by Mumia Abu-Jamal, Prison Radio, Recorded May 21, 2009
Written May 17, 2009
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Brown v. Board of Education
It has been over 1/2 a century (55 years) since the U.S. Supreme Court decided the Brown vs. Board of Education case, desegregating American public education.
The decision came to be regarded as a landmark ruling, one which transformed the very nature of U.S. public schools.
Or did it?
There is no question but that Brown dealt a severe blow to the common American practice of educational apartheid, by finding the nation's public school systems, which were unevenly divided between Black and white institutions, were separate and unequal, and thus violative of the equal protection clause of the 14th Amendment. As such, Brown became the precedent by which all racial segregation came to be declared unconstitutional.
But back to the public schools.
Who can doubt that millions of public school students now attend inner-city schools that are just as segregated as they were 50 years ago?
How can this be, we wonder?
Well, there are differences. Funding for schools is based on property taxes, and as inner cities are sited in poor urban cores, where taxes are lessened, there are fewer resources for such schools.
And while racial segregation is unconstitutional, class segregation is not. This, coupled with the segregated housing customs which still determines where people live, also determines where young people go to school.
Just because a law changes, doesn't mean life does.
There are other reasons, as well.
Millions of whites fled to the suburbs, and many built private schools that could legally segregate. Much of this energy went into the voucher school movement, so that parents could siphon off public monies to pay for private, and even religious schools.
With some major American cities facing drop-out rates of 50%, public schools are failing in their mission of teaching and training children to handle the glaring needs of tomorrow.
And what of No Child Left Behind? It was by any honest measure, a disaster.
The less said about it, the better.
--(c) '09 maj
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