3 takeaways from Newark schools' state takeover chat

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on April 15, 2015

NEWARK — Two decades after the state took over Newark Public Schools, the district has undergone significant change. NJ Advance Media on Wednesday talked to Rebecca Doggett, a state-appointed auditor assigned to the district in the early 1990s, and Eric Dawson, a local online radio show host.

Here are three takeaways from our discussion:

1. Newark Public School buildings were in bad shape. Bathrooms, for instance, suffered from lack of supplies and stalls, Doggett said. "The conditions were appalling," she said. "Before you even opened door of the school building you could smell the smells of the bathroom...the stench was coming out of the door."

2. There was poor guidance for teachers. Not only were the school buildings crumbling, but students were suffering academically as well. Principals rarely visited classrooms to monitor teachers, meaning struggling teachers received subpar guidance, Doggett said.

3. Charter schools may draw self-selecting families. The act of going out to look and apply for a charter school, may mean those schools draw more involved parents. While this might be a good thing for individual children, it might hurt students in public schools, Doggett said. Dawson said that parent engagement is key. "I think it comes down to parent engagement," he said. "When the parents are not willing to be engaged, the government cannot make them be engaged."

 

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