Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Not only am I a Dad, I am a Buzzkill!

Not only am I a Dad, I am a Buzzkill!

I must have been born a buzzkill, one who looks at the glass half empty! I can't help but be puzzled why people are standing up and cheering at the announcement that Newark's Superintendent Cami Anderson is " Stepping Down" and being replaced with Christopher Cerf? I am not trying to steal anyone's feelings of being happy, joyous and free from Anderson. The way I look at it is she was an absentee Superintendent anyway, did ya really deal with her? She didn't attend board meetings, she rarely dealt with the public nor did she sit at the table with parents for our input. Anderson in my opinion was only a chew toy for the public to gnaw on while the gestapos at the state initiated every tactic they could to demolish Public Education in the city of Newark. They can deny it, go right ahead, we all believe ya Govenah!

Actually, thinking back, I did have the privilege to meet Cami Chaos! How could I forget, I was selected as Parent of the year a few years back for the East Ward of Newark and had to attend a board meeting at Barringer High. They called me up, she bestowed upon me a certificate saying
"Parent of the Year" with her John Hancock right on it! She shook my hand ( and gave me the cooties) and A photo was snapped of us ( I would kill for that picture). I took my seat and she began a Power Point presentation about a new concept called One Newark. That would give " Choice " to every family in Newark. This was prior to her unveiling on Dec. 17, 2013. Probably a year prior. I had no concept of what was going on and was giddy that I was Parent of The Damn Year! Who cares about your presentation, Mrs. Anderson, IT IS ALL ABOUT ME!    Do you know that I actually had that framed and kept it as a symbol of the work I did in the community! Flash forward to about Feb 2014, at another board meeting, ironically, I stood up basically told Cami she sucked a bag of balls, held up my Parent of the Year Certificate she bestowed on me 2 years prior and told her from her...It didn't mean CRAP! I then proceeded to rip it up in front of her. How can I forget all that! Selective amnesia! 

I did a telephone interview with WABC yesterday and the interviewer Jerry asked me" Frankie, are you happy that she is gone, you personally, not how the city feels." My response was" It is not about Cami! Cami was a name on a demand, A face on posters and memes. A face to frustration! In the last year my attitude towards her changed in the way that she is just the smoke and mirrors to distract us. Some fall for it and honestly, I did.  Now I see her departure as what they replace her with will be ten times worse. Now we are dealing with having Christopher Cerf coming in. The epitome of Corporate America Scoundrel! He will sit at board meetings and take public lashings and not raise a pulse! He will get the job done Anderson couldn't!  So NO Jerry, not to be a buzzkill but I am not happy and do not see this as a time to rejoice or be proud."  I used to cosign with a "LIST OF DEMANDS" that was passed around Newark. While they were powerful to some now, I do not think we are the ones who are the captors! The only RIGHT we have is that we should have local control over our school district! That should not be a demand. Especially when the State of NJ has done such a bang up job with the schools in the last 20 plus years! So to me Jerry that is the only win! Local Control. That will make me happy and have a reason to feel we are accomplishing things." 

Parents and residents of the City of Newark have a tremendous amount of "situations" going on. Cami exiting and what about her bonuses?  Cerf taking over for 3 years while we continue to fight for Local Control. We have the Govenah, breaking rights and laws especially, refraining from changing the language in legislation being passed that will allow Charter School expansion in our city that will absorb $25 million dollars from our Newark Public School budget to go to charters!  Our Senate President Stephen Sweeney is in on it and turns his sprinklers and garden hose on those who tell him when they don't like his actions. We have right here in Newark our always fabulously dressed and manicured Senator Teresa Ruiz, who will sell every Newarker, their child and their little dog too for power to remain seated in the decision making of the destruction of our city and state!

We are witnessing a full on war to extinct the Newark Public School System. A a schools culture that is developing my very child. A child who has aspirations to be an Architect. Who has taken Mandarin Chinese for 4 years. who has access to technology like 3D printing and phenomenal STEM instruction. He knows about wind turbines, how they work and how the environment can save on resources. Who is exposed to Arts and Music. Who has reached academic honors his whole time spent in Newark Public Schools. The same school system that generations of Adaos before him have come through. A system that allowed them the right to an education just by walking in and singing their child up! That produced chefs, law enforcement detectives, Vice Presidents of fortune 500 corporations, fire chiefs and Directors of Finance for major corporations. 
This is what you want to shut down and replace with what? Cherry picking students and providing them lackluster academics and career paths. 

