Are These the Schools Southerners Want? Are These the Schools Americans Want?

This is a soul-searching article about the resegregation of schools in the South.

After the passage of the Civil Rights Act in 1964, racial discrimination was prohibited in any federally funded program. But in 1964, there was very limited federal aid to schools. However, in 1965, Congress passed the Elementary and Zsecondary Education Act, and there was quite a lot of federal money for schools that enrolled poor children. The Office of Education in the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare took the Brown decision seriously. Top officials in the Lyndon B. Johnson told Southern districts that they would lose federal funding unless they presented real data on the racial distribution of students and faculty.

So did the federal courts. Southern districts, governors, and legislators offered “school choice” proposals. They were a farce. Federal officials rejected them. Federal courts rejected them.

Within ten years after the passage of ESEA, the South had more integrated public schools than any other region.

But then the great rollback began. With more conservative justices on the federal courts, the zeal to follow through on the promise of the Brown decision faded. The Department of Education, created in 1980, never had the energy and focus of the LBJ officials.

The authors of this article write:

“As we continue our “anti-dumbass” campaign to champion and improve Southern public schools for all students, we maintain our focus on the influence poverty, race, and racism continue to play in schools. Within the current political and cultural climate, there looms a growing sense of separation, where private interests replace democratic interests and the rich and powerful profit while the poor and underserved continue to struggle. You might think we were living in the 1930s or 1940s. This is, however, 2017, and the resegregation of public schools is increasing at an alarming rate.

“As parents and proud Southerners we constantly ask ourselves, are these the schools we want? Are these the schools we need? Is this the way we want to prepare our children for the future? What scares us the most is that this is happening without much pushback. As Southern schools continue to resegregate, as communities secede from larger county school districts and state legislatures vote to dismantle integration efforts, the result is greater separation and less equity for all students. Add to this the push for greater school choice and a national budget proposal that would move millions of tax dollars from public schools to for-profit charters as well as private and religious schools, and you have the potential to reverse decades of work to integrate Southern schools.

“The impact of rising numbers of segregated schools is highlighted in a recent report from the U.S. Government Accountability Office. According to the GAO report, “From school years 2000-01 to 2013-14 (the most recent data available), the percentage of all K-12 public schools that had high percentages of poor and black or Hispanic students grew from 9 to 16 percent.” In these schools, “75 to 100 percent of the students were black or Hispanic and eligible for free or reduced-priced lunch.” The most telling aspect of the report is this finding: “Compared with other schools, these schools offered disproportionately fewer math, science, and college-preparatory courses and had disproportionately higher rates of students who were held back in ninth grade, suspended, or expelled.”

“Again, we ask, are these the schools we want? Are these the schools we need? Is this how we want to prepare our children for the future? If the answer is “no,” then we have to resist the resegregation of public schools and promote inclusive schools that bring students together in integrated schools.”

Read on to learn about efforts to stop the tide of resegregation.

from novemoore http://ift.tt/2u4Kryb

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