FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 26, 2018
Black Parents Workshop Network Expands into Hudson County
South Hudson (SoHUD) Black Parents Workshop Affiliate Announced
(Maplewood, NJ) – The Black Parents Workshop, Inc. has announced the establishment of a Hudson County Affiliate – the South Hudson (SoHUD) Black Parents Workshop that will focus on school districts in Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne, New Jersey. SoHUD – Black Parents Workshop will hold a general organizing meeting for parents at 6:30 pm on Thursday May 10, 2018 at the Mary McCleod Bethune Life Center at 140 Martin Luther King, Jr. Drive in Jersey City. The Black Parents Workshop, Inc., (BPW) is a Maplewood based not-for-profit organization, founded in 2014 with the mission of representing Black parents and their children for the purpose of advancing equity in elementary and secondary education. The BPW focuses on racial disparities in student access to courses, student discipline and teaching staff, as well as culturally competent curriculum and the treatment of students with special needs.
Black Parents Workshop Chairman Walter Fields said, “We are excited and encouraged by the formation of our new Hudson County affiliate. It represents an important development in tackling issues that are the function of structural racism in public education. We believe Black students in Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne deserve better than what they are currently receiving in their schools. SoHUD - BPW represents a very important step in giving Black families a voice and a tool by which to advocate on behalf of their children.”
Hoboken parent-advocate Courtney Wicks said, “Between Hoboken, Jersey City, and Bayonne, we all are taking on the same issues but there are definitely nuances with each Board of Education that differs for each city. The experience with the Board of Education has been mixed depending on which South Hudson City. In Hoboken specifically, the Board of Education is made up of entirely parents who currently benefit or have benefitted from racial tracking and segregation and as a result there has been stages of escalation that started with pacifying these issues, then denying these issues, to outright hostility and the use of various forms of intimidation. Ultimately, we feel the Hudson County Department of Education should be holding all of these districts accountable for their discriminatory practices and lack of a comprehensive plan for realizing true equity and access in each district.”
SoHUD leader Courtney Wicks, a parent with a child in the Hoboken Public School District, will join the Board of Trustees ( https://blackparentsworkshop.org/board-of-trustees) of the Black Parents Workshop, Inc. Chairman Fields pointed out the significance of the new Trustee. “For too long, the Black community in New Jersey has allowed the fragmented nature of the state’s hyper-segregated system of public education betray our common interests. We may have over 600 public school districts in our state, but we stand united with one mission – the education of our children. As parents, as taxpayers, we are demanding that Black children throughout our state’s 21 counties receive the quality education prescribed by the New Jersey Constitution and federal statutes.”
Wicks noted, “Since the Brown vs. Board of Education decision 64 years ago, we still have not truly realized the promise of a quality public school education free of discrimination and it falls on our shoulders to provide pushback, a counter narrative, and to fight to make the country better for our children.”
In recent weeks, the Black Parents Workshop has filed a federal lawsuit, Black Parents Workshop v. South Orange-Maplewood School District (Case # 2:18-cv-02726) in U.S. District Court in the District of New Jersey and appealed to the Middle States Association of Colleges and Schools on behalf of Black students in South Orange and Maplewood, New Jersey. The launch of the South Hudson affiliate is the first of several expansions currently underway in and outside the state of New Jersey.
Jersey City Political Blogger Bruce Alston states, “Ultimately, we feel the Hudson County Department of Education should be holding all of these districts accountable for their discriminatory practices and lack of a comprehensive plan for realizing true equity and access in each district.” He further notes, “There is no way to correct the societal issues plaguing the Black community unless we dismantle all the forms of discrimination and segregation in public education.” Jersey City Parent Advocate, George Fontenette further draws parallels to the climate in the three Hudson County communities represented by the new affiliate of the Black Parents Workshop. “We are seeing that the failure of Black children is not only accepted but baked into the system- Black excellence is the exception instead of the rule where policies such as using discipline, classifications, and homeschooling are used punitively, the use of leveling to racially track Black kids into lower level academic courses, school segregation to separate and then marginalize the emotional, psychological, and academic growth and performance of Black children.”
Fields added, “Though our work originated in a predominantly White suburban school district, the issues we are confronting are systemic in nature and are not limited by the boundaries of any one community. The challenges in South Orange and Maplewood that Black students endure in their fight for a legally entitled education in a nondiscriminatory environment, is the same for Black students in urban school districts, such as Hoboken, Jersey City and Bayonne. We are building a movement for systemic change in public education. Our intent is to ensure that the legacy of the Brown decision endures in New Jersey and that this generation of Black children are educated in school districts that are integrated throughout school buildings, in classrooms and in a manner that prepares them for productive lives as adults.”
Over the next two months, the Black Parents Workshop Inc., will be working with its South Hudson affiliate to evaluate conditions in the three school districts and make a determination as
to the appropriate course of action to remedy grievances that currently exist and racial disparities in student achievement. The Black Parents Workshop is weeks away from launching its Union County affiliate and currently in the preliminary stages of working with parents to organize new affiliates in Colorado and North Carolina.