Journey For Justice [J4J2] News Articles

J4J2 News Compiled

Education Dept. to Hear School Closing Complaints The United States Department of Education is investigating complaints that plans to close or reorganize public schools in Philadelphia, Detroit and Newark discriminate against black and Hispanic students, as well as those with disabilities, a department official confirmed on Monday.

Community activists from those cities and 15 others are scheduled to meet Tuesday with Education Secretary Arne Duncan to urge a moratorium on school-closing plans until agreements can be reached on alternatives.

Jitu Brown, a community organizer from the South Side of Chicago, said the community representatives would seek immediate action on the civil rights complaints, and would urge officials to halt school closings, stop plans to turn public schools over to private contractors, end “phaseouts” in which schools cease to accept new students so that numbers dwindle, and stop the practice of combining public schools with charter schools. “Racism is real in the U.S.,” Mr. Brown said. “There are different rules for the students in our community.”To Read More…

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School Closures Challenged http://owl.li/hhRA7 via The Wall Street Journal. The U.S. Department of Education will investigate a claim that the Bloomberg administration’s plan to close 26 low-performing public schools this year discriminates against minority and special-education students.

The complaint made by a New York City parent is one of dozens filed recently by opponents of school closures, who are targeting the practice in cities nationwide, including Chicago, Philadelphia and Detroit. Schools chosen for closure generally have higher proportions of minority, impoverished and special-education students than others.

Education Secretary Arne Duncan is scheduled to meet Tuesday in Washington, D.C., with opponents. Even so, the Obama administration has encouraged districts to make significant changes, including closure, to try to fix schools.

Zakiyah Ansari, who filed the complaint against New York City, said she believed Mayor Michael Bloomberg‘s policy of shutting down schools for poor performance has hurt students more than it helped. Some 140 schools have closed or have begun the process of closing since Mr. Bloomberg took office, and new ones opened in their place with a mostly new staffs.

“It’s been a domino, ripple effect across the city,” said Ms. Ansari, who represents New Yorkers for Great Public Schools, a coalition of groups who oppose most of Mr. Bloomberg’s education policies. She said the closures “destabilized” the remaining schools and haven’t helped minority students perform as well as their white peers. To Read More…

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US Education Department hosts ‘Journey for Justice’ http://www.examiner.com/article/us-education-department-hosts-journey-for-justice via @examinercom On Jan. 29, the U.S Department of Education (US ED) hosted a public forum requested by ‘Journey for Justice,’ a grassroots coalition of teachers, parents and communities, to demand that US ED place an immediate moratorium on charter school expansion and take action against public school closings.

US Secretary of Education Arne Duncan hosted the event in the U.S. DOE Auditorium on Maryland Avenue, SW, but he also drew some ire directly from several speakers.

Hundreds of students, parents and community leaders gathered to represent at least 18 cities across the country including Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Chicago, Cleveland, Detroit, District of Columbia, Eupora, Miss., Hartford, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Newark, New Orleans, New York, Oakland, Philadelphia, Wichita, and Wilmington.

There were 2 distinctly common themes in every speaker’s presentation. Every city representative demonstrated that: To Read More…

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School Closures Violate Civil Rights, Protestors Tell Arne Duncan http://huff.to/Xft2bE via @HuffPostEdu The standards-based education reform movement calls school change “the civil rights issue of our time.” But about 220 mostly African American community organizers, parents and students from 21 cities from New York to Oakland, Calif., converged on Washington Tuesday to tell U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan he’s getting it backwards on school closures.

Members of the group, a patchwork of community organizations called the Journey for Justice Movement, have filed several Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, claiming that school districts that shut schools are hurting minority students. While most school closures are decided locally, the Education Department’s School Improvement Grant gives underperforming school districts money for shakeups or turnarounds, including closures.To Read More…

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Obama facing school “turnaround” civil rights complaints http://wp.me/p2D92I-rv

Title VI, 42 U.S.C. § 2000d et seq., was enacted as part of the landmark Civil Rights Act of 1964. It prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, and national origin in programs and activities receiving federal financial assistance.

