Archives for category: Closing schools

A large national alliance of civil rights organizations has joined under the umbrella heading of “Journey for Justice.”

This coalition has called for the resignation of Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

To understand why, read the flyer it distributed.

Anyone who thinks that closing public schools and replacing them with privately managed charters and with vouchers is somehow part of the civil rights movement has no understanding of the purposes of the civil rights movement.

It was not to destroy the public sector but to assure access to good education, decent housing, and jobs without any racial discrimination.

It struggled for equality of educational opportunity, not privatization or a “race to the top.”.

It did not claim that poverty could be cured by “fixing” schools or privatizing them.

It demanded an end to poverty by creating jobs and justice.

It fought segregation in schools and housing.

That vision is not the vision of the corporate reform movement in education today.

It fights not for equality of opportunity but for a market-based system of winners and losers.

It accepts segregation as tolerable.

It is not a civil rights movement.

The Journey for Justice calls out these contradictions and speaks truth to power.

“A National Grassroots Education Alliance”


Alliance for Education Justice

Washington, DC

Empower DC

Chicago, IL

Kenwood Oakland Community Organization

Baltimore, MD

Baltimore Algebra Project

Detroit, MI

Keep the Vote, No Takeover

Black Parents for Quality Education

Newark, NJ

Parents United for Local School Education

New York, NY

Alliance for Quality Education

Urban Youth Collaborative

Philadelphia, PA

Philadelphia Student Union



Leadership Center for the Common Good

Oakland, CA

Oakland Public Education Network

Los Angeles, CA

Labor Community Strategy Center

Hartford, CT

Parent Power

Atlanta, GA

Project South

Miami, FL

Power U

Chicago, IL

Action Now

Wichita, KS

Kansas Justice Advocates

New Orleans, LA

Concerned Conscious Citizens Controlling Community Changes

Coalition for Community Schools

Boston, MA

Boston Youth Organizing Project

Boston Parent Organizing Network

Detroit, MI

Detroit LIFE Coalition

Minneapolis, MN

Neighborhoods Organizing for Change

Eupora, MS

Fannie Lou Hamer Center for Change

Camden, NJ

Camden Education Association

Englewood, NJ

Citizens for Public Education

Jersey City, NJ

Parent Advocates for Children’s Education

Concerned Citizens Coalition

Paterson, NJ

Paterson Education Organizing Committee

Philadelphia, PA

Action United

Youth United for Change



Annenberg Institute for School Reform

Chicago, IL

Teachers for Social Justice


Laurie R. Glenn

Phone: 773.704.7246




Journey for Justice Demonstrations Spearhead Campaign To Restore United Nations’ Proclaimed Human Right To Education

WHAT:   In light of a rash of school closings targeting low income communities of color in cities throughout the country, a national 25-city coalition is calling for U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan’s resignation. In the midst of the 50th anniversary for the March On Washington, which sought to end segregation and job discrimination, members of the Journey for Justice Alliance have banded together to fight the continued privatization of public schools under Secretary Duncan’s leadership.

Students, parents and advocacy representatives all over the country will come together in local actions to demand a stop to the destabilization of low-income communities of color and restore the human and civil right to a quality and safe education for all children.

National Journey for Justice Alliance demands include:

  • ·         Moratorium on school closings, turnarounds, phase-outs, and charter expansions.
  • ·         It’s proposal for sustainable school transformation to replace failed, market-driven interventions as support for struggling schools.
  • ·         Resignation of U.S. Secretary of Education Arne Duncan.

WHO/WHERE:   Journey for Justice members and groups will hold local actions in 25 cities across the country including: Oakland, Calif.; San Jose, Calif.; Los Angeles; Hartford, Conn.; District of Columbia; Atlanta; Miami; Chicago; Wichita, Kan.; New Orleans; Baltimore; Minneapolis; Camden, N.J.; Englewood, N.J.; Paterson, N.J.; Jersey City, N.J.; Newark; New York; North Carolina, Boston; Detroit; Eupora, Miss.; Jackson, Miss.; Philadelphia; South Carolina.

