Want to know what’s in León’s big plan for Newark schools? Here are the highlights.

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! Read all about Superintendent León’s “Clarity 2020” plan, a new crop of district officials, and much more.

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

Want a peek into the future of Newark’s public schools?

Look no further than “Clarity 2020,” the strategic plan that Superintendent Roger León unveiled last month. The one-year roadmap is chock-full of ideas for new programs and policies — 168 ideas, to be exact.

For students, the plan calls for better buildings and revamped special-education classes. For families, it proposes a parent council to advise the superintendent and a “Parent University.” And for educators, it calls for more training and leadership opportunities. 

The dozens of action items range from the specific (pair every student with a mentor) to the very broad (“redefine the instructional vision” for young students). The plan does not go into any detail about how the district will accomplish those goals.

While the specifics are TBD, Clarity 2020 does bring León’s vision for the district into focus. To help you understand that vision, we pulled out the highlights.

Read the full story here.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

León appoints principals and district veterans to top jobs in his administration 

  • What to know: A year after firing many top officials, Superintendent León is staffing up again.
  • He has chosen new leaders to oversee the teaching and learning, facilities management, and student life departments. 
  • He also selected a new deputy superintendent and executive assistant.
  • The new officials are Newark principals and district veterans — a marked contrast to when León’s predecessors recruited people from outside the district to fill some top roles.
  • The new promotions mean that several more schools will get new leaders next year.
  • One big question: Will the new officials make any changes to how schools operate this fall?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

Summer nutrition…

  • Newark is publicizing its year-round free meals program as about 70 percent of students who get free meals during the school year don’t receive them during the summer. NJTV

Academic all-stars…

  • Nearly 90 percent of high school seniors met the requirements of “Newark’s Academic Challenge for Kids,” a new program León created to incentivize good grades and behavior. TAPinto Newark

Student ‘explorers’…

  • The Newark Museum received $50,000 from Panasonic Corporation of North America to fund its “Explorers Program” for Newark-area high schoolers. TAPinto Newark

Good neighbors…

  • The Donald Payne Vocational Technical School and the Newark Museum earned nods as “good neighbors” from the New Jersey Business & Industry Association. Newark Patch


  • Maria Ortiz, the principal of Newark’s Luis Muñoz Marin School of Social Justice and a doctoral candidate at Seton Hall University, will serve as the district’s executive director of student life. Seton Hall

School facilities…

  • Op-ed: An education advocacy group argues that Newark students have been “cheated out of their constitutional right to funding for safe, adequate school facilities.” NJ Spotlight

Newark Public Schools news…

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark. 

Booker’s brother….

  • U.S. Sen. Cory Booker’s older brother, Cary Booker, was tapped last month to oversee early childhood education in New Jersey. Yet he has no experience working in preschools, and a small charter school he co-founded was forced to close due to poor performance. NJ.com
  • Gov. Phil Murphy defended Cary Booker’s hiring this week, saying Booker has come up with many “smart policies” related to education. NJ.com

School safety…

  • Federal lawmakers are considering a national version of a N.J. bill that requires all New Jersey public schools to have silent panic alarms to help protect students during emergencies like an active shooter. NJ.com

Teacher recruitment…

  • The Detroit school district is getting creative as it tries to attract more teachers. Chalkbeat Detroit

Charter backlash…

  • As the Democratic presidential contenders ramp up their rhetoric against charter schools, Sen. Booker has defended his education record in Newark while calling some charter school models “outrageous and unacceptable.” American Prospect

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details.

Photo credit: Twitter/Reggie Bledsoe