The Wall Street Journal: Newark Maps School Plans

March 19th, 2012

The Wall Street Journal
March 19, 2012

NEWARK–The superintendent of New Jersey’s largest school district on Monday unveiled the final details of a wide-ranging plan to overhaul Newark’s struggling schools.

Superintendent Cami Anderson said the first phase of the plan will focus on the city’s most consistently underperforming schools with declining enrollment and will involve a combination of new schools, closures and consolidations meant to ensure more high-quality public school options in the city.

She said the district would open eight new schools by September at the sites of closed or consolidated schools. The plan also involves expanding pre-K programs in underserved neighborhoods, implementing new single-sex schools in some areas, making magnet and charter schools more accessible to a wider pool of Newark students, rebuilding high schools and giving principals more autonomy.

Monday’s announcement was made before a small group of supporters at a local school slated to house one of the newly consolidated schools. It contrasted with a large contentious public meeting Ms. Anderson held last month to assuage angry parents after plans to close or merge several longtime schools. Although Ms. Anderson said parents had attended Monday’s meeting, several stood outside with protest signs and said they hadn’t been allowed in.

Ms. Anderson said that she had held more than 112 meetings with families and civic leaders during the plan development process and that she had tweaked certain aspects of the final plan based on community feedback.

Mayor Cory Booker has repeatedly said education reform is a key priority of his administration, though Newark schools are under state, not city, control. He said Monday that Anderson’s plan gave him “a sense of relief and a profound sense of hope.”

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