I have taught in Newark's district schools for 17 years. Currently, I am in a school that works on behalf of the students. I would love to say that this is a consistent practice; but that is not the case in many schools.
I love being a teacher in Newark, and the one constant is that we passionately want success for our students. Many of us lose sleep at night thinking about our students. We worry about their future, whether they are getting a good night's sleep, and if they have had dinner.
Teachers in Newark pay for much needed school supplies out of their own pocket. We even buy additional T-shirts, underwear and socks, knowing some of our students can't afford extra and will need them. Newark teachers care, but we are part of a system that is broken.
As a district teacher, I have seen firsthand unbelievable bureaucratic waste. For years, the lack of consistent educational guidelines from the district offices, have caused conflicts in teaching and learning. Each change brings costly rounds of education materials, trainings, and curriculum development.
Our current superintendent is the first person I can remember who has made real progress fixing this issue, but Newark still receives over a billion dollars a year from the state. And yet, as a teacher I do not see the funding reaching our students.
It is frustrating as a teacher in Newark and an alum of the Newark public school system to see first-hand what is happening in Newark. But as a mother, it is terrifying.
This is why I am also one of the thousands of Newark's parents who have chosen to send my child to a Newark public charter school. My son is 13 years old and attends Link Community Charter School.
I have dedicated my life to educating our students in Newark and I have not given up. Part of making a difference is speaking the truth.
Link produces results not because they have more money. Their accomplishments are rooted in the same values of most Newark parents — they figure out how to do more with less, they find a way to make things work.
As a district schoolteacher, I would like to see the effective practices being implemented at Link replicated in my district school.
As a mother, I want desperately to ensure that more Newark parents are able to provide opportunity for their children.
Many Newark children never go beyond their own neighborhoods, but Link has enabled my son to continue his education with unique educational trips inside and outside the United States, all expenses paid. He has also participated in a multitude of innovative programs.
I have seen first hand how Newark district schools have struggled for years to build effective curriculum, but my son utilizes Link's highly regarded elective program, which partners with city leaders and organizations, in and outside of Newark, as well as Link faculty to develop classes and work studies that go far beyond the educational basics.
Most of all, Link is located in the heart of Newark, yet I know my child is safe. They open its doors at 7:15 am to provide breakfast to all. Homework help is provided late into afternoon. If a child is having difficulty out of school, there is support from talented and dedicated social workers, nurses, and faculty advisors.
Link also makes sure parents are involved in their children's educational experience. They proactively keep parents informed about the latest trends in education and host valuable events throughout the year.
Thanks to the public education at Link, my son was recently provided a full scholarship to the prestigious Delbarton School. Shouldn't every child in Newark have these kinds of opportunities?
It is time for Newark to embrace, celebrate and replicate experiences like my son's public education at Link – so every child in Newark is provided a high quality education. Whether we call them district, magnet, charter or community schools – it does not matter to me, or most in the city.
The key to success is making sure parents are provided options.