Out of the four tasks we had to accomplish for this week’s assignment the one that spoke to me most was the article “Separate and Unequal” by Bob Herbert. His statement that “Schools are no longer legally segregated but because of residential pattern, housing discrimination, economic disparities and long held customs, they most emphatically are in reality” made me think back to where I grew up, Northwest Indiana. One of the cities near where I lived is Gary, Indiana. According to school data in 2010 there were 11798 students enrolled in the school system. Only 74 students were white. Gary is a financially struggling area. Many of the families living in Gary cannot leave do to economic disparities.
According to Richard Kahlenberg “Ninety-five percent of education reform is about trying to make separate schools for rich and poor work, but there is very little evidence that you can have success when you pack all the low-income students into one particular school”. This reminds me of an argument I got into with someone a while back. He stated the teachers in a near by city of Crown Point were better then those in the Gary schools. He based this on test scores. I pointed out that the Gary teachers had to deal with more then just teaching. I told him if you took one child out of the Gary schools and put them into the Crown Point school most likely they would perform better, but if you moved all the Gary students to Crown Point and vise versa. The Gary students would still perform poorly while the other students would still do well. Many of the Gary students were hungry or helping to care for siblings or other issues. The teachers at Crown Point had students whose parents were well educated and most of the mothers stayed home. Teachers could spend time teaching and the students could concentrate on learning because they did not have outside issues like those in Gary.
The Gary students also had crumbling buildings, few supplies and sometimes even no books. They had few if any extra curricular activities. Students from the other school enjoyed a media room with a coffee bar; brand new buildings and many of their textbooks had additional information on line. Band students could record their practices online to be graded. They had many extra curricular activities and sports.
Like Kahlenberg stated in the article Gary has tried “firing teachers, attacking unions and creating charter schools “. None of these have fixed Gary’s school system.
Comparing the two schools makes me think back to Brown vs. Board of Education and how separate was not equal. Although there is no law mandating separation any longer, like the article states, it is still happening for other reasons. We need to find new ways to help these students in high poverty areas and work to make sure all schools are equal.
My question to my fellow classmates and Dr. Bogad is how do we do it? How do we make sure each child gets a great education?