Monday, February 08, 2010

NAACP SAYS: Don't shut schools

Don't shut schools

Last Updated: 3:32 AM, February 6, 2010

Deputy Mayor Dennis Walcott, Mayor Bloomberg and the United Federation of Teachers are supporters of the NAACP whom we cherish ("Closing Bad Schools," Walcott, PostOpinion, Feb. 2). But sometimes good friends have to fight with each other when principles are at stake.

Our lawsuit is about democracy and inclusion. The state mandates that, before closing schools, the city must seek parental input. This hasn't happened for the 13,000 students being moved, or for the often-overcrowded schools they'll be sent to.

Many of the schools scheduled to close serve students with intensive needs who were relocated from other closed schools. Some have high concentrations of special-needs students, students who don't speak English fluently and homeless students.

Merely shuffling kids to other stressed schools will not solve the problem. In Chicago, school closures did not improve scores or decrease dropout rates.

Many of these schools could be turned around with equitable resources for reducing class sizes, teacher support and emphasizing college readiness.

Instead, the mayor has spent money on a lobbyist for the Department of Education.

Every child in America has the right to a good school, which is often the only opportunity to escape a life of poverty.

Both parents and students should have their voices heard.

Hazel Dukes

President, NY State

Conference, NAACP

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