June 3, 2011
Seeking to force an immediately halt to the city’s plans to close 22 schools and co-locate another 19 charter schools, the teachers union and the NAACP asked for a temporary restraining order against the Department of Education on Thursday.
The court request would force the plans to end whether or not a judge rules in favor of the original lawsuit challenging the city’s plans. That lawsuit, filed by the United Federation of Teachers and the NAACP last month, argues that the closures and co-locations create an unequal allocation of resources.
City school officials immediately criticized the attempted restraining order, describing a colliding impact that they said would target thousands of high school students.
Last year, when another lawsuit by the teachers union and the NAACP forced the city to reverse its plans to close struggling schools, the city delayed matching students to high schools until the outcome of the suit was clear. This year, the city has already matched students to high schools. It’s not obvious what would happen to re-match students to closing high schools, but school officials said the process would be chaotic.
“It would throw the high school admissions process into disarray,” a Department of Education official said, speaking on background.
Speaking to reporters at Tweed Courthouse today, Walcott said that he was concerned about the late timing of the request. ”This changes the whole thing,” he said. “We can’t phase out the schools. We can’t co-locate new schools or new buildings into the schools themselves. We have people who are just on hold. People have selected high schools and have been matched to high schools.”
Teachers union officials said that the injunction simply asks the DOE to allow kids to return to the school they originally attended.
Hours earlier, the NAACP rallied uptown outside of the headquarters of Harlem Success Academy, the charter school network that Eva Moskowitz operates. Last week, Moskowitz was one of the charter school leaders who organized a 2,500-person rally targeting the NAACP in the courtyard in front of the Adam Clayton Powell State Office Building, also in Harlem.
The NAACP’s gathering was significantly smaller — police estimated it at around 100 — but included fiery testimony from elected officials, parents, and union leaders who characterized the resources provided to charter school students as modern-day segregation.
Hazel Dukes, head of the New York NAACP, pledged to continue the fight for equality. “We’re going all the way to the promise land,” said Dukes. “This is just the beginning of our journey.”
Not everyone at the rally agreed. Behind the cameras, Daryl Winslow, a black father whose daughter attends one of Moskowitz Success charter schools, Bronx Success, shook his head and said that his daughter already read at a second grade level thanks to the school.
The NAACP rally, he said, was counterproductive. “It’s creating more separation, and it always involves more of our people to start it,” said Winslow. “I don’t care if you’re Jewish, Chinese, or Portuguese. As long as you get it right in the classroom.”
At Tweed Courthouse, Walcott reiterated his displeasure with the plaintiffs who filed the suit. ”It’s ironic that these two groups, especially the NAACP, are deferring the dreams of our children,” he said. “There are choices that people want to make and as a result of this, that will not happen.”
Here’s the UFT’s request for a temporary restraining order: