Cory Booker is a city councilman in Newark, New Jersey. This is an edited version of remarks he delivered at a Manhattan Institute luncheon in New York City on September 20, 2000.
This paper describes one vision of how to improve urban education, highlighting the Newark, New Jersey, public schools. It discusses the importance of encouraging all students to "reach for the stars" in education and describes the government's role in perpetuating inequitable circumstances. It highlights the importance of emphasizing outcomes first and bureaucracies and systems last, noting that it is time to start giving citizens more control and authority over their own lives. The paper suggests that in order to break the cycle of poverty within inner cities, it is necessary to emphasize education. Being outcome-focused involves considering such options as charter schools, contract schools, and educational vouchers.
One significant problem in urban education is that parents are convinced that their children cannot succeed in public schools. While wealthy people have considerable educational choice, the poorest, most vulnerable people are often allowed no choice. There is a status quo in urban education that benefits many people, and it is necessary to explore methods of change that are effective against this status quo. Urban parents are more interested in their children's education than the public perceives, and they need support in their efforts to improve their children's education.