Chicago activists speak out against school-closings at D.C. hearing

Group is joined by people from 18 different cities

January 28, 2013

Chicago isn’t the only city looking to close a large number of its public schools—and it’s not the only place people are upset.

A group of activists from Chicago boarded a bus to Washington, D.C. Sunday. They gathered at the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, which helped organize the trip.

Aquila Griffin is a junior at Dunbar Career Vocational Academy. As a freshman, she went to Dyett High School, which district officials decided to phase out last year – a process in which a school stops admitting new students but remains open until there are none left.

“Freshman year, I didn’t know anything about this stuff,” Griffin said as she helped round up the group going to D.C. on Sunday.

“I was just going to school and I was wondering, like, why do they have this and we don’t?” she says in reference to inequities she’s seen as a student in Chicago Public Schools.

People with the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization and other activists are meeting up with people from 18 different cities to speak out against school closings.

People from some of the cities, including Chicago, have filed civil rights complaints with the U.S. Department of Education, charging that closing schools disproportionately impacts minority students.

“Everywhere, it’s the same stories that can be told over and over again,” Griffin said. “So it’s not just in Chicago. It’s not just in Witchita. It’s in New Orleans. It’s in L.A. It’s in New York. It’s in Newark. It’s everywhere.”

The coalition will bring its complaints to a hearing with national education officials on Tuesday.