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Newark Public Schools Return to Local Control; RU-N Community Reports the Occasion

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Tanaisa Brown, front row, second from left; Christopher Mora, front row, fifth from left; Malik Abdul, back row, first from left; Ramon Melendez, back row, second from left; Iyanna Brown, back row, fourth from left

(Newark, NJ - Feb. 1, 2018) - On Feb. 1, 2018, Newark Public Schools (NPS) returned to local control with lots of fanfare after more than two decades of state intervention. At a press conference in an auditorium filled with NPS students, instead of taking questions from professional reporters, Newark Mayor Ras Baraka fielded queries from Newark's homegrown pool of "youth reporters." Included in the esteemed group were former and current members of the Abbott Leadership Institute's Youth Media Symposium (ALI/YMS) at Rutgers University-Newark, who aptly displayed their journalism skills.

ALI develops informed and effective education advocates for NPS. Through YMS, ALI shapes future leaders by introducing students ages 13-18 to education advocacy and the art and science of using digital media technology as a tool for social change.

The ALI/YMS alumni included Ramon Melendez, a former student representative on the NPS Advisory Board and a current intern for My Brother's Keeper Newark, and Malik Abdul, presently one of Mayor Baraka's youth ambassadors. The current ALI/YMS students were Christopher Mora of Technology High School, and Iyanna Brown of University High School.

Tanaisa Brown of RU-N also served as a youth reporter. Tanaisa Brown is a member of both the Honors Living-Learning Community and BOLD initiative at RU-N. She is the former president of the Newark Students Union, which played a critical role in Newark's demand for local control.

"I was very proud to see our young people front and center on this monumental day, and proud that half of the student reporters were cultivated at Rutgers University-Newark," stated Kaleena K. Berryman, acting director of ALI.

During the press conference, Mayor Baraka noted that RU-N had increased its enrollment of Newark students by more than 60 percent. Mayor Baraka credited the Newark City of Learning Collaborative (NCLC) for this achievement. RU-N is a founding partner of NCLC, a citywide post-secondary attainment initiative that seeks to increase the percentage of Newark residents who hold degrees, certificates, and other high quality credentials to 25% by the year 2025.

"I am looking forward to [our students and alumni] leading in conversations about school equity and excellence, as the district plans for the future," Berryman further remarked. To learn more about ALI, visit www.abbottleadership.org. Visit abbottleadership.org/yms for more about YMS and www.nclc2025.org for more about NCLC.