Tag Archive: Essex County

Anderson’s “One Newark” Scheme: The Results Could Be Deadly

Normally the debate over school reform isn’t considered, at least in the immediate sense, a life or death issue. Deliberations concerning teacher tenure, educator workload, class sizes, meal quality, even building conditions can get heated, but rarely overlap with the subject of mortality. But this time things are different. As a former Newark resident and Public School teacher, I am writing to express my serious concern. Due to Cami Anderson’s “One Newark” Plan, and its total obliteration of neighborhood schools, children will probably die. It’s sickening to contemplate. Unthinkable – but logically speaking, all of the pieces are falling into place for an unprecedented series of disasters to ensue.

For the uninformed, Anderson’s “One Newark” Plan has replaced neighborhood schools with a network of schools – charter, magnet and traditional – that parents “apply” to through a universal application. Parents list something like their top two or three choices and through a complex algorithm, students wind up with a school. Sometimes it’s a school they’ve selected, sometimes it is not. The school could be a block away, or on the opposite side of the city. Regardless, come this September, tens of thousands of Newark Public School students will be transformed into hardened commuters, traversing the city’s vast distances by bus, car, light rail and foot to get to and from school. Some daily student commutes will be more than 10 miles through a dense, busy and varied urban environment.

Students at all levels – elementary, middle and high school – will be forced to spend long periods of time in transit. Students will be at bus stops and on busses before sunrise. For those thousands attending after-school events like dances, club meetings, games and concerts, evening bus trips and long walks, sometimes in near-to-total darkness, will be the norm. And it should be pointed out that some games and concerts, especially in the high schools, can end as late as 9 p.m.

Students will be required to do this every day. They will be subjected to the elements during the pleasant, warm mornings of September and during the freezing rainstorms of December. Heat waves, cold snaps, traffic jams, neighborhoods with serious safety issues…all will challenge children and teens, and relentlessly so.

This isn’t a commentary to criticize Newark specifically, but let’s be realistic about this. It’s New Jersey’s largest, densest city. Even to an adult with a car, Newark is a huge, sprawling metropolis of broad, lengthy boulevards and steep hills. The sidewalks in some places are falling apart, and entire stretches of pedestrian walkways, even in the city’s bustling Central Ward, go without proper maintenance or snow removal for weeks at a time.

Add into this mix tens of thousands of overstressed commuters hurrying to get to and from work during rush hours and you’re just asking for catastrophe. Don’t take my word for it. Stand at any intersection along Springfield or Central Avenues at 8 a.m. and you will witness cars, vans and busses bolting by at speeds upward to 50 miles and hour or faster. Trucks blaze through yellow lights like Doc’s DeLorean from Back to the Future. Emergency vehicles regularly shriek down Newark’s avenues with a rapidity that, from the perspective of a confused Fourth Grader, approaches light speed.

Now I know that we all take our lives into our hands whenever we venture out of bed each morning. Every step we take is with God’s Grace, no doubt. But if this plan is implemented, the odds of a child coming into harm’s way, either through an accident or as a victim of a crime, will increase astronomically. Every day tens of thousands of children will be moving through and learning in neighborhoods far away from their homes, parents and guardians.

Many parents in Newark don’t have cars, because one of the main advantages of living in a big city like Newark, with its workable public transportation system, is that some can do without them. Additionally, many of Newark’s parents and guardians are low-income and desperately poor. In the case of an emergency, caregivers could take hours to get to school to attend to a child in distress. In inclement weather it could take longer.

These are all disturbing speculations, but they’re not the stuff of fantasy. There are many reasons to stop the “One Newark” program, but perhaps the logistical and perilous nightmare it will create for Newark’s children is the most compelling. We send our students to school to learn, not to die.

I hope I am wrong. But if I am not, the responsibility will lie completely and instantly with Superintendent Anderson and ultimately with the Governor himself. Children are not adults; they’re not independent agents responsible for themselves. Anderson has enacted this drastic, heartless plan and she will be held to its results

The Plot Against Newark: The Great Depression-Era Scheme to Deport A Brick City Minority

Cross posted from http://kurzglobe.blogspot.com/…

New Jersey’s history is more interesting, tragic, triumphant and fascinating than most people know. As a history teacher my students know little about the state’s past, apart from where Washington slept and a few Revolutionary War battles. The more I study the pages of old newspapers, journals and letters the more I realize that the Garden State’s epic and sometimes disturbing past is worth writing about.

When it comes to great writers, Philip Roth is one of Jersey’s treasures. In 2004 Roth published an astounding masterpiece, a novel titled The Plot Against America. Set in a familiar alternate universe of the 1930’s and 40’s, Roth imagines Newark and the U.S. under the presidency of the isolationist Charles Lindbergh, and traces, in suspenseful and masterful style, how conditions for Essex County’s Jews deteriorate as Lindbergh’s fortunes rise. Scary stuff, to be sure, but just fiction, right? No one ever, of course, in real life proposed sending a large portion of a state minority off to camps or distant locales?

