Continuing Change in Newark

Disagreement over the governance of Newark schools goes back more than two decades. The state took over the district in 1995 after documenting years of academic failure, unsafe buildings, corruption, and lavish spending by elected school board members. Meanwhile, just one in four Newark high school students passed state proficiency tests in reading and math.

For years, state-appointed superintendents came and went. Newark outspent virtually every school district in the country, and yet, there was little change in outcomes for students who mainly come from low-income families.

In order to remedy these problems, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie appointed Christopher Cerf in July 2015 as State District Superintendent of New Jersey. Cerf set two major goals for Newark schools: to give every student in the city a chance to attend a successful school, and to meet state requirements that would allow the district to regain local control.

Ryan Hill, the executive director of Knowledge Is Power Program (KIPP) New Jersey, says Cerf has done “an amazing job of listening before acting. He’s shown he really cares what people think about this work and what they believe needs to be done. He’s helped Newark heal.”

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