Educational Apartheid; American Style

To those who need to start a true journey of understanding by looking in their own backyard, an important area to consider is the process of 'Educational Apartheid;' American style.  


Schools have once again and increasingly become highly segregated and districts around the country, especially in the South, have manipulated local legislation and zoning to funnel majority and minority kids into different school districts even if they may sometimes live, literally, across the street from one another.


This is fact, folks….spend even a little time on Google instead of Fox News and you might be amazed what you will find.


Educational Apartheid; American-style has become increasingly possible to do via local court rulings which have been slowly gutting the Supreme Court’s Brown v. Topeka decision in 1954 and, more directly, when the Court ordered public schools to achieve minority/majority balances…'racial balance;' not separate AND equal public school districts via busing in 1971.


Politicians whose districts include highly urban communities don't have to typically do as much of a political dance to create these artificially segregated schools inasmuch as many downtown schools are already overwhelmingly minority and poor. I know; I graduated from a highly urban East Coast public school district and, some years later, spent time as a very busy behavioral consultant in that same highly urban school district.


All this, while uptown, suburban schools and under resourced rural schools remain, far better resourced and supported. While some of these differently constructed school districts sometimes are stronger than others, being 'separate AND incredibly unequal' is far more often the case.


The money and resources available between a 'downtown' public school and a 'suburban' public school perhaps only 10 or 15 minutes away can be stark and saddening. While the school building used by urban/minority children may be decrepit with poor maintenance and outdated with older teaching materials and textbooks, not too far away suburban schools may sometimes look more like a small college campus.


And this is just as true true in under resourced rural and non-urban public schools as well.


A primary issue, then, is not just minority and majority but impoverished communities compared to those not. Those who think all children in the United States to include American born children born to American born parents have an ‘equal’ chance are dead wrong.


Educational Apartheid: American Style and America’s covert ‘caste’ system are solidly in place.


I've consulted in both urban and rural schools where teachers routinely spent their own money for everything from classroom pencils and playground/gym equipment to, even, toilet paper handing children who need the bathroom a couple dozen sheets at a time. One teacher I consulted with only gave students 5 sheets – exactly - at a time for toilet use.


I've worked in under resourced urban and rural public schools where, if they even had a working copy machine, teachers were only allowed very, very small numbers of copies per week to include those needed for student learning.


Since, salaries, resources and support systems/materials are, much more often, far better focused uptown, in the suburbs and monied rural regions, teachers and Administrators understandably gravitate in that direction whenever possible.


So, what happens?


Not only are older and sometimes less skilled teachers more likely to teach in urban and under resourced public schools but so also are younger teachers who simply have less experience and simply want a job. And both groups include many who could become excellent teachers if they had more competent supervision, resources and supports. But these teachers often find themselves in urban and under resourced public schools since uptown/suburban and more resourced school districts have far more applications from which to choose.


This dynamic is then often further accentuated by less motivated, skilled, engaged and competent administrators who, even while their teachers are being subjected to more and more professional and political pressure for 'accountability,' are far too often given a free pass.


At the same time, I can absolutely assure readers that urban/minority and under resourced rural public schools also and often have brilliant, motivated and highly competent teachers and administrators whose ability to be productive are still greatly hindered by the exact same political, economic and resource variables.


And there most definitely are also excellent system examples where urban/minority and under resourced rural school educational professionals do and can create strong and remarkable outcomes for their students and schools.


Realize, however, that those urban/minority  and under resourced rural schools which are succeeding are definitely not the norm and are doing so DESPITE a system set up to create and predict their failure. And there are lots of reasons for these varied outcomes across school districts to include to include both systemic and idiosyncratic variables.


It is also important to note that there really is no longer a 'typical' student profile or classroom and public schools overall are dealing more than ever before with higher variability in the social-emotional needs, learning 'readiness,' cognitive/adaptive functioning and motivation of their students.  


And whether those students have single parents or both parents at home, their parents are typically working countless hours just to buy food and barely have time to do that which their child’s school should be doing instead. Schools often forget that parents are not on their staff.


The increased focus on vouchers, Charter Schools and drawing money away from public schools then means that urban/minority and under resourced rural schools wind up spending more spend time dealing with social-emotional, behavioral and more explicit learning needs of their students than those uptown, suburban and monied. And even the most skilled teachers most often do not have the specific training to effectively deal with these kinds of pivotal needs.


The changing national demographics referenced in this short column have actually increased the desperation of a large core section of majority fed politicians to speed up the pace of Educational Apartheid: American Style and direct money and supports to their majority 'key stakeholders' and associated schools. This is, in fact, a prime motivator in the so called 'school choice' and voucher movements.


If those same politicians were truly concerned about failing and struggling urban/minority schools and under resourced rural schools, they would provide THEM with stable and consistent funding and resources rather than suck still more money from these already unequal schools to distribute among their majority/monied friends and voters.


I strongly encourage readers to take a closer look at ‘Educational Apartheid; American Style' before passing judgment or offering broad and misguided perceptions.


Rusty Smith Added Apr 2, 2018 - 12:48pm
I live in So Cal and here where you live has little to do with where you go to school since all kids can apply to go to any school they want to.  As a result most public schools have very high percentages of minorities, not because they can go where they want but because most white families put their kids in private schools.  What's left in public schools are mostly minorities whose parents are too poor to put them in private school, or those who just don't care.
The worst schools are still in poor areas where the communities and the families are the most dysfunctional.  They don't have lots of tax money to spend on their schools and they don't care enough about their kids educations to send them to better schools, even free public schools in better areas.
If you do look at the schools in better neighborhoods, surprisingly the minority students usually segregate themselves, even in mixed classrooms.  Blacks are known for not wanting to learn so they stick together, Asians crave educational opportunities and they stick together, and White students also tend to stick together, some times for their own safety.
The schools mantra is "no child left behind", and the way they practice it is by dumbing down the class so that the slowest kids can keep up, and yes that means the smart kids spend most of their time bored to death.  Is it any wonder people who care and have money put their kids in private schools?
The only good thing about public schools is that the bar for achievement is so low that it's easy for smart and inspired kids to look like rock stars, compared to the rest of the students who are dumb as rocks.
Thomas Sutrina Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:22pm
The school district my children went to was court ordered segregated.  You could point to principles actually creating the segregation by there conduct.  The teachers had no choice if they disagreed.  The news paper sited just stupid things done and the previous administration did nothing.
America has a public education system that rewards mediocrity, funnelling money to the needs of teachers and administrators.  Poor performing students in fact lets the teachers and administrators request more money thus a bigger pot to pilfor toward their needs. 
The dollars a school district gets is dependent on head count.  That is why the district and the union oppose loosing students to private education or charter schools.  The law says they have to attend school so that suggest that quality doesn't effect the money a district gets also.  Attendance does.
The court ordered busing in my school district and other rules created a situation that the parents had no input into the school.  We put our child into a private school when it was clear that the school was not interested in education or meeting the needs expressed by parents which due to bussing was mixed. 
The teachers union defined which school a teacher worked at not due to needs of the students but by the length of time employed.
Students were placed in classrooms to balance race and not due to the needs of the students and the skill of the teacher.
The course work thus was generic even in a school that was titled to be for children the parents thought were more interested in a particular way of seeing the world, example arts.   This was the reason we pulled our child out of public education.  
You point out segregation is now occurring.  The teachers unions could stop it in an instant in any large district.  The teachers contract team could easily make that part of the negotiations.  The school board could also easily end it.  What is boils down to is that the cost of busing was throwing money down a rat hole that both sides wanted to end.  The teachers wanted some of the money to end up in their pay check and the school board want it to keep up the buildings. 
Thomas Sutrina Added Apr 2, 2018 - 3:48pm
We always talk about the problem but seldom discuss solutions.  Charter schools and vouchers get around the teacher unions and boards of education that as I said get money based on head count.  And since the law requires a student to go to school they have a captured base, captured head count.   So there is no incentive to provided good education above that level where the citizens revolt.  Guess what, that level has been determined and the schools are at that level.   Consider that areas of higher income parents have better schools because the revolt level is higher.  Schools education quality go down as the level of income go down because the point where parent pull their child is at a lower performance level of the school.   
The neighborhoods with welfare as the major income provider have the poorest schools because the parent are not capable of pulling their child from public education.  Thus the school can provide the lowest level of education without loosing head count.   
Milwaukee offered vouchers to this lowest level and the teachers union have filed dozens of law suits for the last ~ twenty years to stop them, one of the earliest and longest continuous running voucher system.  The parents that have sent their children to other schools using the voucher has increased to my knowledge up to the number of vouchers available.  The performance of students I believe is better then in the public school on average but individual schools that take vouchers and individual student vary in a typical distribution curve.  I think that is expected.   Charter schools have different methods of picking students and I believe since that flush what is seen in voucher areas apply similarly.   
So why do parents choose voucher accepting or charter schools?  They can go back to public schools.  The reason is choice, as Dr. Milton Friedman would say they are voting with their feet.   So when we shop for anything we walk into the store with what we perceive is the best value to purchase an item.  We can do research or get that research for talking to others.   You do not have to be an expert to know if you receive good value.  That is determined by comparison.  Thus you need alternatives and the actual performance.
The performance of public schools in poor neighborhoods has been shown, when alternatives are available, to be of low value to parents. 
The public schools, due to the efforts to stop other forms of education, provides high value to teachers and administrators of public schools.  That suggest that they are paid more then they are worth on an open market, the teachers and administrators that work for private schools is an open market.  Thus they are fighting to retain politicians favor and thus preferred treatment with the public funds they give out.   In return the teachers work to get the politicians elected when they thus are not working of the interest of the parents but for the interest of the teachers.
Dino Manalis Added Apr 2, 2018 - 4:21pm
Property taxes discriminate against poor school districts, that's why public schools ought to be funded with state revenues, while private institutions need to provide poor and middle class students with financial aid, as well as transportation and other services.
John Minehan Added Apr 2, 2018 - 5:47pm
Property taxes are not a good funding mechanism. 
What would work better?
Thomas Sutrina Added Apr 2, 2018 - 5:53pm
City school district are for the WHOLE CITY.  Thus property taxes can not be discriminator since all the money is put into a pot.  The cities have often the worst discrimination. 
Dino M., need to consider a wider view.  The issue of state funding is really about another issue.  Rural and small town property taxes provide for a closer measurement of performance.  Talk to someone from a rural school board.  They are know by name by a significant residents of the district.  The are personally responsible to their neighbors.   When the district is large they board members do not know many, less then a percent, of the voters, like a city, county, and state.  
Nobel economic recipient Dr. Milton Friedman said this, "Legislators [school board members] vote to spend someone else's money. The voters who elect the legislators [school board members] are in one sense voting to spend their own money on themselves, but not in the direct sense of (spending your own money on yourself.) The Connection between the taxes any individual pays and the spending he votes for is exceeding loose. In practice, voters, like legislators [school board members], are inclined to regard someone else as paying for the programs the legislator [school board members] votes for directly and the voter votes for indirectly. Bureaucrats who administer the programs are also spending someone else's money. Little wonder that the amount spent explodes. 

