Baraka’s Chief Education Office Travels to Montclair – And Participates in an Anti-Charter Forum

What You Need to Know!

A couple of weeks ago, the Newark Report pointed out a deliberately buried letter sent by Mayor Baraka to Education Commissioner Hespse. We found it suspect that such an important letter, where the Mayor specifically asks the Commissioner to “not approve any further expansion” of Newark’s public charter schools, would be quietly sent during the Holidays with no explanation, no press release, no publicity.

We also pointed out intimidating and thuggish behavior from a Baraka appointee against some community activists who dared to question the Mayor.

It seems that since these tactics have come to light, the Mayor has had some extra time on his hands. He has taken to YouTube to try to defuse the missteps and according to some of my key sources in the City, Newarkers have even recently received personal phone calls from the Mayor himself, asking that they not make certain statements on social media.

But it seems the hits keep coming for the Mayor –

Last week, the Mayor’s very own Chief Education Officer – so to be clear, the person who actually advocates and advises the Mayor on education policy – travelled to leafy Montclair, New Jersey to participate in an anti reform forum.

For public charter school parents still not sure exactly where the Mayor comes down on Newark’s public charter schools, lets first take a look at those who joined Dr. Wells on the Montclair panel –

Carole Burris – The Executive Director of the Network for Public Education, an anti-charter organization first organized by Diane Ravich. – IS NOT FROM NEWARK

Leonie Haimson, Executive Director, Class Size Matters, who pretty much sums up her anti-charters feelings right here. – IS NOT FROM NEWARK

Stan Karp, Editor of Rethining schools, an anti charter blog.– IS NOT FROM NEWARK

Julia Sass Rubin, Founding member of SOS NJ, a Princeton resident who seems to think African American parents support public charters because they are getting paid to do so. – IS NOT FROM NEWARK

Let’s be clear, this is a panel that would have never taken place in a City like Newark.

So on behalf of the thousands and thousand and thousands of Newark’s public charter parents – I have some bad news…Dr. Wells did not travel to Montclair to defend our public charters school in Newark. She did not provide any information to this group on any of the success public charter schools have provided our children and the city of Newark.

Hardly….

Having seen her in other forums, Dr. Wells definitely was more at ease in Montclair.

She had a lot of things to say at this forum and she seemed much more free with her words than she might have been if she was in Newark.

Even though Dr. Wells is paid to represent the interests of Newark, she is not from our city, so that might be part of it.

Dr. Wells is what Mayor Baraka has termed others as, “an Outsider.” Her experience in Newark is so minor, that if she were anyone else, the Mayor would attack her credibility and make the point to publicly mention that she “is not from Newark,” as he has with others.

What The Newark Report found most concerning in Montclair was that she seemed to relish being in Montclair. She seemed to feel much more at home. At one point she even felt the need to point out to those in attendance that she came from a “fairly privileged background.”  A great way for those in Montclair to feel more connected to her, I guess.

A video of her participation on this panel has been viral-ed around social media, so perhaps you have seen it, but what I found most telling in her presentation – beyond the fact that she feels the need to share her privileged background when in the company of other privileged people, was this quote –

“…we are absolutely not doing anything at all that has to do with organizing schools or communities for learning.”

The audience in Montclair loved it, but I doubt Newark parents – whether their children attend district, charter or magnate schools – would be the least bit thrilled to hear that.

Great strides have been made, specifically at the community level, by all parents in Newark, when it comes to the education of our kids.

Whether you are supportive of public charters, or not; whether you are an ed reformer, or not; whether you are in support of Mayor Baraka, or not – we all share one common point – that all of us as parents are doing a great deal at the school and community level when it comes to learning. And over the last few months we have heard amazing personal stories from Newark parents of passion, persistence, and love regarding how they are organizing at their schools and communities to support their children.

EDITOR’S NOTE – Mayor Baraka, it is my understanding that you read my posts. Please note I have hyperlinked in the paragraph above three stories written by Newark parents that showcase specifically how parents are working to organize their schools and our communities…just incase your Chief Education Officer has provided you incorrect information, its really is happening.

Back here in Newark, we have been hearing a great deal from our Mayor about a divide that is occurring in our City. The question The Newark Report would like to ask is who is creating this divide?

Personally, I have not talked to or seen one of Newark’s parent attempt to divide the city in anyway.

If you were to attend the next SAB meeting, like the previous months, you may hear a Newark charter parent speak out, but only in an attempt to ensure all Newark parents have public schools options. In contrast, friends of the Mayor will also be in attendance at the next SAB, many of whom send their own children to schools outside of Newark, some who do not even live in Newark; and others who are not even parents. These outsiders will stage stunts, yell and even attack Newark’s public charter parents publicly.

Please attend the next meeting on January 26th and you can see it for yourself. Don’t forget to record it on your smartphone.

So lets look at the facts –

  • When the Mayor’s friends and supporters – many of whom are not from Newark – attack Newark’s public charter parents publicaly at SAB meetings….
  • When the Mayor goes behind the scenes during the Holidays and uses his influence to shut down Newark’s public charters…
  • When the Mayor calls Newark citizens directly, making them aware that he is reading their comments on social media…
  • When the Mayor’s own appointees threaten people with violence….
  • And, most of all, when the Mayor’s Chief Education Officer is a showcased speaker at an anti-charter in forum in Montclair…

Does that create division in the city?

We believe it does.

The question we need to now ask ourselves is who benefits from a divided city?

The answer seems obvious to us all – The Mayor benefits.