I was pleased that Robert Wiener wrote a piece about the probable elimination of Weequahic High School (“Weequahic High School alumni oppose state overhaul proposal,”).
As a proud alumnus of that great school, I am very concerned about the situation. Gov. Chris Christie, through his Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf, and schools superintendent Cami Anderson, is systemically eliminating his nemesis — teachers’ unions — by substituting charter schools for public schools (using taxpayers’ money). We alumni can only do so much, butonly parents, organizing and acting, can retain neighborhood schools. They will be a thing of the past if organized groups cannot act to prevent it from becoming a reality. It is all about money and political power. Most private, religious, and charter schools are not unionized; they don’t have to get good medical benefits or pensions when they are working and when they retire. Newspaper articles do not mention the fate of teachers who are currently at the public schools everywhere. They are being replaced by new, mostly young people, many of whom are not trained educators. Instead of working to fix and improve public education in cities, privatized non-public schools are being created. The state saves money by hiring private companies to run our prisons, motor vehicle agencies, inspection stations and now schools. The names of long-established schools like Weequahic, Barringer, and many others will be a thing of the past and live only in our memories. (Barringer happens to be the third oldest public school in the United States. It opened in 1838 and is being converted similarly to Weequahic.)
Myron S. Borden
Editor’s note: The Eagle Academy for Young Men in Newark, which is slated to be housed at Weequahic High School, is not a charter school, but a partnership between the Eagle Academy Foundation and Newark Public Schools. According to the Newark Education Trust, such schools bridge the gap between district funding and a range of private support.