This Week in Education Organizing - Dec. 18, 2015

The Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools Newsletter
  December 18, 2015

Welcome to our December 18 newsletter! We'll be on hiatus the next two weeks - so check your inbox again on January 8 for our next issue. In the meantime, share the latest stories from your city or state with us on Twitter and Facebook. Don't forget to tell your friends and colleagues to sign up for our newsletter here.

Federal Compaints
After a march in May 2014, Jitu Brown (Journey
for Justice Alliance) submits Title VI complaints
on behalf of students and parents in Newark,
Chicago and New Orleans.

In a victory for grassroots organizers in Newark, the Newark Public School district has reached a landmark agreement with the U.S. Department of Education following a federal civil rights investigation into the discriminatory impact of school closures on students of color. Parents Unified for Local School Education and the Advancement Project filed a Title VI complaint in 2014 outlining the harmful impact of the school closures and charter conversions that took place under the One Newark school reform plan. The new federal agreement stipulates how the district will remedy the harm to students impacted by the closures and conversions. Read PULSE NJ's press release on their homepage and read more about the agreement here.

Kesi Foster of the Urban Youth Collaborative wrote a great op-ed for City Limits last week criticizing the city's recent decision to provide up to $20 million in funding to private and religious schools to hire security guards. The new law further strips resources away from public schools in a district that is already strapped for cash. Read Foster's op-ed here.

Atlanta report press conference
  "Investing in What Works" press conference.
Picture via Southern Education Foundation.

On Thursday, the Annenberg Institute for School Reform and the Southern Education Foundation released a new report criticizing the proposed state takeover district in Georgia and urging the state to instead turn to evidence-based reform strategies such as sustainable community schools. The report, “Investing in What Works,” also urges a grassroots-based community-visioning process to determine what students, families and educators want to see change in their public schools. The proposed “Opportunity School District” in Georgia would establish a state-run district through which low-performing schools could be converted into charters. Read the new report here.

Anna Jones, one of the parents who led an 34-day hunger strike in Chicago to save Dyett High School last August, made the Chicago Reader's 2015 People Issue! Having helped successfully push Mayor Rahm Emanuel to keep Dyett open, Jones talks in an interview profile about what drove her to put her body on the line to defend the rights of her four children. As she explains it, "Seeing my children starved of education was killing me more than not eating would." Read her powerful interview here.

Boston students testify on charter discipline
Boston students and alumni testify on
charter school discipline policies.
Picture via @BSACbuzz.

On Tuesday, Massachusetts Jobs with Justice released a report following the Wall Street money behind Families for Excellent Schools, an organization pushing to expand charter schools in Massachusetts. In addition to hedge fund money, FES also receives contributions from local billionaires, while the state Secretary of Education, James Peyser, sits on the organization's board of directors. Read the report here.

Also in Massachusetts: As the charter school debate heats up, MTA president Barbara Madeloni penned a great column for The Boston Globe highlighting a call from the Massachusetts Education Justice Alliance to institute a three-year moratorium on new charter schools. Boston students and alumni also testified at Boston City Hall about the impact of harsh discipline policies at charter schools.

Last spring, the Wisconsin legislature passed a school takeover bill that requires Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele to convert 1-3 public schools in Milwaukee to charters this year and up to five every year afterwards. After thousands of parents, educators and students held "walk-ins" at over 100 Milwaukee public schools in September, Abele started to back down. Recently, Milwaukee Teachers Education Association Vice President Amy Mizialko confronted Abele at a public meeting and seemed to win his commitment to the “one and done” plan in which he will convert one empty building to a charter this year and no more after that. Watch a video of the confrontation here.


MASSACHUSETTS - Jan. 16: The Boston Student Advisory Council will be hosting a statewide Youth Summit to discuss education policies, share experiences, and to learn how students can help shape school discipline policies. Details here.

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