Another study once again confirms that there is a pervasive practice in schools across America where blacks, Hispanics, and poor children are constantly and consistently denied an access and an equal opportunity to achieve a quality education. This translates into a situation where those who need a good education the most to improve their quality of life and reach their potential are relegated to a social and economic state from which they can never escape.
The most recent study to be released this week is one that was conducted by the Schott Foundation about the nation's largest public school system — the New York City public schools. The study, "A Rotting Apple: Education Redlining in New York City," confirms that there is an inequitable distribution of educational resources at every level, including the most important resource of all, qualified and experienced teachers, among blacks and Hispanic students and children who are poor. As a result, these children have a slim to none chance of learning the skills needed to succeed in anything. They certainly have little chance of graduating with the requisite skills to go to college, a trade school, or get a decent job.
The study shows that the evidence of inequities and sub-standard educational practices are blatant, and seems to be an acceptable norm. "Unequal learning opportunities for poor students and students of color have become the status quo in New York City," according to John Jackson, president of the Schott Foundation.
Jackson goes on to say that, "The current policy landscape in New York does very little to give these young people access to the support, types of schools, or experienced teachers that give them a substantive opportunity to learn. We need creative leadership to promote greater equity and alignment so the city no longer relegates our neediest children to the most troubled schools with the most limited resources, thereby limiting their potential for future success."
But creative leadership must be coupled with real contrition about this shameful practice and real resolve to not stop working for change until oppression in education is abolished right here on American soil.
The tragedy in it all is that the Schott Foundation's study confirms in New York City public schools what a recent national study reveals about this practice happening in schools all across America. The recent nationwide K-12 Data Collection report conducted by the U.S. Department of Education’s civil rights office paints a dismal and disturbing picture of how blacks and Hispanic students are treated in the nation’s schools — unfortunately, the majority of the nation’s schools. The data was collected from more than 72,000 schools that represent 85 percent of all students.
This study also shows that black and Hispanic students are put on a track of underachievement. In addition to not having quality, experienced, and well-paid teachers, these students are in classrooms where the educational materials, tools, technology, and other resources are inadequate, out-dated, and insufficient. The report highlights that a high percentage of teachers in schools with the highest black and Hispanic enrollment had taught two years or less. Those teachers are also paid significantly less than their counterparts in other schools.
What has really been achieved since the history changing case of Brown vs. The Board of Education, which supposedly was the beginning of ending discrimination in education decades ago? How is it, with the 21st Century facing some of its greatest societal challenges are we still tolerant, still willing to turn a blind eye toward an educational system that does not create equal opportunities for all of our children?
How do we expect to break the cycle of poverty and underachievement, crime-ridden neighborhoods, un and underemployment, hopelessness, and resignation to second, third, fourth class citizenship right here in America if we continue to allow an educational caste system to prevail?
What lessons can America take from all of the countries that are doing a better job of educating their children with an education that surpasses us in quality and competitiveness?
If we continue to be stuck on caste and color in this country, it will be our undoing as other countries not only gain the edge, but surpass us.
Are we letting the old vestiges of racism reign? It may have worked in centuries past. It will not continue to work and propel us forward in centuries to come.
Why can't we as Americans, not realize that?