But that is not all. The lure of getting someone else's money is strong. Many, including the [teachers union and] bureaucrats administering the programs, will try to get it for themselves rather than have it go to someone else. The temptation to engage in corruption, to cheat, is strong and will not always be resisted or frustrated. People who resist the temptation to cheat will use legitimate means to direct the money to themselves. They will lobby for legislation favorable to themselves, for rules from which they can benefit. The [teachers union and] bureaucrats administering the programs will press for better pay and perquisites of themselves- an outcome that larger programs will facilitate."  
John Minehan Added Apr 2, 2018 - 6:19pm
Property taxes carry a whole lot of other issues. 
Pardero Added Apr 2, 2018 - 7:31pm
If it was just about the money, statistics could prove that the more money spent, the worse the outcome.
There is nothing wrong with the old textbooks, the kids probably benefit from the lack of revisionist history and PC rubbish.
All school districts are top heavy and could benefit from cutting dead wood out of administration and putting the saved resources towards additional or more highly skilled teachers.
My mother provided pencils, paper, colored pencils, and sometimes lunches, when she taught. There is nothing new there. It comes with the territory.
The teachers union fought tooth and nail to prevent a niece, who was home-schooled for her first 10 grades, from winning a full ride scholarship to the University of Idaho. The teachers union failed, and the young lady is now a microbiologist.
Charter schools, vouchers, Montesori, and parochial schools may be what it takes to break the depraved teachers unions. 
Public schools offer a defective service that is mostly indoctrination. Once, public schools were the shining example of the benefits of limited socialism. Now, they are the greatest example of socialism's shortcomings.
When you take the public's money to teach children, you should be obligated to provide them with a good education that is not counter to the parents' values, not fill them with PC garbage and socialism as you make a good living off their hard-earned tax dollars. 
I have seen relatively new schools get replaced by new ones, when the old ones were fine and became business offices. The piddling complaints that were highly exaggerated, didn't seem to bother the new owners.
How is it that a one room schoolhouse in Yaak, Montana has a better record for achievement and graduation than many schools with the latest and greatest?
Mismanagement of revenue should not be confused with too little revenue. I have listened to interviews of inner city administrators who could not put a complete sentence together, but lived large at taxpayer expense. If the school lacks the money to keep the heat on, an investigation needs to be undertaken to see where they squandered the taxpayers' money.
I will be surprised if you get a lot of sympathy.
Rusty Smith Added Apr 2, 2018 - 7:42pm
Where I live they will not allow vouchers because they claim doing so would take too much money away from public schools.  They spend $10,000 per kid per year in public schools, and even refused a plan that would give half that much as vouchers, leaving behind a small fortune in unspent tax money for every child that left.  
They don't want go give the kids a good education they want to keep their high paying government jobs with pensions and time off to die for.  If vouchers were allowed most parents would opt for them and put their kids in better performing private schools for almost half what a public school costs right now.
As a result we have real segregation, those with money put their kids in good private schools where they get good educations, and the poor are stuck with public school cesspools that are much more expensive.  It doesn't matter how much money you give the public schools, they will squander int on raises, pensions, and stupid things like IPads, instead of good teachers and old fashioned Reading, Righting and Rithmetic lessons that the kids really need without all the PC stuff that doesn't help them get a job when they get out.
Jeffry Gilbert Added Apr 4, 2018 - 10:07am
Decided young to never have kids. This kinda stuff being part of the reason. I certainly wouldn't want my kids to be subjected to sub-standard classmates with so-called values that are incompatible with acheivment and success.