Newark Board of Education is a comprehensive community public school district that serves the entire city of Newark in Essex County, New Jersey, United States. The state took over the district in 1995 and returned control in 2018, after 22 years. The district is one of 31 former Abbott districts statewide, which are now referred to as "SDA Districts" based on the requirement for the state to cover all costs for school building and renovation projects in these districts under the supervision of the New Jersey Schools Development Authority.
As of the 2011-12 school year, the district's 80 schools had an enrollment of 35,543 students and 2,546.0 classroom teachers (on an FTE basis), for a student–teacher ratio of 13.96:1.
The total school enrollment in Newark city was 75,000 in 2003. Pre-primary school enrollment was 12,000 and elementary or high school enrollment was 46,000 children. College enrollment was 16,000. As of 2003, 64 percent of people 25 years and over had at least graduated from high school and 11 percent had a bachelor's degree or higher. Among people 16 to 19 years old, 10 percent were dropouts; they were not enrolled in school and had not graduated from high school.
The district is classified by the New Jersey Department of Education as being in District Factor Group "A", the lowest of eight groupings. District Factor Groups organize districts statewide to allow comparison by common socioeconomic characteristics of the local districts. From lowest socioeconomic status to highest, the categories are A, B, CD, DE, FG, GH, I and J.
The district is one of three districts in New Jersey (along with Jersey City Public Schools and Paterson Public Schools) that has historically been under "state intervention", which authorizes the state Commissioner of Education to intervene in governance of a local public school district (and to intervene in the areas of instruction and program, operations, personnel, and fiscal management). Chris Cerf was the state appointed superintendent of Newark. Cerf said he would resign on February 1, 2018, the day local control was be returned to the district.
Roger Leon, a life long Newark resident and educator was elected by the local school board to replace Cerf by a unanimous 9-0 vote and took office July 1, 2018.
Core members of the district's administration are:
The district is one of three districts in New Jersey historically under "state intervention", which authorizes the Commissioner of Education to intervene in governance of a local public school district (and to intervene in the areas of instruction and program, operations, personnel, and fiscal management) if the Commissioner has determined that a school district failed or was unable to take corrective actions necessary to establish a thorough and efficient system of education.
State intervention has been criticized as undemocratic and racist. Some also have suggested that children were significantly harmed during state control. State intervention in Newark has not produced significant gains, as evidenced by the fact that NPS does not show up in the top ten of New Jersey districts (in terms of achievement, in every tested grade, for math and English) after more than two decades of state control. When viewed through the lens of student growth percentiles, which is a contested measure of growth, NPS may be higher. However, NPS may have had equally high growth before state intervention, so no comparisons are possible.
Chris Cerf and others paid by the state of New Jersey have suggested state control has been good for Newark. However, no measures of the quality of NPS's broad offerings before, during, or after state intervention have been identified. No measures of progress are available for earth science, physics, biology, chemistry, health, citizenship, world history, US history, literature, sociology, anthropology, ethnic studies, New Jersey history, gender studies, media studies, Africana studies, economics, politics, astronomy, geology, philosophy, archaeology, or performing arts. No measures of students' physical wellbeing, social wellbeing, or emotional wellbeing are available before, during, or after state control. No measures of parental wellbeing have been identified.
Local control was returned as of February 1, 2018.
The Newark Public Schools is the largest school system in New Jersey. The city's public schools had been among the lowest-performing in the state, even after the state government took over management of the city's schools from 1995-2018, which was done under the presumption that improvement would follow.
Although the school district continues to struggle with low high school graduation rates and low standardized test scores, the former mayor of Newark, Cory Booker, insisted in 2010, "Newark, New Jersey can become one of the first American cities to solve the crisis in public education." This vision for better school district is also shared by Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg, who made a $100 million donation to Newark Public Schools in 2010. "Every child deserves a good education. Right now that's not happening," he said. The management has been criticized: while interviews with administration regarding Newark's schools were always positive, highlighting only the good aspects of the huge monetary donation, new contracts were being created, money was being hemorrhaged, and the district was going broke. According to The New Yorker, Anderson, Booker, Zuckerberg, and Christie, "despite millions of dollars spent on community engagement—have yet to hold tough, open conversations with the people of Newark about exactly how much money the district has, where it is going, and what students aren't getting as a result."
Ann Street School of Mathematics and Science was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education, the highest award an American school can receive, during the 1998-99 school year.
Branch Brook Elementary School, a Pre-Kindergarten through 4th grade school, was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence, during the 2004-05 school year.
During the 2007–08 school year, Harriet Tubman School was recognized with the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence by the United States Department of Education.
During the 2009-10 school year, Science Park High School was awarded the Blue Ribbon School Award of Excellence.
For the 2005-06 school year, the district was recognized with the "Best Practices Award" by the New Jersey Department of Education for its "A Park Study: Learning About the World Around Us" Science program at Abington Avenue School. The curriculum was written, implemented, and submitted to the State of New Jersey by Abington Avenue School kindergarten teacher, Lenore Furman.
After efforts at his dismissal as New Jersey's poet laureate, Amiri Baraka was named the school district's poet laureate in December 2002.
Beginning in the 2008-2009 school year, students in elementary and middle school were required to wear school uniforms. Beginning in September 2010 high school students were required to wear uniforms.
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