Will Newark families accept their school placements or seek new ones?

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! I hope all Newark students and educators had a great spring break. Today, read about the next phase of school enrollment, our new reporter, and much more.

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

Today, Newark enters the next phase of school enrollment for the fall: Families must decide whether to accept their school placements or search for alternatives.

This year, about 12,000 families submitted applications with up to eight schools they wanted their children to attend next school year. The district then matched each student with one school.

Families were informed of the placements last week — several days later than expected, which officials said was due to the “meticulous process” of making sure students with special needs were placed in the proper classrooms.

Any families who are happy with their placements simply have to register their children at their new schools. But those who are dissatisfied with their matched schools, or who missed the application deadline, have another option.

Beginning today, they can log into the district’s enrollment website and look for alternatives. If a school still has open seats, they can enroll their children there. If it doesn’t, they can add their names to the waitlist.

It’s likely that many incoming ninth-graders didn’t get their top choices, as the district’s selective magnet schools always turn away many applicants. Meanwhile, some parents have already expressed concerns about their children being separated from siblings or sent to schools far from their homes.

Read the full story here.

Chalkbeat news

I have some exciting Chalkbeat Newark news today: We’re adding a new reporter — Devna Bose.

Devna is an award-winning journalist with a passion for community-based reporting and a deep interest in public education (both her parents are teachers in her home state of Mississippi). She’ll start at Chalkbeat in June.

Devna comes to us through Report for America, a nonprofit organization dedicated to strengthening local news coverage. This year, the group is helping fund 61 early-career journalists to join dozens of local newsrooms across the country.

As the managing editor of the University of Mississippi’s student-run publication, The Daily Mississippian, Devna has written about an immigrant student facing an uncertain future, the experiences of black queer women in the South, and a student-led push for racial justice. A multimedia journalist, Devna has also interned at several local newspapers across Mississippi and traveled to Puerto Rico this year to cover the ongoing hurricane recovery efforts.

At Chalkbeat, Devna will help us expand our coverage of Newark schools. She’ll also be a key part of our effort to make sure our stories reach as many Newark residents as possible and that our reporting reflects the interests and needs of the Newark community.

“I’m thrilled,” Devna told me last week. “I’m nervous — but I’m also excited to perform and do meaningful work that can make a real impact.”

We’ll have more information about how to get to know Devna once she starts this summer.

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.

Real-world learning…

  • Schools must make learning relevant to students’ lives and useful for their futures, says the head of a group that is hosting a national education conference in Newark this week. Chalkbeat

Coding class…

  • Newark students will soon be able to learn coding through a new after-school program that will also connect them with mentors in the tech industry. TAPinto Newark

Reform debate…

  • Op-ed: The founder of a new education advocacy group argues that Newark schools have made “remarkable gains” since 2006, when Cory Booker became the city’s mayor. NJ.com
  • Find out more about Booker’s education legacy in Newark and about the op-ed writer, who played a role in this year’s school board election.

Cross-cultural exchange…

  • Students from Northern Ireland visited teens in Newark to share ideas for pushing back against discrimination. NJ.com

Youth leaders…

  • The city of Newark is hosting a youth conference next month with workshops on education, employment, and more. TAPinto Newark

Charter leader…

  • A former Newark teacher has been named president of Uncommon Schools, the nonprofit that operates more than 50 charter schools in three states and is one of Newark’s largest charter networks. TAPinto Newark

Environmental advocates…

  • Students from Wilson Avenue School and Lafayette Street School won an anti-litter post contest. Newark Patch

NPS events…

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.

Schools Development Authority scandal…

  • The embattled CEO of the state agency responsible for building schools in high-poverty districts has resigned following a scandal over her hiring practices. NorthJersey.com, NJ Spotlight, NJ.com
  • Meanwhile, the SDA’s funding is set to run out, leaving it without money to build new schools. Politico New Jersey, NJ.com

School funding…

  • Jersey City’s school district is suing the state over planned funding cuts, which the district says are unconstitutional. NJ.com, Politico New Jersey
  • Meanwhile, dozens of school districts and the state’s largest teachers union are calling on state leaders to rethink funding cuts in other districts. NJ Spotlight

Districts in debt…

  • Some New Jersey districts have amassed huge amounts of debt as they construct state-of-the-art school facilities. NJ Spotlight

Chronic absenteeism…

  • Like Newark, the Detroit school district has hired attendance workers to help combat the district’s alarmingly high absenteeism rate. Chalkbeat

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details.

Volunteers helped plant more than 30 new trees this month around Luis Muñoz Marin Elementary School for Social Justice in Newark’s North Ward. The tree planting grew out of a partnership between the school and the New Jersey Tree Foundation, with support from the Renaissance Trees Program. More than 75 volunteers pitched in, including local officials and community groups, district employees, parents, and students.

Photo credit: Newark Public Schools