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Civil Rights Advocate: Newarkers Will Push Against One Newark School Plan

5-14-14

Civil Rights Advocate and author of Unfinished Agenda: Urban Politics in the Era of Black Power Junius Williams told NJTV News Managing Editor Mike Schneider that as long as Superintendent Cami Anderson is pushing the One Newark plan, then the people of Newark will push back against it, whether or not Mayor-Elect Ras Baraka does.

Williams said that he is happy with the election results because he thinks that Baraka resonated with the people because of an affinity that he has for what the people need. He said that is very difficult to achieve but he thinks that the people in Newark recognize Baraka as somebody who is real.

Williams said that Baraka is good at being there for the people. As an example, Williams cited the education reform fight in Newark. He said that without Anderson, Baraka would not be as he is today because he exemplified the kind of principal in the school that was not engaged in so much turmoil and turnover that he wasn’t able to make progress at Central High School. Williams said that Baraka was not afraid to stand up to his boss, Anderson, and people in Newark appreciated that.

Williams said that Baraka cannot remove Anderson because Gov. Chris Christie has the final say over whether she stays.

“As long as Anderson is there and continues to push One Newark, she is an issue. If not Baraka, the people themselves are going to continue to push back against the kind of school reforms that say that we don’t need neighborhood schools,” said Williams.

Williams said that the biggest issue that Baraka is going to face is staring down the barrel of the gun pointed at him by the state, which wants to take over. Williams said that the city is short $93 million and he questioned how that happened. He said that did not happen during Luis Quintana’s quick administration as interim mayor. He said that it had to have been there under Sen. Cory Booker’s administration.

Williams said that the split between those who voted for Baraka and those who voted for Shavar Jeffries can be healed.

He said that the whole process of One Newark that is coming will not be good for parents because they may have to drive their children across town when they used to be able to take their children down the street to school.

“The whole concept of neighborhood schools with the One Newark plan is divisive within itself. The fact that it is only visited upon certain sectors of the town, people in the North Ward do not have to deal with that and people in the East Ward don’t have to deal with that. If I am a parent and I have a child going to school in the Central, West or South Wards, that is what may happen. I understand that the 12,000 people are going to find out today where their children are going to go to school,” said Williams.