TRENTON – Senator Ronald L. Rice (D-Essex), co-chair of the Joint Committee on the Public Schools, issued the following statement on the New Jersey State Board of Education vote today to return Newark Public Schools to full local control:
“I commend the state board for finally recognizing the importance of returning the Newark school district back to local control. The reality is that states cannot run school districts, and we have proven that in Newark, Paterson and Jersey City where the schools were held under state control for more than two decades.
“I want to applaud Mayor Baraka and his team for taking on this issue at the start of his administration and beginning work immediately with the state, the local board of education, unions and others to make this day possible. This has not been an easy process. I want to personally thank Congressman Payne for organizing a meeting with the U.S. Secretary of Education for the delegation of elected officials and advocates, including members of the Education Law Center, who traveled to Washington D.C. two years ago to discuss the condition of our school district under state control. All of us coming together helped to lay the foundation for this action.
“This is important progress for our city, and there is still a lot of work to be done. The transition process under QSAC must be adhered to and the Joint Committee on the Public Schools will be monitoring that process to be sure it is followed. We will also need to address issues that have been created by the state, including the budget deficits that were the result of mismanagement by numerous state-appointed officials. Those problems cannot be handed over to the district with the expectation that they will be resolved without assistance from the state.
“The next steps in this process will be critical and I am committed to holding state officials accountable to make sure the transition is done the right way and according to the law.”