Dear Concerned School Community Member:
Closing schools has turned into an epidemic across the United States. In NYC, school after school has been closed. It is time that students, parents, educators, and community members stand together and fight against this harmful practice.
School closures only happen in low-income communities and disproportionately impact students and families of color. Instead of getting to the root of problems, closure causes harm as it scatters students, pushes veteran teachers out, and hands space over to charter schools which do not serve all students, and often use racist “zero-tolerance” discipline policies. In many cases space and even whole buildings have been handed over to charter schools. Closures damage the school system as a whole, making every school with a majority of families with low incomes fear that their school will be the next one closed.
Mayor De Blasio has continued the closures that Bloomberg started. His Renewal Schoo
l Program claimed to give resources to struggling schools, but the truth is that most of the money was spent on outside consultants, instead of giving the schools the resources they actually need.
We seek to expose the failed policy of closing schools. We demand the city provide adequate resources for all schools, and we bring people together to advocate for finding real solutions to socio-economic problems such as low-wages, homelessness and poverty that affect so many of our students. Many of us are teachers who are members of the Movement of Rank and File Educators (MORE), a caucus within the United Federation of Teachers.
Some people see this as “a done deal” and do not see the point in fighting. But as long as this policy continues we are all under threat. We need as many school communities as possible to voice opposition to school closings and to advance alternatives. It’s powerful when people from different schools facing possible closure meet and share experiences.
This will be a long-term effort to defend public schools as stable institutions serving communities against a false narrative of failure; to stop charter schools from expanding and pushing out students who need the most help; to keep veteran teachers and staff in place; and to insist we need real solutions to low-wages, the housing crisis, unemployment, racial inequalities and other problems facing students and communities.
We want to work together to:
- express different schools’ needs and defend schools from closure.
- get the word out to elected officials, the press, and community groups.
- use social media to inform the public and win their support.
- attend all hearings about schools under attack
- gain leverage by coming together across schools.
We need a sustained campaign to stop all school closures and phase outs, and to win the schools our children deserve. To find out more contact the Movement of Rank & File Educators at firstname.lastname@example.org
Things to do
POSSIBLE FIRST STEPS:
- Invite people to come to hearings on your school. Get everyone working on some part of this list.
- Inform students and their families of the threat of closure, and find out who would like to stop the closure.
- Often people are uncomfortable fighting authority. Let them know that they can speak–and if they are too shy that they can comment anonymously–they still should speak their minds.
- Begin a contact list of supporters, including alumni
- Send comments from the community to the DOE (The PEP will only see numbers pro and con and some excerpts–they are NOT given the full comments.)
- Inform the DOE of the need for translators in all languages spoken by the community’s families. When possible recruit your own translators as well
- Get to know the local press, and invite them to all hearings and community meetings.
- Get the word out! Ask them to speak on behalf of your school — call and get put on the agenda to speak at SLT meetings, CEC meetings, Community Board meetings, local houses of worship, meetings of your elected officials, participatory budget meetings.
- Find a regular meeting time for those who are working on fighting the closure or co-location.
- Invite elected officials to meet with students, teachers and families to propose positive approaches to meeting the community’s needs
- Invite the Board of Regents to come and meet with the community that is trying to save the school
- Continue to build your contact list
- Meet people from other schools that have been or are now going through this process. Help each other.
- Work on other community-building actions, such as voter registration drives, participating regularly in community meetings
- Set up and use social media
- Celebrate the school, using documentation of work, performances, and other activities that keep your spirits up through this challenging time.
- Film meetings with the DOE, so that you can refer to their promises to you.