.  Happy Holidays.  Happy New Year.

Cami Anderson to teachers: Go to hell.

And, for many teachers, it will be a kind of hell. A late friend of mine who was a labor lawyer—the sort who worked for labor—described layoffs as “a little death.”  And it is.  So much pain—the worry about the future, the humiliation of losing a job, the self-blame, the inability to explain, the shame. The death of dreams.

Newark principals were informed of the changes Friday. The NTU has distributed a list of affected schools. School Closure

It will be a blow, too, to the unions representing school employees. I know many workers are upset with their unions right now—this comes just after public recognition that the negotiated merit pay plan helped Cami Anderson most of all. But, right now, school employees need their unions more than ever—and those unions need to find the militancy they have lost since the 1970s.

Timidity invites destruction—I don’t like the name “Badass” (it won’t even be used in and by the mainstream press) but teachers who are not badass have a better chance of becoming unemployed.

Yeah, I know, schools are supposed to be about the kids.  Anderson will undoubtedly say this plan will help the children. But there is no evidence this will help the kids. The “One Newark” plans means fewer neighborhood schools, more disruption, more segregation by class and need.

And teachers have kids, too. I can guarantee that laying off teachers will not help their children.

Looks like this plan will help the charter people. Shaq and other supporters of and donors to the Christie campaign. Teach for America.

This, of course, comes as no surprise. The “One Newark” plan has been circulating for weeks, if not months. It was known schools in the south and central wards would be closed.

But Weequahic High School? Turned over to a charter school? I wonder what Philip Roth thinks of that. Or Hal Braff, Zak’s father. Weequahic High School had one of the greatest alumni organizations of any public school in the country.

But what does Weequahic mean to Christie or to Anderson? This will be touted throughout the country, not as the desecration of Newark history, but as an example of the “bipartisan school reform” that may launch the bully on State Street to Pennsylvania Avenue. The hero of the George Washington Bridge will try to change the subject. Again.

After Shabazz becomes Shaq’s sports academy, you can be sure to see political ads with the two big men together—just as we saw before the gubernatorial election.

I hope teachers and parents throughout New Jersey recognize this isn’t simply a Newark phenomenon. The same ideology that supports the disenfranchisement of popular control over schools, the privatization of public education,  turning schooling into profits, and the denial of basic employment rights to school employees is spreading  throughout New Jersey and to the suburbs as well—just look at Jersey City and Highland Park and Montclair.

They’re coming for your public school.

16 comments

  1. Kelly

    What is happening in Newark (and many other districts across the nation) is criminal. Not only will it destroy public education but it will negatively affect the economics of this country going forward. There are way too many “clueless” people out there or those who choose to live in their little bubbles as if this will not affect them. YOU ARE SO WRONG. WAKE UP!!! This will come to your town, to your schools, to your company, to your job, and ultimately you will have no control unless you do something NOW.

    • Ben ONeal

      The State of New Jersey has used Newark City Schools
      as their own personal research laboratory since 1995. What goals did they attain? How are the schools better off now? The only viable answer is to return the schools to local control………where individuals can be held accountable to the community. Grade 6 (11-12 yr. olds) and grade 12 (17-19 yr. olds) in the same schools? An economical measure not a means for educational growth . Parents wake-up !

      Bob Braun: Good, insightful comment. Thanks.

      • Bob Braun

        Bob Braun: You should, like me, do a study of how selective colleges treat NJ students and you would find out the state’s public schools are considered among the best in the country. We do, however. live in a racially and economically isolated state and poor children, here and across the world, achieve less in school than their more affluent peers. What singles out the United States is, collectively, we don’t care. We tolerate the kind of inequality that makes us an international embarrassment but opens new markets for Wall Street.

  2. Melissa Tomlinson

    It is definitely time to wake up in this state Parents, teachers, administrators, and the union ALL need to step up and get vocal. This is a planned attack on our public education system that will destroy the rights of most of our students.

    Bob Braun: Thank you for this note and facing up to the bully in real time.

  3. Paul Valerius

    Look. The Government education system has failed our children for the past 20 years at least. I’m all for trying something different. If you cannot educate a child ready for college or the workforce at $21,000 per child at minimum then you should close. Keep good teachers and move them into a different model. And evaluate and have accountablity for that model too. For too long there has not been accountability with unlimited government funds flowing. It’s not about unions, it’s about children. LETS EDUCATE OUR CHILDREN.

    Bob Braun: I understand what seems to be the simple logic behind your note. However, it oversimplifies many complicated issues. Voucher and charter schools in poor areas have done no better than what you call “government” education. Public and private–often non-union–schools in affluent areas both have done well. The question then is not necessarily government versus non-government but rather the conditions independent of the school systems that lead children to fail. The recent New York Times series on homeless children illustrates what schools face in a society with extraordinary income gaps. Delbarton, where Christie sends his children, charges nearly $40,000 a year in tuition and most of its students, including is, were born to privilege. Before it was eviscerated by Christie, the state supreme court took the position that schools must spend whatever it takes–or at least as much as the wealthiest public school districts–to educate poor children and, even if that spending does not immediately work, then it is at least equitable government action. Had Christie fully funded the state school aid formula–he is about $5 billion behind now–more progress may have been possible. But we will never know because the governor, charged by the state Constitution with seeing the laws are enforced, failed to enforce that one.

  4. Gene Tortoriello

    I taught in Newark for four years and found the work conditions to be unbearable. I have taught in another urban district for five years now and I can see the work conditions deteriorating before my eyes because of an unfair new evaluation system designed to attack teachers. It is time for all public teachers to take a stand and fight for our rights and for our colleagues in Newark. Newark is first then Jersey City, Paterson, Camden, and Trenton. What district will be after that?

  5. Pat Valese

    Bob, when Christie attacked all public employees – then we should have walked off our jobs UNITED – the cops, firemen, teachers, ALL OF US, and marched to TRENTON – we would’ve won, at least we would have went down fighting – everyone’s getting screwed, every poor & middle-class person across Jersey, across America – it’s an agenda, a Republican mandate delivered from the 1%. Sadly, pathetically the majority don’t care, they’re too tired, too busy, too beaten to think they could change anything – another calculated maneuver from the so-called bi-partisan fellowship of power. And the other rich fools who back them? Shaq, Oprah, Zuckerberg, Gates, Damon, etc. should really think twice before they place an approval stamp on them – how dare they, why don’t they research what they believe in? Just like the rest of this dumb-down country…vote for the soundbite, the 2 minute commercial, the Jersey Strong stage drama of Bluebeard & his clones.

    Bob Braun: I think you’ve captured a lot of what is going on. It’s pretty frightening.

  6. Newark Daughter

    Wow powerful words. I am a product of Newark’s school systems, I have attended public, charter, boarding, and private schools in and around Newark. I have lived in the city, in the ward that is suffering the most. My mother is an employee at a Hospital right here in our city, so I believe that I am a very credible source when it comes to speaking about my city. WE ARE DYING and can not scream out for help because ignorance covers our ours and comfortable failure covers our ears. Educating our city starts at birth. Mothers are failing, grandmothers are picking up slack, the government assistance is not accurately used, our children is in a state of emergency and the only way to save us is to rip us from our comfort zone and feed us to the reality. WHY? I am so happy that you asked. As a Newarker, I know the truth. I know that we are not educated enough to compete against Montclair NJ, Wellesley MA, or South Orange NJ. We are selling ourselves short of a great outcome. SOME charter schools get it!!!! They know that we must teach our children problem resolution in the mist of dividing fractions, because being book smart in Newark does not keep you from being devoured by the wolves in our streets. SOME charter schools understand that they must teach our children to Work hard as well as Be Nice because hard work can get you to your goal but your character and personality is what keeps you there. Newark teacher’s and parents and administrators need to stop fighting against charter schools and join together and adopt some of these ideals in order to help our babies of the future; strive, thrive, and stay alive.

    Bob Braun: I understand your points and applaud your passion. You may want to study the history of both the Newark schools and charter schools more closely. Newark’s schools were, not long ago, considered some of the best in the state, if not nation. Charter schools originally were established to be laboratories for new ideas that would help the public schools. Neglect from both state and local politicians, neighborhood-busting by greedy real estate companies, and fear all contributed to the decline of Newark’s public schools. Greed propels charter schools now to become alternatives to the public schools.

    • CJFlor

      Is it because these children are from poverty that you are willing to tolerate failure? If a Caucasian school failed kids as badly as Newark’s schools, there would be major upheaval. Poor children of color are entitled to a good education too!

      Bob Braun: I am sure you will point out to me where I wrote I was willing to tolerate failure. And, perhaps, you would like to take this up with the state administration that has cut hundreds of millions in operating aid and failed to provide $650 million in needed school construction in the city. What I am unwilling to do is to allow the neediest children to be left behind as charter5s, voucher schools and other privatized ventures–with money from Wall Street–help only those children who had a good chance of succeeding anyway.

    • Barbara Foster Abdur-Razzaq

      Wow, “Newark Daughter” as a “credible source” you really have to READ! (hint: Corporate Takeover of Public Schools) You’ve missed the point of the “One Newark” plan, its origins and the players! It’s not about fighting against charters and adopting their ideas or ideals. You can’t segregate children or a community in the name of the “One Newark” plan! I, too comment as a native of Newark, educated in Newark’s public system, college graduate and a former educator in Newark Public Schools (NPS) for 37 years!
      By the way “the wolves in our streets” are also in Trenton, NPS and Wall Street!

  7. Pingback: Join the fight against new Newark Public School Closures | kimi blog
  8. Sharon

    Weequaic HS is not being turned over to a charter school! The situation is bad enough without misinformation!

    Bob Braun: Then you explain it. And, while you are doing it, provide the connection between the charter school, the foundation, and Wall Street. Curious minds want to know.

  9. Anonymous

    Charter schools are non-profit, tax payer money. The money is to be used for our students’ needs. Hopefully the money is being used wisely and to help our children. We don’t need corporations running our schools without having the educational background. I don’t see how can charter schools be any better when they are hiring public school teachers to do the most important job. For many many years the schools have been run by the same system all of a sudden we have a group of people who think they can do a better job. The reality of the matter is we won’t know until many studies have been conducted. The taxpayer money needs to be used in the school system and the corporations are suppose to be non-profit.

  10. Pingback: Bigger than Bridgegate, Newark principals wrongly suspended by Christie appointed Superintendent | Honest Practicum

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