Star-Ledger: Discrimination in Newark is “bogus.”

Jitu Brown, national director of Journey for Justice, announces federal investigation.
Jitu Brown, national director of Journey for Justice, announces federal investigation.


The Newark public schools have been stripped of their assets by the state.  The city’s children have been resegregated through a process of selection that leaves the neediest behind in the schools with the least assets while skimming the less needy students for charters. The people of the city have been stripped of their power to do anything about it and the ability to make change has been left in the hands of an incompetent superintendent and a megalomaniac governor who, once again, spit in the faces of city residents by saying he didn’t care. Chris Christie told popularly-elected mayor Ras Baraka—elected almost exclusively on school issues—that  “I am the decider and you have nothing to do with it.”

Yet, despite all this, the ever-predictable editorial board of The Star-Ledger—now abandoning Newark to take up residence in Woodbridge–finds that any complaint that the state’s policy is discriminatory is “bogus” and that state school superintendent Cami Anderson’s incompetence, no matter how dramatically illustrated by facts on the ground, still remains “bold” and worthy of support.

The logic of its latest editorial on the federal investigation into bias in the schools is that Anderson did not cause school segregation so she cannot be blamed for the disparate impact of her policies.  She should therefore be lauded for the changes she makes that, in the addled thoughts of the editorial board, somehow are making things better.

Let’s look at the problems with this, well, reasoning:

–As the representative of the state and the agent of the Governor, Anderson is, in fact, responsible for the apartheid in Newark’s schools. The law in New Jersey forbids school segregation. Check out the Jenkins decision: It requires action to end racial segregation—across district lines. Sorry—neither Christie nor his agent can say they have no responsibility to end segregation.

–Anderson’s proposed solutions to the problem, far from being “bold,” have created chaos and have led to the destruction of good neighborhood public schools in favor of enhancing discriminatory charter schools whose leaders have close personal and financial ties both to Anderson and Christie.  There is no evidence privatizing the public schools in favor of charters will help.

–The disruption will be felt primarily by residents of the predominantly black South and Central wards while the North and East wards will escape. For example, preschools will stay in neighborhood schools in the North and East wards but, for the South and Central wards, the youngest children will be placed in old, dilapidated buildings–another way of forcing parents to sign up for charters.

Research conducted by Bruce Baker and Mark Weber (Jersey Jazzman) at Rutgers provides strong evidence the worst impact will be felt by black parents, children, and teachers. The newspaper has not even looked at this evidence.

–What is going on here is an effort by TEAM Academy charters, an affiliate of KIPP schools, whose leaders have long business ties with Chris Cerf and others involved here, to show that it can take over a major section of the city’s schools, the South Ward, and, beginning with pre-K, build an alternate school system. With profit-making subsidiaries like Pink Hula Hoop, it can be in on the ground floor of gentrification, selling and buying property. The Star-Ledger has never  once mentioned Pink Hula Hoop or the legislative demands for an investigation or the connections between Anderson and Cerf and Tim Carden, the chair of the TEAM Academy board. Dismiss me, dismiss Ras Baraka, dismiss the critics of One Newark–but how do you dismiss a legitimate news story and still lay claim to journalism? Does Chris Christie determine what investigative journalism the Ledger does?

–The wasteful and feckless spending practices of the Christie-Anderson administration—including 60 percent raises for inexperienced administrators, hiring cronies who were let go from other jobs because of unethical behavior, and a Christie-sized $22,000-a-month lunch bill for the school administration—illustrate the corruption and arrogance that pervades the state regime. The Star-Ledger news operation seems not to be able to see this, apparently because it differs from the editorial board’s policy.

–The state takeover law was intended, not as a permanent solution to Newark’s problems, but rather as a last-resort, stop-gap measure. The corrupt Christie administration has used the state takeover law to allow his political friends to feed at the political and financial trough. Quite apart from what charters can do for the likes of George Norcross and David Samson,  Christie’s abuse of the takeover law denies the franchise to city residents, most of whom are black or brown.  The state has now owned the Newark schools and their problems for 20 years. It can be said whatever problems exist now were caused by the state and it has failed to do anything more but to try to sell off the city’s assets to private entrepreneurs.

