Turnaround schools to One Newark: Mayor to take fight to school board

By Naomi Nix | NJ Advance Media for NJ.com
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on April 28, 2015

NEWARK — The Newark Public Schools Advisory Board election may be over, but the political machine is still toiling.

The board will be holding its reorganization meeting on Tuesday. In addition to board members voting on a new chair and vice chair, Mayor Ras Baraka — who has been a critical opponent of the school system — is expected to deliver remarks at the meeting.

According to a release from the city, Baraka plans to comment on the One Newark school overhaul plan, community schools, turnaround schools, and special education.

"There are few things more important than a child's education, and we are determined to ensure that every child in Newark does, indeed, learn," Baraka said in a statement about his plan to speak at Tuesday's meeting.

"Too many young people have fallen through cracks that should never have existed in the first place, too many more have simply never been given the resources they need, and have been defeated by life."

The city even tweeted about Baraka's plans to speak at the meeting.

The meeting arrives just days after three candidates backed by Baraka won three-year terms on the board. The candidates he supported included incumbent Marques-Aquil Lewis and newcomers Dashay Carter and Crystal Fonseca.

The so-called "Children First Team" ran on a campaign that was critical of Newark Public Schools Superintendent Cami Anderson and her controversial reforms.

Baraka has long been critical of Anderson, and has called for her resignation multiple times. The city said in a release this week that the mayor is planning to speak at a string of educational events this week after Tuesday night's meeting, including a town hall on education Wednesday night.

The Newark Public Schools Advisory board is the only elected body that represents the city on education issues. But, the state has controlled the school district since 1995, and state-appointed superintendents can ignore the board's decisions and requests.

Still, the board's opinion carries political weight in Newark, and the body is often a stepping-stone to a higher office in the city.

The meeting is scheduled to occur at Louise A. Spencer Elementary School at 6 p.m.

 

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