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Newark Public School Students Protest District Reform Plan

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NEWARK, N.J. (CBSNewYork) — Some New Jersey public school students staged a sit-in this week to protest the reorganization of their school district.

As CBS 2’s Elise Finch reported, the group of students sat down in a meeting room Tuesday and did not get up until Wednesday morning. The students then took their protest to the front of Newark Public Schools’ headquarters.

Their actions were to protest schools Superintendent Cami Anderson’s controversial “One Newark” plan.

“The worst part about the One Newark plan is the universal enrollment aspect,” said Kristin Towkaniuk, president of the Newark Student Union. “It takes kids from all across the district and places them basically anywhere.”

Students said no one was listening to them, and they’re very clear about what they want.

“Cami Anderson’s immediate resignation, the One Newark plan is removed, and the Newark Promise plan is implemented,” said Hector Maldonado.

The Newark Promise plan pushes for local control of schools, decreased emphasis of standardized tests, expanded services and facility upgrades.

The one thing students, parents and administrators agree on is that radical change is needed in Newark’s public schools. So far, there’s very little agreement on how to bring about that change.

“We are a community that is struggling to ensure that our young people are at a level playing field because, if we don’t, we are actually limiting their life choices,” Anderson said.

The students’ protest ended after roughly 16 hours.

But it produced results.

They forced members of the Newark School Advisory Board to cancel a business meeting that was scheduled for Tuesday afternoon.

The superintendent also scheduled a meeting with the students for next week. A representative for the school district declined to give the exact data and time the meeting will be held, but said the acting commissioner of New Jersey’s Education Department will also attend.

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