Sunday, January 24, 2016

The Wolves in Sheep's Clothing


It's been a few months since my last entry. Returning back to school as a thirty something dad and a career change left little time for anything but school, work, eat, shower and repeat. However, I still kept tabs on what was going on in the Newark Educational Pro Public advocacy fight. Boy oh boy what a mess! The herd of wolves in sheep's clothing is now an army of wolves in sheep's clothing. They have engulfed the city I was born, raised and still live in! Like a plague to the point where I don't even recognize my own city!

I am all for change and growth in a city like Newark. Development is not something I push away. However, when development means turning the keys to the city over to scoundrels and corporate crooks...yep that is something I have a huge issue with! You see I am not someone who lives in Newark, works out of town and returns home. I LIVE, WORK AND PLAY IN THE CITY OF NEWARK!  Generations of both sides of my family where able to live, work and raise children in the city.  They were able to give their children free and fair education by walking to neighborhood schools, signing them up and watching their children grow. Now that picture looks so different. As a family in Newark, I just can't go to my neighborhood school and have my son receive an education. Now he has to be entered into a pool system and an algorithm based computerized system tells us where he must go! No concern to when mom and dad have to be at work, how much distance we must travel to get him there, whether he likes the school or if they provide the curriculum needed to educate a child who has aspirations to be an Aerospace Engineer.

 My parents and their parents did not have to rally or chain themselves to garbage cans outside of central office to get administration to listen. My parents did not have to write grants to bring in programs and activities to my school in order for my sister and I to participate and have exposure to our all our education had to offer. My parents didn't have to travel an hour to our state's capitol and testify in educational hearings about budgets, standardized testing and charter expansion.  If you would have told parents back then that in the future your children or grandchildren would need to do these things so they could educate their children they would have told you that you were crazy!

Well that is just the case! It is the reality for my wife and myself raising a child in the city of Newark. It has become a constant battle! When we should be out providing for our son, we have to work extremely hard to ensure he gets a fair and substantial education. However, this is not the same city. I would not expect what I am seeing in the city in Newark. Lot's of debauchery going on with education in our public schools. People want to say "adults bickering is bad for our children. They get caught in the crossfire." Parents fighting for what they believe is best for their children is not "bickering." There are politicians who told us during their campaign that if they were elected, the public schools would be safe and taken care of. Pro Public school parents will tell you that is not happening. It actually is just the opposite! We are watching them disintegrate one by one! They are being run out by the plague through growth of the charter expansion. 

Let me stop right here and clear this up for all the haters. I am not against charters! Me, personally I am a proud pro public school parent. I believe in our school system. I believe and cherish the history and culture public schools have in our city. I believe they need help and restructuring . I also believe in choices for parents. TRUE CHOICES. Hell my parents sent my sister to parochial school and I went to Newark Public Schools. They had a choice.  But now, what we have is a movement led by corporations that saw there was money in educating the public, come in and brainwash disenfranchised families, sell them a false product, recruited them via payment and told them this is what will get your child far in life. 

Now we all know there STILL is no statistical data to prove charters are superior over traditional public schools. When run properly they are equally good and should work in parallel.  We all know people always want the new pair of shoes! Sometimes just because they are new doesn't mean they will fit everyone's feet. That they will be good for everyone's feet. Yet, people will wear them get bunions and corns and tell folks they are the best pair ever. They have fallen hook line and sinker into the marketing scheme rather than what's best for them. They will watch others do the same and turn a blind eye. Same with what's going on here in Newark education.

Newark has been invaded by false organizations claiming they are:

1. Grassroots
2. For change in education
3. To not divide and bring the city together
4. To get our children college and career ready

Groups like Parents Coalition for Excellent Education have sprouted up claiming to be false Messiahs! Being led by marketing scoundrels like Matthew Frankel, a top advisor who was one of Cami Anderson's side arms who created, enforced and implemented many of the programs like One Newark that has divided and started the breaking down of unity in our city! By the way he caused all this trouble and is not even a Newarker! He is just some white rich dude from Montclair who knows he can make tons of money off of the poor folk a few towns over. Frankel has even launched lawsuits against parents in his own town of Montclair and guess who his lawyer is??? Good Ole SHAVAR JEFFRIES. Lawyer and the man behind North Star and the charter expansion in Newark. Then there is their executive director, Akin Muhammad. A political pawn that has worked in Jersey City and Newark and has made a career of selling out his own people and their families. He has been quoted in the past saying " all white people have a little Hitler in them" and " the Pope is the Antichrist."  They claim to be for all Newark  families, but I guess by Muhammad's standards not me since I am white and Roman Catholic.Check out the article"Top Jersey City official said 'all white people have a little Hitler in them' in 1995 speech"

They do not work in transparency, like a true parent organization. They were not created by a group of parents who said let's make a change for other parents. They are the spawn of  corporate investors like The Waltons who are financially backing groups and POSING AS PARENT LED INITIATIVES! Really

