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Back-to­-[troubled] schools, again

CHARLENE l MUHAMMAD | 8/29/2013, 6:37 p.m. | Updated on 8/29/2013, 6:44 p.m.
Millions of Black students have begun already returning to schools across America while others are still preparing for their first ...
United States Schools RH Jimenez Graphic

Successful schools offer great literature, experiments, and encourage reading, thinking and creating, Dianis said. “But in our schools, all they want us to do is keep your head down. Keep your pencil ready to fill in that circle … Our children are not being prepared for college because they’ve been so focused on the test scores that we’re the losers,” she said.

School closures are one part of an effort to dismantle public services, according to Dianis. “They’ve dismantled public housing. They’ve dismantled the public health care system. Now they’re coming after the schools. It’s really the last one standing,” she said.

“When you talk about we’re coming up on the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, we have gotten away from fighting for our children. We don’t fight for our children and as a community we really have not come together and said, ‘No! Enough! … Our children are being arrested at 4- and 5- years-old. How are we allowing that to happen?”

School shutdowns, questions of safety

Gwendolyn Samuel, founder of the Connecticut Parents Union, encourages parents to engage their school districts and schools. On June 24, Governor Daniel Malloy signed a law to stop felony arrests of parents for school residency/ZIP code law violations. The CT Parents Union joined the fight to stop unjust arrests for ZIP code violations. Parents have been arrested and prosecuted for registering children outside of assigned school districts.

It proves the power of God in parents organizing and demanding quality for their children, said Samuel.

In the wake of school closures, safety will definitely be a concern for parents

in Chicago and other cities, she said.

“Philadelphia has over 30 school closings and parents need to pay attention to where they’re going to literally be shipping their kids to,” Samuel said.

“It needs to be safety with a strong alignment with what is the quality of instruction your children are going to be exposed to because it’s not fair, especially to that child who has to walk those hallways every day, go to those restrooms, interact with those teachers, eat the school lunches.”

Children suffer when schools “are not prepared to welcome the overcrowded

classrooms, or the lack of resources,” Samuel told The Final Call.

Parents have to not only make sure children are safe, but also that schools can meet their needs, she continued.

Samuel urges parents to check into school capacities, particularly where high school closures are occurring. In her state, policy approves of a teacher-student ratio of 1 to 125. “What one person do you know can manage 125 kids? I’ve got four kids and can’t manage them,” she said.

She scoffs at the idea of one person rather than a board controlling the school system, as in Chicago with Mayor Rahm Emanuel’s governance of Chicago Public Schools.

Communities must hold on to elected school boards, and hold them accountable for ensuring the education and safety of students, she said. “When you start giving one person God-like abilities, you take the power of the people out of their hands and during the Civil Rights Movement, people didn’t die and get hosed and get beat to get just one man or one woman power,” she argued.