Monday, February 04, 2013

NYC School Closures Accused of Discrimination

You really just can’t make up stuff like this – what irony! Stick poor and minority kids with schools that fail them, year in and year out, decade in and decade out, generation after generation, yet when at long last a mayor and superintendent with a spine come along and try to close down these dropout factories, they get sued because the closures “discriminate” against minority, poor, and special-ed kids. Of course the reality is that closing (or even threatening to close) these horrific schools – schools that the people suing to stop the closures would never, in a million years, send their own kids to (more irony!) – is a BENEFIT to the kids stuck in them (and even more so to the ones who will follow them).

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.

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