Josepfina is a 19-year-old student in the City of Camden who relies on her teachers and school staff for support and community during difficult times at home. But the safety net at her school is under-resourced, forcing her and her sisters to struggle for their education.
“I love my teachers, but my sisters and I desperately need more counselors at our schools,” says Josepfina. “We’ve struggled to stay focused at school when our family was evicted from our home. We struggled even more when my sisters and I ended up in the foster care system. There are simply no resources for kids like us at our schools.”
Josepfina even brought her story and her concerns directly to the Christie-appointed Superintendent of Camden Public Schools. “I told him. He listened. He made promises to help. But then nothing ever happened. He never followed back up and he never made any efforts to address the issues that me and many other students are dealing with.”
Josepfina feels helpless as more of her teachers are fired and budgets for security and counseling languish. She believes that if the residents in Camden had control over the priorities, budgets and programs for Camden’s schools, things would be much different.
“If some people do not feel the consequences of not having democratic control over our schools, they will soon,” she says. “Our communities are under attack and we are losing our homes and our schools. We need to have elected leaders that care about what we’re going through and who can be held accountable by the parents and students fighting for a good education and a better life.”
Meanwhile, corporate Renaissance schools continue to expand along with Camden’s downtown waterfront, draining critical resources from traditional public schools and community services in neighborhoods that serve families like Josephina’s. The inequity in funding and resources only adds to the stresses facing Josephina and her sisters – and thousands of other students in Camden.