A passionate group of advocates from across the country rallied in Washington D.C. last month to protest school closures and file complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's Office of Civil Rights. The "Journey for Justice" event was just one of a rising tide of opposition to the unjust practice of closing down failing schools. An article in Education Week highlights the growing backlash:
"'This has become the strategy of first instance, not of last resort,' said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has affiliates in the cities cited in the complaints. 'Instead of stabilizing neighborhoods, instead of fixing schools, instead of doing what parents want, schools are closed, people are fired, and what replaces them in the main is no better than what's come before.'"
As the article explains and the civil rights complaints charge, schools slated to be closed are often first deprived of the resources they need to succeed, thereby setting them up to fail. Many of these schools are in communities of color, which means the students affected by school closures are disproportionately students of color.
What's more, the policy of closing down schools hasn't been shown to improve outcomes for students, which leads to questions of accountability. The article quotes Jitu Brown, a Chicago organizer who participated in Journey for Justice and who has guest blogged for the OTL Campaign:
"My question is, 'Where's the accountability for a policy that destabilizes schools and communities and has been shown not to help?"
Read the full Education Week article here!
Read more about Journey for Justice here!