June 13, 2011, NY]-----It's 2011 and the milestone case of Brown vs. the Board of Education seems like eons away. But the remnants of an unequal, segregated system, linger on with devastating consequences.
Now the inequality has gone subversive and has taken on a whole new persona. All children, regardless of color ,creed, religion, socio-economic or ethnic background, can attend schools together. Well legislatively, that's true. On paper, it seems that there is equality 'to be had by all.'
Until you scratch the surface. Peek beneath to see the stark, dirty truth. Every child is entitled to a public education up to 12th grade but unfortunately, all schools aren't created equal.
New York, which has the biggest public school system, is plagued by deep imbalance between schools, especially between charter and regular. Moreover, the voucher program serves to deepen this divide. Why do parents have to scratch and grovel to get their children into these schools when it is unfairly stacked from the beginning?
Every conscientious parent wanst the best education for their children, so they desperately claw their way trying to secure a slot in the charter schools, sometimes waiting hours packed into small auditoriums praying that their child/children receive one of the few vouchers alloted. 1000 parents might be praying for picks when they are only 300 available. What happens to the remaining 700?
This sets up an unjust system. Why don't administrators and legislators fight to improve all schools? Make all schools comparable so this unequal system is not necessary?
I received the following e-mail from the NAACP which I'm going to share with you in its original content. Sign the petition if you want to help make a difference.
New York City has become the latest battleground in the national fight for education equality.
In some schools, hallways serve as a stark dividing line. Classrooms with peeling paint and insufficient resources sit on one side, while new computers, smartboards and up-to-date textbooks live on the other. One group of students will be taught in hallways and basements while others under the same roof make use of fully functional classrooms.
New York schools have increasingly co-located charter schools inside existing public schools as a cost cutting measure. Handled improperly, co-locations can lead to disparities, division and tension among students, which can impede learning.
In many instances, traditional students are forced into shorter playground periods than their charter school counterparts, or served lunch at 10 am so that charter students can eat at noon. The inequity could not be more glaring. And similar proposals are being considered in other states and counties nationwide.
Throughout our history, the NAACP has fought for equal educational opportunities for all Americans. When we have seen inequality in school districts from Los Angeles, California to Topeka, Kansas, we have never hesitated to fight for what is right. Today the fight continues in the nation's largest school district.
You can help shed light on this inequality by signing the NAACP petition today and supporting New York City students.
Last month, after a year of attempts to negotiate with the New York City Department of Education to correct these inequalities after they lost to us in court, the NAACP was forced to go to court again to compel them to comply with state law.
Our return to court has triggered a smear campaign against the NAACP.
In recent days we have faced a coordinated media attack backed by funds from right wing opponents of public schools. Unable to dispute the facts of the case, they've chosen to cast aspersions on the NAACP, to question our motivations, and to sling mud at our legacy.
This is a tactic meant to silence the NAACP, but with your help, we will not be silenced.
Will you join us in speaking out? Stand alongside the NAACP, New York City parents and students to let the Department of Education know that all students deserve a quality education.
Sign the Petition now and let New York know that those who believe in justice will not back down.
The NAACP will always work for the day when all students can access high-quality public education. We will not tolerate the neglect of the hundreds of thousands of families depending on traditional public schools, nor will we stand by as public schools are illegally closed, communities are ignored in defiance of the law and student success is left to chance.
And we will never be silenced by right wing attacks on our reputation.
The NAACP has always believed that educating children in a separate and unequal system that provides a quality education to the lucky few at the expense of the many is the wrong kind of education, and we will continue to fight, as we always have, for equal opportunity for all.
Thank you for standing with us.
Benjamin Todd Jealous
President and CEO