JAMES: An Open Letter Asking Senate Majority Leader Teresa Ruiz to Fight For Our Children, Not Newark’s Superintendent

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Dear Senator Ruiz:

You are a true champion for education to children across the state – and one of the top policy experts on the subject.

You have deep ties and the respect of electeds throughout Trenton and key leaders in Essex County.

You are transparent. You tell-it-like-it-is. And you always have shown a deep commitment to your constituents.

The City of Newark loves you.

Most of all, the odds are clear that your trajectory is only up – and that one day you will likely be Governor Ruiz, Senator Ruiz, and maybe even President Ruiz.

So why are you risking it all for Superintendent Roger Leon?

It is just not making any sense.

Loyalty is important, especially in our hometown of Newark. But Newarkers have all seen this movie before. Eventually, competence and honesty trump blind loyalty – and after a string of grave missteps, it is time for Roger to go.

Right now, you are one of the few remaining supporters of this Superintendent and likely the main reason he is still on the job, but the Roger we once all knew – and even cared about – is clearly not the same Roger we know now. His actions and poor decisions have made him damaged goods.

Literally, just last week, in my blog, I wrote about how Roger incorrectly reported to our community and our School Board that 13 Newark schools were “high-performing” and 18 schools were “beating the odds.” But a deep, factual look at this statement – shows his claims to be clearly false.

Now, less than 24 hours after my blog, word has come out that our city’s School Enrollment is a complete mess.

For years, we saw our once nationally known school enrollment program wither on the vine under Roger’s watch.

Since taking office, the Newark enrollment plan has seen the following:

  • Delays in Matching Students with Schools
  • Errors in Matching Students with School
  • Nonexistent Family Support
  • Significant Issues with the School Enrollment Website
  • Addition of illegal Document Requirements for Parents

….most of all, these issues that have all happened under Roger’s watch have significantly declined our city’s enrollment participation, which is a huge deal.

According to today’s Chalkbeat Newark story, many schools have since left the enrollment program and are so fed up they created their own.

But this is not the only issue – I mean, in the last week alone, look at what we have learned.

1.) As mentioned, Roger gave misleading information to the school board and the public on the state of Newark’s district schools –

2.) Roger is spending a crazy amount of tax dollars, money allocated for our kids, to junkets all around the country –

3.) Newark test scores are beginning to come out – and the results are terrible

4.) And then there is his mismanagement of Newark’s new High School of Architecture and Interior Design on Jefferson Street

This is all just in one week! And we all know there have been far many other concerns that have come up over the last few years.

As mentioned, Newark has seen this movie before, and we all know where Roger is now headed.

Roger was named Superintendent mainly because of your support for him – and clearly, his record has now let our city down.

The longer Roger stays, the more information we seem to be learning about his time as Superintendent – and it’s clear those who are with him will be collateral damage.

You are one of the state’s great leaders – please don’t compromise the many great things you have done for us, and hopefully will do in the future, by continuing to support him. Roger is not worth it. Newark needs to break from Roger, and we seem headed in that direction.

You know the temperature of our city better than anyone.

Senator Ruiz, it is time for Roger to go. Please let him go.

Sincerely,

Oscar James II

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