Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “When Everyone Dresses the Same, The Focus is on Learning.”

Ubaidullah Jackson, who just turned seven years old, peers up at me with undisguised curiosity. I’m here to interview his mom, Shati Gerald, about why and how she has molded an ambitious academic track for her gifted son and so he’ll have to be satisfied with access to his mom’s smartphone and a promise for a snack at the closing brunch at the 2018 NJ Parents Summit. Shati is a social services coordinator for senior …

Not So Fast with the “We” Word, Trenton Superintendent McDowell. You’re Leaving Out the Parents.

“We in Trenton are adamantly opposed to charter school expansion,” Trenton Superintendent Dr. Fred McDowell said Wednesday at a community meeting on the subject. “We are united in that statement.” Um, no, Dr. McDowell. I don’t know whom you are referring to when you say “We in Trenton” but it’s definitely not the Trenton parents I spoke to at last weekend’s NJ Parent Summit, where 250 parents, mostly single moms of color, mostly from Abbott …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “As the Only Black Person in My Class, I Lost a Sense of Self.”

This is a love story. Twelve years ago, Shiana Torres was a student at Essex County Community College. She had grown up in Summit, a mostly white town where she often felt alienated. “I excelled academically,” she recalled, “so I was always the only Black person in my class. You lose a sense of self.” Suddenly she noticed a young man in a restaurant on Springfield Avenue in front of a Chinese restaurant and, well, …

Voices from the NJ Parent Summit: “There’s Proof That Charter Schools Work So Why Would You Stop?”

Jamila Jendayi-Scott, who attended Paterson Public Schools during the state takeover (from 1991 to this past May) and whose son attends the Paterson Arts and Science Charter School, is a firm believer in school choice. Her views stem not from politics but from personal experience. Her own experience within the traditional public system was just fine, by the way. Her Paterson school was not a part of the “paradigm program” that formed a portion of …

The Value of Anger and other Afternoon Notes from #NJ Parent Summit

I’m a sucker for word derivations. Did you know that the word “anger” is derived from an old Norse word meaning “grief?” What is grief? Mike Gecan, as we embark on the afternoon session of the Leadership Track, tells the packed room (I’m sitting on the floor typing this) that the word implies loss, either of of something that was once there but no longer exists or of something that one values but never existed, something you …

It’s Saturday Morning at the NJ Parent Summit and Future Leaders Are In School.

I’ve attended the NJ Parent Summit for two of its three years. (Last year the Summit coincided with my daughter’s wedding.) This year, for the first time, Summit organizers have initiated a “Leadership Track” which goes to the heart of one of the Summit’s goals: to help NJ parents become advocacy leaders in their communities and, in turn, train other parents as advocates. So on this Saturday morning I’m in a jam-packed conference room at …