by Michele Mason
in the Courier-Post on Friday, September 25, 2015

Re: “Protesters want Camden’s school superintendent out” (Courier-Post, Sept. 23)

As a Camden resident and a Camden-based leader of a statewide education advocacy group, JerseyCAN, I find it necessary to address comments made by Robert Cabanas in Carly Romalino’s article. Cabanas, who made a trip to Camden from his North Jersey home in order to protest Camden schools, is quoted as saying “Renaissance schools are not for the city of Camden.”

But in reality, more than 2,000 Camden parents have decided that Renaissance schools are for the city of Camden. Across the city, the seven now-open Renaissance schools — which are public neighborhood schools — have more demand from families than they have seats for children.

Cabanas also said Camden and Newark are similar because the state intervened in both school districts. While true, Newark has been under state control for more than 20 years, Camden for just more than two. I have attended numerous school board meetings and community events, and the Camden superintendent attends every board meeting and has taken and created numerous opportunities to talk with and engage community members.

Cabana’s group, NJ Communities United, is led by union officials who don’t like the changes underway in Camden because they see them as a threat to the status quo. What Cabanas will soon find is that Newark is Newark and Camden is Camden, and the work the superintendent and other education leaders are leading here is focused on students, not adult politics.

Families deserve to decide if Renaissance schools are right for their children, not Robert Cabanas.

Michele Mason
Deputy Director, JerseyCAN


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