Empower DC Education Outreach Day

On September 20, 2012 education stakeholders and advocates from all across the nation gathered to demand that a moratorium be placed on public school closings. If you weren’t able to make it, the short video below, produced by Grassroots Media Project producers Stephon Scarborough and Ben King, will give you a sense of what you missed.

Mayor Gray and DCPS will be announcing DCPS school closures this Fall. If you want to help fight school closures in Washington, DC, join Empower DC’s Education Outreach Day Saturday Oct. 20th. We are working to to push back against the narrative that Mayor Gray and Schools Chancellor Henderson are using to justify more school closures. Here are the details:

Saturday, October 20, 2012 @ 1:00 PM
Meet in front of the Minnesota Avenue Metro Station

If you are able to join us please contact Empower DC Education Campaign Organizer Daniel del Pielago at 202-234-9119 ext. 104 or Daniel@empowerdc.org.

For more on the resistance to school closures, I’ve cross-posted the following Washington Post article by Emma Brown

DCPS to propose school closures as resistance simmers

A long-anticipated round of proposed school closures will be announced in the next few weeks, Chancellor Kaya Henderson said Wednesday.

Then there will be a series of community meetings where residents have a chance to challenge the proposals. And by December, DCPS hopes to make final decisions about which schools will be shuttered.
Protesters rally against the coming round of school closures at DCPS headquarters Thursday morning. (Emma Brown/The Washington Post)

“We want to build in the time to hear from you,” Henderson said, speaking Wednesday before residents of River Terrace, a community that’s still smarting from the closure of its elementary school last spring.

In 2008, then-Chancellor Michelle Rhee moved swiftly to close 23 schools, sparking angry protests, political backlash and long-lasting distrust.

Henderson is banking on the idea that communities will be more willing to accept closures if they’ve had the chance to hear and respond to her proposals and rationales.

But resistance is simmering. Dozens of protesters gathered at DCPS headquarters Thursday morning to rally against the coming closures, calling them a veiled attempt to destabilize communities and speed gentrification of poor neighborhoods.

Parisa Norouzi, executive director of Empower DC, which organized the rally, said she doubted that DCPS will really listen to residents. “We have no reason to trust the process that Kaya Henderson has laid out,” she said.

Parents — many pointing to a report issued this year that recommended closing many public schools and replacing them with public charters — described the closures as part of a larger attempt to destroy the city’s traditional public education system.

“The answer is not charter schools, the answer is fortifying traditional public schools,” said Schyla Pondexter-Moore, a Ward 8 parent of four. “I think children deserve a quality education at a school they can walk to.”

Henderson, meanwhile, has long argued that closures are a matter of fiscal reality. The city operates 225 public schools — including traditional and charter schools — for 76,000 kids. Meanwhile, Fairfax County has the same number of schools — and more than twice the kids.

The D.C. protesters were joined Thursday by activists from Detroit, Chicago, Philadelphia and other cities where charter schools are thriving and public schools are closing.

This reporter left the rally just before noon, when perhaps a hundred activists were chanting and singing in front of DCPS headquarters. Organizers said their numbers later swelled into the hundreds as they marched to the U.S. Education Department to call for a five-year moratorium on school closures nationwide.


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