Newsflash: Camden is not Newark

Today NJ Spotlight looks at Camden Public Schools’ plans to create a single enrollment process for parents who register their children in district schools. From the second phase of the school improvement plan called All Schools Rise:

Sounds great, right? The old process, according to community feedback, was cumbersome and the new plan, along with CPS’s  commitment to transparency (see Promise #4 of the Camden Commitment strategic plan) will help parents make the right choices for their children.

However, along with  the difficulties inherent in turning around an chronically-failing education system, Superintendent Paymon Rouhanifard and his staff have the additional burden of the long shadow cast by former Newark Superintendent Cami Anderson’s One Newark universal enrollment plan.

Actually, One Newark worked just fine this year, far better than its rocky first year. But, for reasons that had more to do with personality than performance, Cami Anderson became the anti-Midas: everything she touched turned to shit.

So CPS’s new enrollment system is born tarnished. That’s not really fair. Can we try to separate the districts? Camden is not Newark. Newark is not Camden.

From Spotlight:
Rouhanifard and his staff have stressed this enrollment plan is not “One Camden.” “The idea is single enrollment, but it is very much predicated on community feedback,” Rouhanifard said in in an interview, noting the many community meetings he and his staff have held. “We don’t want choice for choice sake, but instead are placing tremendous value on neighborhood schools as well.”
Or listen to Rouhanifard’s remarks at the recent NJSCERA conference in which he distanced himself from those who promote an all-charter district:
If you believe that there’s a moral imperative to do everything in our power in improve our schools as quickly as possible like I do, then we must take a dual path approach and transform the status quo and make renaissance schools a choice for students and family. But let me also make clear that flipping the switch and converting all schools to charters and renaissance schools isn’t the answer either.   
Ultimately, results will do the talking and families will make that decision themselves. 
So let’s step back and let the Camden community decide what’s best for their children.

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