Friday, June 22, 2012

The 'civil rights issue of our generation' -- Taking those words seriously

Jitu Brown of Kenwood Oakland Community Organization (back, left) and Helen Moore, Co-Chair of Keep the Vote/ No Takeover Coalition of Detroit demanded a meeting within two weeks with US Education Secretary Arne Duncan. They are filing USDOE civil rights complaints alleging that African American students are unfairly and disproportionately impacted by school closings, turnarounds and phaseouts. | Rich Hein~Sun-Times

Every opportunist politician from Mitt Romney to Arne Duncan has lately been calling ed reform, "the civil rights issue of our generation" turning the words civil rights into an empty, meaningless cliche. But now it looks like students, and school activists are taking the words seriously.

Yesterday, parents and students from seven cities joined those in Chicago in filing civil rights complaints against school closings, phase-outs and other “rampantly horrible” corporate-style school reforms, they contend have disproportionately victimized minority communities.

(From left) ShaQ Carbon, 18, Tone Elliott, 18, and Tre Murphy, 16, were part of a group demanding a meeting within two weeks with US Education Secretary Arne Duncan.
The group is calling  for a “national moratorium’’ on the kind of school reform shakeups that they say began in Chicago under former Schools CEO Paul Vallas; ramped up under his successor, Arne Duncan, and have spread nationwide during Duncan’s tenure as U.S. Education Secretary. 

The Sun-Times' Ros Rossi reports
Among those gathered outside the U.S. Department of Ed’s Chicago office Thursday was Helen Moore, a Detroit school activist for 45 years.
Ten years ago, Moore said, the Detroit school system had 300 schools; now it has 86. The system has been shattered into a crazy quilt of neighborhood schools, charter schools, “site-based” schools overseen by a selected school board and schools run by an outside agency. An “emergency manager” runs the place like a “dictator,” she said.

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