NEW YORK (CBSNewYork) — Demonstrators gathered outside the state office building on 125th Street in Harlem to demand the NAACP withdraw from a lawsuit filed by the United Federation of Teachers.

The UFT, NAACP, and other groups filed suit on May 18 in Manhattan Supreme Court to stop the closing of 22 New York City public schools and block 17 charter schools from opening or expanding.

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Chanting “Don’t divide us, unite us,” over 1,000 said they were fighting for their children.

“I am here for him to have the opportunity and the option of a charter school – the opportunity and the option of a higher education,” one mother said.

“The Department of Education has not learned its lesson. We cannot continue with policies that allow inequality,” Michael Mulgrew, president of the United Federation of Teachers, said.

Mulgrew added that the new suit claims the city broke its promises to give the failing schools the support needed to improve while also targeting several charter schools that share a building with public schools.

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Critics argue the arrangement takes away space from public school students. Many of those charter schools are equipped with upgraded facilities and greater gym access.

“What are we teaching our children if they’re entering a building everyday and one school has brand new facilities and the other school has no new facilities,” Mulgrew said. “That’s just wrong. It’s just wrong.”

The NAACP released a statement in response, saying “We are seeking fair and equal quality education for all children of New York City.”

Schools Chancellor Dennis Walcott said the union was trying to keep students in failing schools.

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