I am writing this letter on behalf of the Weequahic High School Fathers’ Club as we extend our mutual support and stand side by side with our brothers and sisters in the Weequahic High School Alumni Association (“Weequahic High School alumni oppose state overhaul proposal,” Jan. 2).
We stand steadfast against this Newark Public Schools reorganization plan called “One Newark” that would forever cast a veil upon Weequahic High School as we know it. The plan not only excludes input from the community but it is also disingenuous in that the “universal” application process it offers parents of Newark further erodes the student populace of our beloved Weequahic High School.
Conveniently what NPS superintendent Cami Anderson and Commissioner of Education Christopher Cerf fail to tell the parents either on purpose or not is that they will be abandoning our neighborhood school when parents sign up for admission to other public or charter schools.
There are several questions that need to be answered by Anderson and Cerf: Why was Weequahic’s annual school budget cut the last three years by over $1 million each year? Why was every other comprehensive high school, except East Side, awarded a $6 million improvement grant and not Weequahic High School? Why hasn’t the Newark Public Schools system been returned to the people of Newark by the state as required by law?
If Anderson and Cerf were really serious about the education of the Weequahic High School students, they should have established a dialogue with the current principal, Faheem Ellis, to create a reform model that is supported by the community, students, the Weequahic High School Fathers’ Club, and the Alumni Association.
As the executive chair of the Father’s Club and a graduate of the class of 1973, I find it mindboggling that Newark schools have been under state control since 1995 and the state continues to say to the community, “Your schools are failing,” as though they have not been running the school system.
As a student of Weequahic High School, I grew up with the Rubins, Shapiros, and Schwartzes as classmates and friends. I am a product of the Les Fein era — an era of working hard, being a positive voice in the community, and being a winner. The invaluable lessons I learned while a student at Weequahic High School formed the foundation that enabled me to go on and work at the White House and in the U.S. Congress. From my experiences on Capitol Hill, it was expected that one day I would return to the community and make a positive difference in it. This is what led me to continue the legacy of the Fathers’ Club.
The club was formed in 1972 by Coach Burney L. Adams, several community leaders, and many committed parents who devoted thousands of hours of volunteer time. Their mission was to support the WHS Football Program through activities such as fund-raising, providing a nutritious meal to the team on game day, and providing much needed mentoring and academic support for the players.
The club has taken players on college bus tours and provided financial scholarships for over 1,600 players to attend college. It was Coach Adams’s vision to use football as a tool to propel youngsters on to higher aspirations. Today, the club keeps those same traditions as we instill in our student-athletes that if they are ambitious enough they can be anything they want to be.