Fate of Newark’s $10M ‘community schools’ program is in doubt

Happy New Year! Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter is back. Today, read about the future of a high-profile education program in Newark, magnet school news, and more.

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

It was a $10 million experiment designed to prove that struggling schools can flourish if given the proper support.

Launched in 2015, Newark’s “South Ward Community Schools Initiative” sent extra staffers and social services to five schools in that impoverished part of the city. It was a major victory for Mayor Ras Baraka, who had long championed the approach and convinced the state-appointed superintendent to fund it.

But now, just three years later, Newark’s new superintendent is casting doubt on the program.

“I have zero student achievement. I have poor attendance. And I have a lot of people who are getting money in their wallets,” Superintendent Roger León said last month.

The program’s early results don’t look great. And even supporters say it got off to a rocky start.

Privately, León has said he wants to develop a new community-schools program modeled on an earlier effort known as the “Global Village.” Now, he is facing calls to share those plans with the public.

“He needs to articulate that,” the mayor said. “Tell people.”

Read the full story.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

New test to get into Newark magnet schools is delayed by a month

  • What to know: Eighth-graders vying for a spot in one of Newark’s popular magnet high schools will now take a new entrance exam in February instead of this week.
  • Just last month, Supt. León said students would take the new test on Jan. 11 and 12. Now, they will take the exam on Feb. 15 and 16, according to the district’s enrollment website.
  • The new test will measure students’ English and math skills, along with their interest in the magnet schools’ themes. As recently as last month, León said the exam was still being finalized.
  • The city’s six magnet schools already screen applicants based on their academic and attendance records. The new test will add another admissions requirement.
  • Be sure to check our site later for a story about the testing changes.

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

Reviews and previews…

  • The return to local control. A new superintendent. A growing charter sector. Newark schools had a big year in 2018. Chalkbeat
  • More changes may be coming in 2019, including a district overhaul. TAPinto Newark

Absenteeism investigators…

  • A group of Newark high school and college students surveyed their peers to try to answer an urgent question: Why are so many students missing so much school? Chalkbeat

‘Saxophone sensation’…

  • Arts High School student Jalin Shiver is earning accolades — and a college scholarship — for his skill as a jazz musician. PIX11

NPS news & events…

  • Supt. León will host a “community conversation” on Jan. 16 at Central High School to discuss his goals and vision for the district. Newark Public Schools
  • Registration for Essex County College’s Saturday Youth Program will open on Jan. 12. TAPinto Newark

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.

Exit exam…

  • A state appellate court struck down New Jersey’s requirement that students pass two controversial PARCC exams in order to graduate from high school.

‘Cash courses’…

School funding…

  • New Jersey, which spent about $17,900 per student in 2015, has one of the country’s fairest school-funding systems, according to a new report. NJ Spotlight

School discipline…

  • A major new study found that “restorative justice” discipline policies led to fewer suspensions but lower test scores for black students. Chalkbeat

Extra credit

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