Sen. Rice: Newark Schools Don’t Seem Separate But Equal

The One Newark school reform plan has been the target of lawsuits, a federal complaint filed with the U.S. Department of Education and student boycotts. Now tensions are heating up between Newark’s state-appointed School Superintendent and some state legislators. Senator Ron Rice says Cami Anderson has ignored requests to appear before the joint committee on Public Schools which he chairs. And now he wants the power to subpoena her to testify. Rice told NJTV News Anchor Mary Alice Williams that Newark schools do not seem separate but equal.

Rice said that hat a subpoena would hope to accomplish is providing information on a series of questions that need answers. He said that there were atlas 50 or 60 questions that were raised not only about One Newark but also on the transferring and conveying of public property prior to the One Newark plan. He said One Newark has since raised other issues relating to the plan itself possibly being discriminatory.

“This is about Anderson as the administrator in the city of Newark where there are really problems. She does not like to meet with the community, which is a responsibility she has,” said Rice.

Anderson has said that she does not want to meet with the community because of personal attacks that have been made against her. In response to that, Rice said Anderson is in charge of a school system, he as a Senator gets attacked, as well as Gov. Christie who gets attacked and does not avoid the people that he is responsible for representing.

When asked what would oversight and input from the Legislature provide for the residents of Newark, Rice said that he has the oversight, the problem is that Anderson is not responding.

“My goal is to get an accountability on what is happening fiscally in the district, the relationships in the district with consultants and other people, what has happened with the One Newark plan. Recently Barringer High School is still a mess over there. I just got something yesterday, they are missing 100 or so desks and chairs for those kids over there. Some of the classrooms are over-populated. So it needs to be looked at from a fiscal as well as a human resource perspective. We need to order that district and take a look at that plan’s impact,” said Rice.

Rice has been quoted saying students and families in Newark face system wide problems resembling the pre-civil rights era. Rice said what that means is for 1954 Brown vs. Board of Education, you had a case 1896 Percy vs. Ferguson who said the schools were separate but equal. 1954 changed that but in newark it does not even seem to be separate but equal and that is part of the problem.