. . . . . According to civil rights attorney, Ted Gordon of Louisville, “This is a different era from Brown v. Board of Education. The 21st century requires different solutions, not outdated thinking.”
. . . . . “What works in improving education is reducing class size, hiring more qualified aides and teachers, offering one-on-one instruction where needed, providing modern books and equipment and, most important giving incentive pay for better teachers to teach at those failing schools.”
. . . . . “Eleven years ago, as a civil rights attorney, I represented African-American students restricted by the Jefferson County school system’s quota from receiving the best education possible.”
. . . . . “Today nothing has changed. The best schools still have the lowest percentage of African-American students. The best schools still have the best teachers and equipment. And African-American students are still being denied a quality education. (Ted Gordon, USA Today 10/12/2010)
. . . . . As attorney Gordon knows, Brown v. Board of Education decided that separate schools for black and white students were not equal. Over the last several decades, monumental efforts have been devoted to seeing that the education of the races was together. Because of residential living patterns, particularly in the cities, avoiding separateness required re-distributing (busing) students from schools which were predominantly black to schools which were more heavily white. This came to be known as a quota system, with the percentage of black students in every school remaining essentially the same.
. . . . . Over many years, with this system in place, it follows that all schools would eventually perform at the same level, and any racial disparity in student performance would be eliminated. What has been discovered is that separate is not equal, and together is not equal. Rather than to accept and try to understand this discrepancy, the powers continue to seek a single, silver bullet, a one size fits all “solution” which will equalize what students learn. The current political solution is to explain all differences in learning through “poverty”, our equalizer for the next 50 years. The prescription will be another quota system in which kids from poor neighborhoods are bussed to schools in rich neighborhoods, and kids from rich neighborhoods will be bussed to schools in poor neighborhoods. This is precisely what we have been doing for the past 60 years. That didn’t work either.
. . . . . A mountain of data has already eliminated poverty, as measured by family income, as a significant factor influencing student performance. Surprisingly, doing well in school is virtually unrelated to family income. The only remaining influence through poverty is what might be called “poor neighborhoods”. If some kids from dirt-poor families do well in failing schools, why don’t all kids do well in these same schools?
. . . . . Whoever said that busing would lead to a better education was dead wrong. To claim that black students are being denied a quality education is also dead wrong. Black students have been bussed all over the country and nothing seems to matter much. It is easier to blame the schools than to look at the culture from which many students, including black students come.
. . . . . Since separate does not work, and together does not work, and family income does not matter, and bussing doesn’t matter, what is it that actually matters? Maybe what matters is what many kids carry around with them wherever they go, a sub-culture that does not value an education. This sub-culture is not exclusive to the black population. Many parents don’t value an education. Many students and their peers don’t value an education. Many neighborhoods believe the schools are failing. Many civil rights attorneys believe black students are being denied an education. Exactly what does this sub-culture value?
. . . . . Many of the boys value sports. They spend hours preparing for and practicing sports. They seem to learn quite well what they put their effort into. There are other adolescent priorities which have a higher value than doing well in school.
. . . . . An appropriate analogy applies to all those folks in Kentucky, who know horses, that you can take a horse to the Derby, but you can’t make them all win. Education is one of the few life experiences where it is expected that all students will come out the same, regardless of effort. While it is impossible to remove all competition from school outcomes, a quality education through the elementary and secondary levels is a continuous and cumulative 12-year experience. Those students who put the most into it are the same ones who get the most out of it. Over twelve years of hard work those students who wish to learn in school end up way ahead of those who value other things. Surprise!!!
. . . . . It is surprising that so many folks expect equal educational outcomes for students across all races without ever addressing the effort, the work that is required in doing ones best. An education is not like oxygen, which we all breathe. A quality education requires a large measure of willing effort directed at learning throughout twelve consecutive years. Most all students who conscientiously apply themselves and receive support and encouragement from their families and peers profit significantly from their schooling experience. This includes students of all races in most all of America’s public schools.
. . . . . In the Derby there is only one winner, and all the other horses are automatically grouped as losers. The fact is that all the horses in the Derby, all those who run are in a tight pack at the end. They were all winners just to qualify. In any twelve-year competition, the front runners are all well ahead of those who simply don’t want to race. This is as it should be.
. . . . . If an education were like breathing, how much simpler it would be.
Black students denied quality education