–The sheer chutzpah of a newspaper that is abandoning the city to leave behind a “Dear John” letter that essentially supports the denial of civil and human rights to its people–rights enjoyed by New Jersey’s predominantly white suburban population–is breathtaking.  I wish the editorial board would write an editorial that accurately reflects its position on Newark without resort to euphemism. It would go like this:

 “Hey, Newark folks, except for those of you who work in the Pru building and a few other temples to outside wealth, we really don’t give a fig about you or your children—we’re outta here! You all can drown in the polluted Passaic for all we care.”

Now that would be truth-telling, honest editorial writing truly reflecting the attitudes of the state’s largest newspaper.


  1. Sue the bastards at the state, And start a new rival local newspaper in Newark. Now that would be a bold move!! Someone put up the money. God will bless Newark. “Forgive them Lord for they know not what they do!!” in God’s eyes. Newark it’s time to stand up!!!

    Bob Braun: I’m all for that. Your words “Someone put up the money” illustrate a serious problem. I’d work for nothing–I do now–but I’m not sure I could persuade an entire staff to do that.

    1. Norcross and Sweeney are playing Plantation politics and that is how they keep black people in line. They do this in SOUTH JERSEY, this is why Camden is the poorest city in America. Norcross and Sweeney are BIGTIME RACIST. They HATE BLACK PEOPLE. They laugh and call us monkeys. They use black people like Booker and Dana Redd fool other black people into voting for them. They control black people in South Jersey like Camden East NAACP Lloyd Henderson and Dority who will throw blacks under the bus in minute ,

      Its like CRABS in a Barrel, ITS SICK. BLACK PEOPLE IN North Jersey need to come together and invite those who have been victims of Norcross and Sweeney’s racist attacks


  2. The Star-ledger is one to comment about discrimination when many of its top-level staff are not people of color. They are not a diverse workforce. The attitude of the newspaper has always been toward the idea that they are better than the people of Newark.

  3. Two things. First, the Star Ledger is not only wrong here but wildly inconsistent as they’ve hammered Christie for using the same “I didn’t cause the problem so I’m not responsible” logic about pensions. Bull. You’re in charge. You took the job. You took on the problems that come with the job.

    Second, he didn’t really say “I’m the decider” without any irony, did he???

    Bob Braun: Yeah, he did. He apparently doesn’t remember the George Bush comment.

  4. Since Ms. Anderson has been the super for over three years, it might be time to compare NJASK scores from prior to her arrival to now. Has anyone done that?

    1. No! But I have. Most schools in the South Ward that were restructured have LOWER scores. You can check the individual school’s Report Card! My school was “taken over” by white teachers in a 99% black community. Only ONE black staff member was rehired. All the rest were NEW teachers from “white land”. I am NOT black and I was highly upset over this restructuring–black teachers can’t teach?? Well since our scores went DOWN guess the new and improved staff couldn’t work the miracle either!

  5. It’s as if the Star-Ledger has been taken over by ZOMBIES in the past few months. I think they have been threatened by someone. I can no longer read their editorials, and I will not renew my subscription when it becomes due next year. I think they believe that Christie will become president, and they want to be on his ‘good side’ when this happens. But they are wrong. Christie is corrupt, & they are just trying to cover up for him. He will never be president, and the only thing the Star-Ledger is accomplishing is making enemies for itself. I used to enjoy reading it. NO MORE! I don’t care if it goes out of business now. In fact, I hope it does.

    Bob Braun: You are among my most favorite readers and I cherish what you write here and elsewhere–but I would never wish The Star-Ledger, or any newspaper, goes out of business.

    1. Bob Braun didn’t say he wants the Star-Ledger to go out of business. I did. Get a grip!

  6. That was so well written, Bob. I live in Boston, but as a child visited my grandparents in the Ivy Hill section of Newark and still feel a connection.

  7. Civil disobedience of major proportions….nothing else will work…

  8. The end of this reign of terror must come soon.The star ledger gave up being a newspaper when it was turned over to young up starts,who would not know a good story,if they find one they can not write it.It is casting pearl before swine.The ledger has more blood on its hands,then all the gang murders we see daily.When a newspaper functions only to boster the status quo,it ceases to exit.They think the internet is sinking them,but a smart paper can integrate both and use each to advance the paper.Some serious folks are thinking about starting a paper that would serve Newark and New Jersey in a productive way.I hope they can come together and leave the ledger as a historical footnote.

  9. I was talking with my brother today. Somewhere in the exchange, I said to him, the problem with America is one of too much, far more frequently than one of too little. Most of us have water coming out of a tap, something to eat, and some amount of time on our hands, but we are distracted and confused. Part of that confusion is the result of our being constantly, continually, and deliberately misled. The Star Ledger example which Bob “frames” so effectively here—or, more accurately, unframes—is one among many.

    The truth is always plainly visible. We are free to recognize it and accept it, explore it and care for our part of it, but we put our own conditions on that negotiation, like, what’s in it for me? Or, where can it be found? If the price isn’t right, then we might not budge. Even for things that are beyond precious, like an ethical core and a moral compass and a love for one another. These qualities should never be commoditized. They will, however, grow slack and feeble if we don’t exercise them such that they continue to grow. This is not hard. It is sublimely simple, and it takes fresh effort, wherever it is welcome and permitted, every day.

    Things will happen as a result of patience, good faith actions, and persistence. We must, at times, be urgent. Most of the time, we need only be alert and responsive.

    We don’t need money to stand up to money, not entirely. To insist that we do is self dealing money talk. It puts the zap on your reasoning, which suits the motives and machinations of the people who would sell us out. We only need eyes to see, the courage to stand, a willingness to speak, friends and family to give us a hand.

    Bob, in my opinion, is here to do that. He works from devotion to life, because he knows the value of it, and he knows what it means to lose it to a senseless tragedy.

    We do not have to buy this crap, no matter how well it is marketed, with whatever kind of force-feeding device they specifically design for us to bite on.

    We need to stick together, appreciate one another, and work with whatever we have to offer, wherever we find ourselves. We all have ways to share with one another. We can do this.

    Always, inside us, there is a sensibility telling us to pay very close attention, to recognize the moment. It’s okay to live in the truth. It is necessary. You can do it for love, more readily than for money, and we all profit handsomely for the examples we provide for one another.

    This is something which the fashionably gluttonous have a really hard time figuring out, so don’t let them set the tone for you. It can all be beautiful, simply because you are alive, and because we are able to refuse to submit to the small percentage of people who think they own everything. Theirs is a spell that can be broken, starting with the only life we actually own. That which was given us, and that which our elders and ancestors took the time to protect and cultivate. Anyone who ever loved you is providing for you to keep this simple message, and through it, discover the world as it is.

    This is how we become free to defend ourselves. This is how we face the ugly. This is how we reclaim what is rightfully ours.

    The insatiable are living a torturous dream, and they think it smells like roses. Little do they know that there is a greater wealth than the things they chase. They’ve been bamboozled, and they pay dearly for the misery they sow, even as they try to hold us accountable for their own wounding, and the wounds they seek to inflict. They seek acceptance from above. But their aim is low. You can see it in their faces.

    Let the damage end at their delusion, and let recovery begin with us. We cannot afford to do less than this.

    This site may be the best of what is left of the Star Ledger, for now, but how much of what you don’t really need do you really need? Aim for better in the days ahead. Honesty in all things, including journalism, can be infectious.

    Integrity is a universal language, made ever more valuable for having become rare. It restores us if we let it, those of us who care enough to actually listen.

  10. What do you expect from an newspaper that endorsed Christie and never apologized.

  11. Th that is on the money.The world is in trouble because of our lost moral compass.The ledger left Newark long ago when it forgot to stand up for the little people,not always by being in agreement but at least exploring both sides.When the old family gave control to the youngsters the ledger was doomed,the same is true at NPS! The young inexperienced are running things without knowledge.Youth is sometimes wasted on the young.I understand the internet is competing for news,but it can be used to enhance a paper and create revenue and interest.

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