Randal Pinkett, a Newark businessman and the first African-American student from Rutgers to win a Rhodes Scholarship, has a bone to pick with Gov. Phil Murphy. In an op-ed up today, he castigates Murphy’s failure to prioritize the needs of Black and brown families in New Jersey. While 94% of the African-American community voted for Murphy in 2017, Pinket says Murphy’s given them little but lip service. One example is access to COVID-19 vaccines; only 4% of the state’s supply has gone to African-Americans. Pinket’s second example of Murphy’s failure to craft “public policy that goes beyond promises and headlines, and is instead crafted through the lens of African Americans” is our public education system.
He writes in ROI,
When it comes to our state’s public education system, what should serve as the pathway to upward mobility continues to be a mess of inequality and inconsistency for African American families.
We saw this when the state decided to give smokers COVID vaccines over our own teachers, dramatically burdening the opening of school districts and extending the learning loss of African American families across the state. But, frankly, once our children are finally back in schools, they will once again be put in classrooms with leaking ceilings, drink school water poisoned with lead and not be provided with computers, equipment and Wi-Fi access that is the norm for our state’s suburban areas.
And, perhaps most puzzling of all, the Murphy administration and his supporters will continue to ignore the wishes of tens of thousands of New Jersey’s African American families by criticizing and even demonize charter schools, an important, alternative source of hope families of color have for success and opportunity in our public school system.
If COVID has shown us anything, it’s that the power of words will no longer cut it, and neither will weak expectations.
If Gov. Murphy continues to take the African-American vote for granted by “demonizing charter schools” and effacing that “alternative source of hope for families of color,” PInkett warns, “it will hurt New Jersey’s Democratic Party in the years to come.”
For other coverage of Randal Pinkett, see here.