The Newark Schools Blues (2014)


You want to know why our school system sucks?
Too much of success is dependent on luck
The luck of the student, the luck of the draw
Our acceptance of luck is our greatest flaw
When a child goes to school, they have an expectation
After twelve years of service – a good education!
But what they don’t know,
it is all up to chance

And how well their parents play the enrollment dance 

It begins from the moment they enter the world
Whether beautiful boy, or bouncing baby girl
Are they lucky enough to have parents flood in
 When the Principal’s changed by the district, AGAIN!

Will they live down the street from the school that does well?
In a system of schools mostly designed to fail?
Will the classroom be stocked; will the books be left whole?
 Can advocates win the battle against state control?

Are they lucky enough to have dance class and art?
Are the computers broken, science kits torn apart?
Did the Mayor adopt it, principal walk around?
Was the school staff creative when cuts came around?
Were they lucky enough to win a charter spot?
Was the promise of better, the charter they got?
Did they get in the magnet, were they pushed to the side?
Was their algebra teacher highly certified?
Was the HSPA prep class afterschool any good?
Did mom get a new job and move to Maplewood?


Doesn’t this sound insulting? Have we just given up?
Was equality formally been replaced with luck?
Is this settling mindset we have, here to stay?
What if our ancestors treated our rights this way!
What if Harriet Tubman, made a condition of freedom
Entering into ONEFree before she would lead them
What if Dr. King proclaimed, before he went home
Yes I still have a dream, but it’s just for my own
What world would we live in, where would we be
If they so easily compromised equality?
Fast forward 50 years, now we think we came up?
So we feel comfortable with this concept of luck?
Leaving the futures of thousands of children to FALL
‘Cause we’re not disciplined to demand for them all?

Well –
I guess we will go on, content where we are
Success will be few and the gaps will be far
Schools will be varied and justice delayed
Community input after decisions are made
Reform models pushed at us, through our front door
And our children each year no better off than before
When will we get with it? When will we wake up?!
Maybe things will get better, if we’re lucky enough