A’Dorian Murray-Thomas is a Newark School Board member with a remarkable history. At the ripe old age of 23, this life-long Newarker has founded and serves as CEO of SHE Wins Inc., a leadership and social action organization for middle and high school girls in Newark. She also developed and co-facilitated a free SAT prep program in Newark serving students from over 15 local schools, was instrumental in advocating for Newark’s Youth Media Symposium to receive a $100,000 grant, was recognized as a President Obama White House Champion of Change, a Glamour Magazine “College Woman of the Year,” a Youth Service America “Everyday Young Hero,” was featured in ESSENCE Magazine, named one of The Root Magazine’s “25 Young Futurists,” and was a recipient of the New Jersey Governor’s Award for her work in education and youth development.
She also graduated from Swarthmore College with a B.A. in political science and educational studies.
Oh–and she’s a graduate of Newark public schools. In middle school she attended KIPP TEAM Academy, a public charter. And it’s that little detail of her long bio that has set off a storm of criticism because recently she agreed to fill the board seat reserved for alumnni on the KIPP Foundation, a nonprofit that assists KIPP charter schools through training and fundraising.
Newark resident Yolanda Johnson (who ran and lost for a school board seat) said, “She can’t be on two boards…Her sole interest sitting on our board should be for us.”
And then there’s John Abeigon, President of the Newark Teachers Union, who put up on Facebook, according to Chalkbeat, a criticism of Murray-Thomas that includes the New Testament verse, “no one can serve two masters.” No surprise there: this is the man, after all, who defended a teacher dressed in Blackface and has said of Newark’s charter sector (which serves 40% of Newark public school students) “anyone associated with education reform or the corporate-charter school agenda needs to be identified, isolated, and let go.”
Does Murray-Thomas have a conflict of interest by serving simultaneously on the Newark School Board and the KIPP Foundation? Not according to Carrie Chimerine Irvin, CEO and founder of Education Board Partners, who says “People serve on multiple boards all the time.” Anyway, that’s not what this is about: Those opposing this young woman might think harder about her remarkable history of providing opportunities–like she had–for all Newark students and being a national model of public service. Sure seems a better use of time than making racist statements and dragging us yet again into obsolete charter/district turf games. Grow up, people. Be A’Dorian.
Always happy to give time back to youth in my community.
Shout out to some of the future leaders of #Newark — the 5th and 6th graders at my former middle school, #KIPP TEAM Academy. #BlackHistoryMonth #BlackExcellence #Newark #RepresentationMatters pic.twitter.com/I8P2STu0xS
— A’Dorian Murray-Thomas Newark Public School Board (@ADorian4Newark) February 26, 2021