The Future of Newark's Public School System
As part of "The Future of Urban Education" series, A. Robert Gregory, Deputy Superintendent, Newark Public Schools, discusses his role in the public-school system and his goals for the future. He also shares what the transition from state to local control will be like for Newark and what changes will take place.
"We're pleased to be joined by Robert Gregory, the Deputy Superintendent of the Newark Public Schools. Good to see you Robert. Great to see you Steve. For those who do not know or understand about the Newark Public Schools, describe it. The Newark Public Schools is a extremely diverse school district with roughly around 34,800 students in it. Hmm. It is a school district going through a historic moment now. As we are beginning the transition to local control, it's a school district in recent years who has seen results in student achievement and student outcomes. Notably an increase in graduation rates citywide. But also an increase in standardized assessment scores on the PARCC assessment. The recent standardized... the standardized test? Yes, the standardized test. Robert, go back for a second. Yes. The local control piece? Yes. Put it in context. The state of New Jersey has been in control of the Newark Public Schools for 20 years-ish? 20-plus years. So I've been in the district now for 20 years. Hmm. I came in the year after the state took over the school district. So it is the right time for us now to determine the future of the Newark Public Schools, and for parents, for teachers, for local administrators, for elected officials, to have more of a say in the course that we take. You know, it's interesting, the state came in, not just in Newark, but in Jersey City? Yes. And also in...? Paterson. In Paterson, New Jersey. The state comes in because the Constitution, back in 1947, said the state's ultimately responsible. They deem, over a period of time, that a public school system is not doing what it needs to be doing on behalf of those students, it comes in and takes over? Yeah. How would you describe that experience of the state being in control of a local school district? So interestingly enough, I've served in multiple capacities in the school district. I was a classroom teacher for nine years. I started my own school here in the city of Newark, American History High School, which is a magnet school. Describe what a magnet school is for those who don't know. A magnet school is a school that screens students. In essence, you have a pool of applicants, and you choose which kids you feel will best fit the program that you're doing in the school... Hmm. ...based on their historical grades, based on their outcomes on standardized... Their interest as well? ...assessments. Their interest of course. So you've ran a school? You've run a school? I've run a school. Excuse me. You've..."