I’ve mentioned several times how much I believe young people today need to become active and to become advocates. It is with a great deal of admiration that I noted this story this week. Their message was clear: radical changes forced upon their city from powerful private and public forces must be slowed down or stopped. Public schools, whatever their faults, are a matter of public interest and plans for change that shut out students, parents and teachers are not acceptable.
Their efforts have certainly caught someone’s attention. New Jersey’s acting Commissioner of Education, David Hespe, will reportedly meet with them. Such a meeting, if it indeed happens, does not guarantee that Mr. Hespe will arrive with open ears and a willingness to include all of Newark’s stakeholders, but just announcing the desire to meet is a major change for a city that has been subjected to rapid paced, outside imposed changes that are aimed to provide massively preferential treatment to charter school operators. Little signs of listening at any level has been evident so far.
I absolutely applaud students in Newark for taking action. Hopefully, they are being heard by people who understand how to listen.