At a town hall meeting in Detroit, students, families, and teachers spoke out against the damage caused to them by the false promise of “school choice.” Allie Gross covered the meeting for the Detroit Free Press.

One parent described the wonderful school attended by his child with cerebral palsy; it was to save money.

“In 2008, Alfred Wright enrolled his son, Timothy, in kindergarten at Oakman Elementary/Orthopedic, a small school on the Detroit’s northwest side that specialized in teaching students with special needs.

“Timothy had recently been diagnosed with cerebral palsy, and the school — which came with spacious hallways, discreet changing rooms, small class sizes, and an on-site nurse — seemed like the perfect match.

“And, according to Wright, it was. For five years, he watched his son thrive in the close-knit and accepting community. Oakman not only was prepared to accommodate Timothy’s needs but it helped Wright, as a parent, better understand his child.

“But then the seemingly unexpected happened. In spring 2013, Roy Roberts, Detroit Public Schools’ second emergency manager, announced that Oakman would be one of six schools to close the following school year. It would add to the list of nearly 100 district schools that had shuttered since 2009, when the state took over DPS due to finance.

LWright and the rest of the parents were given two traditional public school options: one that was 1.2 miles away and the other that was 2.4 miles. Both choices fell within the bottom 5 percent of schools in the state for academic performance. More notably, neither were handicap accessible.

“All of the things we feared happened,” Wright said, explaining how issues at Henderson Academy, where Timothy ultimately ended up, ranged from bullying and isolation to a lack of knowledge and preparedness when it came to educating students with special needs.

”This reality — instability, uncertainty and inefficient resources — is why on Tuesday night, Wright and Timothy made their way to Wayne State University’s Law School to participate in an Education Town Hall hosted by the #WeChoose Campaign. A movement made up of 25 organizations from across that country — including the NAACP, Advancement Project, Dignity in Schools and Journey for Justice Alliance — the group is working to support racial justice and end educational inequality via, among many things, town hall gatherings that bring attention to what the group sees as “the illusion of school choice.”

“Parents, students, and educators do not choose the sabotage of their neighborhood schools, school closings, zero tolerance policies that target black and brown students, punitive standardized testing school deserts,” the group’s mission statement explains. “We choose equity, not the scam called school choice.”