Handed down 55 years ago, the Warren Court's decision stated that "separate educational facilities are inherently unequal." As we remember the anniversary of this important decision, we can celebrate some progress but should feel a profound sense of shame for the vast inequities that low income and minority children continue to face growing up in America.
A recent McKinsey study found that U.S. black students lag students in Bulgaria and match those in Bosnia. Black and Latino students are two or three years behind white students. Almost half of low income minority students drop out of school.
- In the last few months I've visited schools in Chicago, Hartford, New York, Newark, Baton Rouge and Los Angeles -- all nearly 100% low income minority students. The concentration of poverty and racial segregation that remains in America creates an enormous educational challenge.
The good news is that there are extraordinary people in every urban center fighting for children. Arne Duncan was a courageous school leader in Chicago and is setting the same tone in Washington. Michelle Rhee is cleaning house in DC. Steve Adamowski is creating innovative new schools in Hartford (with commendable state investment) and Tom Boasberg is doing the same in Denver. Joel Klein is closing failing schools and working with dozens of community groups to open great new schools.
On May 16, Klein will join Michael Lomax, Al Sharpton, Raul Yzaguirre, Newt Gingrich, Roy Romer and thousands of us in Washington, D.C. to commemorate the anniversary of Brown v. Board and call the nation to action for the work yet to be done. See www.EdEquality.org for details and come if you can!