“When school districts close schools, they are sending a message to low-income students of color, which is, ‘We’re going to give up on you, rather than support you.’ It is understandable that the DOE may assume that phasing out a school is actually improving the schools in the long term, but what about the current students?”An article posted by the Rockaway Youth Task Force soon after the Rockaway school closings were announced in December.
To many advocates, it is clear that our education system is fundamentally broken and requires a deep restructuring that paves the way for future students to achieve better educational outcomes. Despite these noble intentions, the upheaval of closing an existing school and replacing it with one or more new schools creates instability, uncertainty and a lack of steady resources for current students. In the movement to end educational inequity, we must seek solutions that support the success of all students, tomorrow and today. To accomplish this, we must shift our approach from relying on metrics and test scores as the exclusive measures of student success to a more holistic approach that accounts for the needs and experiences of each student. This means increased guidance counselors, college advisors, drug abuse counselors, and mental health resources. This requires a shift from harmful school policing practices and school suspensions to restorative justice and anti-bias initiatives. Although the Renewal School Program encompasses strategies for some of these goals, not all of them are given the investment our students deserve.
We’re Losing Our Schools