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Education Progress?

Post # 64, Bob McKnight's Subscription Commentary

In 1964 the Congress passed the Civil Rights Act and the Voting Rights Acts. Both laws were hailed as the final end of racial discrimination, closing the deep wounds of the Civil War. The legislation was very difficult to pass, especially among the Southern members of Congress. The effect of the new laws were felt almost right away, starting in the public schools.

I graduated from public high school two years before, in 1962, and our school was considered the premier education locally for white students funded by the public. Our sports were the talk of the town. The only African American player on our high school baseball team was Pumpsey Green. As the years went by, the few number of minority students in public schools grew quickly. Today, the ratio of students in public schools is:

White: 49%

African American 15

Hispanic 26

Asian 5

Other 1

This is the first time white students in public schools are not a majority. Perhaps more significant is the trend--White enrollment is declining rapidly in public schools, African Americans flat, and Asians are growing the fastest. With that it is probably not surprising that the growing political movement generally led by the Republicans is the substitution of public funding from public schools into private schools. The engineering of the private schools has become almost exotic--from Parochial (which is generally unconstitutional) to Charter Schools, to Joint Ventures, to Outsourced Contractors to Disabled to Racial Hybrids. The net effect is the private schools are becoming very white and are funded increasingly by public dollars.

So the effect, after almost 60 years since I graduated from public high school, is becoming almost the same--the best education is for whites funded largely by the public. But the product now is just being delivered by private, not public teachers. The Republicans targeted elimination of education unions for many years, and it seems to be working. Is it progress?


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