Racial Justice NOW! (RJN!) will host a press conference at 1:00 pm Thursday January 25th in front of Dayton Public Schools downtown office on 115 Ludlow st to give DPS parents the opportunity address the topic of possible school closings in west Dayton. RJN! will also host the regular monthly parent meeting at 6pm at the Body of Christ Deliverance center- 2345 Catalpa Drive. Special guest, Ohio state school board representative, Charlotte McGuire will be present to discuss the Every Student Succeeds Act and the current situation of possible Dayton public school closings. Additionally, National Field Organizer for the Dignity in Schools Campaign, Zakiya Sankara-Jabar will be present to help organize parents and bring national attention to what RJN! has called a “clear gentrification plan” and a “deliberate attack on the Black community”.
DPS Interim Superintendent Elizabeth Lollie announced at the December monthly review session the possibility of closing nine schools, all on the West side of Dayton with the exception of one. RJN! has been outspoken about Dayton following the same gentrification tactics and plan of cities all over the nation, such as Chicago, IL Oakland, CA, Philadelphia, PA and Camden, NJ. RJN! stands with many community members in disagreement with the mayoral appointed task force of primarily business persons that do not live in the city being tasked with giving a recommendation to the school board of how to proceed with school closings.
Dayton follows the national trend of dismantling public education as it has been a national leader in charter school proliferation since the late 1990’s. While charters schools performance is unimpressive compared to public schools they do take away dollars from the public school district and have no local elected official to represent the concerns of taxpayers. As members of the national #WeChoose campaign, RJN! asked and received verbal support of a local charter school moratorium by Ohio State Representative Fred Strahorn, Ohio State School Board member Charlotte McGuire, and Dayton City Commissioners Jeffrey Mimms and Joey Williams.
With Dayton, Ohio being what many researchers call a “hyper segregated city” the reality of race involvement in possible school closing is overwhelmingly evident. West Dayton, also known as Black Dayton, was shown to have the least opportunity in the whole county. According to the 2015 Montgomery county Opportunity Mapping report , “Within the communities with low and very low opportunity, the residents are predominately Black (68% and 77%). This accounts for 58% of the Black population. “
Due to the clear racial divide in Dayton, the proposed school closing will disproportionally hurt Black students and families. According to the national opportunity to learn campaign, most students won’t go to better schools, the closures will not save the district a lot, and will have a big impact on everyone. Simply put, school closings will cause harm to children, primarily poor black children.
“As a DPS parent, I believe that it is going to be detrimental to our community. Our children will lose out on the last resource available to them. With students having to be transported to different communities this will lead to higher truancy rates. A lot of our students will end up truant which further pushes them out of school and into the school to prison pipeline. “
Cameron Walker, DPS parent, Parent Organizer- Racial Justice NOW!
Racial Justice NOW! is committed to dismantling structural and institutional racism in all areas of people activity. Our primary focus is on the institution of education and lifting up the voices of dis-empowered Black parents and children. We are dedicated to stopping the school to prison pipeline and focus specifically on holding institutions accountable to equitable distribution of resources and services to Black people in Dayton and around the State of Ohio.