Johnnie Lattner, who died last week, was a revered Newark training advocate with a present for empowering mother and father.
“He made me conscious of father or mother energy,” mentioned Yolanda Johnson, a Newark father or mother and advocate who labored intently with Lattner, “that I've a voice and I’m presupposed to be sitting on the desk.”
On Tuesday, the Newark faculty board issued a proclamation honoring Lattner and his dedication to Newark households. It mentioned that Lattner’s life mirrored his favourite saying: “Let your work communicate for itself.”
“There are individuals who you are feeling like will all the time be round preventing for our college students,” mentioned board member Yambeli Gomez, “and he was a kind of individuals.”
Lattner additionally supported Chalkbeat as a member of our Reader Advisory Board, which gives suggestions on our protection and highlights essential points within the communities we serve.
Initially from North Carolina, Lattner moved to Newark greater than a decade in the past. As soon as there, he devoted his life to preventing for town’s public faculties and demanding that households have a say in choices that have an effect on them.
“Dad and mom and college students ought to drive the college,” Lattner told Chalkbeat earlier this yr. “The problem is that we as a neighborhood haven't taken the time to teach mother and father about simply how highly effective they're.”
For Lattner, the purpose was much less to advocate on behalf of fogeys than to show them the best way to advocate for themselves.
“That was Johnnie’s mission,” Johnson mentioned, coaching mother and father “the best way to set up, the best way to agitate, and the best way to win victories.”
In his drive to prepare mother and father, Lattner co-founded Dad and mom Unified for Native Faculty Training, or PULSE. With that group and the Journey for Justice Alliance, he helped file a civil rights complaint alleging that an overhaul of the Newark faculty district that shuttered greater than a dozen faculties had violated the rights of Black college students and people with disabilities. The complaints prompted a federal investigation that ended when the district agreed to take a number of corrective actions.
Lattner additionally fought for college crossing guards to be rehired. He pushed for “community schools” that present social providers together with teachers. And he ran for a seat on town faculty board. Whereas his bid was unsuccessful, he used his marketing campaign to raise points that matter to the neighborhood.
“I can’t think about training advocacy in Newark with out Johnnie,” mentioned Kaleena Berryman, government director of the Abbott Management Institute, which gives advocacy coaching to Newark mother and father and college students. “His voice [was] all the time reminding us to maintain it concerning the kids.”
Lattner joined the lengthy, community-led campaign to finish the state takeover of Newark faculties. Even after town’s elected faculty board regained provisional control of the district in 2018, Lattner continued to demand that Newark households play a task in policymaking.
“He didn’t imagine within the smoke-and-mirrors kind of neighborhood engagement efforts that we frequently encounter from individuals in energy within the Metropolis of Newark,” mentioned Roberto Cabañas, discipline director for NJ Communities United, in an announcement. “Johnnie would name these efforts the ‘phantasm of inclusion,’ and rightfully so.”
A vigil for Lattner shall be held at Four p.m. Wednesday exterior his home at 60 Mount Nice Ave. in Newark. On Thursday, a memorial service shall be held from 2-Four p.m. on the Watson Mortuary Service funeral residence at 26 Gifford Ave. in Jersey Metropolis. Afterwards, a reception will happen from 3:30-6:30 p.m. at Belmont Runyon Group Faculty in Newark.
The New Jersey Kids’s Alliance created a fund to assist Lattner’s household cowl the price of the funeral. You can contribute here.
“Our neighborhood goes to overlook Johnnie deeply,” Cabañas mentioned, however takes consolation in understanding he “joined our ancestors who've fought the great combat within the streets.”