What Kind of Schools Do Black Children Deserve?
For me the trip to New Orleans brought to the surface a painful and troubling truth about educational equality. It's a truth that's often forgotten, or buried under subtext or coded language. The fact is, when we talk about school reform we're talking about race.
This truth is especially palpable and sensitive in a place like New Orleans. Even before the trauma of Hurricane Katrina this was a city struggling with a deep history of racism. Race is especially relevant if you're talking about New Orleans public schools considering that roughly 8/10 of the white students in New Orleans attend private schools.
When you visit a school like John McDonogh Senior High School, you can't help but to ask yourself, "Is this the best we can offer for black children in this country? Is this what we think they deserve?" Without even getting into the murky waters of teacher quality at this school - I didn't spend enough time in classrooms here to make fair conclusions - the building itself serves as a clear example of what we're willing to subject children to if they are born with the wrong skin color, in the wrong neighborhood.
I don't think that anyone on either side of the debate in New Orleans can ignore this reality, and neither can we.
This post and others can be found at Beyond Appian Way, a blog by students from the Graduate School of Education writing about travels outside of Cambridge, MA.