Mass school closings have become a hallmark of today's dominant education policy agenda. But rather than helping students, these closures disrupt whole communities. And as U.S. Department of Education data suggests, the most recent rounds of mass closings in Chicago, New York City and Philadelphia disproportionately hurt Black and low-income students.
What can you do to end these discriminatory and unacceptable school closures?
In Lost Opportunity: A 50 State Report on the Opportunity to Learn in America, the Schott Foundation for Public Education establishes a metric for determining the opportunity to learn for students. Providing a state-by-state comparison of both academic proficiency (percentage of students scoring at or above proficient on the eighth grade NAEP reading exam) and equity (as measured by the Schott Foundation’s Opportunity to Learn Index, or OTLI), Lost Opportunity identifies the four baseline minimum resources that are necessary for a child – regardless of race, ethnicity, or socioeconomic status – to have a fair and substantive Opportunity to Learn.
In the United States, every student should have the equal right to a high-quality education. But as our most recent data demonstrates, for far too many students, quality and equity are aspirations, not realities. Few states are providing public school educations that result in academic proficiency for students. And even fewer states are providing access to a high-quality education to all students, particularly those from historically disadvantaged groups.
Walter H. Dyett High School is the last public, open enrollment high school in its historic Chicago Black neighborhood, and its community, led by education organizers and advocates, are rallying to save it.
Voice of Youth in Chicago Education (VOYCE) deserves tremendous praise for their latest victory—passing a groundbreaking school discipline reform bill through the Illinois Legislature. This bill is sorely needed, as Chicago schools struggle with the overuse of harsh school disciplinary practices that are disproportionately levied against students of color.
Graph via University of Chicago Discipline Report
Journey for Justice National Director Jitu Brown at a
rally outside the U.S. Supreme Court in May 2014.
After the rally, organizers marched to the U.S. Dept.
of Justice to file the three civil rights complaints.
Thanks to the organizing work of Voices of Youth in Chicago Education, the Illinois legislature has passed a new law requiring public reporting of school discipline data. SB2793 is a huge victory and a step toward ending the discriminatory use of suspensions and expulsions.
Parents, students and teachers at two Chicago public schools are taking a brave stand against the overuse of standardized testing.
Parents, students and teachers across the country are fighting for equitable school resources, community solutions and an end to mass school closures. If you've been following our series of infographics on school closures, you know that closures disproportionately affect students of color and students from low-income families.
Stephanie Alvarado, a youth leader with Voices of Youth in Chicago Education and the Southwest Organizing Project, is one of six Latino/a students featured in a new PBS documentary about the dropout crisis and its effect on low-income students of color. Learn more about the documentary, "The Graduates/Los Graduados," here on PBS!