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August 8, 2018
Tennessee civil rights leaders push back at superintendents’ call to pause state testing
The Tennessee Educational Equity Coalition, formed in 2016 to advocate for students of color, says a moratorium on state testing is not the answer.
August 15, 2017
National support for charter schools has dropped sharply in last year
Public support for charter schools has declined substantially in the last year, according to a national survey released Tuesday.
problems and solutions
July 27, 2017
6 problems the NAACP has with charter schools — and 5 of its ideas for how to reshape the sector
After calling for a temporary ban on new charter schools last year, the NAACP has revealed what would it would take to get the civil rights group to support the sector.
talking it out
April 28, 2017
At NAACP hearing on charter school moratorium, foes and fans find common ground
At a hearing on the NAACP's charter school moratorium, several speakers said the problem wasn't school choice, but the fact that so many district schools were struggling.
April 10, 2017
As school voucher vote approaches in Nashville, most Memphis advocacy groups don’t want program piloted in their city
Here's where grassroots organizations in Memphis stand on a voucher bill that would impact their community.
Week In Review
March 10, 2017
Week in Review: A reprieve — but difficult conversations — for struggling schools
Supporters of 38 struggling schools are breathing a little easier this week now that threatened state school closures are likely on hold until next year…
Week In Review
January 13, 2017
Week In Review: A new board takes on ‘awesome responsibility’ as Detroit school lawsuits advance
It's been a busy week for local education news with a settlement in one Detroit schools lawsuit, a combative new filing in another, a push by a lawmaker to overhaul school closings, a new ranking of state high schools, and the swearing in of the first empowered school board in Detroit has 2009.
January 11, 2017
Five takeaways from the NAACP’s charter school hearing in Memphis
Months after the NAACP called for a pause in charter school growth, an NAACP task force is seeking to learn the nuances of the education reform tool in American cities.
Front and center
January 9, 2017
NAACP to put Memphis in spotlight in national debate over charter schools
The group's national task force is inviting discussion at seven hearings, including Tuesday's in Memphis, following the NAACP's call for a moratorium on charter expansion.
November 1, 2016
Tennessee NAACP backs away from national call for charter pause
Tennessee's NAACP president says problems associated with charter growth elsewhere in the nation aren’t as prevalent in the Volunteer State.
October 20, 2016
From outrage to indifference, charter school educators respond to the NAACP’s call to limit their schools
Charter school leaders and teachers felt it important to facilitate either formal or informal conversations about the NAACP’s resolution to curb charter school growth.
hitting the pause button
October 19, 2016
NAACP president praises some New York City charter schools, but defends moratorium on the sector’s growth
NAACP President Cornell Brooks' comments came less than a week after his organization called for an end to charter school growth.
October 17, 2016
NAACP’s call to stop charter schools’ growth reignites debate in New York City
“If something is working, why take it away from people?”
October 14, 2016
NAACP call for charter pause puts Memphis in crosshairs of charter debate
Home to a large NAACP chapter and a growing charter sector, Memphis is at an interesting juncture as the national board looks to etch its stance against charter growth.
August 23, 2016
Innovation schools ignite heated debate among school board candidates
The NAACP and Concerned Clergy of Indianapolis are hosting a series of candidate forums.
June 29, 2016
New federal education law’s impact on students of color highlighted in Tennessee meeting with John King
U.S. Secretary of Education John King met with members of the Tennessee Education Equity Coalition on Tuesday for a discussion about the new federal education law.
March 8, 2016
Viral video of a teacher tearing a student's paper sparks renewed school discipline debate
In the weeks since a viral video exposed what critics described as “no excuses” gone too far, parents and educators across the country have rekindled a debate about how far is too far when it comes to punishing kids.
March 8, 2016
Viral video of a teacher tearing a student’s paper sparks renewed school discipline debate
In the weeks since a viral video exposed what critics described as “no excuses” gone too far, parents and educators across the country have rekindled a debate about how far is too far when it comes to punishing kids.
March 2, 2016
Tennessee coalition organizes to advocate for students of color
A new education advocacy coalition emerges from a meeting of 100 educators and civil rights leaders from across Tennessee in Nashville.
