Dana Goldstein 

Future site of the Teachers’ Village development in downtown Newark, New Jersey
Future site of the Teachers’ Village development in downtown Newark, New Jersey

Yesterday Newark Mayor Cory Booker, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, and several private developers and investors—including Goldman Sachs CEO Lloyd Blankfein—converged on a vacant lot in Newark’s historic downtown for the groundbreaking of Teachers’ Village.

The mixed-use development, a project six years in the making, will include expanded space for three existing public charter schools and a private pre-school; 200 moderately priced apartments reserved for Newark public, charter, and private school educators; and space for retail establishments, including restaurants and possibly a supermarket. The project’s designer is the Newark-born architect Richard Meier, best known for the Getty Center in Los Angeles and, locally, the all-glass luxury condominium building at 1 Grand Army Plaza in Brooklyn.

The $150 million, eight-building project was largely publically financed, with support from federal, state and city governments. Its progress is evidence of Booker and Christie’s continuing cooperation, across party lines, on a school reform agenda focused on the expansion of the charter school sector. New Jersey civil rights organizations and teachers’ unions have criticized the state’s charter schools for serving a lower proportion of special-needs and English-language learner students than traditional public schools, and have cautioned against the risk of neighborhood schools turning into warehouses for the least-advantaged children. Politically, the Teachers’ Village concept could help Booker and Christie neutralize such critics by placing school reform in the broader context of urban revitalization supported by education advocates from across the ideological spectrum.


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