VIDEO: Newark Students Stage Dramatic Board of Education Protest

Newark high school students staged an all-night sit-in on the 10th floor at 2 Cedar Street, the Board of Education. They came with a list of demands for Cami Anderson. She wasn't interested.

The State of New Jersey took over Newark's school system 19 years ago. That is several years longer than the nine Newark high school students who occupyied the Board of Education have been alive. Right now that state control of these students' schools comes in the form of Cami Anderson, hand-picked by Chris Christie from the crop of corporate-sponsored folks whose job is to push market-driven education. Anderson, who is as deeply unpopular among many in Newark — as Christie is — has her 'One Newark' plan; it's chaotic, unfinished and poorly planned. And the revolt goes deeper than nine kids driven to civil disobedience. It is one reason educator Ras Baraka was just elected mayor.

And the Newark Students Union has had enough. Energized by Baraka's election a week ago, students led a march and rally to the Board of Education. But then they also attended the meeting, and tried to present a list of demands to Anderson. She left. So they stayed.

"Hey hey ho ho, Cami Anderson has to go."
                    - chants outside 2 Cedar Street last night

Here are the demands the students went to the Board of Ed with (their words and emphasis):

  • Cami Anderson's IMMEDIATE resignation.
  • Local control of our education system.
  • Public schools to be FAIRLY and FULLY funded.
  • All of our schools remain open.  
    On Twitter, follow: @NewarkStudents. Hashtags: #OccupyNPS and #OurNewark. Photos posted here

There's a lot of adult, community support, and the students are doing a great job of communicating both their demands and how they're doing overnight. Bob Braun reports they're getting support from school board members, city council members, civil rights and community activists. West Ward Councilman Ron C. Rice reported that they "shut the meeting down" when they made their demands. Even Mayor-elect Ras Baraka is involved. He arrived just before midnight. Baraka, who called on Christie to fire Cami long before Tuesday's election, is the principal on-leave at Central High School. Baraka's win was fueled by residents' distrust of Anderson and his strong pro-public school stands. Newark Students Union publicly endorsed Baraka, even as charter tycoons from outside the city and state pumped nearly $4 million into the campaign of Baraka opponent Shavar Jeffries. From Bob's reporting:

"I want to make sure they had something to eat, that they were not being mistreated," said Baraka, who said he supported the students' demands that Anderson resign and abandon her "One Newark" plan that would replace neighborhood public schools with privately operated charter schools.

Community members rallied outside the building, several adults are keeping watch on them inside the meeting room. ACLU tweeted them a guide to their rights as protesters. No arrests have been made, last I heard, and nine students have decided to spend the night. They're being closely followed on Twitter, with support coming from all over the country, and other countries.


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