JoAnn Sims is a member of the People’s Organization for Progress (P.O.P.)
and participant in the events that took place in Washington, D.C.
On Thurs., Nov. 13, a busload of parents, teachers, P.O.P., P.U.L.S.E.
(Parents Unified for Local School Education-NJ), Communities United-NJ and the Newark Teachers’ Union traveled to Washington, D.C. to attend “The
story of Newark: Cami Anderson on the challenges, successes and lessons of
school reform,” hosted by the American Enterprise Institute (AEI) for
Public Policy Research. The Newark Teachers’ Union provided the bus that
was organized by Sharon Smith and Roberto Cabanas.
Cami Anderson is the Superintendent of Schools appointed by NJ Governor Chris Christie after the state takeover of the Newark public school system.
The program stated that the opening remarks were to be delivered by Fredrick Hess of the AEI and then Cami Anderson was listed as the keynote speaker. She never showed up. The assistant superintendent of the school system came into the room and saw all the people waiting to hear the presentations and an announcement was made that those without a badge had to leave the presentation.
About ten participants out of the 40 who came from Newark left and went to protest out front. Security informed us that we could not protest outside. We sat down and the Washington, D.C. police were called in. We had to protest on a certain part of the sidewalk with our signs.
Inside the delegation of 16 students began addressing the crowd.
“I feel ostracized now. They moved the location because we are here. Where’s the accountability? In my school, in Barringer H.S., we have 36 students per class with only four text books,” shouted one student.
“She refuses to talk to us and we are her students,” exposed another.
“They are killing the lights because they don’t want us to speak. When we begin to speak, this suddenly becomes private property,” explained a third student in the front.
The students then informed us that had they changed Anderson’s location due to a ‘breach of security.’ Anderson did not want to address the people, students, parents and teachers of Newark.
Finally, the students began chanting “Stop One Newark”—the state’s privatization plan for the school system of Newark—and joined the demonstration outside.
Between 2012-2014, 17 public schools were closed and students were removed from their local schools. Over 5,000 have been directly impacted by school closings—not being assigned to any school. The One Newark plan disproportionately affects minority students: 81% are African American,18% are Latino and 16% have disabilities—95% live below poverty.
The parents, students and teachers of Newark continue to expose the anti-people goals of the One Newark plan and fight for the control of the school system to be returned to the people of Newark.