Tag Archive: privatization

Photo of the Day: Camden parents confront Norcross, Sweeney and Hespe

Camden parents confront George Norcross, Don Norcross Steve Sweeney

3 very different expressions on Steve Sweeney, Tom Kean (corrected), George Norcross

as Camden parents confront them

PHOTO: April Saul, Camden, NJ: A Spirit Invincible (on Facebook)

Inside, a $35 ticket conference hosted by the New Jersey “School Choice” Education Reform Alliance (quote marks, mine). Inside, the man who’s made Camden his philanthropic playground, opened opportunities there for business friends to score, and put his name on a few some buildings – George Norcross, who also runs quite a few NJ Democrats. By him, a key beneficiary, Senate President Steve Sweeney, the Norcross operation’s presumptive pick for governor. Also there, NJ Education Commissioner David Hespe, appointed by Gov. Christie to grease the way for privatization targeting NJ’s minority-majority cities.

Outside, about 50 fed up Camden parents, who say they represent many more who aren’t available in the middle of a work day to crash a big wheelers’ get-together.

These are Camden parents who are are tired of people who don’t live in Camden calling the shots about how their kids are schooled and excluding their input. They object to the way their children are turned into commodities for the privatizers of education. Camden’s only under state control two years and they already see the need to shake it off. And they want Christie-appointed Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard gone.

Welcome to Camden, President Obama. Here are some things I think you need to know – about education

Barack ObamaKeith E. Benson is Education Chair at Camden County NAACP, a teacher at Camden High School, and a Doctoral student at Rutgers University GSE. This is the 2nd post today addressed to President Obama – the first was from James Harris, immediate past president of NJ NAACP. Read that here. Promoted by Rosi

On November 4th, 2008 I, as well as many other Camden residents celebrated your victory in the Presidential election against John McCain. Indeed I remember residents of Greenwood Avenue in the Parkside section of Camden, literally celebrating in the streets with the election of the nation’s first black president – something many of us believed we would never see in America with its deplorable history regarding its treatment of black and brown people. A new optimism was apparent and visible on November 5th, 2008 and lasted for some time, until the reality of what an Obama presidency meant for urban America became apparent. By many metrics, things have gotten worse for the most vulnerable urban Americans under your administration, due in part to the intransigence of our US Congress, hostile policies put forth at the state and local levels, but also because of some your very own policies. In Camden, NJ there is no clearer embodiment of the harm some of your policies have wrought upon the urban poor, than in education.

Burden of Reformy Proof

Cross-posted with Jersey Jazzman.

I’ll keep this short, as I can’t believe I actually have to write this down:

I see a lot of arguments in social media and blogs and editorial pages and elsewhere along these lines:

“American education is a disaster! We must do something! And you can’t prove that my proposed reforms won’t work!”

This argument makes no sense for at least three reasons:

Keith Eric Benson: Pride in Being a Skeptic

What you’ll read below was originally a comment by Keith Eric Benson at Steve Danley’s Local Knowledge Blog, replying to a comment he found odious in a Courier Post editorial. Hat tip to Steve for throwing light on Keith’s words, and to Camden NAACP, which sent the link to their list. Keith is a Camden resident, teacher at Camden High, frequent contributor to Steve’s blog, and a doctoral candidate in the Education, Culture and Society program at Rutgers Graduate School of Education. He is also an activist on behalf of his students. Promoted by Rosi.


The last comment [in this Courier Post editorial -ed] directed at “skeptics” to “shut up and get out of the way”, in my eyes, was so out of line. I think the labeling of people who have legitimate concerns and issues with this contemporary neoliberal directed Camden, and where its headed, as “skeptics” is demeaning and dismissive.

After all, people who being referred to as “skeptics” are the people who live here, and fundamentally are simply asking for the same civic rights and democratic respect that are afforded those in neighboring municipalities.

As a “skeptic” myself, I have a problem when the beneficiaries of good public and private jobs within this 8 square mile city of 97% percent minorities don’t remotely look like the people who reside here. Am skeptical for pointing that out? Am I skeptical when I point out that I can go WEEKS without seeing a black police officer on this newly created County Police Department? Or that I don’t recognize anyone of them as current Camden residents? Am I a “skeptic” when I point out research shows charters schools largely do NO better than traditional public schools? Am I skeptical that every time Gov. Christie comes here to say how much he cares about Camden he has a perimeter set up so that NO resident who is NOT connected to the Norcross machine goes anywhere near him to voice out concerns? Am I skeptic when I get upset that our local reporters ask NO follow-up questions and are not themselves the skeptical gatekeepers of public knowledge they are supposed to be but instead prefer to be the echo chamber for those with power?