WHEN:   Events will be held Monday, August 27th – Thursday, August 29th, 2013

WHY:  A clear pattern of racial and economic discrimination documented by the Annenberg Institute for School Reform has demonstrated that while there have been advances in the nation, as shown by the election of the nation’s first black president, the federal administration’s policies have embodied education strategies that continue to perpetuate racial and class bias and support inequality in education.

Despite research showing that closing public schools does not improve test scores or graduation rates, the federal agenda has incentivized the privatization of schools with primary fall out on low-income communities of color. Explosive school closings resulting from this agenda violates the United Nations proclamation of 1948, Article 26 ( establishing the inalienable human right of every child – regardless of race, income or community — to receive a quality education in a safe environment.

Journey for Justice is a national grassroots alliance whose goal is to bring the voice of those directly impacted by discriminatory school actions into the debate about the direction for public education in the 21st century and to promote equality in education for all students and sustainable, community-driven school reform for all school districts across the country.


Chicago Public Schools say they are out of money, but look where they are spending money freely.

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE – Representatives available for print or broadcast media interviews

Amy Smolensky, 312-485-0053

Parent Group, Raise Your Hand Blasts CPS for Budget Priorities –

Cuts Disproportionately Hit District Run Schools while Charter and Central Office Spending Increases

CHICAGO, AUGUST 21 2013 — With just days left until school starts, parent group Raise Your Hand is calling on the city and CPS to stop the attack on district-run schools and restore funding so that children can start school with a dignified school day.

After reviewing the budget, Raise Your Hand is alarmed to find many areas of increased and spending to Central Office including:

· $8.8 million for Family and Community Engagement Department – increased from last year
· $50.4 million for Office of Innovation and Incubation – $22.2 million increase
· $41 million for new school development (after CPS closed 50 schools due to a “utilization crisis”)
· $68 million for Talent office – $22 million increase
· $20 million for no-bid SUPES contract
· $19 million Strategy Management Office – $10 million increase
· $14 million Accountability Office –same as last year despite claims that CPS is making significant reductions in standardized testing

Cuts to traditional district run schools are at $162 million while charters got an overall increase of $85 million dollars.

“CPS says they have no alternatives but to make these school-based cuts,” says parent Jeff Karova of Darwin Elementary. “Clearly CPS has chosen to increase spending in certain areas very far away from the classroom while cutting essential programs critical to the development and learning of our children.”

*Raise Your Hand has analyzed cuts to programs across the district and has found:
At the elementary level:
· 68 schools lost an art position
· 47 schools lost a music position
· 19 schools lost a performing arts position
· 51 schools lost a librarian position
· 22 schools lost a technology position
· 77 schools lost a reduced class size position

At the High School Level, cuts include:
· 90 English positions
· 28 Music positions
· 14 Art positions
· 37 History positions
· 28 Librarian positions
· 22 Social Studies positions
· 21 Biology positions
· 6 Chemistry positions
· 3 Physics positions
· 50 Math positions

130 bilingual positions at the elementary and high school level and 530 special education positions.

*The above is not a comprehensive list. There are other program areas impacted by budget cuts. RYH found these cuts on the cps budget site under “Budget by Program/Instruction/School”

“The ‘full’ school day is full of rhetoric,” says Wendy Katten, Executive Director of Raise Your Hand. “It is unclear how CPS and the mayor plan to have the children of Chicago college and career ready, let alone fully engaged in school with these kinds of devastating cuts. We have called on the mayor to restore some of the TIF surplus all summer but after seeing the amount of money spent in extraneous areas, we feel the mayor has more than one option for restoring these cuts.”

Raise Your Hand recognizes that a long term solution for revenue is critical and the pension holiday that CPS took for 3 years has impacted the deficit, yet the group insists that the problem can and must be minimized for the 2013-14 School Year and can be addressed before school starts.

The following parent/Raise Your Hand Representatives are available for interviews:
Wendy Katten -773-704-0336
Dwayne Truss – 773-879-5216
Jeff Karova – 312-316-8054
Cassie Creswell – 716-536-9313

About Raise Your Hand for Illinois Public Education: Raise Your Hand is a growing coalition of Chicago and Illinois public school parents, teachers and concerned citizens advocating for equitable and sustainable education funding, quality programs and instruction for all students and an increased parent voice in policy-making around education.

Amy Smolensky

Earlier today, I published Judith Shulevitz’s brilliant essay on “disruption” as a business strategy.

As we know, mega-corporations believe they must continually reinvent themselves in order to have the latest, best thing and beat their competitors, who are about to overtake them in the market.

They believe in disruption as a fundamental rule of the marketplace.

By some sloppy logic or sleight-of-hand, the financial types and corporate leaders who think they should reform the nation’s schools have concluded that the schools should also be subject to “creative disruption” or just plain “disruption.”

And so we have the unaccredited Broad Superintendents Academy, underwritten by billionaire Eli Broad, sending out superintendents who are determined to “disrupt” schools by closing them and handing them over to private management.

Unfortunately, Secretary Arne Duncan agrees that disruption is wonderful, so he applauds the idea of closing schools, opening new schools, inviting the for-profit sector to compete for scarce funds, and any other scheme that might disrupt schools as we know them.

He does this believing that U.S. education is a failed enterprise and needs a mighty shaking-up.

First, he is wrong to believe that U.S. public education is failing. I document that he is wrong in my new book, Reign of Error: The Hoax of the Privatization Movement and The Danger to America’s Public Schools, using graphs from the U.S. Department of Education website.

Second, “disruption” is a disaster for children, families, schools, and communities.

Think of little children. They need continuity and stability, not disruption. They need adults who are a reliable presence in their lives. But, following the logic of the corporate reformers, their teachers are fired, their school is closed, everything must be brand new or the kids won’t learn.  No matter how many parents and children turn out at school board meetings to plead for the life of their neighborhood schools, the hammer falls and it is closed. This is absurd.

Think of adolescents. When they misbehave, we say they are “disruptive.” Now we are supposed that their disruptive behavior represents higher order thinking.

But no one can learn when one student in a class of thirty is disruptive.

Disruptive policies harm families because after the closing of the neighborhood school, they are expected to shop for a school. They are told they have “choice,” but the one choice denied to them is their neighborhood school. Maybe one of their children is accepted as the School of High Aspirations, but the other didn’t get accepted and is enrolled in the School for Future Leaders on the other side of town. That is not good for families.

Disruption is not good for communities. In most communities, the public school is the anchor of community life. It is where parents meet, talk about common problems, work together, and learn the fundamental processes of democratic action.

Disruption destroys local democracy. It atomizes families and communities, destroying their ability to plan and act together on behalf of their community.

By closing their neighborhood school, disruption severs people from the roots of their community. It fragments community.

It kneecaps democracy.

City after city is now suffering a “disruptive” assault on public education. Mayor Rahm Emanuel closed dozens of schools in Chicago; Mayor Michael Bloomberg closed dozens of schools in New York City; public education in Detroit is dying; Philadelphia public schools are on life support, squeezed by harsh budget cuts and corporate faith in disruption and privatization.

But the disruptive strategy won’t be confined to urban districts. As the tests for the new national Common Core standards are introduced in state after state, disruption and havoc will produce what corporate reformers are hoping for: a loss of faith in public education; a conviction that it is broken beyond repair; and a willingness to try anything, even to allow for-profit vendors to take over the responsibilities of the public sector. That is already happening in many states, where hundreds of milllions of dollars are siphoned away from public schools and handed over to disruptive commercial enterprises. It doesn’t produce better education, but it produces profits.

Maybe that is the point of disruption.

Judith Shulevitz has written
a brilliant
essay in “The Néw Republic” about the
corporate and political leaders’ infatuation with “disruption.” It
is “the most pernicious cliche of our time.” She identifies its
author, Clayton Christenson, and shows how it explains some
technological change yet is now used in policy circles to undermine
and privatize public functions. Shulevitz observes: “Christensen
and his acolytes make the free-market-fundamentalist assumption
that all public or nonprofit institutions are sclerotic and unable
to cope with change. This leads to an urge to disrupt,
preemptively, from above, rather than deal with disruption when it
starts bubbling up below….they don’t like participatory democracy
much. “The sobering conclusion,” write Christensen and co-authors
in their book about K–12 education, “is that democracy … is an
effective tool of government only in” less contentious communities
than those that surround schools. “Political and school leaders who
seek fundamental school reform need to become much more comfortable
amassing and wielding power because other tools of governance will
yield begrudging cooperation at best.” This observation leads to an
enlightening discussion of the Broad-trained superintendents and
their love of disruption. When they move into districts to impose
transformation and disruption, they sow dissension and turmoil.
None of this is good for children.

Jan Resseger here examines the shifting rationales for school closures. Please be sure to read her blog.

School closures are a signature issue of the corporate reform movement.

When schools close, the students are dispersed, usually to equally low-performing schools.

When schools close, communities are shattered.

Closing schools is a classic strategy of corporate reform, because it is disruptive, innovative, and transformational, though not in good ways.

The ideology of school closings is rooted in the business model, the belief that the school board owns a “portfolio” of schools, like a stock portfolio, and that it can kill off the losers (by closing them) and end up with a better portfolio.

The portfolio strategy, also known as the diverse provider model, is inappropriate for schools, which serve communities and which should be strengthened and supported, not destroyed.

There is no evidence that school closures have any relationship to better education for students.

Jan Resseger writes:

School Closure: Is the Issue Underutilization or Punishment?

We have been watching a wave of school closures in Chicago and Philadelphia and other big cities.  Officials justify the need for school closures by pointing to “underutilized” buildings and cost savings.

Here are two pieces that question the conventional rationale for school closure. The Opportunity to Learn Campaign just released a new info-graphic Debunking the Myths of School Closures.  “You can’t improve schools by closing them,” declares this resource, as it provides data to demonstrate that: “Most students won’t go to better schools.”  “Closures won’t save the district big bucks.” “These aren’t empty schools.” “Closures do have a big impact on everyone.”

Writing for Catalyst-Chicago, Sara Karp investigates the black-box of the Chicago school district budget, where she is unable to document claims of budget savings, this time from purported cuts to central office expenditures.  Karp reports that one part of the central office budget has exploded from $5 million in 2011 to $88 million in 2013: the Office of Portfolio that authorizes and manages new schools.

Chicago is a major practitioner of the “portfolio school reform” theory being actively promoted by the Gates Foundation and its partner, the Center for Reinventing Public Education at the University of Washington.  This is the idea that a district should manage its schools like a business portfolio with constant churn as high-scoring schools are rewarded and so-called “failing” schools are closed.

One must always ask whether the district prepared the school for “failure” by moving out students, teachers, and important programs to prepare for the closure.  And one must be sure to remember that school closure is one of the so-called turnaround models being prescribed by the U.S Department of Education for low-scoring schools.  Because standardized test scores are, more than anything, a wealth indicator, we see a mass of school closures these days in communities where poverty is concentrated.

Our society’s most urgent national educational priority must be to invest in improving the public schools in our urban communities rather than punishing them, punishing their teachers, closing the schools or privatizing them. 

What happens when privately managed charter schools replace public schools? when experienced teachers are replaced by TFA temporary teachers? A reader comments:

“From what I can tell, Arizona’s TFA teachers are thought of as rock stars in education. Knights in shining armor to save the school day. It’s the new baby and everyone loves it. Charters are popping up all over the place. The buildings are beautiful. The shiny new baubles in town capture the eye of many parents who have bought the propaganda that public schools suck. No facts, just feelings…look at where MY kid is going to school. WE are better parents than those public school parents. I think I’m going to be sick…of a broken heart over the demise of what once was the center of a community…the neighborhood school where a sense of belonging made all the difference.”

