MAPLEWOOD, NJ — The South Orange-Maplewood Black Parents Workshop has launched a new website — www.blackparentsworkshop.org — as part of its continuing efforts to advocate for equity in the South Orange-Maplewood School District. The organization was launched in 2014 as an effort to address a perceived two-decade failure of the SOMSD to address a racial achievement gap. The Black Parents Workshop supported the civil rights complaint brought against the school district by the ACLU and the UCLA Civil Rights Project that targeted discriminatory practices in student discipline and academic tracking. The Black Parents Workshop has also challenged the school district on increasing diversity among its teachers and improving the cultural competency of the curriculum.
“Recent developments in the district have moved us to begin planning a long-term campaign to reform public education in our community,” Walter Fields, one of the organization’s founders, said in a press release. “The website is the first in several steps we are taking to expand our efforts. We are also expanding our outreach nationally to collaborate in other suburban school districts where black children are being similarly treated. In addition, we are developing a pro bono legal team in anticipation of litigation we might be forced to pursue in light of the South Orange-Maplewood district’s failure to appropriate resources to close the achievement gap, despite its promises.”