The Time is Always Right to Do What is Right
In New York City, the last 10 years of educational reform has consisted of stripping parent and community voice from the system and the belief by Mayor Bloomberg that closing schools is a school reform strategy (more than 100 schools closed under Mayor Bloomberg). This strategy has resulted in the creation of more than 400 new small schools, but they have largely left behind the lowest-performing schools serving the highest-needs communities, predominantly in Black and Latino neighborhoods.
As a mother, advocate and an organizer with Alliance for Quality Education I signed my name to the lawsuit along with AQE, NAACP, UFT, other parents and elected officials because the politics DOE is playing with our children must stop. They claim that they have raised the graduation rates, closed the achievement gap and tout that their policies over the last 9 years have been successful. Yet as a result of Bloomberg’s school reforms the racial achievement gap has widened since 2003 and now white students are twice as likely to read on grade level as Black or Latino students.
Choose a Side: Students
Earlier this year, students and teachers from several public schools (mostly charters) in Brooklyn, Harlem and the Bronx, made a pilgrimage to Alabama and Mississippi to pay homage and mark the 50th Anniversary of the Freedom Rides. By all accounts the experience was powerful and moving—treading upon that hallowed path, students and teachers alike were awed by the strength and sacrifice of those volunteers, humbled by the brutal violence and vile menace they endured to wrest our nation’s soul from the desecrating, and seemingly unyielding grasp of segregation.
Needless to say there was much confusion and disappointment among these same students and teachers when in May, nearly half a century to the day the Freedom Riders began their historic journey, the NAACP’s New York Chapter joined the United Federation of Teachers (UFT) in a lawsuit against the New York City Department of Education. Their goal: overturn the “co-location” of every new charter school, effectively closing all of these new public schools (including the one I lead). The message was clear, if dissonant: the NAACP wants to prevent over 7000 Black and Latino students (the very people for whom the Freedom Riders risked their lives), from attending high quality public schools of their choice. How could this be?