Under a recently passed state law in Michigan, two school districts will be dissolved.

Inkster and Buena Vista school districts no longer exist.

Their students and teachers have scattered.

The students are looking for schools, the teachers are looking for jobs.

The districts have no say in the matter.

In Governor Snyder’s rush to impose his brand of “reform” on Michigan public schools, local control means nothing. The only thing that matters is destabilizing districts and schools to the maximum extent possible. Just as Mayor Rahm Emanual and Mayor Michael Bloomberg have closed scores of schools without any concern for the views of parents and the local community, Michigan decided to put an end to these two districts because of their deficits. At least 50 more may be on the chopping block before long.

Joy Resmovits reports on Huffington Post that students are being sent to other districts that are in financial distress and also low-performing.

The stories are heartbreaking. Many of the students are enrolling in the public schools of Saginaw, which also has a big deficit. Saginaw plans to lay off all its arts teachers.

Is this a sick society or what? Doesn’t the state of Michigan have a constitutional responsibility to maintain a system of free public education?

A newspaper story in Indiana says that if Tony Bennett had given the same break to other schools that he give to his favorite GOP campaign contributor, two Indianapolis schools would not have been closed.

But unfortunately neither school had contributed to GOP campaigns, so there was no reason to save them.

Which reminds me that I received this tweet:

Angel Cintron, Jr.

Bennett’s rubric:

A=awesome donor

B=barely donated

C=can’t afford it

D=Democratic district

F=Free public school

Bruce Baker brilliantly explains here why he won’t use the term “corporate reform.”

The strategies now being imposed on the schools have failed when applied in corporate settings, he writes.

He looks at the use of two now-popular “reform” ideas in education: the portfolio model and evaluation by results.

The portfolio model is based on the belief that schools should compete, and that those in charge should close the ones that don’t have high test scores while adding new ones.

Baker shows that when Sears tried the portfolio model, it was a disaster.

Units competed with one another, and each one thought only about what was good for its own survival.

There was, as one would predict, the worst kind of competition for survival, with cream skimming.

The overall results were devastating to the corporation.

When IBM tried to reverse its declining fortunes, it adopted a competitive employee rating system.

This too was a disaster.

(Edwards Deming could have predicted these disasters, but that’s another subject.)

So, Baker argues that current education reform should not be called “corporate reform” because good corporations would never do what the “reformers” now insist upon.

But, I will continue to use the term “corporate reform” because I think he proves the point that I make.

The bad ideas now infesting public education came from the corporate sector, where they failed.

They are failed corporate ideas that are being imposed on public schools, where they also fail.

It is important to understand why they failed in the corporate world, because it helps to explain why they are failing in the education world.

So I will continue to refer to the “reformers” as corporate reformers because it captures the origins of their bad ideas.

They are the people insisting upon the portfolio model, upon teacher evaluation models that turn teaching into a metrical exercise, upon data as the goal of education, upon turning everything into a metric, upon closing community schools, upon lowering standards for entry into teaching. They are the people who think that Big Data can solve all problems, even those that can’t be measured. They are the people who say “you measure what you treasure,” although they sometimes say, “you treasure what you measure.” And they say, “if you can’t measure it, you can’t control it.”

If someone has a better term than “corporate reform,” I’m all ears.


The Badass Teachers Association has produced a series of videos to explain the intricacies and deceptions of corporate reform.

The first laid out the corporate reform strategy.

The second examined the Broad superintendents.

The third looks closely at the legacy of Michelle Rhee.

The thesis that ties them together is that “reform” is a house of cards built on lies that will inevitably fall down, as houses of cards tend to do.


Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 158,780 other followers