Newark’s Oscar James: It’s “Business as Usual” For District Superintendent And I Can’t Sleep at Night.

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I want to talk about one of the many reasons I started Newark Neighborhood View and one of the many reasons I can’t sleep at night. I want to share what it has been like to be back to school in Newark because right now, I am feeling so frustrated and angry.

As a father, this new world has been a struggle, and I know that I am not the only one struggling. Many parents are struggling right now — specifically Newark’s single parents and our grandmothers who are raising children again or watching over them during school hours.

I don’t feel that the powers that be have forgotten us, at least not yet, but I do feel people in high positions are ignoring the problem, trying to change the conversation, and are not listening to the voices of our neighborhoods.

Newark Superintendent Leon made a huge mistake during the opening weeks of school that really upset me.

Instead of addressing immediate issues, Leon chose to launch some kind of PR stunt, announcing a “historic” 10-year strategic plan. He also used the summer months to start frivolous lawsuits against private developers who purchased old school buildings through a bidding process, all just distractions from the real issues at hand. This summer we could have better prepared for the issues we see today. Other districts are excelling with hybrid models and we can not get virtual learning together after the test run we all were forced to endure earlier this year.

A 10-year plan? Why do we need a 10-year plan when most people are uncertain about tomorrow, or the day after. Our schools are not open. Our kids lack the technology to learn. Newark parents are confused and frustrated. And Leon is talking about a ten-year plan? Really?

Let’s be real: Instead of addressing our immediate needs, Leon tried to change the subject. I mean, let’s face it. Our world is collapsing right now and he shows up with a ten-year plan?

Sir, right now, I am just worried where my kids will be in 10 days. Right now, we have single parents in Newark having to work. Our kids are in their homes alone, with no one to stay with them. In many cases, we do not have wifi or can’t even get wifi if we could afford it. And even if we have wifi and the technology to learn, so many parents, especially our elderly, need help to educate their at-home children during these times. Instead of addressing these issues, STOP dreaming about ten years from now. How about a plan to help our families now?

With this push to get students in front of the camera, we can get a glimpse of what life is like or them.. 

  • We are seeing that people need help, and every household is not set up to be a part of the virtual learning experience. 
  • So many Newarkers can’t access wifi.
  • So many Newarkers are dependent on free and reduced lunch and others that are not dependent are still in need of better options for providing food to their families. 
  • Parents are asking themselves, should I spend my money on wifi or making sure my child has something to eat?

Everyone, this is real. .

The truth is that we must all come together and help each other during these times. As many of us saw first hand, when we all went to these same Newark schools, decades ago, while some things have changed, in most cases it’s business as usual.

To create change, it is going to have to come from all of us. 

If you have space for a child who you know needs help during these times, then it is our duty to open our doors to ensure an entire generation of children doesn’t fall grade levels behind during a world pandemic.

We all need to step up.

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2 Comments

  • James: My Worst Trumpian Moment Became Newark's Finest - NJ Left Behind, October 30, 2020 @ 11:11 am Reply

    […] Last spring, our state and city went into lockdown. We were in shelter-in-place status yet we heard nothing from the federal government. Trump was a deer in the headlights. There was no plan. He had anticipated nothing and there was no direction. It was clear to all of us that Newark was on its own. A short time later, our schools opened for virtual learning, which was a complete mess. […]

  • James: My Worst Trumpian Moment Became Newark’s Finest – New Jersey Left Behind, November 5, 2020 @ 11:45 am Reply

    […] Last spring, our state and city went into lockdown. We were in shelter-in-place status yet we heard nothing from the federal government. Trump was a deer in the headlights. There was no plan. He had anticipated nothing and there was no direction. It was clear to all of us that Newark was on its own. A short time later, our schools opened for virtual learning, which was a complete mess. […]

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