ELIZABETH, NJ-- Elizabeth Parents and Students Care, (EPSC) a grassroots education justice advocacy group, is taking on what they say is an “unresponsive school board that makes decisions in the best interests of its own members rather than the children whom it is charged with educating.”
The organization will be holding an event tonight to discuss issues they see with public schools.
“There is no excuse for the under-resourcing of selected Elizabeth schools, which happens repeatedly in many communities where low-income black and brown children live.” Said founder of EPSC, Christina Cunha-Moreira, said.
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Cunha-Moreira went on to say, “zero-tolerance discipline systems in these schools feed the school-to-prison pipeline.
The upcoming “Critical Conversation” will give parents and students an opportunity to provide feedback on school policies created without their voices. A final document reflecting the voices of everyday people will be presented to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos and Congress in late 2017.
EPSC is the lead sponsor of a Critical Conversation, one of dozens of such events being held in cities around the country as part of the nationwide We Choose campaign.
“Critical Conversations” events were created to further understand the various issues surrounding race and diversity, provide a venue for voices to be heard, and to determine roles and responsibilities in creating positive social change, sources said.
The focus of the We Choose Campaign is to challenge the Trump administration’s agenda for privatization, to foster culturally responsive education, sustainable community schools and equity in funding. They also hope to end the “school to prison pipeline,” Cunha-Moreira said.
The Elizabeth conversation will focus on three issues: equity in resources for all schools, discipline and zero-tolerance policies that perpetuate the school-to-prison pipeline and disproportionately harm students of color and transparency.
Cunha-Moreira said the school board is not responsive to parents and students and often makes decisions behind closed doors. For example, the board agreed to form a student advisory committee but it hasn't convened any meetings.
A number of public officials have been invited to participate in the event including, Patricia Gallante, a former special education teacher, Executive Director of the Statewide Education Organizing Committee Elizabeth Smith, Save Our Schools New Jersey organizer, Julie Larrea Borst, President of the Newark NAACP Deborah Gregory, and National Director of Journey for Justice Alliance, Jitu Brown.
The event is being held tonight from 6 p.m.- 8:30 p.m. at the Peterstown Community Center, 408 Palmer St., Elizabeth, N.J.
The We Choose campaign includes the Network for Public Education, Bad Ass Teachers Association, Alliance to Reclaim Our Schools, The Advancement Project, the Education Justice Network, Alliance for Education, Annenberg Institute for School Reform at Brown University, Dignity in Schools, Save Our Schools, the Institute for Democratic Education in America and Journey for Justice Alliance.
Cunha-Moreira, said these groups are “joining forces to call out DeVos and Trump and hold Democrats accountable in the upcoming education budget hearings.”
For more information visit www.j4jalliance.com.