Paterson – Paterson Education Fund is a member of the National Journey for Justice Alliance.  For years, the Journey for Justice Alliance – a coalition of grassroots education organizations in 22 cities – has resisted federal education “reform” policies. As an alternative to the harmful trend of closing under-resourced schools in communities of color and turning them over to private companies, Journey for Justice has long recommended community-based, community-informed methods of improving school quality. Their model may be in for a major boost soon – and on Monday, August 25, groups in 15 cities are organizing to ensure it.

This month, the U.S. Department of Education will release a draft of federal guidelines that allow for School Improvement Grants (SIG), designed to support struggling schools, to be spent on innovative new models. This new option will call for “whole school reforms, using research-based, proven strategies” to improve educational outcomes. Journey for Justice groups across the nation are demanding that, rather than being used only to further advance the charter school movement, these new federal resources must be used to finally support their community-based models.

On Monday, at least 10 cities will be calling on the Department of Education to actively support their solutions the new grant funding. The cities are Chicago; Detroit, New York City; Newark, NJ; Camden, NJ; Jersey City; Philadelphia; Pittsburgh; Washington, DC; Baltimore; New Orleans; Kilpatrick, Miss.; Wichita, Kan.; and Paterson, NJ.

“This is an opportunity for the U.S. Department of Education to begin to right a wrong,” said Jitu Brown, national director for Journey for Justice. “The punitive, top-down interventions that the Education Department has previously used in our communities have not improved education for our children. In fact, they have done harm to our families and disregarded our right to a quality education. We encourage the Department to put these new resources toward our models that foster community accountability and involvement – and we demand a voice in how institutions operate in our neighborhoods.”