Tragically enough, various forms of ethnic deportation and cleansing were widely and publicly proposed, from some of the highest levels of Newark’s city government, in the summer of 1932. It was, in short, Newark’s own plot against America. Had it actually worked, sights similar to the coming Holocaust in Germany would have surely panned out on the streets of New Jersey’s largest city, with African-Americans as the target.

We need to paint the scene here, to understand the context of a horrifying proposal that almost came to be. In 1932 the Depression was already in its grinding third year, and Newark, as one of the East Coast’s industrial hubs, was hit particularly hard. The New Deal was still over a year away and no end to the troubles were in sight. Factories closed. The number of the unemployed ballooned and urban aid programs were scant. There was no unemployment insurance, Social Security or Medicaid to speak of. In Newark, most aid to the poor was in the form of free distribution of flour.

Within the Brick City’s economic cauldron, racial hatred festered. New Jersey’s African-American population had grown dramatically in the 1920’s as hundreds of thousands of blacks had fled violence and Jim Crowism in the South for opportunities in the North. In the booming economy of the 20’s many men did find jobs and a better life, but with the Depression, the ebbing tide stranded all ships. Black and White in Newark faced a new, seemingly permanent world of joblessness and desperation.

It was in this atmosphere that Owen A. Malady, Newark’s official “Overseer of the Poor,” along with several allies, proposed a terrifying plan. The city of Newark would act to “deport” or “resettle” most of its African-American residents “back” to the South. More specifically, the plot was that all black residents living in Newark for less than five years would be removed from the city and forced “back to Dixie.”

The scheme was publicly discussed and debated behind the doors of Newark’s stately city hall building on Broad Street. Some of the city’s commissioners wanted prompt action taken by the police, who would apparently engage in mass arrests, processing and forceful relocations. How the city would determine who was to be deported/arrested was never fleshed out. It probably would not have mattered anyway; I’m sure every African-American living in Newark would have been a target.

Though he rejected ‘force’, Malady was intensely determined to make his deportation plan work. He told one paper that he had written public officials, including governors, in Georgia, Florida, Alabama and Mississippi. He even called on local Essex County churches to assist him in his efforts.

Opponents quickly made themselves vocal in newspapers North and South. Writing in the Atlanta Daily World, one Jesse Thomas scorned the plan as regressive, unwise and blatantly unconstitutional. First, Thomas openly wondered why the City of Newark had discriminated in its deportation plans against African Americans? Hadn’t many white people settled in the city over the past half-decade? Additionally, from a logistical point of view, so-called “Southern Resettlement” wouldn’t help anyone, as:

“Practically every city in the South is already taxed to its limit in an effort to take care of those who are now unemployed and living on charity.”

And most importantly, Thomas wrote, why would it matter what region anyone came from who settled in Newark? Doesn’t every part of the nation belong to every inhabitant equally? Of course, Thomas was legally correct. The United States Constitution, in its “privileges and immunities clause,” blatantly forbids this kind of regionally-based discrimination.

Newark, to my knowledge, never did adopt this appalling mass deportation plan. And while the later New Deal programs of the Roosevelt administration certainly eased poverty in Essex County, none of the programs (such as the Civilian Conservation Corps) were ever specifically targeted to help African Americans. Many New Deal agencies actually engaged in racial discrimination themselves. It would take World War II to bring full employment and opportunity back to Newark, but in 1932 that was still almost a decade away (and nobody knew it was coming at the time either).

The Great Depression is over, but the Great Recession is not. Though such schemes for mass deportations of minorities are fortunately non-existent in the United States, they’re currently enjoying resurgence in Europe. There, in nations like Greece and Hungary, Fascists are again on the march and ruthlessly targeting immigrants and Jews. And these Fascists are gaining political power by winning local and national elections. We need to remember, such conspiracies did once visit our shores. We can never let such ideas gain a serious audience again. We’re all in this economic mess, yes, but we’re in it together.

Live in Essex County? Share this.

To be clear, this tweet is not from Joe Vincenzo, Sr. the Essex County Executive. It’s from his son, same name – @JGDiVincenzo. It came to us via anonymous tip (thank you). I don’t think the son’s in the politics business, which is one reason I hesitated before posting this.

Here are the reasons I decided to post it: (1) Check out his Twitter profile (screen cap below the fold), in which he includes the fact he’s the “son to the Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo. Fair game, then. (2) The account is also followed by numerous legislators and reporters. (3)  DiVincenzo’s tweet is directed to Anderson Cooper last night in the 8pm hour, when Dawn Zimmer was giving this interview.

I shouldn’t be amazed. But I am. So, this question is especially for Essex Democrats:  Is this family’s Christie-enabling contempt for Democrats OK with you?

Buono Bus Tour Video

Barbara Buono’s campaign posted this video of snippets from last Saturday’s bus tour through Union and Essex counties on the Bus for Progress, the non-profit, grassroots project headquartered in Monmouth County devoted to voter registration and events supporting progressives.