The big story
One of the biggest policy questions facing Newark’s new superintendent is what to do with the city’s often-controversial enrollment system, “Newark Enrolls.”
The system is one of the few in the country that allows families to use a single tool to apply to most district or charter schools. Proponents consider it a boon for families that lets them easily apply to multiple schools, but critics see it as a way to divert students from district to charter schools.
Superintendent Roger León, who began this month, appears to have come down squarely in favor of the system. At a recent closed-door meeting with charter school leaders (pictured above), he promised to keep it intact.
Now, he must secure the approval of the school board, which has tried to dismantle the system in the past. And he must make his case to skeptical community members who say the system should go.
Meanwhile, charter school supporters who are determined to protect the system will certainly try to hold León to his pledge.
“We heard his words loud and clear,” one leader said last week.
What to watch
Important things happening around Newark schools.
Superintendent León gets started. Next up: His plan to move the district forward.
- What to know: León, a longtime Newark Public Schools educator and administrator, started as superintendent on July 1.
- In the weeks leading up to his start date, he meet privately with different stakeholders to shore up support and gather ideas. In the meetings, he referenced a forthcoming plan that would lay out his vision and agenda for the district.
- In a press release on July 1, he offered a glimpse of that plan. It will include “an advanced technological curriculum, cross-institutional relationships, workforce development, and collaborations with the bioethics field,” his statement said.
- He also promised to promote “parent choice,” with families able to opt into traditional, magnet, or district schools.
- Now, the pressure is on León to reveal his full plan, which will be scrutinized by his many constituencies — parents, district employees, school board members, elected officials, and civic leaders.
- One big question: Will León’s vision galvanize those different stakeholders, and earn him the support he’ll need to be successful?
León promises to refocus summer school on enrichment.
- What to know: The district’s summer programs launched on July 9 and will continue through Aug. 10.
- They include remedial classes, as well as English-language, music, and sports programs.
- But summer school may soon get an overhaul under Superintendent León.
- In a speech to educators who will staff the programs, he said that summer school has traditionally been about helping students who are behind catch up with their peers and recover lost credits.
- In the future, he said, “Summer school will be for students who are not ‘behind’ in school, but who are ‘ahead’ in school – it will be a reward for doing well,” according to a press release.
- He pointed to a music program at Arts High School and a summer program at Johns Hopkins as models he plans to expand next year.
- One big question: As León shifts his focus to enrichment, will struggling students still get the extra help they need?
A roundup of the past week’s local education reporting.
- The district released the names and salaries of the 31 officials and administrators whom León forced out as part of a district reorganization. Chalkbeat
Meet the press…
- León spoke with NJTV’s David Cruz to mark the start of his new role.
- Some highlights include León promising to “compel” the school board to support his vision, and saying that controversial former Superintendent Cami Anderson had the “greatest reform efforts.” NJTV
- A long-standing summertime curfew is in effect, which restricts minors from straying more than 100 yards from their homes after 11 p.m. TAPinto Newark
Workforce of the future…
- Newark’s Youth Employment Program will help about 3,000 young people acquire valuable work experience this summer. NJ.com
- Across New Jersey, 37 percent of residents age 25 and over have college degrees. But in Newark, less than 10 percent have bachelor’s degrees. NJ.com
News from Trenton
Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.
- Gov. Phil Murphy must decide whether to allow a $1 billion bond question on the November ballot. It would fund a range of education-facility upgrades focused on school security, school drinking water, and vocational-technical schools. NJ Spotlight
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Nine members of Newark’s Girl Scout Troop 20134 traveled to Paris this month. On the Fourth of July, they commemorated American soldiers who died in France during WWI. Read more about their trip here.
Photo courtesy of troop leader Erin Sweeney.