Wednesday, October 14, 2015

The Newark Charter "EXPANVASION!"

The Newark Charter "EXPANVASION!"

Sound the alarm the invasion oh excuse me "EXPANVASION" has begun! Today, in a press statement, The KIPP charter school network announced that on Thursday it would apply for renewal and expansion here in the city of Newark. They want to open 5 new charters, one being in the old Star Lair I mean Star Ledger building! This would increase their enrollment size from approximately 3,200 seats to about 5,400 seats! ARE YOU SERIOUS!!!  Governor Christie already gave charters about 63 million out of the public schools budget! This is completely insane! 

Now they say to parents like myself." stop being conspiracy theorists." Well, what in tarnations is this! There is an ugly road that is being paved in the city I love so much and that is to build their Charteropolis! Just as they have done in Camden and in New Orleans!  They are completely sabotaging our traditional public schools so they can fail. Close them down! In their place a bright shinny new charter school that does what produces the same or less than standard achievement!
Look at New Orleans. In These Times reported back in August of this year  In These Times " In These Times received an advance copy of research conducted for the Network for Public Education (NPE) by University of Arizona researchers Francesca L√≥pez and Amy Olson. The study compared charters in Louisiana, the majority of which are in New Orleans, to Louisiana public schools, controlling for factors like race, ethnicity, poverty and whether students qualified for special education. On eighth-grade reading and math tests, charter-school students performed worse than their public-school counterparts by enormous margins—2 to 3 standard deviations. The researchers found that the gap between charter and public school performance in Louisiana was the largest of any state in the country. And Louisiana’s overall scores were the fourth-lowest in the nation.“You can say until you’re blue in the face that this should be a national model, but this is one of the worst-performing districts in one of the worst-performing states,” says NPE board member Julian Vasquez Heilig, an education professor at California State Sacramento. They went on to say that the people of New Orleans  " Mourned the loss of their public school district!" WELL NEWARK IS IN THE ICU UNIT and the charter invasion is ready to sign the DNR and pull the plug on traditional public schools!
Superintendent Christopher Cerf stated in his grand standing update at the State of NJ BOE meeting this month that 75% of Newark Parents preferred to take their children out of their own neighborhood and 40% enrolled their child in charter." Yet, he says only about 8,000 parents used the districts Family Enrollment Center? There are approximately, 6k families...yes 6k families with children STILL NOT PLACED INTO A SEAT IN THE DISTRICT! IT's MID OCTOBER! So forgive me if I do not believe the data that is being reported out by these "consultants!" Call me a conspiracy theorist if you want but when I smell a rat usually its in the trap!  How on God's green Earth  can our public schools pull themselves up when the state itself looks at them like the red-headed step child? Like an old pair of shoes at the bottom of the closet? They are allowing this to happen and coming up with ways and false committees to prolong what they have wanted for years, privatization of education in the city of Newark! They have found gold   here in Newark and the only way to sift through it is to break down the public sector of education and build a Charteropolis!

The announcement of this "expanvasion" was announced slickly by KIPP Executive Director Ryan Hill and KIPP spokeswoman Jessica Shearer. It was announced the same day and time that the city's residents were attending The Newark 350th Anniversary press conference at 11:30 am at City Hall and immediately after was the unveiling of the DR. Martin Luther King, Jr. memorial statute in front of Newark's Hall of records at 12 noon! They new that the city would be preoccupied and would be a away to keep folks who are opposing the charter "expanvasion"  away from their building! If they say they are for the growth of this city this was a slick but poor move on behalf of their PR team! BAD TASTE TEAM KIPP!

