Newark Parents Angry Over Plans To Close Schools

NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — The Newark school superintendent tried unsuccessfully Friday night to calm hundreds of angry school patrons, many of whom apparently first learned from a newspaper report of a plan to close several city schools and merge others.

Superintendent Cami Anderson called the meeting the same day The Star-Ledger of Newark reported on some specifics of a plan that has been evolving for some time.

1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg reports

After eight months on the job, Anderson introduced a series of district wide reforms that include closing seven failing schools and increasing accountability for charter schools.  The measures also call for an expansion of the city’s magnet school system.

She also met with reporters afterward and said the several hundred parents and others who attended the raucous meeting at Rutgers-Newark were not representative of all city residents.

“I understand the emotions over this, I really do,” she said. “These are community institutions. But there are scores of families who are very excited about this.”

Parents appear to be split on the proposal.

“A lot of kids don’t go nowhere in public schools so I think they either need to tighten it up or close them down and make better ones,” Julio Pandola told 1010 WINS’ Steve Sandberg.

“Where are they going to go? All the schools now are really mainly filled up, where are they going to go? We need our school. Help it, fix it, but don’t close it, please,” Carol Dunnell said.

Anderson said several consistently underperforming schools with declining enrollment will be closed in their current form but some buildings will house new, merged schools.

During the public meeting, she gave a Power Point presentation outlining which schools were scheduled to be closed and consolidated with other schools, but left the stage before the allotted hour was finished. She was shouted down repeatedly and left to chants of “Cami must go!”

Wanda Sherrer, who sent three children through Newark’s schools and has several grandchildren enrolled, expressed dismay that the decisions on school closures appeared to have been made without public input.

“This was done already. It was a done deal when we got here (tonight),” she said. “We need these schools in our area. We can’t afford to let them close.”

Anderson said the plans have been in the process for two years and town hall discussions have been held.

Earlier Friday, teachers union President Joseph Del Grosso said teachers, parents and many school officials were not consulted in the decision process and they were furious.

“There were absolutely no community meetings or discussions with the union about this endeavor,” Del Grosso told The Associated Press. “It is catastrophic because what it actually does is take a city that’s in trouble and exacerbates the problem; as we close these schools, we close what were beacons in the community.”

Del Grosso said that test schools at Newark schools are improving and that reducing class sizes, not closing schools, was a better solution.

Newark’s public school system is the state’s largest, with 75 schools and a student population of about 40,000, according to its website. The schools have been plagued for years by low test scores, poor graduation rates and crumbling buildings. The district, which has been under state control since 1995, spends nearly $24,000 a year — more than twice the national average — per pupil.

Anderson was appointed last year to lead the district. Previously, she worked in New York City’s District 79, a network of more than 300 alternative schools, served as executive director of Teach For America, and was the head of programming for New Leaders for New Schools, a nonprofit foundation that recruits principals.

Anderson has close ties to Newark Mayor Cory Booker, and was an adviser to him in his first campaign for mayor in 2002. Booker has said revamping Newark’s education system is a main priority of his administration, although the city does not have direct control over the schools.

Booker appeared with Gov. Chris Christie and Facebook Founder Mark Zuckerberg on Oprah Winfrey’s syndicated talk show in 2010 to announce a $100 million pledge to the schools over five years.

(TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2012 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

Do you think the overhaul will help the system? Let us know below…





  • MButterfly

    It sadden me that the power to be believe closing school will resolve the problem. I visit schools each week and the disheartening part about it, most of these school do not have the tools to properly educate a child. The office do not have paper, the students do not have books and the computers are in need of repair. You would prefer to close a school instead of investing in educating a child. These school lack he essentials for learning. As parents we put faith in the teachers to help education our childre, the sad part is the teacher themselves don’t have faith in their students. Use the money for what it was intended for assist all the schools with all their needs. Get rid of ineffective administrators and teachers.

  • Borealshine

    Closing schools is not the solution for Newark or anywhere else but a REAL change in promotion policies and parental accountability. What does she has to say about social promotion??? Newark Public Schools retention policy establish that a students can only be retained twice between k and 8th grade and the parents have to agree to it. Constantly students are promoted to the next grade when in reality they do not have the competencies to successfully complete the academic skills of the grade that they are in. many parents are not worry about how their children are doing because the kids are passing so nothing to worry about. Now that child that does not comprehend the academic material is likely to become a discipline problem. Now multiply that times 5 put them in a classroom of 25 and guess how long does it takes for a teacher to deal with their distractions and re teaching while the others have to wait for the teacher to handle that. Administrators tell the teacher call the parents and the parents are not worried because the kids are “passing’…. Charter School will do better because they do not have social promotion and they pick and choose who they want to teach…. Think about that,

  • Facebook sux

    What about all the money Mark Yuckburger gave last year? Guess it ended up the same place as most taxpayers money–in some rich pig’s pocket.

  • RoyBoySays

    They look like the pillsbury dough boug,and dough girl,or the michelin tire duo…..I guess she’s been eating too many “school lunches”

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