Your right! It is not about Charter Vs. Public Schools. Fess up the truth. Put your big boy and girl corporate panties on and tell the damn truth! Private funders see the golden calf that is profits on Education! The false images of Chartres producing "college ready" geniuses is a figment of great marketing! There is no proof or data supporting this claim. There are no "waiting lists" with thousands of families waiting on bated breath for that one great phone call that will change their child's life!  When that charter fails to provide academic programming for the child where do they turn to? Newark Public Schools. When they do not have the ability to provide athletic programming for the child where do they turn to? Newark Public Schools. When they make empty promises and run out of funding where do they drain from Newark Public Schools.

We are hearing promises from those we had hopes for. That would represent all the people and their needs for this city. We hear about all these transitional teams and how they will help guide us through and build policy for our city, but it is the same damn people who are always at the table! I by all means do not want a seat at the table. There are far more experienced parents and citizens who need to sit there before I do. However, the scene is more like always the same party of eight, than gathering input from true Newarkers in the areas of the specialty!  When I see troublemakers and paid organizers who are up to no good and I know it from my own experiences, I have a hard time having blind trust and faith in leadership that will only listen to what they want to hear rather than maybe what they need to hear! Here I go again, being the buzzkill! Not wanting to go along with the herd. That now labels you a Non-Newarker!That is total absurdity! 

 We have potentially the aspect of having a casino come into our community and if you went to school, lived or even played in Atlantic City about 20 years ago, you would know the element that it brings is not the glitz and glam that comes with "Letting It Ride!"  We even have Prudential building and expanding but where are the jobs for our Newarkers? They can put grass on the side of a building but cant find a way to find Newarkers jobs in their company!

Is this the change I was promised? Is this the"Choice" that I expect? Some may say well you don't like it pack your shit and leave! To them I say, my family has been in this city for generations! Their, blood sweat and tears help build this city! We have seen elected officials come and go, development in our city, growth in our city, heartbreak in our city, a renaissance in our city! THIS IS A WHOLE HELL OF A LOT TO HAVE TO TAKE IN AND DEAL WITH! I was told that some times you feel like you are playing "WHACK A MOLE!" That is exactly what Newarkers are going through! When one issue (mole) gets thrown our way, another issue(mole)  jumps out and it's on and on! So yes, until the moles are eradicated from the city that I love...I will continue to be the buzzkill that holds the paid organizers, the corporate scoundrels, the elected officials, the media, the party of eight...accountable. 
Maybe accountability is the new buzzkill?  

Thursday, June 11, 2015


"STANDARD." In the last three  years that word has such a new meaning for me. I am big on looking impactful words up so when I looked up the word STANDARD, this is its definition according to Webster (and not the lil of my favorite shows ever) : 

: regularly and widely used, seen, or accepted : not unusual or special

: generally accepted and used because of high quality or excellence

: accepted and used by most of the educated speakers and writers of a language

Full Definition
1a :constituting or conforming to a standard especially as established by law or custom <standard weight>
b :sound and usable but not of top quality <standard beef>

2a :regularly and widely used, available, or supplied <standard automobile equipment>

b :well-established and very familiar <the standard opera>

My whole life since I was a child I was told " be unique" dont settle for just the "standards in life!" So, I did just that! I always marched to the beat of my own drum. I didn't settle for any of the definitions above because I was taught by my parents and family to not accept  standards. My teachers, instrumental  in my life, told me "reach beyond the standards! The world is yours! REACH BEYOND THE STANDARDS!" I grew up in the 70's, a bicentennial baby to be exact, so I know some of the ways of life back then were now considered "far out" & "groovy", but I that was the essence of my entire life! The seed that was planted even back then. To reach beyond standards. Not settle for anything less than I wanted and I took that with me in my whole life thus far.

