Community Power Starts with The School Board

In this episode of Wine, Women, and Revolution (The Socialist Podcast) Heather is joined by Keith Benson and Johnnie Lattner to discuss some recent educational success. This episode was recorded when both Heather and Johnnie were suffering from a cold, so please excuse any coughing or sneezing and Heather’s Nyquil stupor.

An Election Night Victory

Camden had their right to elect their school board restored and Newark voted to keep their voting rights.  Keith started by pointing out that this victory was really a team victory. It took a large community coming together to fight against the system and win. Over 5000 people showed up to vote to reclaim their right to vote. This is a testament to what can be done when a community comes together with a single voice and single vision.

Some History

In 2002, The municipal economic recovery act was passed. This act gave the city of Camden 175 million dollars but removed local control of the board of election from Camden and gave it to the state of NJ.  The residents never chose to lose their right to vote, it was forced onto them as a stipulation of that act.  Since then local activist have been fighting to have their right returned, but the establishment have been fighting them tooth and nail. It is hard to see this as anything but a racist act since these people are trying to remove the rights of black and brown citizens who make up the bulk of the Camden population.  As it often is, it was the Camden county democrats who were fighting against the rights of the citizens on the behest of the Norcross family.

Newark Wins As Well

The situation in Newark was slightly different than Camden.  Newark’s public-school system was taken over by the state of New Jersey in 1985 along with their right to elect a school board. That right was eventually returned, and this year it was a fight to keep that right in the hands of the voters. The question on the ballot considered giving the right of choosing the school board to the mayor.  75% of people voted to keep the right to choose their representatives.

Moving Forward

Both men agree that in moving forward, they have to work on getting the right people elected.  Now they must educate the community to make sure its not just the establishment people getting elected. The opposition isn’t going to stop just because they lost this battle. Not everyone who says they are an ally are. We can’t just vote row A or row B. The community needs to be educated on who actually will stand for the schools and not just for the benefit of a few millionaires. It must come down to the issues.

Here more from Keith here and Johnnie here

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