This year 25 schools, serving a disproportionate amount of English language learners and students with special needs, are on the DOE list of schools to close. The majority of these schools are located in low-income communities throughout city – 10 of the 25 schools are in the Bronx.
To elevate the issue that underperforming schools need investment and not just closure, a civil disobedience action “Fix Our Schools, Don’t Just Close Them” was organized on Monday January 31st, the day before the first Panel for Education Policy vote on school closings. Youth leaders from Sistas and Brothas United (SBU), along with members of the Urban Youth Collaborative (UYC) and the Coalition for Educational Justice (CEJ), organized a rally and press conference leading up to the civil disobedience in front of Tweed Courthouse in Manhattan. Over 300 students, parents, city council members, and other advocates for education reform attended the action. Students and parents from closing and persistently low-achieving schools recognized real issues in their schools and spoke passionately about the need to fix problems rather than closing schools.
“The DOE has been using our school as a place to shove students in who have sadly, been pushed out of their schools. This has been a key method into making Kennedy a low performing high school year after year. Where will future English language learners
and special need students go, if John F. Kennedy High School no longer exists? This can potentially increase dropout rate of students’ long term.” Ahmani Croom, 17, Student Council Representative for John F. Kennedy High School and leader at Sistas and Brothas United (SBU).
At the closing of the press conference, 23 community members, including city council members Jumaane Williams and Charles Barron, carried out the civil disobedience action. Twenty-three brave people, including SBU Director Maria C. Fernandez and
leaders Rafael Pena, Juan Antigua, Miguel Rodriguez, and Tyrek Greene, linked arms and blocked traffic in front of Tweed Courthouse, while hundreds of students and parents
chanted “Save Our Schools” and cheered them on from the sidewalk. The Tweed 23 were arrested and held briefly at a local police precinct before a warm welcome from dozens of students and parents who followed them to the precinct.
The action was the lead story in all the local news outlets:
New York 1:
News 12 The Bronx:
Pix Channel 11 News:
NBC New York:
New York Post:
El Diario La Prensa:
The Epoch Times: