I love Newark. I love Newark’s public schools. My loyalties run very deep for our great city and for our public education system. It has been more than three decades since I graduated from Weequahic High School, yet what still stands out in my mind when I think of my Newark childhood is the first-rate education that I received while attending our public school system.
Growing up in Newark, our public schools served not only as bedrocks for learning but also as neighborhood focal points for our communities. As I left my home each school morning, my parents knew that I had extraordinary teachers committed to providing high-quality education. Although I might not have realized it at the time, I started the school day with the comfort of knowing that the leaders at my school provided a consistent commitment to my community that went far beyond the classroom. With the combination of my parents and the public education that I received, there was a feeling of optimism that anything was possible. However, my dedication to our public school system goes far beyond my experience as a child and Newark community leader, it also comes from being a mother.
As a parent of three children, with my youngest currently attending Harriet Tubman Elementary School, my belief in Newark's public schools has never wavered—nor will it. I have been confronted firsthand with the modern realities of our current system. And like so many Newark mothers in our city, I have worked tirelessly to ensure that my children receive the best possible education. While there are still many wonderful experiences we can celebrate in our school district, too many families are not being provided the high-quality education they deserve. There was a time when I was a child that we needed leadership, not excuses. We needed to work together, not blame each other. Now that time has come again. Our hearts are in the right place and it is now time for us to focus our collective efforts to ensure the voiceless have the strongest voice. Together, we will ensure a smooth transition back to local control. We will fight for the needed dollars from Trenton. We will create effective strategies to confront our school budget. And most of all, we will dedicate ourselves to passionately advocate and listen to all Newark parents.
Kim Gaddy proudly serves as the environmental justice organizer with Clean Water Action of New Jersey, which is a leading advocacy group for environmental issues.
She is a member of First Baptist Church of Nutley, New Jersey. She also serves as state president of the International Black Women’s Congress of New Jersey and is the founder of the Urban Environmental Institute’s Leadership Training ...