23.May – { WHY? } by Tina Ngbare

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WHY IS THIS SO HARD?

Last week marked the 60th Anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. As you can imagine there were a lot of reports, photo essays, op-ed pieces, etc., but one of them completely ruined my Saturday. I mean literally.

There was this >>

60 years after Brown v. Board, inequality in America’s birthplace grows

And then for good measure >> Still Separate and Unequal

After hearing and/or reading these reports, I was angry – literally angry – because I’m struggling to understand why this is still something we haven’t figured out.  We live in a country where everyone from community leaders to pastors to politicians (including our president) and corporate leaders have stated that getting an education is the great American equalizer.   No matter your background or story – getting a good education and working hard is everyones opportunity to chart their own path in life.  So why is it that we as a nation haven’t been able to figure to a way to provide the same educational opportunities to all students regardless of their background (socioeconomic, race, geography, etc.)?  WHY IS THIS SO HARD?

“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments.”

– Chief Justice Earl Warren (1954)

And why isn’t this an issue that has bi-partisan support or any at all? We clearly all agree that education is important – so why haven’t any of our politicians made it a priority? Is it because k-12 students are voiceless in our political process? Or is it because they’re intentionally making it difficult for lower income students to compete with their wealthier counterparts (since they have fewer resources yet are held to the same standards)?

I work in the Ed Reform space & even I don’t have the answers. I have no idea how to get to the answers, but this reaffirms for me that so much work still needs to be done. And no matter how frustrating it is at times – this work is too important. Ultimately its about how we level the playing field and set our kids up to succeed. And everyone needs to know / understand how critical it is for us to fix our public education system – not all of it, just the parts that are severly under-resourced.

And no – charter schools are not the answer.