An emergency Newark Advisory Board  meeting was called later on in the day. Had I not been on the Newark 350th Anniversary Committee and at the press conference at City Hall today, I never would have known! I was pulled over and told to come to the Board of Ed at 5:30 PM as they were going to discuss some issues surrounding the Newark Public School Budget, Normally, meetings are on Tuesdays, and I am unable to attend the budget meetings as I sing in my church choir and Tuesdays are rehearsal days. I was eager to ask how is this charter "expanvasion?" No one showed??? My son and I were the only ones from the general public there.Two security guards were in the room, They looked shocked to see us there. We took seats and patiently waited. A gentleman walked in the room and shouted to the security guard "you are crazy?" He was ear hustling in on the two guards conversation. The guard responded " I must be to be working here!" I laughed maybe a little too loud but seeing I was the only person in the room...did it matter? I thought it was fitting! The room began to fill with some personnel.They would look at us and whisper. Maybe it was just paranoia since I was in the lions den. I as approached separately by three randoms " You know that this will be an executive meeting, they will hear public testimony and go into private so if you want to leave now, you can." I said "no I will stick around see what happens." One lady said "there is a sign up sheet to speak." I am sure it is procedure but I wanted to say" HELLO LADY, I'AM THE ONLY PERSON HERE!"  I hung around for awhile and in walked our Advisory Board President. She gave me a hello from across the room, spoke to a few of her fellow board members and came and sat down next to me. She told me the same how there was not much going on and I told her that I was told to come. I asked her "Are you all going to discuss the charter expansion that is going on with KIPP that was so big they needed a press conference?" She advised me it wasn't on the agenda for the evening. She also said that the article in did not mention "when" the "expanvasion" (my word not hers) would take place. I said."the article said they were going to put in the renewal and new applications in this Thursday!" She repeated that the article had no date so she didn't know.  She was called away by a rude blonde who obviously felt her time was more valuable than a parent in the community. I waited until she was done and came back to sit down, We had some more small talk, said our good byes and left the meeting. At least one parent was already buzzing in the ear of the Board President that this deal was not going to be taken lightly by the public! On my way home it upset me tremendously that this "epanvasion" was not their primary topic this evening! I wish there were others but when meetings are called at inconvenient times for parents to speak up, they go be hind close doors and with swipes of pens and over take out do what they do. What that exactly is since we have no local control, still puzzles me a bit.

Great segway into local control and all this charter nonsense. What ultimately is the plan here? I know we had a public meeting with the Newark Educational Success Board on what we wanted the future of Newark Public Schools to look like, I can tell you as I was in the room, more charters was not the condenses in the room people! Is that when we will get local control, when the budgets for our traditional public schools are depleted because of newly expanded charter schools? When our schools shut down and turnover into charters who work loop holes around reporting data to the state and the public on funding and test scores. Who pay to launch charter driven parent organizations?
What is going on in our city? By now you all know how I like to reference things that happen in real life to my love for Pop Culture! I feel like it is the scene in the 1984 classic Red Dawn, when the students are sitting in the classroom and the invasion starts. BOOM, it's around them and only the rebel fighters band together to try and stop the take over! Is that not what you the rebel public school fighter out there feels like?

We are embarking on a year of celebrating 350th Anniversary in Newark. A years's worth of events in our city, about the history of our city. The Executive Board of the 350th Anniversary has gotten Superintendent Cerf and the district staff to have curriculum created about Newark to incorporate into the districts curriculum! Now, how will you incorporate this invasion into that curriculum? How will you celebrate 350 years of Newark when our Public Schools, a crucial fabric of our history is being intentionally dismantled? RIGHT IN FRONT OF OUR EYES? How do you explain that to the generations of Newarkers who walked in those buildings because they wanted a fair and free education? They may not have been the cream of the crop when they walked in the door, but the Newark Educational System made them tremendous successes!  This INVASION is not "choice" for parents! Relinquish monies that deplete our public school budgets. Let us build equally stellar public schools and then say we the families of Newark have choice between equally exceeding public schools and equally exceeding charter schools. Both that meet all state requirements, rules and laws.
I do not want the city I love and care for so much turned into a CHARTEROPOLIS! 

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