This year marked the 60th anniversary of the landmark Brown vs. Board of Education decision. If you remember your history, the defendants argued that although their schools were segregated by race, the educational opportunities provided to students were equal; separate, but equal. The decision declared this unconstitutional- separate was not equal. In the ruling, the Supreme Court noted, “Segregation . . . deprive[s] [Black children] of some of the benefits they would receive in a racially integrated school system” (civilrights.org, 2016).
Separate is not equal. In Brown, the Court ruled that even if facilities, teachers, supplies, and resources were equal, separation itself was not only unequal, but also a violation of the equal protection under the 14th amendment (read the full article here).
Zip code education is if you identify any 5 digit zip code, you can ascertain the quality of education children receive (check out this interactive map from the Washington Post; enter a zip code and see income and educational statistics.). Many children who attend schools in low income areas (both urban and rural) may not be segregated, but the education they are receiving is far from equal.
Many urban and rural schools differ in facilities, teacher supplies and resources from their suburban counterparts. Access to arts, playground equipment, a stocked library, technology, health care, nutrition, and special services can be vastly different. Urban schools often have limited access to up-to-date textbooks, science lab equipment, buildings are in disrepair; ceiling and wall cracks, broken lights, leaky roofs, and chipped paint (Lemasters, 2015). The differences have a significant impact on the quality of instruction.
Sixty years after the historic Brown Vs. Board of Education decision, many schools are no longer separate but far from equal.
Zip codes should not determine the quality of education children receive. The solution is not charters or vouchers. Opening charter schools, offering vouchers and taking money away from local public schools is not the answer. A level playing field makes it equal. That was decided 60 years ago.
These are my reflections for today.