Newark Leaders Applaud State Board of Education for Vote to Return Local Control to Newark Schools

Superintendent Cerf, Mayor Baraka, Senator Teresa Ruiz, and Board Chair Marques Aquil Lewis share their collective commitment to an effective and responsible transition.


[Newark, NJ — September 13, 2017] – Superintendent of Newark Public Schools Christopher D. Cerf, Mayor Ras J. Baraka, Senator Teresa Ruiz, the Newark School Board and other Newark leaders attended the New Jersey Department of Education (NJDOE) board meeting in Trenton, NJ this morning where the State Board of Education voted to pass two resolutions that call for “the return of operational control to Newark Public Schools following the creation and completion of a transition plan.” Several State and Newark leaders spoke at the meeting citing significant academic improvement, as well as an increased unity of purpose and collaboration, as evidence the city is prepared to assume local control of district schools.

“I want to congratulate the Mayor, the School Board, and all of the Newark residents who have been waiting many years for this moment,” noted Superintendent Christopher D. Cerf. “I also want to thank the Governor, Commissioner, and the State Board of Education for their on-going support of Newark schools. I look forward to working together in the coming months to collaborate on the transition plan to return all governing responsibilities to the Newark School Board in a stable way that successfully positions the district to continue to advance the learning and growth of all Newark students.”

The State Board of Education approved two resolutions. One resolution moves control of the final functional areas of Governance and of Instruction and Program, which were previously under state intervention, to the oversight of Newark School Board. The second resolution charges the Newark Public Schools and the New Jersey Department of Education to collaborate on the creation of a transition plan to full local control.

“Moving forward, the people of Newark have an opportunity now to have a say-so, to make things in the image of the way we see them.” Said Newark Mayor Ras J. Baraka. “All of our institutions are ready for this. The private sector, the public sector, our educational institutions, parents, students, clergy, philanthropies – all of us- are poised for this day. Today is a great day for me, I’m excited. I was a young teacher in the Newark Public Schools when they were taken over in 1995, so it is wonderful to be mayor of the city of my birth at this point, to be able to say that now we have control of our schools, and ready for responsibility to move our kids into the next century.”

In the coming months, the transition plan will be finalized by the New Jersey Department of Education and presented to the Newark School Advisory Board. The details that are outlined in the transition plan will determine the timeline for the return of responsibilities back to the Newark School Board. The transition plan will also outline other actions that must be taken, such as an eventual city-wide vote to determine if Newark will continue to have an elected school board or a school board appointed by the Mayor.

“This is a very exciting day for Newark Schools,” added School Board President Marques Aquil Lewis. “We look forward to working with the State, the Superintendent, and most importantly the Newark community, to build on the progress that has made in recent years and to move our schools into a new day of locally elected leadership.”

A major contributor to the District’s readiness for local control can be found in its improvement in academics. A few areas of progress include:

  • Preliminary 16-17 PARCC results show that Newark Public Schools students once again made significant gains in both ELA and Math, with NPS’s growth exceeding the state in both subjects.
  • NPS has improved on the state student growth measure (SGP), with students growing in reading faster than their peers across the state in 15-16 (most recent data available).
  • Newark has also seen consistent improvement in graduation rates.73.5% of students graduated in the 15-16 year, and this figure is expected to rise to around 77% for the 2016-17 school year when data is finalized by the state later this fall. This number was at 54% when the state took over in the 1995, and had only moved to about 60% as recently as 2011 (an independent audit put the figure at 57%).
  • The 2016-17 graduating class also saw more Newark students matriculating to the country’s most competitive colleges, with students receiving full scholarships to places like Harvard, Princeton, Rutgers, and other elite schools.

The transition to local control has received significant national press coverage to date. A summary of coverage is listed here for reference: