Reform: Why Was Community Engagement In Newark *So* Bad?
In a recent interview in The Seventy Four, former mayoral candidate Shavar Jeffries described how woefully insufficient the communications and engagement effort was behind the Newark school reform effort: “There was absolutely not an infrastructure to communicate to parents... voters [and] the community.”
Love or loathe the Newark reform effort, you have to admit that it's pretty notable that well-funded reformers who'd seen what happened to Michelle Rhee in DC and had to know the importance of informing and rallying community members to their cause didn't seem to do so (or did so ineffectively). Across the river, Families For Excellent Schools launched in 2011. There was nothing like that in Newark.
In Dale Russakoff's book about Newark, the communications effort outsourced to consultant Bradley Tusk and others is described as a half-completed boondoggle:
Mysteriously Tusk's role in Newark -- and his effectiveness -- isn't mentioned in this recent Forbes profile (What Uber And Mike Bloomberg Have In Common).
I've invited Tusk and other consultants who worked on the Newark project to tell me more about their work, what if anything the Russakoff book gets wrong, and what readers need to know about the folks working on the opposite side of the issue (who don't get nearly as much attention as Tusk et al in the Russakoff book).
So far, few if any takers. But the lines are still open.