January 11, 2016
Cosby, the IPS board’s main dissenter, says she won’t run for re-election
Gayle Cosby will not run for reelection to the IPS school board, and it's unclear whether a new dissenting board member will fill her shoes.
December 16, 2015
Skeptical parents worry a move toward innovation and autonomy could hurt IPS
A small crowd that gathered tonight to discuss the possible impact of the district innovation and autonomy plan were overwhelmingly suspicious.
February 16, 2015
Ritz rallies supporters against efforts to limit her power at Statehouse
Gov. Mike Pence, Republican legislators and his appointed State Board of Education's refusal to respect Ritz's authority as state superintendent — including targeting her in several bills this year aimed at removing her from leading the Indiana State Board of Education — is what prompted the Indiana Coalition for Public Education to plan the rally.
November 16, 2014
Testing foes call for change after film's premiere
After viewing a film critical of testing, Indianapolis parents who have organized into an advocacy group argued parents in the city should opt not to permit their children to take the many standardized tests given at school. The film, called "Standardized: Lies, Money & Civil Rights,” was produced by a former Pennsylvania teacher named Daniel Hornberger and argues increasing use of tests has narrowed the curriculum and made school less enjoyable for students and teachers.
October 15, 2014
At rally, Memphis activists push vouchers as civil rights issue
Voucher activists are largely focusing their organizing efforts in Memphis this year, where any proposed voucher bill in the 2015 legislative session would likely have a disproportionate impact. If several legislators have their way, vouchers would be given to low-income students at the state's lowest-performing schools, the majority of which are clustered in Memphis.
October 9, 2014
Merging with John Marshall is IPS' top choice for Arlington's future
If it was up to Indianapolis Public Schools, the district would opt to merge John Marshall and Arlington high schools for the 2015-16 school year.
March 11, 2014
Few black and Hispanic students admitted to top high schools, adding to calls for admissions rules changes
Few black and Hispanic students won seats in eight of the city's specialized high schools this year, prompting Mayor Bill de Blasio to repeat a campaign trail declaration that the admissions process needs an overhaul.
December 1, 2011
Librarian recruits Cornel West to Harlem school that could close
McIntosh with Muriel Petioni after she spoke at Wadleigh about being one of the first black, female doctors in America A dogged school librarian who runs a speaker series at his struggling Harlem school has recruited the provocative scholar Cornel West to be his next guest. On Monday, West will visit Wadleigh Secondary School for The Performing and Visual Arts, which is on the city's shortlist of schools that could be closed this year, as part of a series of initiatives led by the school's longtime librarian, Paul McIntosh. Over the years, McIntosh has been a bright spot amid Wadleigh's challenges, maintaining a welcoming library that is a haven for students and attracting a diverse roster of luminaries to speak. Past visitors have included Public Advocate Bill de Blasio, "American Idol" winner Ruben Studdard, and local physicians and poets. The aim of the speaker series, McIntosh said, is to expose students to future possibilities and hook them on literature. “We’ve tried to put young men and women in contact with people of substance from a number of disciplines,” McIntosh told me. He noted that many of the students he works with are “on the precipice of bad behavior.” He hopes that by connecting them to a variety of inspiring individuals, they can be redirected. “If they just get a little bit of support they’ll be able to see the light and aim for their higher selves,” he said.
July 22, 2011
As co-location construction starts, the UFT weighs its next steps
Hours after a judge ruled that the city can go ahead with a controversial slate of school closure and openings, union lawyers are starting to sketch out their response. Department of Education officials said construction projects planned to ready school buildings for co-locations were free to begin. At PS 308 in the Bedford-Stuyvesant section of Brooklyn, workers were painting classrooms. But Rafiq Kalam Id-Din said he was still waiting for the city to approve construction for the school he runs, Teaching Firms of America Charter School. Meanwhile, lawyers for the United Federation of Teachers, one of the leading plaintiffs in the lawsuit, are studying the decision and deliberating their next steps. The ruling last night denied a preliminary injunction that would have barred the city from moving forward with its plans, but it did not assess the merits of the UFT and NAACP's claims that the city's plans would lead to inequities among schools. Last night, the union said it would not drop the lawsuit, and any future adjudication would focus on those equity claims. But it could take some time for union lawyers to wade through questions that could influence how they proceed. One question is just what the union would seek to get out of such a suit. With the start of the school year just weeks away, the chance of any further action preventing the start of phase-outs and the beginning of co-locations is virtually nil.
