Civil Rights Activist Urges Newark Parents to Fight for Education Reform

Naomi Nix | NJ.com
09/25/14

 Civil rights activist Howard Fuller argued Wednesday evening that parents need to take a more active role in fighting for better schools in minority communities.

"We need parents to demand not ask that your children get quality education," he told an audience of about 500 people at North Star Academy.

Fuller, a nationally-recognized education reform advocate, served as the Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent during the 1990s. His comments at North Star came as the city debates changes taking place in Newark Public Schools.

The district announced in December One Newark, a controversial reorganization plan which involves relocating some school communities, expanding charter schools and changes in leadership at existing schools.

Critics contend the planunfairly favors charter schools over traditional neighborhood schools an

Asked by the audience if he supports charter schools, Fuller said he supports any school that is working.

"A good school is a good school is a good school," he said.

Fuller added he supports closing schools if they are providing in adequate education for students, but said education leaders need to engage with local communities while taking such measures.

"I don't think we should let schools continue to function that do not educate our schools," he said eliciting applause from the audience.

Without addressing the One Newark controversy, Fuller also argued that some of the backlash against closing schools in minority communities has more to with the jobs that would be lost than education policy.

For African Americans, in particular, teaching has been a popular and viable route to employment, Fuller said.

"It's about jobs," he said. "It's about paying rent."

After the talk parents lined up to get signed copies of his new memoir, "No Struggle No Progress: A Warrior s Life from Black Power to Education Reform."

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