NJ Communities United Statement Regarding Newark School Board Elections

NJ Communities United strongly believes in the local democratic control of Newark Public Schools. We believe in the self-determination of communities to elect their own decision-makers to fully control resources meant to fund public schools – not Wall Street affiliated charter schools.

To this end, we oppose Mayor Ras Baraka’s “Unity Slate” of school board candidates. This slate represents the divergent interests of public school advocates and Wall Street charter schools. The charter school lobby in Newark has not demonstrated a commitment to transparency, local control or democratic governance. In fact, every dollar spent on charter schools is a dollar taken away from public schools. The “Unity Slate” does not represent the democratic interests of Newarkers and this approach raises serious concerns for the students, parents and teachers that make up our membership. We are troubled by the Mayor’s decision to support this slate, especially given the recent approval of the Uncommon Charter school and with the looming expansion of five more KIPP charter schools in Newark.

NJ Communities United does fully endorse Leah Owens, a candidate represented on this slate. As a community organizer with NJ Communities United, and a dedicated teacher in the Newark Public School system, Leah understands the challenges facing students, teachers and parents, and the threats posed by the dramatic proliferation of charter schools in the City.

“I believe in working collaboratively with parents, students, and all stakeholders, with a vision of growth and development for Newark’s children,” says Leah Owens. “I have chosen to stay and work with the Newark community to help ensure the most effective outcomes for the future of our city. I bring a level of experience and community relationships that will compliment and increase the capacity of the Newark school board to return to local control and maintain local control.”

As an organization actively involved in the fight to save public schools in Newark through our organizing of parents and students of the Newark Students Union, we know there are other qualified candidates in the community that would stand against Wall Street’s takeover of our public schools.

While NJ Communities United whole-heartedly supports Leah Owens, we do not support Mayor Baraka’s “Unity Slate”.



New Research Connects Toxic Mortgages to Blight in Newark

Housing1.jpgA new report from professors at Hofstra University and the City University of New York has found that underwater Private Label Security (PLS) mortgages are contributing to blight in the City of Newark. The study looked at 1,151 of these mortgages and found a sharp increase or elevated levels of vacant housing in seven of the nineteen census tracts in Newark. All told, seventeen census tracts demonstrated signs of distress related to PLS mortgages.

The report will be presented at a forum sponsored by NJ Communities United called “Newark’s Housing Crisis: A People’s Uprising to Protect Our Homes.”

“Too many Newark homeowners are struggling to save their homes from foreclosure,” said Trina Scordo, executive director of NJ Communities United. “But the crisis doesn’t stop at their front doors. This research demonstrates that toxic PLS mortgages are destabilizing Newark’s communities and contributing to blight.” 


Newark's Housing Crisis - A People's Uprising to Protect Our Homes

newarks-housing-crisis-flyer-updated-7-15-15.jpgFamilies in Newark continue to lose their homes to predatory lending and illegal foreclosures by banks. Meanwhile abandoned homes and vacant buildings created by the foreclosure crisis sit empty waiting for private equity firms from Wall Street to drop into Newark and make a quick profit off from our housing crisis. 

Join NJ Communities United and our partners as we discuss Newark’s housing crisis and begin to build a movement to take back our our homes, our community and #OURNEWARK!

This FREE community event is organized by NJ Communities United with support from Newark NAACP, ACLU New Jersey, New Jersey Community Capital, CWA Local 1037, 1199SEIU and the Latino Action Network.

Visit https://www.facebook.com/events/1599523690309228/ for more information and to RSVP!



Tell Christie and the State of New Jersey to Hold Wells Fargo and Other Big Banks Accountable for the Foreclosure Crisis and the Lack of Enforcement by the NJ Attorney General’s Office!


 In the background of Chris Christie’s aspirations to run for President are thousands of New Jersey homeowners who’ve been tossed aside in favor of Wall Street and the Big Banks. In fact, the foreclosure crisis in New Jersey leads the nation – and the Christie administration has favored the desires of the banks over the needs of New Jersey residents. Several big banks have negotiated large settlements with the US Attorney General’s Office for their role in the housing bubble and subsequent economic collapse – but homeowners in New Jersey and around the country have not benefited from these agreements. SIGN THE PETITION AT http://bit.ly/ChristieBanks

 Child Care Providers Ratify New Contract


“We worked incredibly hard to make this new contract a reality,” said Shanita Hargrove a child care provider in Newark, NJ. “We knocked on doors in counties across the state. We engaged the working parents we provide services for. We circulated a petition of support that generated more than 500 signatures. We packed buses filled with supporters to attend rallies in Trenton. We built a real movement. But this is just the beginning of what we can accomplish together moving forward.”

CWA Local 1037 partnered with NJ Communities United to work with child care providers to increase the grassroots organizing work needed to negotiate a strong second contract.

“This is a victory for child care providers and it’s a victory for working families who struggle to afford quality child care,” said Trina Scordo, executive director of NJ Communities United. “We engaged working class communities on this issue and built a movement of people dedicated to quality child care and early childhood education. The positive long-term impacts for providers and working families are beyond measure.”

Another Grandma Battles Another Greedy Bank

Hand_and_Fist4.jpgIn 2010, Lavinia Curry & Paulette McQueen missed ONE mortgage payment. The very next month Paulette attempted to hand deliver the missed payment and the current month’s payment. Wells Fargo refused to accept ANY money and the foreclosure mill began. By 2013, their home was up for a Sheriff’s sale.

Just a few months ago Grandma Lavinia & Paulette were featured in news articles across the country as they stood alongside Irvington, NJ Mayor Wayne Smith to announce plans to seize underwater mortgages from banks and renegotiate fair terms for struggling homeowners so they could stay in their homes and in their community.

Wells Fargo saw the news and immediately reached out and agreed to stop the sheriff’s sale in order to negotiate a mortgage that would keep Grandma Lavinia & Paulette in their home. We need your help to keep these amazing grandmothers in their home and let Wells Fargo know that any deal they offer must be a fair market value mortgage with a low fixed interest rate!

Please take a moment to show your support for Grandma Lavinia – tell Wells Fargo to negotiate a fair market value mortgage with a low fixed interest rate for Grandma Lavinia!


Tell Cami Anderson, "Stop the One Newark Plan!"

Hand_and_Fist5.jpgCami’s plans to close, privatize or otherwise re-purpose our public schools into profit-making ventures while trying to silence dissent is bullying at its worst. This is what a Christie-controlled school district does when the residents of Newark are denied a democratic voice in our own public school system.

Together we can take back control of our schools – click here and send Cami Anderson an email now!

Ultimately, this fight is about taking our democracy back and fighting for local control of our public schools. Under our own control, public schools will be protected from profit-making schemes, educators will speak their minds without fear of retribution and the community will ALWAYS have a democratic place at the table. But power concedes nothing without a fight – so let’s join together and fight!



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New Jersey Communities United
Community Values. Collective Action. A Strong New Jersey.