July 21, 2011
Judge rejects UFT-NAACP claims, allows co-locations, closures
A State Supreme Court judge has ruled that the city can move forward with its plans for 22 school closure and 15 co-locations. In May, the UFT and NAACP filed a suit charging that the city had not adhered to the law and its own promises when planning the closures and charter school co-locations. In a decision released late tonight, Judge Paul Feinman denied the UFT and NAACP's request for a preliminary injunction that would have stopped the city from moving forward with its closure and co-location plans while those charges are considered. A temporary restraining order preventing the plans from advancing had been in place since early June. Feinman's decision came just hours after State Education Commissioner John King approved 12 of the closures, of schools on the state's list of "persistently low-achieving" schools. The UFT and NAACP suit had argued that the city could not close schools on that list without state approval. Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott applauded the decision, which he said validated the Bloomberg administration's approach to fixing low-performing schools.
July 8, 2011
City Council's UFT charter school support raises ire, eyebrows
People on both sides of the charter school fight are not happy about a hefty City Council earmark that's going to the teachers union's charter school. The funding, sponsored by City Councilman Erik Dilan and approved last month in the council's annual capital budget allocations, gives the union $2 million to develop a plan for moving its charter school out of the two East New York buildings it shares and into space of its own. The announcement comes as charter schools and their critics are locked in fierce debate over how the city funds and allocates space to charter schools. That dispute is central to a lawsuit, filed in May by the UFT and NAACP, that seeks to stop 16 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding. The lawsuit alleges that some charter schools receive disproportionate public resources, and some of its backers say the City Council earmark is another example. Teacher activist Norm Scott called the funding "a double outrage, maybe a triple outrage."
June 30, 2011
Construction for Success Academy at Brandeis may begin soon
A judge today opened the door for construction to start at Brandeis Educational Complex in preparation for a charter school to move into the building. The hearing was a part of the lawsuit filed by Brandeis parents to stop Upper West Success Academy from opening in the Brandeis campus, which is currently home to five high schools. The city has said that it needs four weeks to prepare the building for Upper West Success, which would be the only elementary school in the building. Since teachers are set to begin work on August 2 and classes start August 24, construction on an elementary-only cafeteria and multipurpose room would need to begin immediately. Judge Paul Feinman chose not to extend the temporary restraining order against those plans, saying that it made sense to allow some construction to begin in case the co-location was given a green light. "I don't see what harm there is to allow construction on the first floor to move forward," he said.
June 27, 2011
Charter school advocates demand UFT apology but get debate
Charter school parents and advocates protest outside UFT headquarters today. Charter school parents and teachers took their fight against the UFT and NAACP's school closure and co-location lawsuit to the headquarters of the main group that filed it. About 250 people gathered this morning outside the United Federation of Teachers' Lower Manhattan offices to demand that the union drop the lawsuit, which would stop 16 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding. They emphasized that some charter schools are set to start their school years in as few as six weeks but don't yet know where or if they will be opening. The protest was the first that specifically targeted the teachers union since the lawsuit was filed May 18. Last month, a much larger group of protesters rallied outside the Harlem headquarters of the NAACP, which joined the UFT in the suit. Protesters chanted a series of slogans for nearly an hour, at one point shouting "UFT: Apologize" for more than three minutes straight. The demand referenced a statement made last week by a union lawyer that he would not negotiate with charter school advocates until they apologized to the NAACP. UFT officials took a softer line today, handing out baked goods and hats emblazoned with the union's logo. Later, two UFT officials rolled a coffee cart along the side of the protest bullpen.
