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Harris-Perry: Schools targeted for closure have ‘predominantly minority kids’

By Samantha Kimmey
Sunday, January 27, 2013 20:21 EDT
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On Melissa Harris-Perry on Sunday, she and a panel of journalists and advocates discussed the closure of underperforming schools in the country.

Harris-Perry said that there were discussions of closing “17 in NYC, 37 in Philadelphia, 15 in Washington, D.C., and possibly as many as 15 or more in Chicago.”

“The catch?” she asked. “The vast majority of them are filled with children who are predominantly minority kids and from low-income families.”

Harris-Perry is referring to the movement to close

On Tuesday, “students, parents, and advocacy representatives from 18 major cities are taking their case to the U.S. Department of Education in Washington, D.C. Their argument: those who decide which schools to close are unfairly targeting poor and mostly African American schools. And that constitutes a civil rights violation.”

Zakiyah Ansari, advocacy director for Alliance for Quality Education, called it an “epidemic.”

The coalition wants a national moratorium on school closings and colocations, to meet with President Obama to discuss the issue, and to develop a solution for a “sustainable success model” that goes “against the grain of everything that’s happening in education reform.”

Harris-Perry said she felt there was a “narrow definition of what constitutes success” in schools, as well as a “narrow understanding of what schools do in a community.”

Ari Berman, author and contributing writer for The Nation, asked, “If you’re going to close a school, are you going to have the resources then for a better school” or is it just a “vicious cycle” of “cuts, cuts, cuts.”

Victoria DeFrancesco Soto, Director of Communications for Latino Decisions and a fellow at the Center for Politics and Governance at the University of Texas at Austin’s LBJ School of Public Affairs, said that the push for online education — which some believe would cost the U.S. less money — brought another set of class issues to the fore.

“You need internet, you need a fast computer to go online, you need a parent or a supervisor who’s there to help you be online, so what happens if you don’t have that?” she asked

Watch the video, via MSNBC, below.

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