At this point, presidential candidates Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton have been inundated with solicited (and unsolicited) advice on what to say during tonight’s debate at Hofstra University.
Now, Journey for Justice Alliance, a network of community groups skeptical of education reform, is adding another piece of guidance — one urged frequently by reformers as well: Talk about education.
The Alliance plans to march this evening from a park in Uniondale, N.Y., to nearby Hofstra, demanding that the candidates address what they say are subpar education opportunities offered to students of color.
“Why are the presidential candidates, all of them, silent on public education?” Alliance national director Jitu Brown said at a press conference earlier today. “Why, when we have had massive student walkouts in this country, when we have had tens of thousands of people protesting in the street, saying ‘We do not want our schools closed — we want them fixed.’”
Coinciding with the march, the Alliance released a seven-point education platform
that it hopes the next president will tackle. The group seeks a moratorium on charter school growth, an end to “zero tolerance” discipline policies, a reduction in the number of standardized tests and the elimination of state takeovers of troubled school districts. Additionally, the Alliance supports more funding for community schools and investment in strengthening the pipeline for educators of color.
Melissa Figueroa, a board member for the Hempstead Union Free School District on Long Island, N.Y., decried what she said were huge disparities between the quality of education offered to students in some districts.
“There is a crisis taking place in Hempstead. It’s serious, and it needs to be taken as such. These candidates must give meaningful solutions and conversation to the people. We will not settle for anything else,” she said. “These students deserve everything we have.”
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Journey for Justice Alliance is best known for its connection to a 34-day hunger strike last year over the closure
of Dyett High School in Chicago. The strike, which prompted Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel to reopen the building as a neighborhood arts high school, was organized by Brown and the Kenwood Oakland Community Organization, which helps coordinate the Journey for Justice Alliance.