A Changing of the Guard in Newark Politics

Last week’s Newark School Board victory represented a seismic shift power. 

Parent Coalition for Excellent Education (PC2E), a new organization on the scene of Newark politics, touts a bold vision that centers on empowering parents—in particular, parents who support school options for their children.

PC2E has spent nearly a year focusing on engaging and amplifying the voices of Newark’s silent majority and registering nearly 3,000 new voters.

Typically, parents have shied away from entering the fray of School Board Elections but on Tuesday, their participation eclipsed results from the past two years as more than 26,000 voters raced to the polls to cast their votes for change.

Emerging victorious from the scrum of a twelve candidate race was the Unity Slate which was comprised of Kim Gaddy, Tave Padilla and Leah Owens and backed by PC2E, Mayor Ras Baraka and North Ward Councilman Anibal Ramos. Gaddy, a staunch supporter of Charters was the top vote getter—earning 5,804 votes. 

From the outset, the tone of this election was set. The formation of the Unity Slate had a singular focus which was to end the political divisions that have paralyzed Newark’s ability to move beyond a failing paradigm was the key to this important victory as Newark braces for the return of local control.

Here’s a statement issued immediately after the victory by PC2E’s Executive Director Muhammed Akil:

"This was a turning point election that showed the direct impact an organized voter registration effort, focused on empowering parents, can have on a City. “Rather than focusing on differences, a community chose to rise together to address issues that unite us all - demanding quality public schools; promoting parent empowerment and the expansion of public school options; rejecting the school or prison pipeline, and electing school board leaders that are responsible, knowledgeable, and accountable.

"As seen in the election results, thousands of parents were galvanized into action and voted, many for the first time.  District school parents and public charter parents came together not only to register to vote but to invest time in every Ward encouraging others to get involved. 

“This election provided a voice to many parents who have traditionally not had one, and it is no accident that these results occurred on PC2E ‘s watch. 

“PC2E and parents throughout the City have provided a wake-up call to the long-time defenders of the status quo.   In the coming weeks and months, PC2E will continue to fight alongside Newark parents in support of all public schools – district charter, magnet, and community.  PC2E will continue to prioritize our efforts in voter registration and policy education, we will continue to support the voice of all Newark parents, and most of all, we will not rest until every Newark family is provided public school options that guarantee high-quality classrooms for every child.

Though the memberS of the Unity Slate have somewhat different views on how to move the district forward, according to a statement from Mayor Baraka… “they are united in seeking the return of our schools to local control, fighting for the full funding necessary to achieve quality education and rejecting ideologies in favor of proven education practices.”

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