Public schools are the cornerstone of not only communities, but also of democracy. The recent announcement by Camden City School superintendent, Katrina McCombs, of her intention to close four elementary schools within Camden City is yet another attempt to ignore the voice of the community and not involve families and community stakeholders in decisions about their school district. The Atlantic County Council of Education Association stands with Camden City Education Association as they continue another year of this battle in what has been an ongoing attempt to turn Camden into a district without any traditional public schools. We are extremely concerned over the fact that if these elementary buildings are closed, the students will be expected to travel far distances if they wish to continue to attend one of the amazing traditional elementary public schools. Sharp Elementary, Wiggins College Preparatory Lab School, Cramer Elementary, and Yorkship Elementary in Fairview house students and families that rely on educational and related services that are provided by the Camden Education Association and related school staff.
The fact that Camden City Schools have been under control of the state of New Jersey, limiting the actual decision-making abilities of the community through a fully elected school board points to a failure on behalf of the state to truly support all communities. Instead, this has been a battle that has been fought in our larger cities, including Newark and Paterson. Any commitment to equity within New Jersey must include a focus on equity of voice and resources within our public schools.