A ton going on here, so I'm not going to try to address each post, but just put some of my thoughts down.
First of all, I'm liberal, and unashamed, but also enough of a cynic to question everything I've been told, by my family, professors, the media, and politicians, so I don't believe I've been brainwashed, and find it a pretty poor argument that both sides make against each other anyway. My thoughts are not a result of some massive trick, and I don't believe those of my rivals are either. Let's move past that stupidly disrespectful argument, because it detracts from real issues.
I attended a Catholic school in Newark. The students were mostly black and hispanic, and from Newark and the surrounding area (Irvington, East Orange, etc), though there have always been some suburban white kids (including me) as well. It has a long history of successfully educating Newark students, when many Newark schools have failed, and very few alumni have been involved in criminal activity. Most of us are working to support our families, though many of my classmates, including some highly intelligent college grads, are working low paying, retail type jobs. IMO my classmates are not better people than those Newark residents who were not fortunate enough to attend my school, and are in much worse shape (criminals, jail, dead), or worse people than those who were fortunate enough to grow up in wealthy suburbs and have higher paying jobs. I believe that education is one of many factors that can contribute to people's success and morality (or lack thereof), and I believe that Newark's long history of poor education (some of the worst in the country) is one of many factors that has contributed to its problems. I believe in personal accountability. I know that we were taught to take responsibility for our actions, that doing the right thing always matters, and that our future success was our problem, and I have many close friends who chose to be "above the influence." I also know that that influence is more powerful in poor cities like Newark, where criminals become wealthy and comfortable, while hard working parents qualify for food stamps, regardless of their best efforts. I believe that, while we would like our country to be a meritocracy, it isn't, that too often, it isn't what you know, it's who you know, and if you're poor and a minority, you will struggle to get a job in a society that remains dominated by rich whites. I am a teacher, and I believe I am qualified. I got my job not because of my qualifications, but because my dad was friends with a principal. One of my black friends has been a sub for years, because he doesn't have the same connections I did. This is real, and it is serious.
America has a long history of institutionalized racism and classism that have created a ton of fvcked up situations. I don't deny that certain poor, black people have made them worse, but those of us who have been fortunate enough not to have been born at the bottom of the race/class totem pole need to acknowledge that 1) we are fortunate and 2) some of our good fortune is at the expense of others. It remains a whole lot easier to stay ahead than to get ahead. I don't know how to fix this problem, especially because I'm not willing to excuse certain people's behavior, but it's an issue that affects a ton of people, and it's egotistical, misinformed, and mean spirited to simply blame them for problems that go way beyond them.
While I believe that education matters, I do not believe in throwing money at the problem. I work for the NYC department of education, and none of the money we've spent has benefitted my classes. In fact, due to budget cuts, we have fewer teachers and bigger classes, though our school gets grant money to put in more computers, or run a couple of BS pilot programs. So when we say Newark schools have spent more money, we don't know if that money is being spent in useful ways or not. One thing I will say in Newark's defense is that a few Newark public schools are receiving national recognition, something that would have been unheard of 10 years ago. It is way too soon to see the effects of that progress. The students who graduated after said progress have not graduated college yet, so we don't know what they will do with that education, or if their positive influence will make a difference on future students. I'm willing to withhold judgment on Newark schools for a couple more years. The money they've spent recently may still be worth it. It may take a generation for this to really matter, which is obviously frustrating for everyone, but it takes time to fix years of fvck ups.
As for gentrification, there is a tough balance to strike. Ideally, Newark will be able to use the revenue generated by the downtown to improve education and law enforcement throughout the city without kicking out the residents. A vast majority of Newarkers are good, hardworking people who happen to be poor. They deserve to live in safe communities, to send their children to good schools, and to have the opportunity to break the cycle of poverty and violence that have plagued Newark for generations. If Newark gentrifies at their expense, and they are simply forced to move to places like Irvington, who the fvck cares that the Devils have a nice arena? Most of Newark's people deserve better than they have gotten, and the arena can help that. I agree that certain parts of the city need to be blown up. It's why I was fine with the James Street projects being knocked down, but Newark's leaders need to be careful to represent the constituents they have rather than the ones they want.