KOCO engaged our leaders in organizing eighteen cities around the country that were experiencing mass school closings to testify at a federal hearing we played a leadership role in organizing at the US Department of Education (DOE). Collectively, we won a commitment from the DOE to work with our coalition to advance community-driven sustainable school transformation models as an option for school districts – not just privatization models. We also won a commitment to meet with DOE Secretary Arne Duncan in the next 2-3 weeks to continue discussing alternatives to current federal education policy. Held January 29, 2013, high-level DOE officials, including Sec. Duncan, and federal legislators (and legislative aides) were present to hear testimony from parents, students, and educators from 18 cities across the country on the impact of market-driven reforms on communities of color.
Over the past year, KOCO leaders have provided technical assistance and support to cities around the country to file civil rights complaints with the DOE in response to the disparate negative impact on Black and Latino neighborhoods. This created an opportunity for our leaders to begin building the framework for a national network to promote community-driven sustainable school transformation, resist the privatization of the public school system, and call for a federal investigation into civil rights violation claims in school districts serving predominantly Black and Latino students. Largely through participation in national education reform coalitions (i.e. Communities for Public Education Reform, Alliance for Educational Justice, and Communities for Excellent Public Schools), our organization has built relationships with communities in: Atlanta; Baltimore; Boston; Cleveland; Denver; Detroit; Eupora (Mississippi); Hartford; Kansas City; Los Angeles; Newark; New Orleans; New York; Oakland; Philadelphia; Washington, DC; Wichita; and Wilmington.