One of the most frustrating aspects of the state-controlled Camden School District is its insistence on pushing policies that are being rejected by other urban communities. You would think that as elections in DC, New York, and now Newark show rejection by the very people that reforms claim to help, that the movement would slow down, take a beat, and reconsider its ideology. Instead, the opposite seems to be happening. The lesson from Newark, New York and elsewhere for the team here seems to be, “we better do everything faster, before we are kicked out.” It’s a brazen, and ideological, power play, to which Camden (and its reliance on state funds) is particularly susceptible.
That’s why I was so glad to have this op-ed by Jose Delgado sent to me. In it, Jose (a former Board of Education member) argues for linking poverty-alleviation strategies to schooling changes. That may sound simple, but it’s a huge improvement over the understanding by our current leadership, and its at the cusp of the latest and best strategies for improving education. Rather than ignore poverty by calling for “no excuses” or saying that Camden teachers are “overly nurturing,” this ideology argues that students can only be put in situations to succeed when issues such as where they are staying, their safety, and where their next meal will come from, are addressed. Instead of blaming those institutions which deal with vulnerable students, it gives them tools to address real problems.
It’s great to see Camden residents and advocates arguing for good policy, particularly in the light of ideologically-driven state-control. For those of us depressed by the District’s insistence on ignoring the latest, and best, educational thought, this is a ray of light.