Camden parents protest “Urban Hope Act” outside Assembly Session

UPDATE: Urban Hope Act passes the Assembly. Save Our Schools NJ puts it this way: “NJ Assembly picks George Norcross over Camden children & statewide voters. Most No votes were Republicans. I’ll post the vote in comments, you can see how your Assembly members voted. – Rosi


Camden NJ parents protest "Urban Hope Act" at NJ Legislature

A group of Camden parents is walking the halls of the New Jersey legislature today in advance of the Assembly’s vote in this afternoon’s session on the “Urban Hope Act”.

I’m told by the parents that they’ve been unable to talk to voting members; unclear whether they were unsuccessful in setting up appointments to lobby members today or didn’t set up meetings in advance, or if members ignored them. A reworked and expanded “Urban Hope Act” passed the Senate overwhelmingly last week.

Both Education Law Center in Newark and Save Our Schools NJ asked the legislature to withhold their approval as they see the legislation as a threat to the city’s public schools. There are numerous questions which should throw cold water on this legislation, including legal questions. Rutgers Camden PhD candidate Rasheda Weaver highlighted distrust on both the local and state level directed at Christie, Mayor Dana Redd and those behind the bill, and posts insinuating the bill amounts to educational experimentation on the children of Camden.

Camden schools meeting - canceledJersey Jazzman, in a well-sourced piece of the sort policy-makers should find useful, walked through the evidence that suggests Urban Hope will not work the way Steve Sweeney suggests it must.

But maybe the biggest question is this one, raised most directly by NJ Spotlight: Debates in Camden continue – – but is anyone listening to the community?

The continuing answer would seem to be No.  

Community Voice in Camden: Teachers Missing from Our Schools

The community fight against school privatization in Camden leaps forward. Promoted by Rosi, cross-posted from the Local Knowledge Blog. The speech below was given by Camden parent Carmen Crespo at a press conference last week announcing a lawsuit against the Camden School District:

It is an honor to be here today speaking on behalf of the thousands of parents of school age children in this city who, until very recently, haven’t had their voices heard. Until just a few months ago, I, like most Camden parents, was unaware of the changes coming into our district or how they would affect my children and my neighbor’s children. I quickly learned that our school district was supposedly in a funding deficit and would be laying off many teachers and support staff to cover this supposed deficit.

Missing-PieceI also learned that applications were filed to open new Renaissance schools, using the district funding that Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard claimed that we did not have. The more I learned, the more I felt the need to advocate on behalf of our children and of the teachers and staff who were being taken away from us. Those teachers love our children and have dedicated their lives to educating them so that they can grow up and be successful adults.

#npsboycott4freedom: Today’s Newark School Boycott

Below the fold, two videos to explain went on in Newark today.

Cami Anderson represents Gov. Christie’s goal of privatizing and corporatizing public education. Her personal conduct, if that’s not enough, is also questionable; she refuses to attend school board meetings and other forums where she might be met with opposition. And community complaints that she ignores parents and cuts community out of her process are well-documented. And insidious: The U.S. Dept. of Education is investigating claims her plan violates the civil rights of black students.

Today, Day One of ‘One Newark,’ she toured half-empty schools, as families boycotted. NJ Communities United is reporting that she locked school board members and parents out of her press conference.

Below the fold, two videos. In the first, parents talk about why they’re boycotting. The second is smartphone vid; wobbly, amateur, interrupted by traffic noise. But that’s the way things are right now in Newark. This boycott isn’t being run by some slick operation with corporate media skills – like Team Cami can count on. It was launched by busy parents and grandparents, by cell phone and leaflet, with supplies for Freedom Schools arriving by car from allies. All, as Anderson tells the press ‘One Newark’ is a success. When clearly it is not.

In Vid #2, she explains away the boycott by babbling about wanting to “work through any disagreements … that are not about hurting kids and putting them behind”. As though it’s the parents doing damage to the kids. And brings up time on task (a well-known edu-term about reducing wasted time in the classroom) as though boycotting parents are denying their children education. But I’m going to suggest that Newark kids learned a great deal today: They learned what their parents, grandparents and community will do for them, how to tell truth from spin, and that they’re never too young to know what’s really going on.