June 23, 2011
Charter school backers decline offer to apologize to NAACP
A small window of opportunity to resume settlement talks between dueling sides in the charter school co-location lawsuit has been slammed shut. On Tuesday, an…
June 23, 2011
For newly-freed charter schools, different paths to dismissal
The three schools released from the UFT and NAACP lawsuit this week followed different paths to legal freedom. The case for one of the schools relied on a broad base of community support, but a single man, Geoffrey Canada, made the case for the other two schools. Charter school advocates believe Canada's profile as a well-regarded, African-American education reformer made him an unpopular target for the NAACP. They say the decision to drop these schools from the lawsuit, which charges that the co-locations give preferential treatment to charter school students, weren't made on legal merits. "It makes it pretty clear that it’s not about equity. It's not about the children," said Rafiq Kalam Id-Din II, whose new school in Bedford-Stuyvesant is named in the suit. "This is about politics." Girls Preparatory Academy was unique from the other 17 schools named in the suit because its co-location plan had already received widespread community support. At the initial public hearing in February, both of the schools' leaders endorsed co-location, as did Lisa Donlan, the district's Community Education Council president and a frequent charter school critic. “There was not one person who opposed this co-location,” Donlan said.
June 21, 2011
No ruling in court date, decision on co-location lawsuit delayed
A highly-anticipated day in court in a fight over school closures and co-locations ended in a draw Tuesday afternoon, with both sides agreeing to keep a restraining order on any immediate plans for new schools. Judge Paul Feinman extended a temporary restraining order against the city's plans but said he needed more time to decide whether the plans should be halted permanently. That means the Department of Education is still prohibited from moving forward with any construction or renovation plans meant to set district school buildings up for co-location. That isn’t a huge concern at the moment, though, because school doesn't end for another week. The earliest planned construction for a co-location is at Brandeis High School, where the Upper West Success Academy is slated to open in the fall. That construction is supposed to begin July 1, but in a separate lawsuit, Feinman ordered a temporary stay construction there as well. Feinman isn’t likely to make a decision until after June 27, when the Panel for Educational Policy holds its next meeting. At that meeting, which some lawyers referred to as “D Day,” the PEP will vote on revised co-location plans for almost all of the charter schools listed in the lawsuit.
June 20, 2011
In NAACP lawsuit, settlement details emerge then quickly retract
An optimistic press release that was later retracted is the latest sign that discussions to settle a lawsuit over charter school co-locations are intensifying in advance of the suit's first day in court. On Friday, the NAACP announced an agreement with the Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott to remove three schools from its lawsuit against the Department of Education. The announcement did not explain the changes, but indicated that the same solution could potentially be applied to each of the 19 charter schools listed in the suit. "Our conversations with the Department of Education are beginning to bear fruit," NAACP CEO Ben Jealous said in a statement from the press release. "Resolution on these three schools gives us hope. It allows us to focus on reaching the same agreement with regard to other schools." But education department officials said they were caught off guard by the press release, which was later retracted. They immediately called charter school founders and principals to deny that a deal had been struck. In an email sent to the city's charter school network on Sunday, Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott, whom Jealous credited for the deal, said he was "outraged that the NAACP issued a false statement about an agreement that does not exist."
June 13, 2011
Parent group says it will file separate suit challenging closures
More litigation could be targeted at Tweed's plans to close struggling schools, even as one lawsuit seems to be headed toward an amicable settlement. The New York City Parents Union announced this afternoon that it plans to file a separate lawsuit against the Department of Education, charging that its policy of closing low-performing schools and co-locating charter schools in district space was illegal. The lawsuit, according to the announcement, would effectively stop all school closure and co-locations from moving forward. "We, the public school parents, challenge the cynical chicanery of Chancellor Walcott and the DOE. We reject the privatization agenda supported by Mayor Bloomberg and his appointees. Our children deserve the best education and a supportive administration, and we will fight for all children to receive equal access to a quality education," the statement said. The lawsuit would also seek to reverse charter school co-locations because they aren't charged market rent for space in district school buildings.
June 8, 2011
As city revises space-sharing plans, settlement looks possible
A contentious legal battle between the city and the teachers union could be inching toward a settlement as school officials race to re-write plans that are key to the dispute. In the past month, city officials have revised each of 20 space-sharing plans outlining how charter schools would be housed inside district buildings. The way that previous plans allocated space between charter and district schools is a central criticism of the teachers union's lawsuit. The sweeping revision effort is in direct response to the lawsuit, filed May 18, Chancellor Dennis Walcott acknowledged in a statement. Several of the plaintiffs listed on the lawsuit praised the revisions and indicated that they might lead to an out-of-court settlement. In a conference call with reporters, Ben Jealous, the president of the NAACP, a lead plaintiff in the suit, said his organization’s ultimate goal was to place all students in their school of choice. "We are open to all options to settle this suit," he said. Michael Mulgrew, the president of the United Federation of Teachers, said in an interview today that he was "happy" with the efforts. UFT lawyers, he said, have expressed cautious optimism that the revised plans would satisfy their demands. The city's move means that the plans, many of which were already approved by the Panel for Educational Policy, will require new votes by the PEP and new public hearings to solicit community feedback on their terms. The city began holding new hearings this week.
