Let me address something else from the article:
This council has a long history of crazy behavior. It pays itself the highest council salaries in the state, and each member is entitled to a free car, as well. One councilman compared the charter school movement to the Tuskegee experiments when black men were secretly infected with syphilis to study the progress of the disease. When a council meeting last year broke down in chaos, police had to spray mace to restore order. [emphases mine]First of all, black men were NOT secretly infected with syphilis in the Tuskegee experiment; they already had syphilis, and were left untreated. This is a myth that has been repeated by prominent people many times.
The idea that "police had to spray mace to restore order" is not something everyone at the meeting would agree with. That aside, Moran doesn't mention why some council members were upset: they felt Mayor Cory Booker was pulling a fast one in a literal back-room deal. I'm no expert on Newark's politics, so I'm not about to say Booker was in the wrong. But the notion that things only get heated in Newark politics because everyone involved, save Booker, is "crazy" strikes me as more than a little paternalistic.
There is a common notion floating around the punditocracy that the state of New Jersey has been forced to act and take over Newark's schools because the city is dysfunctional. No one seems to notice, however, that the state has now run the district for nearly two decades. Just what are the results of this takeover?
- The schools have been underfunded for years now under the Christie administration, even as the state constitution precludes Newark from finding alternative sources of revenue for its schools.
- Superintendent Cami Anderson was appointed by NJ Education Commissioner Chris Cerf, who himself is unelected, with no meaningful community input. Her lack of experience in running urban districts is, to the minds of many, disturbing.
- Anderson closed neighborhood schools in favor of (non-replicable) charter expansion against the wishes of the elected School Advisory Board.
- Under Anderson, the district has moved backwards in its quest to regain local control.
- Newark's schools have become a money funnel for cronies of Commissioner Cerf and Mayor Booker. Booker's most lavish backers, the Tisch family, have a vested interest in virtual charter expansion in Newark.
- The policies of the district are being dictated by a billionaire, Eli Broad, who lives 3000 miles away and bad-mouths the students of Newark.
- Another West Coast billionaire, Mark Zuckerberg, has thrown money around Newark to disenfranchise the local community and to push policies that seem designed primarily to improve his public image.
- Newark's parents have filed a suit challenging civil rights violations through school policies.
- Newark's students have walked out of class in protest of state-imposed budget cuts.
- Newark's teachers are calling for an audit of the district, tired of the lack of transparency from Anderson's administration.
Is it any wonder that people in Newark are angry? Does Tom Moran or anyone else think white suburban parents would sit by quietly while these injustices were visited upon their schools?
New Jersey may well have been right to step into Newark back in 1995. But they also should have implemented a plan to move Newark back to local control, just like the affluent suburban districts. The fact that Newark remains under the thumb of the state is a testament to the failure of state control.