At this moment a small group of Newark Public School students have been “occupying” the district’s central office on Cedar Street since about 8:30 last night. Blue Jersey says they were aided by several adults, including Mayor Ras Baraka’s Chief of Staff, who happens to be his brother Middy. (Welcome to Newark.) The students, according to Bob Braun ( not the most reliable narrator) are protesting Superintendent Cami Anderson’s reappointment.
According to the students’ live twitter feed, they are also protesting local school closings, charter school expansion (despite 10,000 children and their parents clamoring for more spots), Newark’s new universal school enrollment plan, and a lack of pizza.
(Some confusion there: the twitter feed says the students haven’t received food, but Braun says that “pizzas later arrived, delivered by none other than assistant superintendent Roger Leon, often thought to be the next superintendent if Anderson can ever be pried loose from her hold on the $300,000 job.”)
I don’t mean to be snide. These young people have a cause they believe in and they have chosen action over what must appear to be ineffective verbal protests. To some in their community, they’re heroes, including Ras Baraka and his staff, the school board, and the Badass Teachers Association, all of whom are tweeting their support. The students are simply modeling behavior urged by adults like Braun, who railed furiously against Newark Teachers Union for “betraying the boycott movement,” by showing up for their jobs when school opened in September, and lambasted NJEA for focusing its annual convention on professional development instead of politics. (Steve Wollmer, spokesman for the union, replied that Braun was either “misinformed or deliberately misleading.”)
We'll keep you posted.