By Stanley Fritz (reposted from Let Your Voice Be Heard)
On May 17th 1954, the United States Supreme Court with a ruling of 9-0 (Brown V Board of Education) voted down the segregation of schools, saying that “separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” While this decision did not end of all segregation in America, it was a major blow to the Jim Crow laws and served as a step in the right direction in the battle for a quality education for all school children. On May 17th 2014, we celebrated the 60th anniversary of Brown V. Board, and while there have been great strides made in race relations, our schools are just as segregated if not more, and children of color continue to miss out on quality teachers and education.
The desegregation of Public Schools was supposed to create an educational system that ignored race and focused on the merits of students. It was to ensure that each and every child would have access to the best educational facilities, faculty and curriculum that they needed to succeed. Instead, what we have found is an educational system that is failing all children, but excelling at an even higher rate in their mishandling and neglect with children of color. In 2014, children of color are more likely to be penalized for misbehavior, more likely to be characterized as needing medication for “behavioral issues” and, less likely to have a quality teacher in their classrooms. The numbers speak for themselves. In a study done by the United States Department of Education it was found that students of color are more likely to be taught by unqualified teachers, novice teachers, or teachers with lower salaries than their peers.
In that same study, it was also discovered that 7 percent of black students were attending schools where more than 20 percent of the teachers on staff have not yet met all of their state certification requirements. Meanwhile, teachers who were not completely certified were teaching only 1.5 percent of white students. Nearly 7 percent of black students attended schools where more than 20 percent of teachers hadn’t yet met all state certification requirements. That figure was more than four times higher than for white students (1.5 percent). The results of such a disparity can not be ignored as it has an effect on the quality of education for children of color. When you can expect that at least 20% of your teaching staff will not be fully qualified to teach, the likely hood of making it to college will significantly decrease. According to the Center For Public Education:
A growing body of research shows that student achievement is more heavily influenced by teacher quality than by students’ race, class, prior academic record, or school a student attends. This effect is particularly strong among students from low-income families and African American students.
In a study done by the Editorial Projects in Education Research Center, while more Americans than ever graduated from high school, Black Students (62%) and Hispanic students (68%) still lagged far behind White Students (80%). In response to this unsettling information, we have seen a rise in rhetoric which puts the blame on everything but the real problems. While parent involvement, the community a child lives in, and class sizes are all important, what has continued to be a deciding factor in the success of students is the effectiveness of their teachers. Teachers that can engage students, get them excited about their education, offer the attention they need if they’re having issues in the classroom, and have the skills necessary to manage a classroom with 20 different personalities. Instead, we have far too many teachers who are unqualified to hold that title, and unequipped with handling the many needs of black and brown students. We see punishment for them as much harsher than those of white students.
Brown V. Board is 60 years old but the problems that we faced during the civil rights era are still around. In some cases they are far worse off than before but no one is paying attention because of a perceived “Post Racial America”. This generation of young adults has been categorized as the “Least Racist” generation of all time. According to a survey done by MTV, (Yup, you read that right) on race relations with Millennials:
Ninety-one percent of respondents “believe in equality” and believe “everyone should be treated equally.” Likewise, 84 percent say their families taught them to treat everyone the same, no matter their race, and 89 percent believe everyone should be treated as equals.
However, in that same survey it was discovered that this generation is less likely to discuss race, or race relations than any other generation. And here we have a huge racial disparity in the quality of education, and the people who should care are asleep at the wheel. Children of color are being left behind in the class rooms and instead of trying to address the issues, we’re busy patting ourselves on the back for a fantasy that clearly isn’t real. It’s been 60 years since Brown V. Board of Education and we’re still failing black students. It’s time to stop the false celebration and fight for quality teachers, more school choice, and the kind of funding and attention necessary to uplift a struggling community.
About the Author
Stanley Fritz is the political Writer/Editor-In-Chief for lyvbh.com. He is also the author of “Beautiful Problems” and the Engineer/Co-Host of “Let Your Voice Be Heard! Radio.”. Born and raised in East New York Brooklyn, Stanley is a proud Obama supporter who believes that education is the ultimate pathway to prosperity.