09/03/2010

Newark Launches Effort To Turn Around Struggling Schools

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Newark's schoolchildren got a back-to-school gift on Sept. 3 as school officials and union leaders announced an agreement to invest more than $20 million in federal funds to bring proven measures to several struggling schools.

Newark Teachers Union president Joseph Del Grosso and Newark Public Schools superintendent Clifford Janey signed memoranda of understanding that will provide extended learning time for students, support for teachers pursuing a nationally recognized certification, professional development opportunities focused on improved student learning, and other measures proven effective in turning around schools in urban districts.

"We wanted to help design these turnaround plans because we know that teachers, who are on the frontlines, will be the ones to make them work for kids," said Del Grosso.

The millions in federal School Improvement Grants will support schools identified by the state as most in need of help.

"We're very proud of our teachers, who joined us in this effort to turn around these schools," Janney said. "Now we need to get parents, administrative staff, school principals, our elected officials and the entire Newark community focused on helping our students so that they can compete globally and are prepared for college, work and life."

Del Grosso and Janey were joined at a news conference by AFT president Randi Weingarten, who has cited collaboration as an element common to all successful schools, and New York University professor Pedro Noguera, an advocate of the "Broader, Bolder Approach to Education" reform agenda.

"With continued collaborative efforts like this, combining instructional initiatives with wraparound services, Newark has an opportunity to provide a better education for every child in this city and to become a leader in urban education," said Weingarten. [Joint AFT-Newark Teachers Union-Newark Public Schools release/video by Matthew Jones]