An Open Letter to the U.S Education System
Dear U.S Education System,
Why can’t we fix you? My class has spent a total of nine hours this week talking about how to combat re-segregation alone, and we have not gotten the slightest bit close to an answer. My problem is that I don’t even know where to start. Re-segregation is only one problem among many, but I will start there.
In class this week, we have talked about the aftermath of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka. After Brown v. Board, the problem switched from de jure segregation to de facto segregation. Basically, after the law tried to fix you, U.S Education System, people were still able to segregate schools based on housing segregation and zoning. Not only were schools re-segregated, but some schools shut down because the whites did not want to integrate. In Prince Edward County, the public schools shut down, and a private school was created for white students only. The public schools were shut down for over five years. When they finally opened up, the public school was predominately for black students, and the private school was predominately white. We watched a video about Prince Edward County in class, and it was powerful to hear students’ stories about not having access to an education for over five years. We talked a bit about the idea of sacrificing an entire generation for a cause, and this concept has stuck with me for the past couple days. That is what happened in Prince Edward County, an entire generation was sacrificed.
The situation that occurred in Prince Edward County also made me question the power of court rulings. Brown v. Board was viewed as a victory for the Civil Rights Movement, but black students in that county went more than five years without an education. Why don’t people follow the laws that apply to you? I believe that is has to do with choice; you give people too much choice. Integration theory says that choice without civil rights considerations will lead to inequality. Maybe, this is why our schools are re-segregating.
I want to say that we need to write up an entire new system because there is so much flaw in you, but I do not think that is a possibility because of your history. Besides, I am learning more and more through this class that it is hard to please everyone with one set plan of action. I believe choice has created issues, and I blame you for that. On the other hand, if you were a different system, there would be a new issue at hand to address. That being said, you’re not off the hook. There are ways to fix de facto segregation. Magnet schools were created in the 1970’s to combat segregation and to provide minority students with a “better” education. Although Magnet and Charter schools come with their own problems, the idea is a step in the right direction. Magnet and Charter schools bring in the question of more choice, but I am personally not against choice alone. I am against choice without civil rights considerations.
Ultimately, U.S Education System, you’re a mess. I wish I could offer more constructive criticism, but I have tried my best to make sense of you. The further I dig into your policies and trends, the more confused I get. The more questions I try to answer, the more questions I seem to have. I hope my class, the Sociology of Education, continues in this manner. Questions and confusion aren’t bad, but I used to think they were. I thought that the more questions I had meant the less I knew. In fact, the more questions I have means how much I want to fix you.
A concerned student,
P.S: On an unrelated note, why didn’t I learn about how to pay taxes in high school. I think that’s important. You should get on that.