Camden superintendent unveils new school plan

CAMDEN, N.J. - January 27, 2014

"There are bright spots here and there, and students who have made it. What I think about it is, it just shouldn't be that hard," Rouhanifard said.

Rouhanifard presented his "Camden Compact" on Monday night. It is his 18 month plan aimed at making success easier.

There are five parts, but the first two are a top priority.

"We are laser-focused on making sure we produce these basic conditions, because that's what these are, right? Kids deserve to be safe and they deserve a building that is not crumbling," Rouhanifard said.

In a recent district poll, half of Camden elementary students said they were scared to go to the bathroom and 80% of older students feared the walk to school.

So Rouhanifard says he'll upgrade security technology, and he's working with police to beef up their school time presence on the streets.

He's also actively friendly to charters and the building funds they bring, despite the critics.

"To a parent, when they're looking for a school for their student, a school is a school is a school," Rouhanifard said.

Also on the list, along with upping teacher standards and parent partnerships, are higher expectations of students.

To that end, Rouhanifard is adding honors classes, even though 23 of his 26 schools are failing and less than half his seniors will graduate.

"Right now, not every student may be prepared for Algebra I in eighth grade, but we need to at least set the expectation that they are and so we put that stake in the ground," Rouhanifard said.

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