Newark Superintendent on the Schools Return to Local Control
Roger Leon, Superintendent, Newark Public Schools, and Steve Adubato discuss challenges facing students in Newark and how he is making sure students are getting the best education possible. They also talk about the district’s return to local control and the biggest opportunities it allows for those in Newark.
"Welcome to State of Affairs. I'm Steve Adubato. More importantly, we're coming to you from the Agnes Varis NJTV Studio in beautiful Brick City, Newark, New Jersey. Pleased to welcome someone who people know in Newark very well, Roger Leon is the Superintendent of Newark Schools. Good to see you. Great seeing you. July 1st, 2018, your life changed dramatically. How so? That was the first day that I became the superintendent of Newark Schools, and extremely excited, honored, and humbled for that opportunity. Talk about your background leading into this incredibly challenging role. Well I am born in Newark, attended Newark Schools, graduated from Hawkins Street School and Science High School, received my bachelor's from Rutgers University New Brunswick, Cook College, continued on to my masters in administration from Montclair State University. So student teacher, principal for 10 years. Hmm. A principal at Dr. Horton School in the North Ward, University High School in the South Ward, taught at my elementary school, coached at my high school in debate, and for the last ten years, served as assistant superintendent of schools in various capacities, overseeing the high schools, overseeing a group of elementary schools, responsible for the supervision of program and instruction throughout the district, and now with this responsibility of assuming it all. Roger, how many students in the public sch... in the school system? So 36,000 students in the school system, 55,000 plus students in Newark. Is that the charter school piece? So part of it... so 19,000 is the students that are in... 19,000? ...that are in the charter schools, and then the plus that I have clearly... sure there are... I am assuming full responsibility for are students that are in our parochial schools, as well as students who reside in Newark, but do not attend a school in Newark. They're all yours? All of them. The number one challenge facing the children connected to Newark in our schools, all schools, is? We have a couple of problems. The primary one is, obviously, student achievement. We are falling behind. While there has been much progress, our counterparts throughout the entire state... we have over 600 school districts in New Jersey, we're not faring as high as I know the capacity of our students and the quality of our staff would suggest. Because? Well there are a number of factors. The things that we cannot control are what occurs prior to the student arriving in school, and as they exit, but we're... we have them for a good six to eight hours during the course of the day that would suggest to me, with the type of staff that we have..."