Newark students head back to class, possibly for the last time under state control

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Toni Yates reports on Newark's first day back to school, which may be the last one under state control.

Thousands of students and teachers went back to school in Newark Tuesday, in what could be the last year the school district is under state control.

After years of battles between state and local leaders, Newark schools have improved to the point that the district will be back in local hands next school year. School superintendent Christopher Cerf praised the major milestone.

"Every year, more and more, and eventually all, of the 55,000 students who go to a public school in Newark, regardless of the circumstances of their lives, are delivered into adulthood prepared for success," he said. "Long before I ever got here or any of my predecessors got here, many in this community have made Herculean efforts, and many had enormous success with the students they served."

It's a cause Mayor Ras Baraka has championed for years.

"Schools and education is the probably the most important thing that the city has to do collectively," he said.

And so this school year begins on a high note for leaders, and with huge goals for students. Technology High School is headed by principal Edwin Reyes, himself a product of Newark schools.

"The wonderful work of our administrators, teachers and students, that has garnered us some of the national recognition that we've gotten," he said.

It is home to some of the city's brightest students.

"We have a very strong support system here at Tech, with guidance counselors and the vice principals," senior Yaa Obeng said. "They're always looking out for us, give us more opportunities and scholarship opportunities. So it's very exciting to know that you have that support system to help you along the way."

Newark graduated a little more than 73 percent of its seniors 2 years ago, and when last year's numbers are out, officials believe it will be more like 77 percent.

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