It has been nearly 64 years since the court case of Brown vs. The Board of Education, which ruled it unconstitutional to segregate schools. This Supreme Court ruling overturned the decision in Plessy v. Ferguson that took place in 1896, allowing state sponsored segregation in public schools. In these 64 years we have not made it very far. Brown was a victory more in principle than in practice.
Schools are still segregated – not by law but by segregated communities. Schools remain segregated because we aren’t doing enough to integrate schools and communities. Students living in low-income and high-poverty areas aren’t forced to attend schools that are deemed low-income or Title I schools however, they aren’t given the resources not to. We live in a world where these underprivileged, undereducated, resource lacking students are kept in a perpetual cycle of not being able to live up their full potential due to community segregation. According to the most recent Civil Rights Data Collection, which is conducted every other year, it was shown that minority students have less access to experienced teachers.This data also showed that 7% of black students attend a school that 20% of their teachers fail to meet licensure and certification requirements and that 1 in 4 school districts pay teachers in less-diverse high schools $5,000 more than teachers in schools with higher black and Latino student enrollment.
The same study showed that black students are suspended or expelled at three times the rate of their white peers. This type of discrimination has been shown to lower academic performance for minority students and it also puts them at a higher risk to dropout of school. Research like this shows how we have failed to uphold both the the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the No Child Left Behind Act which guaranteed equal access to education for all and the closing of the achievement gap between minorities and whites. As a nation that speaks so highly of its equal rights for all has failed to do so in our public education system and we are providing an injustice to our schools and communities.Aside from minorities not receiving the same quality education as their non-minority counterparts, resources and funding are also lacking in the schools that minorities attend. The funding is there but it just isn’t enough. This is because disadvantaged students living in low income areas require greater resources than middle-class white students. Resources such as high-quality early childhood education, after school care, full-service health clinics, highly qualified teachers and smaller class sizes all come at a price and these schools don’t have enough funding to provide the much needed resources.
So how do we fix this problem? We need to enforce full fledged community and school integration. State and county requirements on school integration exist but are not enforced nearly enough. Along with school integration comes community integration. There are programs available to subsidize the movement of low income families into middle class communities however, they have been weak and ineffective. Our government is doing a lot to improve our public schools and the neighborhoods in which they are in. However there isn’t enough being done. I see this first hand everyday at the school that I work at.
I work in a Title I school where the student body is 75% Hispanic, 15% African American and 10% being White or other. You would think that in a school district that has 185 schools serving almost 200,000 students who speak 154 different languages and dialects that we would be a little bit more diverse. Now this is only one example in one school district, a district that is the 11th largest district in the US. Based on that, it’s safe to assume that schools and neighborhoods remain segregated throughout the country.In order to truly enforce school and neighborhood integration, parents and caretakers need to be educated on the opportunities available. The opportunities exist but many low income families cannot send their children to ‘better’ schools because either they don’t have transportation or they just do not know that it is even available.
The same can be said about neighborhood integration, if no one is talking about it then it isn’t known and nothing can be done to change anything.There isn’t enough focus on integrating our neighborhoods and schools. I don’t believe that the issue of discrimination and segregation in our schools will go away until we demand it. In 64 years we have not evolved as a nation nearly as much as we should have and it is a very sad reality that we still live in a nation that allows this to happen. “America preaches integration but practices segregation.” – Malcolm X