June 8, 2011
NAACP's Dukes defends suit: "I'm not against charter schools"
Hazel Dukes, the president of the NAACP of New York, said last night on NY1 that she supports charter schools but wants equal conditions for children attending district schools. In a television interview last night, the president of the NAACP of New York insisted that she does not oppose the opening of charter schools or the closure of failing schools — even as she defended her organization's role in a lawsuit that would reverse planned school closures and slow charter school growth. Speaking to NY1 Inside City Hall host Errol Louis, Hazel Dukes said that she only wanted district schools to have the same conditions as charter schools, which she praised. "Let's make it an equal playing field," she said. "That's not hard to do. We can do that with the stroke of a pen." She added, "My motive is not to keep any failing schools open. My motive has never been to say that teachers who can't teach need to be in schools. My motive is two things: justice and equality." Hazel Dukes said she her goal wasn't to prevent charters from opening but that the process was hurried. The biggest effect, she said, was overcrowding in school buildings, which she said has a disproportionate — and negative — impact on district school students. "Mr. Louis, tell me why all children can’t have the same amount of library time. Tell me why all children can’t have access to a playground," she said. The lawsuit, which the NAACP co-filed with the United Federation of Teachers and a host of elected officials and parents, aims to halt the closure of 22 district schools and plans to co-locate 20 charter schools inside district space. City school officials have said that a victory could disturb high school admission plans for the fall, and charter school leaders have said that, without the city space that they were counting on, they would not be able to open schools that children already plan to attend.
June 3, 2011
In court, UFT and NAACP ask for immediate halt to closure plans
UFT President Michael Mulgrew speaks at an NAACP rally Friday morning. The organizations are the primary plaintiffs on a lawsuit against the Department of Education. Seeking to force an immediately halt to the city's plans to close 22 schools and co-locate another 19 charter schools, the teachers union and the NAACP asked for a temporary restraining order against the Department of Education on Thursday. The court request would force the plans to end whether or not a judge rules in favor of the original lawsuit challenging the city's plans. That lawsuit, filed by the United Federation of Teachers and the NAACP last month, argues that the closures and co-locations create an unequal allocation of resources. City school officials immediately criticized the attempted restraining order, describing a colliding impact that they said would target thousands of high school students. Last year, when another lawsuit by the teachers union and the NAACP forced the city to reverse its plans to close struggling schools, the city delayed matching students to high schools until the outcome of the suit was clear. This year, the city has already matched students to high schools. It's not obvious what would happen to re-match students to closing high schools, but school officials said the process would be chaotic. “It would throw the high school admissions process into disarray,” a Department of Education official said, speaking on background.
June 2, 2011
NAACP fighting back with pro-lawsuit rally of its own
Pushing back against criticism of its involvement in a lawsuit that could negatively affect charter schools, the NAACP has announced plans to stage a rally of its own tomorrow. The historic civil rights group and its supporters plan to rally tomorrow morning outside the offices of the Success Charter Network. The charter school chain's CEO, Eva Moskowitz, was a leader in galvanizing parents to protest the NAACP's involvement in the lawsuit. The NAACP's rally, which will feature elected officials named as plaintiffs in the suit, is the latest episode in a dust-up that makes race a central issue in the ongoing battle over charter school co-locations. Since the NAACP signed on last month to a union-initiated lawsuit to stop 22 school closures and prevent 17 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding, charter school parents and advocates have been battering the group. Black parents whose children attend charter schools are questioning why the NAACP, which has long fought for education equity for black students, would stand in the way of their interests. They held a 2,500-person strong rally against the NAACP in Harlem last week and yesterday appeared at the Midtown office of the group's New York leader, Hazel Dukes. Last week, Dukes told me she joined the lawsuit for the same reason that the NAACP brought the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, which ended “separate but equal” schooling based on race. “Co-location is not the answer,” Dukes said. “We are setting up separate and unequal education.” "Because of the NAACP’s stand for all children, they are being criticized by those who seek to only divide our community, pitting parent against parent, and distorting the facts about the lawsuit against the NYC DOE," states a press release about the event tomorrow.
