JAMES: Newark Superintendent — ‘Roger the Dodger’–Ignores the Needs of Our Kids While We Pay For It

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Last Fall, I questioned Newark’s Superintendent Roger León for reporting to the Governor, our Mayor, and Newark parents that our city’s public school attendance rate was 99.8 percent.

Laughable. There was no way that could be true! We are in a global pandemic, people.

Leon’s claim just didn’t pass the smell test, so I called “Roger the Dodger” on it. He followed up by calling my cell phone and threatening to sue me for exercising my freedom of speech. Remember, I taped the call if you want to hear it. Then last week, ChalkBeat Newark busted Roger on what we all already knew – that actually “more than 1 in 5 Newark students were chronically absent” even though the attendance rules only required them to essentially check a box on a website.

We are not talking about a missed class here and there. “Chronically absent” means right now thousands of current Newark district students have missed weeks of classroom instruction!

Now a new story has emerged since this scandal. The same publication, ChalkBeat Newark, just wrote that one district school is not allowing teachers to give “Fs” as a grade. The story outlined how one Newark district school put together a presentation for teachers to “Eradicate Fs in 2 Day!” The presentation included suggestions such as “curving grades,” “changing weights to boost student scores for work already been done,” and be sure to “update the grade book NOW!”

If there are no consequences for not showing up to class and if students don’t have to worry about getting a bad grade, should it even be called “school”?

I am serious! Come on, Newark! This is really happening.

This is my blog, and I do not want to get into the habit of commenting on every news article every week. But these reports are keeping me up at night.

Our district schools are struggling in many areas. Everyone knows it.

Our kids are not going to class. Roger tried to hide it, and he got called on it. Now he just got caught allowing our grading system to become rigged.

This has to stop.

If we continue to allow this, we are only hurting the kids. Blindly passing students may help Roger get his bonus, but our kids will not benefit if they don’t learn the material.

Yet he remains in his bunker, ignoring all of this.

It is unacceptable, and everyone knows it.

We must do more.

Roger, people are concerned for a good reason. It is time you stop dodging.

People liked you. Some people still do. But this is not the popularity contest that got you this job in the first place. We are in an undeniable mess and you continue to drop the ball. People are taking notice, and this is serious stuff.

Our kids are losing out – and we are paying for this mess as taxpayers.

Please, for our kids, it is ok to admit you are in over your head and ask for help.

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