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In New York City schools, civil rights or wrongs?

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The school reform wars have taken a dramatic turn in New York City, where 2,500 parents and students – overwhelming black and Hispanic – rallied last week to protest the NAACP’s involvement in a lawsuit against the city’s effort to close 22 low-performing schools and allow charter schools to occupy surplus space in city public school buildings.

The scene of minority parents and children holding signs imploring the country’s iconic civil rights organizations not to block their access to public charter schools that offer an alternative to failing district schools made for a poignant reminder of how much the urban school reform effort has upset traditional political alliances.

In joining with the city’s teachers’ union in the lawsuit, NAACP leaders said they were standing up for equal treatment for all students – the plaintiffs have charged that, in buildings that are shared by charter and district schools, charter schools have been given better facilities and more access to gymnasiums and other resources by city leaders.

In an op-ed last week in the Washington Post, NAACP president Ben Jealous wrote, “This lawsuit was filed for the most common reasons we have sued boards of education across the decades: Students are being grossly mistreated, their parents are being deeply disrespected and the entire community stands to suffer.”

But that’s not how other civil rights leaders are viewing it. The president of the United Negro College Fund, Michael Lomax, and former Washington, DC, school chancellor Michelle Rhee penned a scathing critique of the NAACP in the New York Daily News.  The NAACP “ought to be ashamed for fighting to deprive kids and families of better educational options,” they wrote. The NAACP “has a storied history of fighting for the right of black children to go to public school. It won that battle, and we're all better for it. But in this fight -- the fight for children's right not only to go to school but to get a good education -- the NAACP seems to have switched sides. It's fighting not for the right of kids of color to get a good education, but to keep failing public schools open and to limit kids' ability to go to public schools that are working.”

                                                                                                                                           --MICHAEL JONAS   


BEACON HILL

Will Sal DiMasi testify in his own defense?

The state’s Office of Campaign and Political Finance declines to penalize Andover for using a town van to transport youth workers to a polling place to work for selectman candidate Paul Salafia, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

TORNADO AFTERMATH

The clean-up continues in Springfield as a group of Boston Police officers gather up chain saws and a Bobcat and head out to help.

MUNICIPAL MATTERS

The Bridgewater Town Council rejected the proposed contract for Police Chief Christopher Delmonte, saying the 3 percent annual raise would set a bad precedent for other employees.

Cape Cod towns are seeking authority to tax private vacation rentals and real estate sales.

Sandwich’s pay-as-you-throw program could be a model for other communities on the Cape, according to a Cape Cod Times editorial.

Pittsfield’s tax amnesty program doesn’t get the hoped for results.

Trinity EMS, Haverhill’s ambulance provider, buys naming rights to Haverhill Stadium – three years for $25,000, the Eagle-Tribune reports.

ELECTION 2012

Sarah Palin, who offered a rogue version of the midnight ride of Paul Revere during her walk along the Freedom Trail last week, told Fox News, “I know my American history.” It’s, apparently, everyone else’s American history that has her flummoxed. But the Herald begs to differ, saying, “You betcha she was right.”

With the annual issues convention in Lowell as the backdrop, Massachusetts Democratic Party Chairman John Walsh sat down with Jon Keller to talk about the state of the party and said the main focus is on unseating Sen. Scott Brown. The Herald reports that Brown was the top target at the Lowell convention.

Former Deval Patrick aide Doug Rubin tears into national Democratic officials, saying the recent string of dime-dropping about the weakness of the current Senate field is hurting fundraising and keeping grassroots activists on the sidelines.

The American Spectator says if Mitt Romney is the GOP nominee, his defense of Massachusetts’s health care law makes conservative opposition to President Obama’s national reform politically and legally difficult. Ron Paul lobs a money bomb at Romney, with health care front and center.

Rick Santorum is “in it to win it.” The New York Times profiles the former Pennsylvania senator, and knocks out its Hermanator profile while it’s at it.

What President Obama needs to do to get to the magic number, 270.

New York magazine contemplates a world in which both Sarah Palin and Michele Bachmann run for president.

BUSINESS/ECONOMY

The Boston Bruins extended run into the Stanley Cup finals is providing an unexpected boost for business at a normally quiet time for bars, retailers and, especially, ticket brokers.

The Globe editorial page bids adieu -- and good riddance -- to retiring AFL-CIO president Bobby Haynes.

First the film industry, now video gaming: Efforts are on to push for a tax credits to boost the state’s video gaming industry.

CHARITY

The Chronicle of Philanthropy says examples such as Harold Camping’s taxpayer-supported calculations of the Rapture could render charity status irrelevant and threaten legitimate nonprofits’ tax-exempt standing.

EDUCATION

North Adams teachers vote to give back $80,000, which represents their one percent raise for 2012, to the city to help ease budget woes.

The Berkshire Eagle argues that the state needs to do better with funding for higher education and can start with level funding for 2012.

Teachers at the first charter school in the state where educators voted to unionize may leave the American Federation of Teachers Massachusetts, the Globe reports, citing waning interest and frustration over the union’s perceived agenda against the charter school movement.

In a classic example of the frustration with attempts to make order out of things through ranking efforts, a new study says Harvard and Boston University score high in terms of creating value from academic research, while MIT scores poorly -- but it’s not clear that the study is actually measuring something of meaningful value.

HEALTH CARE

The MetroWest Daily News makes the case for childhood immunizations.

Lavish compensation to the boards of directors of health care nonprofits should end, says The Berkshire Eagle.

POMP AND CIRCUMSTANCE

The principal of Westfield High School gets over himself and allows the students who staged a scene from “Star Wars” in the cafeteria to walk in their graduation ceremony. The kids who put Vaseline on doorknobs also got to walk.

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