PC2E is receiving funds from Newark Charter Fund, who obviously themselves receive funds from The Walton Foundation Click here for K-12 Walton Foundation Grants by State.  Yet, when asked constantly on social media by parents in the city "how are you funded" the question is either dodged or deleted!  They hire parents to rally, show up at school board meetings, city council meetings, to read pre-written testimonials at state education hearings. They admit to having a staff of at least twenty people, occupy expensive corporate offices, throw lavish parties at the League of Municipality Convention in Atlantic City- all of which requires millions in annual funding  Their location is shared with the Turnkey Charter Construction Company as well as Newark Prep Charter School.  Coincidence?  Showing up at rally and city meetings with hundreds of pricey teal t-shirts and professionally printed banners. Last time I checked...THAT IS NOT A GRASSROOTS MOVEMENT. Astroturf corporate groups like this merely use #PARENTPOWER as a tactic to confuse parents in the community.

They have troller scouts on social media as well! When people question them on social media, they delete and block users from access in voicing their opinions to them and what they do.  These hires parents now have shown up in the State House barking at legislators with teal t-shirts on demanding "justice" for the expansion of the charter school movement. That is hilarious, for the last three years their faces were not with mine as I sat in legislative testimonials, votes or caucuses. If you ask them why they are there, what bill they are fighting for, what piece of legislation they are fighting for...they are clueless. They are just there to be bodies in seats! Well done Mr. Frankel.

PC2E and another Walton funded astroturf group, Black Alliance for Education Option, are working closely with Democrats for Education Reform and other Walton funded privatization groups - NJ Charter School Association, JerseyCAN, and the Newark Charter School Fund.  One of their top priorities is taking over the Newark Advisory Board, so they can control the Newark District once the state gives up control. They also are salivating over open seats on the Newark Advisory Board. They will buy votes and play with numbers. They claim adults shouldn't  bicker over education. No they shouldn't! They should fight tooth and nail for their children  and their education. They should prevent sellouts from strapping on the role as dedicated parents who think they are the voice of change for a city like Newark. I can't stress enough, change is needed but not at the expense of these people and their corporate puppet masters! Not at the expense of selling out their own children!

I had first hand experience with one of their parents. My son and I were testifying in Trenton at a Standardized Testing hearing. My son said "dad I want to testify and let them know my experience and my friends experience taking PARCC." So with permission from his teachers and principal, who all felt it would be  tremendous experience for him, he wrote and prepared his testimony. After testifying, a woman came up to us extremely aggressive saying "why we would not participate in PARRC?" " Why is he not in a charter?" I told the woman " we are not a charter family and it is for us." My son said directly to her " I like my school and I would not go to a charter." The woman started yelling at me and my son saying" your son is my son and I want the best for him. "  I replied to her stating that " my son is not your son and he has parents who care for him very much. We decide what's best for our son. NOT YOU!" She proceeded to get very hostile yelling and screaming at both me and my son. She was even told to calm down from legislative staff. As she went up to speak she directed insults and hostility to my son and myself. It was an embarrassing display and representation for Newark.  Then about 3 months ago, the same woman on social media tried to play the race card saying I was saying at that same hearing I told her I didn't want her as a neighbor. Trying to fish for attacks on me. When I told my son, he said "dad, she was mean and that is not what you said. She is lying. She said I was her child and you told her I am not her child. Why is she lying to everyone. I will tell her directly." She switched the conversation " a good parent would of had their child in school. " I advised her that my son had permission from his teachers and principal. He wrote his own testimony. I advised her that learning does not always come from the classroom and how future leaders are made. She then proceeded to attack other pro public parents in the social media conversation.

I am hearing from people "we need to stop the division in Newark and work together", yet they proceed to disrespect people who are fighting for the real choice. THESE ARE NOT PEOPLE DEDICATED NEWARK PARENTS SHOULD BE SEEKING  TO BE THE VOICE OF CHANGE TO FORCE OUR CHOICE! The choice of parents who work their assess off  and want truth in educating their children!. They say they are not corrupt like the NPS, but yet they work in secrets misuse funds, hide test scores, brush infractions and incidents at schools under the carpet to falsify their image. They are not the voice to carry us through the next chapter of Newark education. They are under the thumb of money making corporate scoundrels. Is this how we show our children what being a Newarker is all about? To sell out to the highest bidder? To make a deal and sell our souls to the devil?  Just like the old rich white men on Wall St. decimated our economy with bad mortgages, these same rich white men have now turned their pockets to the educational systems in urban cities across our nation.  What will these voices do then when the charter educational bubble pops? What is your plan B? You will be standing there holding your child's education in your hand, running back to what will always be there educating our children - Newark Public Schools. It is our constitutional right to a free and fair public education and community schools. Will you then unzip your sheep's skin and show the true wolves you are?

I never was a sheep that followed the flock. Morals and ethics always trumped money to me. How can I raise a son in a modern aggressive world and not show him part of survival is being able to stand for what is right and just! In my family, we raise lions. Lions who eat sheep and enjoy a good wolf in sheep's clothing.