I was asked to contribute to a Title VI complaint filed against Texas by the NAACP and LULAC at the request of Gary Bledsoe last year. You can see it here. Their Title VI request concerned:

  • The miseducation of minority students Recent SBOE curriculum changes which negatively impact all students, but disparately greater harm of minority students
  • Disparate discipline for minority students The use of accountability standards to impose sanctions on schools with high populations of minority students
  • The underrepresentation of Latinos and African-Americans in Gifted and Talented Programs and the rules relating to the operation of such programs that lead to and/or contribute to the discriminatory result

One of the issues that was not raised at the time by the NAACP and LULAC but has come to the forefront in many other states since is school closure and “turnaround.” My co-authors and I will discuss Dallas and Houston (We found that they have had the lion share of school “turnaround” attempts in the state of Texas) turnarounds in a forthcoming article in Urban Education entitled A Nostrum of School Reform?: Turning Around Reconstituted Urban Texas High Schools— I included the abstract for the article here. To Read More…

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Is Federal Education Policy Racially Discriminatory? | The Nation http://www.thenation.com/blog/172466/federal-education-policy-racially-discriminatory# Who ends up being most affected by urban schools closings? On her Sunday show, The Nation’s Melissa Harris-Perry speaks with a panel of guests, including Nation writer Ari Berman and parent activist Zakiyah Ansari from New York’s Alliance for Quality Education, about the racialized impact of school closings and turnarounds. Ansari is an organizer for the national “Journey for Justice” campaign, which will be meeting with Education Department officials this Tuesday.

—James Cersonsky To Read More…

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School Closures Violate Civil Rights, Protestors Tell Arne Duncan http://owl.li/hhRLW The standards-based education reform movement calls school change “the civil rights issue of our time.” But about 220 mostly African American community organizers, parents and students from 21 cities from New York to Oakland, Calif., converged on Washington Tuesday to tell U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan he’s getting it backwards on school closures.

Members of the group, a patchwork of community organizations called the Journey for Justice Movement, have filed several Title VI civil rights complaints with the Education Department Office of Civil Rights, claiming that school districts that shut schools are hurting minority students. While most school closures are decided locally, the Education Department’s School Improvement Grant gives underperforming school districts money for shakeups or turnarounds, including closures.To Read More…


Are recent school closings a civil rights issue? Melissa Harris Perry. http://owl.li/hjkjf There are an overwhelming number of reports that hundreds of schools across the country are scheduled to be shut down. Host Melissa Harris-Perry discussed with her panel on Sunday the type of schools that are being targeted, and if race and socioeconomic considerations are factors in these decisions.

“This is a part of a national epidemic,” said Zakiyah Ansari of the Alliance for Quality Education. Ansari is a part of the Journey for Justice movement, in which supporters from 18 major cities across the country are set to be in Washington, D.C. on Tuesday to protest current education policies. The claim is that the Department of Education is responsible for “discriminatory closings of public schools,” targeting schools in low-income areas that teach children of color. To Read More…

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When Students Awaken, Everything Will Change Diane Ravitch. http://owl.li/hjmp6 It is beginning. Teachers, superintendents, local school boards, parent groups, and now students: all are saying the same things. Stop destroying education with high-stakes testing. Stop the chaos and disruption of school closings. Support and encourage, don’t humiliate and destroy.

Are you listening, Secretary Duncan?

Here is a new student group in New Orleans demanding quality education and equity.

Dear Friends,

United Students of New Orleans (USNO) is a coalition of students organizing
and advocating for fairness and justice in public schools across New Orleans. Starting with students from four schools: Walter L. Cohen, L. B. Landry, G.W.Carver, and Sarah T. Reed, it has grown to include students from seven schools across New Orleans, including both public and charter. Schools came together, and they united under the understanding that they were being denied their civil rights and an access to a real education. To Read More…

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Activists to U.S. Education Department: Stop school closings now The Washington Post. http://owl.li/hjmYu Activists fighting school closings across the country converged at the U.S. Education Department on Tuesday to demand federal action to stop the shutdowns, which they say disproportionately affect poor and minority students.

In a raucous meeting, parents, community organizers and students from as far away as California detailed how school closings are disrupting lives and destabilizing neighborhoods.

“I have been denied the right to a quality education,” said Gavin Alston, 12, whose Chicago school was shuttered last year. “We have no middle or elementary schools in my neighborhood anymore.”
Gavin is now home-schooled because he did not want to travel 22 blocks by bus to his reassigned school, which is in a different neighborhood across gang turf lines. To Read More…

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Parents and Students Demand Nationwide Moratorium on Schools Closings: http://youtu.be/pCGrkb1qc7o via @youtube

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