We pour millions of dollars into the public education system every year. So why is it that so many minority children have difficulty reading above a fourth grade level? A big part of the problem is that the highest concentration of blacks and Hispanics exits in urban communities, where parents simply lack the financial whether withal to secure better schooling options for their children. Whereas the well-to-do can always pick up and move to the suburbs, poor inner city children remain stuck in the deteriorating conditions that have characterized America's urban public schools for decades.
This is unacceptable. Fifty years after Brown v Board of Education ,we need to ensure that our children are receiving a decent education, regardless of income, background, or race. This need was not lost on President Bush, who passed the bi-partisan No Child Left Behind Act. Among other things, the act holds public schools accountable for failing to properly educate our children. That constitutes an important victory because up until recently, the teachers unions would be damned if they were going to allow public school teachers to be held accountable for the job they do educating our children.
Of course, accountability needs to mean more than penalizing schools. It means students must be held personally accountable for underperforming. The U.S. Department of Education must work with community organizations to explore practical options for alternative and supplemental services, including implementing tutoring, after-school programs, mentoring, and parent training programs. When a school is found to be in need of improvement, parents, school officials and community organizations must work together to turn things around.
For the past fifty years we've failed to do that. Our inability to imagine what it must be like to be a poor, inner city student has allowed us to write off entire generations because of the whim of geography. We need to change that. Equal education an essential civil right and the crucial component in the complex struggle for social equality.