June 1, 2011
Charter parents get audience, but not agreement, with NAACP
The president of the NAACP's New York chapter kept her word to meet with angry charter school parents today — after 20 of them appeared at her Midtown office. The parents traveled to president Hazel Dukes' office this morning, four days after a large rally against the civil rights group's involvement in a lawsuit that could negatively affect several charter schools. A day before the rally, Dukes told GothamSchools, "Any parent that wants to meet with me, I will meet with them anywhere they want." Since then, more than 2,000 parents have signed on to a letter asking for a meeting with Dukes, according to Kerri Lyon, a spokeswoman for the New York City Charter School Center. But Ny Whitaker, whose child attends Harlem Success Academy, said she tried twice last week to schedule a meeting before telling an assistant that she would bring a group to Dukes' office today. When the group arrived this morning, Dukes invited its members in for a conversation. Dukes didn't accede to the parents' chief demand — that the NAACP withdraw from the lawsuit, which seeks to prevent 17 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding. But parents in the meeting said Dukes signaled a willingness to engage them in dialogue.
May 26, 2011
In Harlem, charter school parents and students target NAACP
Students and families protested today in Harlem against the NAACP's involvement in a lawsuit against school closures and charter school co-locations with district schools. (Chris Arp) About 2,500 people rallied in Harlem this morning, calling on the NAACP to withdraw from its lawsuit with the teachers union against the city Department of Education. That lawsuit seeks to stop the closure of 22 schools as well as the placement of several charter schools in district school space. Speakers at Thursday’s rally included charter school parents and teachers, Harlem Children's Zone president and CEO Geoffrey Canada, and the actor Seth Gilliam from “The Wire,” whose child is a on a waiting list for a charter school. Speakers and attendees denounced the NAACP’s participation in a lawsuit they said would harm charter schools primarily serving students of color. "Ms. Dukes, turn your back on this lawsuit,” said Kathy Kernizan, the parent of a student at the Uncommon Schools charter network, referring to Hazel Dukes, president of the NAACP New York State Conference. A letter to Dukes with signatures from charter school advocates was circulated through the crowd asking the organization to withdraw from the suit. A spokesperson for the New York City Charter Center, which helped organize the event, said that more than 2,000 signatures had been collected this week. “We gotta demand quality education,” Canada told the crowd. “We have to be prepared to fight for that.” The city Department of Education's proposal calls for two of the charter schools associated with the Harlem Children's Zone, the Promise Academy charter schools, to be co-located inside district schools. The charter center spokesperson said the protest, held outside the Harlem State Office building at 125th Street, was not the work of any one organization. But at least two groups appear to have taken leading roles: the charter center, an advocacy and support organization for charter schools in the city, and the Success Charter Network created by Eva Moskowitz. Many of the families at the rally had children at one of the Success network's nine schools. (Seven of the network's schools are named in the lawsuit.) Click here for a slideshow of photographs from the rally.
May 25, 2011
Some invitations to charter school rally omit its NAACP focus
Flier faxed today to City Councilman Robert Jackson The main purpose of a charter school parent rally tomorrow is to demand that the NAACP withdraw from a lawsuit that threatens some charter schools. But not everyone being recruited to the rally is being told that the NAACP is its intended target. The office of City Councilman Robert Jackson received a fax at 3:33 p.m. that asks elected officials to "support us and come speak at the rally tomorrow." The fax, whose origin was not identified, says the rally is "to save our schools from the lawsuit" and is signed "Harlem Parents." Jackson, who chairs the council's education committee, is one of the plaintiffs in a lawsuit filed by the UFT and NAACP to stop 22 school closures and prevent 17 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding. In fact, more than 1,600 parents have signed on to a letter to the NAACP, according to Kerri Lyon, a spokeswoman for the New York City Charter School Center, which is supporting the rally. "They clearly know who is standing in their way," Lyon said.
