I caught up with Maria P. Jones, one of the chief anti-school closure activists, this morning. Jones is currently visiting family in New Orleans. But she still had some thoughts—and a lot of anger and perhaps wishful thinking—on Fenty‘s revised school closure plan.
“He’s still playing games,” Jones said meaning Fenty. “That’s not doing anything for the people. You still have all of the schools that will remain open will be weakened by all the closures around them. Our stance is still the same. And that stance is: we are calling an immediate cease and desist of all the school closures. What we want to happen is to have a conversation that does not solely focus on school closures. The conversation—if it is about school reform—then all the major stakeholders should be involved. The teachers, the principals, the city council people, the parents, the students, the school board members, the chancellor. Everyone should be involved in that discussion. There are so many things we need to look at before we get to school closures.”
Among the items on Jones’ agenda:
*Equitable distribution of funds across all schools.
*To make sure the modernization money is allocated properly
*To look at the buildings, all of the vacant buildings where we could move DCPS staff and administration into those buildings.
*To put a cap or moratorium on new charter school openings.
“When we have a discussion like this, school closures may not enter into the conversation,” Jones says. “We’re going to help the Fenty Administration by changing the conversation.”
What about future protests, I asked.
“We’re always planning,” Jones said. “You are definitely going to see increased resistance.”