Thursday, March 20, 2014

Newark Teacher Endorses Ras Baraka and Slams David Brooks for Jeffries Endorsement

David Brooks: Drive By Newark Mayoral Endorsement

David Brooks endorsed Newark mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries in his New York Times column "How Cities Change." Brooks judiciously devoted seven paragraphs to Jeffries' biography and none to his opponent Ras Baraka. Indulge me while I fill in some gaps.

Ras Baraka was born in Newark in 1970. He is the son of the late poet and activist Amiri Baraka formerly known as Leroi Jones. He holds a BA in Political Science from Howard University and an MA in Education Supervision from St. Peter's University. Baraka serves as the South Ward City Councilman and is on leave from his position as principal of Central High School.

In a slight oversimplification, Brooks preceded his endorsement of Jeffries with this statement, "In Newark, as elsewhere, charter schools are the main flashpoint in this divide. Middle-class municipal workers, including members of the teachers' unions, tend to be suspicious of charters. The poor, who favor school choice, and the affluent who favor education reform generally, tend to support charters." 

So our friend Brooks, a member of the well-heeled class, has justified his endorsement of Jeffries due to his affluence. The poor residents of Newark are being denied a voice by Governor Chris Christie. The elected School Advisory Board is being ignored. Attempts by the community to regain control of the schools have been unsuccessful. Should the poor be denied the choice of a traditional neighborhood school that is a common place option in the suburbs? 

I am a middle class Newark Teacher's Union member and I favor Ras Baraka. I support Ras Baraka because he is fighting to save public education in the community where I work. He is the lone strong voice in the wilderness protesting State District Superintendent Cami Anderson's destructive One Newark Plan. He defended the principals suspended for speaking out in defense of their schools. He backed the clerk suspended for voicing her views on her cell phone in the bathroom. He was behind the parent activist arrested for attempting to organize parents against the closing of his child's school. Baraka is fighting hard to prevent Anderson from laying off 1,100 teachers over the next three years to be replaced by Teach for America novices. A Teacher's Village is under construction to house them and The Walton Foundation has made a generous contribution to provide training. 

I endorse Ras Baraka not because of my socio-economic profile, but because I believe in his mission. I am a proud product of wonderful public schools from kindergarten through a state university. 

By the way, does anybody know which schools David Brooks' three children attended? 

A Newark Teacher

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