Coming Friday is a student street action that may actually be the most important thing that happens in New Jersey all week. And that includes the visit Monday by the President of the United States. Bear with me, here’s why:
Obama’s Camden visit was the result of a public relations offensive by political bosses, whose interests are tied to the appearance of success. Carefully-orchestrated propaganda; it’s no mystery Obama’s speech was delivered to an audience mostly of non-residents. The unpretty facts of some of the impact this control from outside has on city residents – in policing, in accountability in excessive force complaints, in education – neatly swept aside for a narrative that compliments bosses, investors and Gov. Chris Christie.
We may see the exact opposite in Newark on Friday; the state-imposed “reform” which in Newark takes the route of destabilizing, union-busting, expanding charter enrollment while closing neighborhood schools and ignoring community input, is not going well. The resistance by well-organized and fed-up community members is fueled by outrage at Cami Anderson’s recent designation of 9 public schools as “turnaround” schools, dooming them and making way for privatization. Resistance to racist and elitist policies is national news now. The public relations offensive in Newark has slipped – badly. And students – the greatest stakeholders – are front and center where they should be:
What: Newark Student Walk-Out
When: Friday, May 22nd at 12 noon
Where: Newark City Hall, 920 Broad St, Newark
Students & supporters will gather at City Hall before marching through Newark
The stakes are ramping up now. Gov. Christie, still trying to run for president, cannot appear to have another failure. And Cami Anderson, whose disrespect and disorganization fuels parent, student and community outrage, is a failure who has been the target of more than a year of efforts to get rid of her. Angry board meetings (which she no longer attends), marches, student walk-outs, sit-ins, and the election of Newark’s educator-mayor Baraka, swept into office with reversing her ‘One Newark’ plan as his number one issue. Nobody in elected office or business could have fouled up as much as Cami Anderson has, and offended as many people, and not been canned by now. But her work is not done yet. She’s been sent – at a whopping salary – to dismantle Newark’s public schools, and pave the way for investment and privatization. And Christie is still locked in as her defender, her only one.
And with Cami under so much local fire, we now see exactly how the dismantling will accelerate: “turnaround schools”. Roberto Cabanas, Lead Education Organizer with NJ Communities United:
“We have no reason to believe that the ‘turnaround’ designation is about making our public schools work for our community. Given Cami Anderson’s achievement record, we know that this is just another reform attempt to close 9 more public schools in the city. We are tired of her failed reform policies that continue to under enroll, underutilize, under perform, and undermine traditional public schools and the community they serve.”
We’re all in for Newark students. And the city that backs them up.