Category Archives: NAACP

Building Better Schools, Means Better Buildings

There was big buzz in the education world when the NAACP sued the Department of Education in New York City. On their website they list the reasons for the suit:

*   The “regular school’s children” had library access for a little over four hours so that the “new charter school’s kids” could have access for almost seven.

  • Traditional school students were moved to a basement, where they were next to the boiler room, to make room for their charter school peers, and teachers of the regular students were forced to teach in the halls due to lack of space.
  • Students in the traditional public school must now eat lunch at 10 a.m. so that charter school students can enjoy lunch at noon
  • New York state law requires the city to involve parents before announcing its intention to shut down a school or make way for a charter to share a school’s space.

But in the Daily News, Stanley Crouch said “The suit is proof of how low a great civil rights organization has fallen since its days of advocating for racial equality in the face of tremendous hatred.” He further criticizes the organization, claiming the only reason why they are doing this is because charter schools are non-union. “Poor teaching performance is dismissed or explained away with the position that everything will be just fine if teachers are paid more money and given more benefits. The UFT (United Federation of Teachers) does not admit to its members’ inferiority, even if test scores and graduation rates stay stagnant.”

We don’t know if student’s are having class next the boiler room, but do you really think a librarian is telling students in a school that they can’t enter the library? That would have to be the meanest librarian ever and the NAACP should focus on getting that librarian out of the school. But there’s not much link to this and the teacher’s union. Yes, the NAACP and UFT have been on the same side on many battles, but (my uneducated legal analysis) I can’t see how a win for the NAACP would also be a win for the UFT. Even politically, does either group really want to be responsible for closing a school?

Now at the risk of sounding old, when I went to high school we had lunch at 10:30am. Yes it was a public school, and no it wasn’t a charter. The building was transformed into a school after being a factory for over a decade. In fact, the trucks for American Express still move in and out of a garage right next to it.

It’s a small building, and during my sophomore year the principles were forced to accept (because it was considered one of the best schools) around 200 more students then had graduated the previous year. The hallways were always crowded and if your class wasn’t on the same floor it usually took over five minutes to get there. In my senior year, rooms in the basement were opened because there wasn’t enough space on the other three levels. There was no boiler. Administrators had no choice but to schedule lunch at odd times because the cafeteria was too small to hold everyone. The question then became whether it was better for the students to have lunch early or late. Speaking from experience, eating that early wasn’t fun, and by the time my last class came I was so hungry it was hard to concentrate.

There are other parts in the city where classes are being held in trailers. This isn’t right, but the problem is not the Board of Education kicking out traditional schools, it’s structural. There simply aren’t enough schools for the growing young population in New York. So we not only need better schools, we also need better buildings.


1 Comment

Filed under Education, NAACP, NY, NYC, reform