Fighting for School Crumbs

root - Posted on 28 June 2009

Students and Families in Richmond, Pinole, San Pablo and El Cerrito threatened with Massive School Closures Demand Justice

by Malaika Parker/Justice Matters

The cold wet wind blew outside the West Contra Costa Unified School District (WCCUSD) Board hearing last Wednesday. The meeting was focused on the school closures proposed for Richmond, Pinole, El Cerrito and San Pablo.

As I sat in solidarity with hundreds of families, teachers and students from all over the (WCCUSD) district I was struck by the number of children, young children, pleading-crying that their communities not be torn apart. As I listened to story after story of what the closure of a community school would mean for families, I thought about my daughter. A beautiful vibrant preschooler who will soon enter the ranks of public elementary schools. I thought about what such a conversation would mean for her life.

For years the WCCUSD has been bitterly embattled in a monetary fight. This has resulted in a never-ending cry from students and families begging for schools to stay open in their communities.

As a community member, a mother, and a former
Student of WCCUSD caught in the midst of the constant threat of schools in this district, I wonder at what point will the financial failure of this district be dealt with in a proactive way so that we may move on to the conversation about what happens in the classroom of our schools. At what point does the conversation move from money, the fallacy that there is not enough in a country that spends trillions on war, bank rescue plans, and so many other
wasteful things, to what we are doing to ensure that the over 50% school pushout (of students from school) rate can be addressed. When will it be time to address the fact that we are failing our students. The fact that hundreds of thousands of Black
and Brown students who deserve an education that prepares them to live out their full potential are instead being pushed out of schools directly into prisons.

After an extremely heated meeting filled with the voices of teachers, advocates, students and families, many of whom, are parent leaders with the Real Schools Now Campaign of Justice Matters, which works on policy and action to achieve a racially just classroom for students and families of color, The city of Richmond, and Pinole stepped in to save schools in their respective cities, with other cities expected to follow.

This action by Cities in WCCUSD will spare many young
people from being shipped off to schools completely disconnected from the strong heritage and belonging of their communities, families will be spared the burden of paying an increased cost for transportation to and from school in these hard economic times.

Finally, It is not acceptable for a district to engage in a constant deficit approach to operating schools, our children deserve abundance!. A district without the wherewithal to balance a budget and keep schools open, is sending a message to all of us families that have hoped for something better, that we have a long way to go.

Malaika Parker, mother of Imani, is the Campaign Cooridinator of Real Schools Now- a project of Justice Matters. To get more involved in the Real Schools Now Campaign call 510-860-3002 or go on-line to


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