Achievement Gap

It’s Time to Call American Public Education What It Is: A Caste System

A super selective public high school in New York handed out acceptance letters to 895 kids like how Oprah was handing out cars to her audience members back in 2004. Out of that group of almost 900 kids, seven were Black. Seven. https://twitter.com/AGZimmerman/status/1107741163090595845 Twitter was shocked and appalled despite the fact that acceptance of Black students there and at a few other highly sought after schools in New York had been on the decline. But there were, of course, those people who had the audacity to say, “Well, those kids had to test in,” and, “The majority of the student body is Asian...their families put education first”—sending the message that racial bias is a non-factor in education, Black students aren’t smart enough to pass these entrance exams and Black families don’t put education first. https://twitter.com/BretStephensNYT/status/1108030601389662208 Y’all, I am too tired. Tired of people overlooking the disparities faced by Black and Brown students, ignoring the roles of White privilege and racial bias in education and making excuses for an overall piss-poor system. https://twitter.com/citizenstewart/status/1107853368851075072 It’s time to call American public education what it is: a caste system where White kids are at the top and Black and Brown kids are at the bottom. Still separate, very much unequal— apartheid. At this point, I don’t have anymore faith in this janky institution that’s been designed to fail our kids. https://twitter.com/PeeplesChoice85/status/1108022214866149378 Matter of fact, y’all can just give us our education reparations and we can do our own thing. This system at least owes us that. https://twitter.com/JamiraBurley/status/1107798554154844160 I mean, Black and Brown school districts are underfunded by $23 billion, there’s constant opposition to affirmative action and reform in combating White privilege and disingenuous/failed attempts at real school integration. Schools have let racist educators and staffers get their hands on our kids. Like this former Hamden Public Schools employee who clearly has no problem calling Black people the “N-word.” https://twitter.com/ddanaa37/status/1106786255638052865 And the Trump administration continues to find ways to steal money from education and eliminate protections for students of color. If I read between all of those lines, it says that y’all don’t want us in this system. So, like Chuck E. says in his tweet, we’ll just have to fund and open our own schools. https://twitter.com/chuckfla21/status/1107988962856046592 You may be thinking, “Tanesha, you’re crazy,” but it’s entirely possible. Let’s not forget that Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were born because White people didn’t want Black people attending their schools. Sound familiar? During the Civil Rights Movement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) started Freedom Schools for Black and poor White people. https://twitter.com/PeeplesChoice85/status/959776961890521088 The Black Panther Party opened the Oakland Community School in 1973. It received recognition for its effectiveness in educating children. Marva Collins started her school, the Westside Preparatory School, on the second floor of her home and it ultimately grew into an entire building on Chicago’s West Side. And the Marva Collins Method of teaching is still used worldwide by educators. https://twitter.com/achswan/status/1104901750778183680 Black people are continuing these same trends today. In fact, Marva Collins paved the way for Black women educators like Veriner James to open her own STEM school for girls in 2017. More and more Black parents have abandoned traditional public schools to homeschool their children and others. And the National Charter Collaborative has identified 400 plus single site schools led by people of color. Dr. Howard Fuller’s Milwaukee Collegiate Academy is one of them I’m not an educator or a policymaker. I’m just an activist and organizer who wants better for our kids and believes in the power of our communities. We all have to believe in that power because there’s no way we can expect a fair shake from this system as is. We have the ability and the resources to give our kids a quality and rich education—the urgency in tapping into that is real.
Tanesha Peeples
Tanesha Peeples is driven by one question in her work—“If not me, then who?” As the former Deputy Director of Activist Development for brightbeam, Tanesha merges the worlds of communications and grassroots activism to push for change in the public education system. Her passion for community and relentless mission for justice and liberation drive her in uplifting and amplifying the voices and ...

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