Spotlight Video: Isaac

Newark mother shares her problems with Gov. Christie at his Union City town hall meeting

Summary: Another YouTube out of Gov. Chris Christie’s office, this one of his public exchange with a Newark mother about her 12-year-old son Isaac’s difficulty in public school and her inability to get special attention for his apparent disability.

When and where: Christie’s 17th town hall forum in Union City on Tuesday

Why the video press release: Christie used the exchange to launch into a three-minute speech addressing the problems of public schools, namely Newark public schools, which he rightly said are under state operation.

Key line from the mother: “I’m asking you to help me.”

Key line from the governor: “This is the problem I am trying to fix. The state sends in excess of $800 million in income tax money to Newark schools, and it is outrageous to me, it makes my blood boil, that someone from the Newark school system tells a mother… that they can’t do anything for that.”

The mother’s story: Yvonne Garrett Moore stood up from the audience, with Isaac at her side, and told Christie that her son’s public school had refused to help with his apparent learning disability. “They said we don’t have anything like that.” Her voice breaking, Moore said she worked with her son every night for three hours, only to see him struggle and not receive the help he needs.

The back story: In a follow-up interview, Moore said that the school had said that Isaac’s grades were not poor enough to warrant the evaluation, even with a D and F. School performance is often used in identifying a student for possible services. Newark’s special education system and how it evaluates and identifies children has long been a sore spot for the district and is the subject of a pending class-action lawsuit.

Good at public speaking: Moore is no stranger to public forums, having been a candidate for mayor of Newark in 2009 against the incumbent, Cory Booker, and three others. She finished third. She is a planning consultant by trade, although currently unemployed, and actually worked on Booker’s campaign four years earlier.

The follow-up: Christie, before close to 300 people and news reporters, told Moore to pass her information on to his staff and vowed to personally call state education commissioner Chris Cerf to try to get help for her son. Moore said last night that the governor’s office had been in contact and she sent them a fuller report. She was awaiting a follow-up call. Unrelated to her exchange with Christie, she said she had also spoken with Newark’s top special education official yesterday and sent him information.

As for the video press release: Moore said she was pretty excited about that, too. “Thank you, Jesus, my voice has been heard.”