Sometimes, parents and community leaders sit around and complain about the state of their public schools. Other times, energetic and charismatic people decide to take action and to make things better. The PENewark effort, spearheaded by Newark Mayor Cory Booker, falls into the second category.
In September of 2010, a bi-partisan coalition was created in Newark that included government officials and community leaders. The goal was to launch a comprehensive community outreach effort to get ideas for educational reform. In December of 2010, PENewark hosted 11 community forums and 25 mini-forums. They knocked on 66,000 doors and contacted 45,000 community members in total.
The first phase of their impressive efforts was created and managed by Tusk Strategies with Bradley Tusk. With the combined efforts of the Mayor, Bradley Tusk and Tusk Strategies and others, PENewark truly reached out to all areas of the city to find ways to make the Newark Public Schools better.
As a result of these efforts, a report was released by Rutgers University and New York University on May 12, 2011 showing how the community felt about their educational opportunities. Among other findings, the report showed that 74.3% of residents supported replacing principals at low-performing schools; 69.2% of residents polled were in favor of giving good teachers more pay; and 64.4% of residents agreed with the idea of replacing half the teachers at the low-performing schools.
PENewark continues to move ahead with their plans and goals to improve the schools in Newark and to elevate the educational opportunities for all. They received a great start with the help from Tusk Strategies and Bradley Tusk and they will move ahead to implement the many ideas and goals they have created.