School Shutdowns Trigger Growing Backlash
In five cities, groups wage war on school shutdowns
As school closures are increasingly used as a remedy to budget woes and a solution to failing schools in many cities, debates are intensifying about their effect on student performance and well-being, on district finances, and on communities and the processes districts use to choose which schools will be shuttered.
Student and parent groups in Chicago, the District of Columbia, New York, Newark, N.J., and Philadelphia gathered in Washington late last month to call for a moratorium on school closings and filed separate complaints with the U.S. Department of Education's office for civil rights. In those complaints, the groups allege that in previous rounds of school closings, their districts have not been transparent and have been influenced by outside interests, such as charter school operators. They also argue that the closings have had a harmful and disparate impact on minority students and communities. Each of the districts has predicted new closures for the coming school year.
"This has become the strategy of first instance, not of last resort," said Randi Weingarten, the president of the American Federation of Teachers, which has affiliates in the cities...
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