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Protestors denounce policy of closing So-called “failing schools”

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JAISAL NOOR, FREE SPEECH RADIO NEWS: In New York City Monday, more than 100 public school students, teachers, and parents joined Ocupy Wall Street protestors and held a general assembly on the steps of the New York City Department of Education. They call themselves “Occupy the DOE”. They argue the richest 1 percent’s control of public education has badly hurt the 99 percent that it’s meant to serve. Participants spoke out against budget cuts, high-stakes testing, the privatization of education, and “business model” education reforms that the protesters say have no proven track record and in fact have devastating effects on the communities where they have been enacted. Here are some of their voices.


I am a parent of a third grader in a New York City public school. I stress public, because we pay for this school. And for far too long we’ve allowed these people to tell us how we should run our schools. So I’m here with all of you to help change the game on our terms, thinking about our children, our teachers, and our administrators, and the days of high-stakes tests and accountability of a third grader when there’s no accountability for this organization [incompr.]


Hi. I’m Jordan. I’m 13. And there’s no [incompr.] I work hard, and my grades don’t matter. I didn’t ask for this. And I have a voice, and it will be heard. The test is a one-shot deal [incompr.] something. I can do bad. And I won’t move on. There is no point. Thank you.


In my classroom there are no corporations. There are no homeless corporations in my classroom. There are no corporations that came out of the foster care system. There are a lot of products that corporations make us buy so they can make money off of your taxes. They did it in Iraq. Now they want to do it in every education department in the country. Keep public education public. Thank you.


We are also here because we want to let the New York City Department of Education know that we know that our children are not failing, that our teachers are not failing, that our schools are not failing, but it is the New York City Department of Education that is failing our teachers, our children, and our schools. We are also here because we know that New York City taxpayers have a right to be heard regarding the education of our children, the hope and future of our democracy, and that we are the 99 percent.


NOOR: Many protestors loudly denounced the policy of closing so-called “failing schools”. That was a core component of the George W. Bush administration’s No Child Left Behind Act of 2001, and has since been escalated by President Obama through Race to the Top. Speaking out at the general assembly were students from Brooklyn’s Paul Robeson High, a school slated for closure by the DOE.


It’s time to stand up to fight back, fight for a better education, fight for better classes, fight for better activities and better funding. Should we win, then keep fighting. Don’t stop. We the students, the children, as the DOE refers to us, we have the power. We are the future leaders of tomorrow, the future leaders of this society. If we don’t take action now, then who will? Who will step forward? If we don’t do the job, there won’t be nothing left for future generations. Fight for your freedom to learn, to educate, and keep fighting to keep that freedom.


NOOR: Inspired by Occupy Wall Street, students there organized an Occupy Robeson to fight to keep their school open.

ANA LEGUILLOU, STUDENT REPRESENTATIVE, PAUL ROBESON HIGH: We did this community service last week, Friday, and we actually called ourselves Occupy Robeson. So we pretty much represented them and we took the idea from them and we did–it was a great success. We got a lot of people from the community to come in, help us out, because Robeson, sometimes the media tends to twist things up, so they tended to–they said we were a bad school filled with miscreants and our image is tainted. So we decided to clean up our image and sweep up the–we sweeped up the streets and cleaned up the garbage, and it was supposed to symbolize us cleaning up our image and getting back on track.

NOOR: Occupy DOE protesters say they will continue to build support for local struggles such as that at Robeson High. Reporting for The Real News Network, this is Jaisal Noor in New York.

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