Last week, a group of students formed a picket line and staged an overnight sit-in protest against the “One Newark” school reorganization program backed by Newark Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson. Anderson has been mired in controversy since she introduced her new approach to improving the school system.
The One Newark school reorganization plan, which was announced by Anderson in December 2013, is scheduled to be operational this fall. It includes converting elementary schools into early childhood centers, relocating other schools to underused facilities and turning still other schools into smaller academies. The plan also suggests the expansion of charter schools, which, to date, serve about 20 percent of Newark students. Parents and community leaders say that Anderson moved forward with her plan without community input.
The students called for an end to Anderson’s One Newark plan for reorganizing the schools and urged the adoption of a new proposal. Newark Mayor Ras Baraka also attended the rally. Baraka, backed by a coalition of unions and community organizations, unveiled an alternative called “Newark Promise.”
The Newark Student Union and other activist groups are promoting the Newark Promise plan. It calls for the return of local control to the Newark school system, improvements for school district facilities and less of a focus on the results of standardized tests.
Anderson said she is willing to meet with the sit-in protestors. “I meet with dozens of student groups,” Anderson said. “All students need to do is call my office.”