Now, flash forward to today and the word STANDARD is a common fabric in which our society strives for. Everyone is trying to reach a predetermined standard! A standard of living, standards for eating, standards of body images and stanadrds of Education. We have gone beyond what our own standards may look like. Some guy somewhere is like "This needs to be the standard!" Then everyone follows without a question! Look at multibillion dollar diet industry. One day, dont eat meat. The next its Paleo a meat lovers diet! Standards are now the finish line!

In today's educational system, we have done away in forty-three of our states the ability to be better , individual or unique. Those conversations with educators about going against the grain of standards can literally lead to performance infractions or worse dismissal! If you want your child to be able to develop in an environment of individualism, you will have to pack up house and explain to your employer you are moving to one of the few states who have opted out of these standards and are seeking uniqueness for your child and family! As you walk out the door, chances are they will have no clue what the hell you are talking about! If you are someone  flocking to Colorado, they will automatically label your move for something  else rather than trying to find "uniqueness!"

Here in NJ over the last twenty years or so we have totally traded in that yester-year mentality of "Seek Individualism!" Our children are being ripped from being individuals to being cultivated by Corporate America, for profit testing companies, technology companies and political investors. They now create the standards! Some frumpy overweight guys onced bullied probably  on the school yard for being different.  We have seen school districts demolish Creative Arts programs, Physical Education programs, Special Education programs and replace them with more instructional time on test taking in Mathematics and English Language Arts for tests like NJASK and PARCC. Since those are indeed the onky factors we rate achievement. Our own Governor, Chis Christie staunchly faught parents for years who protested for Common Core standards to be obliterated. In just recent weeks for what many are calling an obvious political tactical move as he takes steps for a 2016 Presidential Nomination, has had a sudden change of heart? However, only on the surface. He is still adament about having core standards in our schools and thinks that possibly changing names of these core standards will fake and move his constituents who oppose his efforts and cast a vote for him come 2016. He also persists that standardized tests like the PARCC and relationships with testing companies such as Pearsons move forward. What is his true stake in this all. His own children are not upheld to these standards. They can dream a lil dream. Why can't ours?

Thanks to No Child Left Behind, these standards have left so many of our children just that... behind. Behind the standard of what society tells them they are capable of. A sociecty who as even left our children of Special Needs out of the picture. Making it almost  impossible to reach goals for their children. Unable to obtain  a dreammof their own and when they don't  they are tossed to the waste side. I thought it was NO CHILD LEFT BEHIND right? Instead, what it is doing is systematically weeding out the unique and the individual. The Dreamer. The Pretender. Glorifying the Standard!

Again, sure there should be a standard of achievement, but walk into any classroom...oh wait if you are a parent those days are over! You can no longer just walk into a classroom or a school for that matter. If you could, you would see the faces of those trying to become standard. To fit a mold of someone else's  standards. Maybe, standards set up so they will never achieve or standards never meant to achieve when they were created for them.  So our future generations of Picasso, Mozart, Maya Angelou, Bosquiat, Frida Kahlo, Salvador Dali, Martin Luther King Jr., and Stevie Wonder will fade until every child is conditioned to want to be standard. To sit in a cubical and to speak from a script. To program from a script without that thought of dreaming to become more than the standard. Out of the box. To color outside the lines.

It is to that child who dares to be different, I dedicate this entry. Standards will not get us in the running of other countires who are leaving us in the dust.  It is the dreamer, the pretender, the special  child that will propel this country and its future  generations of children...not someone elses standard! Look out the window, take a pause and dream the biggest dreams! Be different! Be unique! Be anything but standard!

Monday, June 8, 2015

Can Parents Do MORE?

