Newark Gets a Visit from Randi Weingarten

The Star Ledger reports today that American Federation of Teacher President Randi Weingarten will meet with teachers from Newark’s Hawthorne Avenue Elementary School to share their protest against Superintendent Cami Anderson’s plan to turn over Hawthorne to BRICK Charter School and TEAM Academy.

But the real point of her visit is a campaign stop for Newark mayoral hopeful Ras Baraka, with a special appearance by Sen. Ron Rice, who is ardently supporting Baraka over Shavar Jeffries. Rice had originally hoped to succeed former mayor Cory Booker (new U.S. Senator) but was dissuaded from entering the race after the embrace of Baraka by other-former Newark mayor Sharpe James, who was convicted in 2008 of five counts of fraud by a federal jury and served prison time.

But that’s grown-up stuff. Let’s look at the kids.

Hawthorne Elementary School is one NJ’s 75 “priority” schools, chronically failing to educate its K-8 population. For example, 80% of 5th graders fail the state basic skills test in language arts and 58% fail math. Not a single 8th grader takes algebra, which is considered an indicator of future college and career readiness. Twenty-seven percent of the student body is chronically absent.

If Randi Weingarten, Ras Baraka, Ron Rice, and NJEA get their way, Hawthorne Elementary will stay open, despite its dismal record. That has nothing to do with what’s good for kids, but with what’s good for aspiring politicians and labor leaders.

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