Is Brown a Birthday Worth Celebrating?

         With a looming budget crisis in public education, many school districts across the country are slicing expenses for the upcoming 2011-2012 school year.  Some districts have proposed budget plans that would alleviate upwards of $27 million dollars from their operational budgets.  To compensate for such drastic changes school districts are sacrificing human capital in the form of teachers and other support staff, dropping special programs from its list of available services and closing small underachieving schools; many of which are serving predominately urban African American students.

            Political figures, educational leaders and community organizers have suggested that this is the worst ever seen.  The notion of budget cuts to this magnitude are leaving many concerned about the implications that these changes will have on poor, urban schools serving predominately African American and Latino youth and the urban communities in which they live.  Historically, it appears to be a systematic and cyclical ordeal for urban youth .  However, the ramifications could potentially further dampen already grim statistics regarding the achievement gap and the drop out crisis, as it specifically relates to the African American learner.

Should these changes regard itself as one of the largest influences on educational reform since the Brown V. Board of education ruling and the War on Poverty, the impact could be monstrous.  I anticipate that historical pieces of legislation will manifest as a result of the recent budget shortfall.

Ironically,  exactly 57 years ago today, the implications from the poorly implemented Brown ruling  are intensifying the impact of current economical hurdles.  The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education reform piece “was a promise that every child would have access to the same quality public education” (Carroll, Fulton, Abercombie & Yoon, 2004).  While, great strides have been made the promise of quality public education for all students is simply a lingering hope.

I however, carry sentiments of uneasiness as I reflect upon the state of our public education system today.  What implications will these uncompromising economic trials have on urban schools that are grossly underfunded?  What will happen to special education programs that have unfairly served an unprecedented number of African American students?  What will happen to a teaching force already consisting of an underrepresented number of African American educators graduating from historically African American colleges?  What impact will these mounting budgets cuts have on compensatory programs designed to compensate for economic and social disparities in poor Title 1 schools?

I anticipate that historical pieces of legislation will manifest as a result of the recent budget shortfalls. Therefore, this article suggest [this blog only presents an introductory excerpt to a currently unpublished article] that an analysis of the impact of previous historical benchmarks is necessary to perhaps prepare for or prevent a repeat of the longstanding effects that linger within American schools preceding the 57 year old Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court Ruling.

Today warrants our deep reflection as citizens, as products of a school system that may or may not have prepared us to reach our greatest potential, and more importantly as indviduals who will one day depend on the consumers of todays educational system. 

Today warrants the engagement in difficult discussions such as race and social injustices.  If ever there was time to reflect upon the impact of historical trends, today is the day.  So as we blow out the candles of freedom and desegregation, we must also gear up to address the new challenges of modern day segregation and social oppression.   Today is a day of reflection.  Our youth are depending on us!

This blog is an excerpt from an unpublished article written May 3, 2011 by Wykesha Hayes.


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