At times, I’ve been critical of reformers who claim to be organizing families when these reformers are really advocating for their own beliefs.
I think it is equally wrong when politicians and community leaders claim to speak for parents when when these leaders do not listen to what families want.
In an op-ed in the New York Times, Mayor Baraka wrote:
Things are no better for parents. Under One Newark’s universal enrollment scheme, a secret algorithm determined what school was the “best fit” for each child. Often, this ended up placing each child in a family in a different school, none of which was the neighborhood school the parents chose.
In Newark, the results of this year’s enrollment process just came in. Some important pieces of information include:
– 76 % of families received one of their top 3 choices.
– 50% of all K-8 applicants tried to get into North Star Academy Charter School during the first round of enrollment this year; 40% chose TEAM Charter Schools.
– Three hundred families selected the sibling link option, which allows families to prioritize keeping siblings together over their school preferences for each child.
One of Mayor Baraka’s campaign slogan’s was: “When I become mayor, you become mayor.”
Families are being very, very clear about what they desire. Nearly one out of every two families in the city wants to attend North Star Academy.
Mayor Baraka, if he truly speaks for these families, will fight to deliver the educational opportunities families in Newark clearly want.
Ultimately, the power of a unified enrollment system is that it allows for families to speak for themselves.
Families, however, do not have the power to translate their desires into educational realities; only government leaders can do this.
Mayor Baraka, while he does not have formal control over the school system, does have incredible influence.
He should use this influence to honor the desires of public schools families in Newark.