I am often asked the question being a founder of the Newark Parents Union " are parents doing enough to stand up for our children in society today?"  My answer to that is usually the same" As parents working and raising kids in those dedicated to the fight for our children, are doing the best we can!" However, as unpopular as this may sound, is that answer now enough? I say is that enough because we have had almost every day this past week, an issue with lock downs all overt the state.
Taken from
NJ Schools Security Scares

New Jersey on Monday.
"• Cranford High School in Union County and neighboring Brookside Place School operated under a shelter-in-place order after the high school received a threatening phone call around 10 a.m., school officials said.
 At Indian Fields Elementary School in South Brunswick, an all-clear was given after students were evacuated due to reports of two possibly unauthorized people inside the building. Two city librarians were buzzed into the school but did not check in at the main office.
 Macopin Middle School in West Milford was placed on lockdown after a bomb threat was phoned in.
 Marlboro Middle School in New Jersey also received a phone call shortly before 1 p.m., which prompted an evacuation. Kids were taken to another location and then eventually dismissed early.
Meanwhile in Middleton, New York, Maple Hill Elementary School was placed on lockdown after a threat was called in there, police said."
Just today in Newark, there was a lock down as rumors spread around the Ivy Hill Elementary school that a gun was brought into the building! The situation was handled by Newark Police and is under investigation by local police. This latest event happening with 150 security guards being slatted to be laid off!  What is going on in our school systems? Not just in the inner city, but across the state...across the country? Have we as parents, never mind teachers, veered so far off the tracks of parenthood that #2 pencils have been replaced in our children's book bags with 9 millimeters? Have we been distracted with things like fighting against corporate administration clones, Common Core Standards, PARCC, One Newark and State political bullies , that maybe we are dropping the ball at home? Have our kids just had enough and has the adult world that is supposed to be leading the examples gone and pushed them " Over The Edge" 
I am always advocating for the parent voice out in the community and on social media and to me that is a big part of reigning this all back in. They have witnessed a parental loss in power. The see that parents are not standing up as much, included in children rights as much and have been not only excluded from seats at the table we have been pushed away and forced now to sit at the kiddie table! The youth in our society, due to the depiction of today's parents, has forced themselves to protect themselves! Maybe they are running to easier solutions because they have no adult guidance to show them they have someone willing to stand up for them. 

When I go to important legislation hearings and votes on the state level, you would think with all the spotlight issues impacting our children like Education, Nutrition or even Safety are getting in the mainstream media, these important hearings and voting sessions would be packed, wall to wall with parents from across the state. You would think some of these issues would be warrant enough to say " Hey let me see whats going down there at the State House." Now, before you start firing off the hate mails or throwing dagger comments saying" Parents need to work!" Who's going to pay the bills?" I get it, however, to a degree I am sympathetic to that reply. I understand fully the value of parents needing to be in the work place and providing for their families, but when your child's school is closing and you have no more neighborhood school to take them to and have to now run your child way across town, will you tell them " Well, I need to go to work, honey take the bus to Kindergarten?" When your child comes home from school and at the dinner table says" Johnny brought in a gun to school today and showed me!" Will you say " Here's a bullet proof vest, I have to go to work honey!" 

As parents we have abandoned our true PARENT POWER and have let corrupt school administrations, Reality TV, Grand Theft Auto, Social Media and YouTube step in as the roles of raising our kids! No wonder why they are walking into school with Glock's in their bookbags. Half the times we aren't even allowed in the front doors of our schools with out some type of attitude as if we are trespassing. We have relinquished our greatest gift that has been bestowed onto us and that is the POWER OF BEING A PARENT!  With that we have to assume some of the responsibility of the state of turmoil our children are in. If we do not act swiftly in the awareness of our failures, it will not be too long before the entire youth population turns on us! I can't say that I blame them! These are extremely difficult times we are living in and our children need us to take the wheel back! We need to regain our desire to keep our children as the sole priority! When several schools throughout our state within the last few days have had issues with lock downs and security issues, are we going to wait until it is a Waco or Columbine situation before we take our balls out of our kitchen junk draw and start making some really bold moves to show our children, we are back in the game and care about their life force here on this Earth!

On Saturday evening, The Newark Parents Union, hosted a Light Our Night Sky candlelight vigil to show Unity & Hope for our children and specifically our Public Education here in Newark. It was a powerful and monumental. Something never done in our city or our state for that matter! While the turnout far exceeded my expectations, I was saddened to see that there was not a bigger representation of parents across the state! If we start with 30 of the states most dedicated parents looking to get their PARENT POWER back...than that's a small Parent Army and we will be bad ass and fight for changing the way the Parent is viewed in society! WE CAN SURELY DO MORE PARENTS! OUR JOBS ARE NEVER DONE! 24/7 365!