By: Krystle Crossman
The public schools in Newark, NJ are under scrutiny by the US Department of Education for claims that their new organization plan discriminates against the black students at the schools. The city has developed a plan called “One Newark”. With this plan they want to consolidate the schools so that there are more charter schools in the city and there are less of the schools that perform the worst. They are looking to run three charter schools and will shut down the schools that do not meet performance standards.
Newark has been facing high crime rates that keep rising every year. They are trying to combat this by consolidated the students into better schools. The privatization of the schools will directly affect most of the black students that go to the schools in Newark according to claims from PULSE (Parents Unified for Local School Education). This is a group that is run by the parents of the students in the schools. They are working in conjunction with the departments of Education and Justice. This is the group that originally filed the complaint.
PULSE argues that black students are being left behind with the privatization of the schools because most of them are disadvantaged. They say that 86% of the students that are affected by this reorganization are black while only 1% of the students affected are white. Out of the 277,000 students that are enrolled in the Newark school district, black children make up 51% of the population and white children make up 8%.
The Chief of Staff of the Newark schools, Charlotte Hitchcock, says that there is nothing discriminatory at all about the reorganization plans. The school district is in full cooperation with the Department of Education during their investigation into the matter. Hitchcock says that the goal of One Newark is not to discriminate but to offer excellent education to all of the students of the city no matter what their race or socioeconomic status is. Many critics of this reorganization plan are stating that the schools that are under-performing should be fixed as opposed to shut down.