What have a slum school in Mumbai, schools in Christchurch, New Zealand, schools in Chicago's minority and low income areas and small schools in the borderlands of rural Wales got in common? They are all faced with closure or merger - destructive policies which are part of a global drive to undermine democratic, public and community schools.

In the case of Mumbai, I visited a small school serving a slum area, which was due for clearance in a bid to free up real estate in the central area of the town. While I was there I witnessed the head and teachers on their knees praying aloud for their school to be saved from closure. Recently in Mumbai the municipal corporation has handed the entire school stock over to public private partnerships - with NGOs, religious groups or private companies. Education activists and unions are fighting hard against these policies. Meanwhile there is a non-stop discourse of derision of Mumbai's  underfunded public schools and their teachers.

In Christchurch, the recent earthquake has given the government the pretext it needed to close and merge successful community schools and introduce privatisation of education using the US charter school model, in the face of protests by teachers, education academics and communities.

The situation in Chicago has been widely reported on this website and elsewhere. Last week, despite massive community opposition, the Chicago Public Schools board voted for the largest scale school closure programme in US history, which will not only destroy successful public schools in minority areas, but will put children in harm's way as they have to cross gang lines in order to get to school. The fight put up by communities, students and the Chicago Teachers Union has been inspiring. A union which only a few years ago was lead by people who were prepared to go along with the policies of 'turnarounds' and closures being tried out in the ideological home of neo-liberalism, has been taken back by its members and transformed into one which works with communities to defend public education. Despite the closure decision, the struggle goes on.

And in rural Wales a small state secondary school is slated for closure and takeover by one 33 miles away over a mountain because it has failed its high stakes inspection, has been low down on a flawed banding system and is considered too small to be 'viable.' Here too there has been determined opposition by the local community.

The degree of local involvement in fighting back shows once again how important schools are to their communities. Ideally they would be answerable to these communities, rather than men with iPads and data sets. They would respond to their communities' cultural world - like the Mumbai public school mentioned above - where instruction is through the medium of Tamil - the language of the people living in the slum due for clearance. For the children in Wales, the possible closure of the school would mean that they would be educated in England away from the chance to learn the Welsh language and the Welsh curriculum. In New Orleans, where draconian 'reform' policies were introduced after the hurricane, teachers from minority communities were sacked en masse and replaced by a cohort of Teach For America 'associates' - predominately white, middle class, minimally trained people, trying their hand at teaching for a year or two.

Neo-liberalism sees the world as a vast marketplace and education as just a part of that market, producing children who 'can compete in the global marketplace', who will not ask too many questions and who are uniformly taught through the medium of shrink-wrapped curricula - written and tested for profit by the same global corporations who require the end product - a quiescent workforce and credulous consumers. Schools rooted in and answerable to their local communities are antipathetic to that vision - hence the drive to close, standardise, merge or privatise. But communities wherever they are value their local schools. However poor the schools, whatever problems they have got, people want their schools to be part of their communities - reflexive of them and of their world. Teachers and their unions must be in the forefront of the fight to defend local schools and to develop the kind of democratic, creative and cirtical schools which are truly answerable to their communities.