May 25, 2011
Charter parents to rally against NAACP's lawsuit involvement
Flyer outside Harlem Success Academy 1 on Tuesday. (Tony Richards) Charter school parents and advocates are planning a massive rally tomorrow to demand that the NAACP withdraw from the city teachers union's school closure lawsuit. The UFT is the lead plaintiff in the lawsuit to halt 22 school closures and prevent 17 charter schools from opening, moving, or expanding. But the New York State Conference of the NAACP also signed on, as it did last year to a similar suit that ultimately blocked 19 school closures. Last year's suit did not challenge the city's charter school co-location plans. Organizers expect the rally to draw thousands of attendees from dozens of charter schools, including all 17 named in the lawsuit, to 125 Street in Harlem at 8:45 a.m. Thursday. At least some schools are delaying classes to allow parents, teachers, and students to attend. Critics of the lawsuit "can march and have rallies all day long," said Hazel Dukes, president of the state NAACP chapter. "We will not respond." Dukes said she joined the lawsuit for the same reason that the NAACP brought the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education case, which ended "separate but equal" schooling based on race. "Co-location is not the answer," Dukes said. "We are setting up separate and unequal education." But city officials and charter school advocates say the civil rights group is working to stymie school options that would benefit mostly minority students.
May 18, 2011
Teachers union lawsuit takes aim at 22 school closures
For the second time in two years, the city teachers union is suing to stop the Bloomberg administration from closing schools and opening new ones in their place. The union's lawsuit, which it filed along with the NAACP and a host of elected officials and parents, challenges plans to close 22 of the 26 schools that education officials hope to phase out this year. Last year, the union successfully stopped the city from closing 19 schools by persuading a State Supreme Court judge that the closures violated various requirements in the state's education law. These ranged from not following the law about public notification of hearing dates to failing to failing to map out the predicted impact of school closures. This year, the city took pains to follow public notification rules, beginning the process earlier in the year, and by last month, 26 schools had ended up on the chopping block. Perhaps as a result, the United Federation of Teachers' argument against closures this year is broader and more complicated. And unlike last year, the union is also seeking to prevent charter schools from moving into public school buildings, charging that the city did not prove the co-locations would be equitable. “The department continues to insist that phase-outs and closures of schools and co-locating untested schools is the answer, while depriving the remaining students in those designated, 22 schools of the resources to succeed academically,” said Kenneth Cohen of the NAACP at a press conference this morning. Chancellor Dennis Walcott — who said he learned about the suit not from UFT President Michael Mulgrew but from a reporter this morning — said he was "saddened" by the suit. As deputy mayor, Walcott decried the NAACP last year for its involvement in the school closure lawsuit because he said the group prevented the city from improving school choices. "We totally disagree with the union," Walcott said. "We have met the letter of the law and we will continue to meet the letter of the law as far as these schools are concerned."
February 9, 2009
Dukes asks Assembly to bite the mayor like that groundhog did
Hazel Dukes, president of the New York NAACP, urged Assembly members to make changes to mayoral control By now you know a bunch of the highlights from the big mayoral control hearing Friday. Diane Ravitch argued for taking power away from the mayor, the administration argued for keeping it, and some students summed the whole thing up pretty nicely. But there were other highlights, too, that I didn't go over Friday. Here's a rundown: New York NAACP President Hazel Dukes charged the Bloomberg administration with over-stating its civil rights accomplishments. "Despite repeated claims, the achievement gap has not diminished in any grades or subjects since this administration came to office," she said. Dukes also advised Assembly members to carve into the mayor's control of the schools by adding checks and balances to the power of the mayor and chancellor. "You got to put the teeth in now, and when they don't do it, just like that groundhog did the other day, you're going to have to bite," she said. "We need to make sure that no man, not any man in this city or woman can just have all the power about our children." Assemblyman Daniel O'Donnell, whose sister is the famous TV personality Rosie O'Donnell, criticized the Bloomberg administration for having too few educators control education policy. He described a meeting with a senior education policy aide to the mayor. When O'Donnell asked about her background, the adviser said she went to school, became a lawyer, and has siblings who are educators. "My sister used to have a very famous talk show, but that doesn't make me qualified to be an executive at NBC," O'Donnell said.
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