Chicago, IL – School closings are a civil rights issue, according to a South Side community organizer. Jitu Brown is spearheading a national movement to thwart school closing on civil rights infringement grounds.
Brown is known as an education organizer for the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, DNAinfo.com Chicago reports. He recently attended a hearing which featured Education Secretary Arne Duncan in Washington, D.C. and senior Obama administration staff. Representatives from several cities claimed that school closing unfairly target poor African-American neighborhoods.
Chicago was one of the featured cities at the education hearing. Representatives from New Orleans, Oakland, Detroit,and Philadelphia were also heard during the education hearing.
Jitu Brown had this to say about school closing being a civil rights issue:
“Regardless of the results of their civil rights investigations, we know that our civil rights have been violated. Our children know it, and our communities know it. It really doesn’t matter what their rationale is, because it changes from year to year, it changes within the yaer. I think the overall goal is to empty these schools out.
The Chicago community organizer also noted that some school districts in his city target “underachieving or “underutilized” schools. Some critics of school closings feel closing such schools are tantamount to blaming the “victims of poverty.”
A Chicago Public Schools spokeswoman noted that all students have access to “high quality” school options. The school closing guidelines last year centered around academic performance, this year on utilization.
Community organizers have tried to file a lawsuit based upon the civil rights school closings argument in the past – the cases were thrown out of court. Jitu Brown’s goal is to show a pattern of race-based school closures throughout America. He feels he could then get the federal Department of Education to push back against such school closings or institute a flat-out moratorium, Color Lines notes.
If a requested meeting with Education Secretary Duncan does not pan out during the next two weeks, the community organizers are going to push Attorney General Eric Holder to start a civil rights case over the school closings.
Do you think school closings are a valid civil rights issues, or merely based upon academic and budgetary shortfalls?
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