Thousands Of Black & Latino Kids Saw Their Schools Closed In 2013

January 2, 2014  |  

You’d think schools would be protected by government cuts, but thousands of black and Latinos lost their schools in 2013. And this happened all over the country.

In Philadelphia, a slew of school closures over the summer meant a longer, and often less safe, journey to other elementary and middle schools further away.

According to city officials the closed schools had been underutilized or were underperforming, and their closure, students have an opportunity to attend better-equipped schools.

Chicago closed about 150 schools over the past 10 years and in the city, 88 percent of the students affected by the school closures are African American. Philadelphia is just as bad–81 percent are black. In the city’s more than 93 percent of the affected students are from poor families. “The numbers have played out much the same way in Detroit, New York, Newark, NJ, Oakland and Washington, D.C. Parents of school children in each of these cities have filed federal complaints under the 1964 Civil Rights Act to fight school closings,” reports MSNBC.

The closures have forced students to have to travel longer to schools, often through unwelcoming neighborhoods. Plus, classroom sizes have gotten so large that students don’t have desks to sit in.

Despite this, officials have portrayed school closures has something that would improve education. Philadelphia’s Mayor Michael Nutter said in June that the school board “made tough choices, but they made the right choice. We need to downsize the system.”

Some other school building now house charter schools.

This has opened up the debate on charter schools, which are basically publicly funded schools with private management that operate. In many of the cities with mass school closings, officials have invested in the expansion of charter schools. And supporters of charter schools say the schools offer parents a quality option instead of failing neighborhood schools.

School officials in Newark recently caused an uproar when they announced massive school restructuring that included closing some schools and placing a number of charter schools in current district-owned buildings.

Over in Chicago, the Public Schools proposed the addition of 21 new privately run charter schools. This after closing nearly 50 schools over the summer. The district is facing a $1 billion deficit, yet a recent analysis showed that 21 new charter schools could cost taxpayers as much as $225 million over the next decade.

Race has played a major part in the closing.

With echoes of busing from the 1960s, the Missouri Supreme Court earlier this year upheld a ruling that allowed thousands of mostly poor black students to leave their failing school districts and attend better schools in far-off, affluent communities. White parents were angry about the decision, saying they feared that black students from poor communities would bring with them drugs and violence. Those fears never materialized.

“We get calls from black kids in jail every day, saying, we need some help. They all have three things in common that are consistently true: they are black, they come from a poor socioeconomic strata and they’ve had a poor damn education,” said Adolphus Pruitt, head of the St. Louis chapter of the NAACP.

Nationwide, 1,929 schools were closed during the 2010-2011 school year alone, according to the National Center for Education Statistics.

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