Newark teachers help choose new textbooks that reflect student diversity

Welcome to Chalkbeat Newark's weekly newsletter! I hope you had a great Memorial Day weekend. Today, read about a textbook overhaul, a new enrollment system, and more.

— Patrick Wall, senior reporter

The big story

Textbook teacher students

When Newark students crack open new textbooks this fall with more diverse material, they can thank the experts who chose them — their teachers.

More than 90 Newark educators helped select new math and English textbooks that will roll out in classrooms next school year, pending the school board’s approval Tuesday evening.

The teachers looked for books that are rigorous, reflect the diversity of Newark’s students, and offer material in multiple languages.

The new books are part of a $10 million plan to replace the assortment of teaching materials currently used in Newark classrooms. Superintendent Roger León has called some of those materials “horrible.”

The updated textbooks are meant to bring more consistency across schools. And the process for choosing them was intended to show teachers that their opinions matter.

“Your vote on this item,” León told the school board, “will send the message that when you ask teachers for input, you do something with it.”

Read the story here.

What to watch

What else is happening around Newark schools.

Newark Public Schools looks to build new enrollment system

  • What to know: The Newark school board is seeking a vendor to build a new citywide enrollment system, according to a notice posted this month.
  • The request for proposals calls for the “design, development, and support” of a new system, which will use a computer program to match students to schools.
  • Newark already has such a system, called Newark Enrolls, which lets families apply to traditional and participating charter schools.
  • A board member said the current system is outdated and “not suited for the needs of the district.”
  • The district spends $150,000 per year on the current system; it’s unclear how much a new one will cost.
  • One big question: Will district officials explain why they decided to pay for new enrollment system rather than update the current one?

Newark news & events

Local education reporting and upcoming events.


  • A golf outing raised $40,000 that will be used to send middle schoolers in Newark, Camden, and Trenton to a summer leadership camp. TAPinto Newark

Record breaker…

  • A Malcolm X Shabazz High School baseball player recently became the school’s first to reach 100 career hits. NJ.com

Free college…

  • Essex County College students are benefitting from a new state program that covers college tuition for low-income students. Newark Patch

‘Soccer for Success’…

  • Some 650 students from two dozen Newark schools recently participated in a day-long celebration of soccer. Newark Public Schools

News from Trenton & beyond

Reporting on statewide education issues that matter for Newark.

School facilities…

  • School buildings across New Jersey are crumbling, yet the state’s beleaguered Schools Development Authority is almost out of money. NJ Spotlight

Vision screenings…

  • State lawmakers want to require every student entering public school in New Jersey to sit for a comprehensive eye exam, despite experts who say that is unnecessary. NJ.com

Special education…

  • The federal government has given New Jersey three months to improve its much-criticized process for settling disputes involving students in special education. NJ Spotlight
  • State Senate President Stephen Sweeney wants to help some districts afford the services required by special education students with the greatest needs. NJ Spotlight

Abuse prevention…

  • New Jersey may soon become the latest state in the U.S. to require its schools teach all students about the danger of sexual abuse. NJ.com

Teacher layoffs…

  • Facing a budget shortfall, the Paterson school district will lay off 128 employees, including many new teachers. NJ.com

Teacher benefits…

  • Op-ed: Leaders of New Jersey’s largest teachers union argue that teachers currently must contribute too much of their paychecks to their pension and healthcare plans. NJ.com

Extra credit

Want to showcase your school or an upcoming education event? Send me photos and details.

East Side High School Big Picture Academy

East Side High School students and graduates recently showed off the school’s meditation room, where they meet for the “Wounds to Wisdom” program. The program helps students deal with stress and trauma.

Pictured: Thaissa Rodrigues, Victor Rivero, Gabriella Carambot, and Dezaray Bermudez.

Photo: Patrick Wall/Chalkbeat