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Boston students, educators fight school closings

Published Mar 10, 2011 9:47 PM

Students from the Social Justice Academy in Hyde Park militantly marched on March 2, chanting, “SOS - Save our Schools!” SJA was one of 18 schools that Mayor Thomas Menino’s Boston School Committee voted to close last December.

The students are determined to fight on. At Hyde Park High School, they discussed the school closings and attacks on public education. Then they marched to English High School, carrying coffins into a School Committee public hearing on their proposed budget. The students’ die-in dramatized the death of public education.

The budget would cut $60 million, close schools, lay off employees and cut transportation. These plans would limit parents’ choices in Roxbury’s, Dorchester’s and Mattapan’s oppressed communities, and harm special education students and English language learners.

Sasha De La Cruz of El Movimiento co-organized the protest, and Fernando Fernii Rodriguez led chants. Boston School Bus Drivers, Steelworkers Local 8751 provided the sound truck and march security.

The Coalition for Equal Quality Education leafleted for a protest at the upcoming School Committee budget hearings. A demonstration is called for March 23 at the School Committee headquarters when the vote will be held on the budget plan. This protest is part of the National Month of Action to Defend Public Education and the March 31 Student Strike.

On Feb. 15, the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights agreed to investigate a legal complaint filed by the Black Educators Alliance of Massachusetts. It asserts that the School Department’s plan to close and merge 18 schools is racist and disproportionately burdens Black and Latino/a students and parents.

A Boston Globe editorial echoed the racist role of the powerful financial and political establishment in Boston and the state of Massachusetts. It called on the school superintendent to proceed quickly to close schools and cut transportation. This is despite the discrimination complaint.