Once again the citizens of Newark, New Jersey face another dose of the Newark Public Schools’ miseducation from those put in place to educate and protect their children. On April 21, 2014, a letter was set to go out informing frustrated parents of yet another delay in the process towards the future of Newark Educational Reform.
On April 22, 2014, as the parents of the Newark public school system were beginning the homework process, they saw the letter written by Cami Anderson, State District Superintendent. As they began reading the paper carrying the seals of the Newark Public Schools’ and the State of New Jersey, they already knew it was bad news.
The letter starts off by informing parents how the One Newark Enrolls is “a system of true choice,” adding that its design “streamlines the enrollment process.” The State District Superintendent ends the first paragraph with a date for the second round of the application process for any families that may have missed the first and needed to be “aware of their options.”
With the second part of the letter Anderson informs parents about an oversight on their part. “Shortly after the first deadline closed, we conducted several focus groups to get input from participating families.” At this point the school system realized the issues with transportation and Anderson says that “…the district is working to identify transportation options before sending match letters.”
Toward the end of the letter Anderson gives the parents one of the new dates, another apology, and recognition of patience. She attempts to reassure frustrated parents by adding the statements, “We recognize this is an inconvenience…” and “We are committed to providing you…” Then closes the letter with, “We look forward to your continued feedback as the district strives to make each school year better for you and your child. In Service, Cami Anderson.”
For the parents and students of the Newark public school system this new plan is not education reform but simply the miseducation of what reform should be. Many parents felt that Newark One Enrolls was supposed to be a simple process to help better the public school system and also the education of the city’s children, but ended up being nothing but a nightmare for everyone.
Basically, the letter was yet another slap in the face to parents who once again were force-fed another dose of the Newark public schools’ miseducation. It informed parents and students that the new and perfect system that was established for the Newark public schools is not that perfect and will be postponed until glitches can be worked out, such as transportation issues for the hundreds of students that would be moved from their current schools, as well as the needed accommodations for those with autism and other disabilities. Children who once just had to walk around the corner or maybe a block or two to receive an education will now have to travel over three miles to a place unfamiliar to them. As for those the children who require special accommodations, such as individualized education programs, and would like to attend one of the many public Charter Schools, their need is unable to be met, due to the lack of resources within these Charter Schools.
The problem is that from day one the Board of Education knew that the Charter Schools did not have the means to accommodate these children and that they did not have the means to transport children that would have to be relocated. Intensifying the reason for most of the anger directed towards this new system, parents say they feel like the bureaucracy does not care. Newark has always been somewhat divided on a number of different things, but thanks to Cami Anderson the town had united together to fight for a common goal: the future of the city’s children and its public schools system. Unfortunately, since taking the position as Newark’s Superintendent, Anderson seems to have brought nothing but drama and chaos to the city’s schools. Many feel as if she is the match that lit this fire that is now burning out of control. With every letter sent home to the parents it seems that the fire just burns bigger.
The postscript of the letter gives a list of timelines in regards to the rest of the registration process. Nevertheless, it is a disappointing blow for all of Newark’s families. Most parents just see this newest Newark Public Schools’ miseducation as a failure for not only the children, but for the entire community, a failure by those who are supposed to support the city of Newark and her public schools. Unfortunately, with a Superintendent that storms out of board meetings and then refuses to attend another, while showing a blatant disregard for her staff and students, it seems as if the system will not be successful.
Hopefully, in the end everything will work out for the students of Newark, but only time will tell. Unfortunately, the actual letter has been removed from the Newark Board of Education site so the public will no longer be able to view the most recent example of the public schools’ miseducation.
Opinion by Virginia Snowden