Margaret Kimberley is a freelance writer living in New York City. Her Freedom Rider column appears weekly in Black Commentator (see: http://www.blackcommentator.com/155/155_freedom_rider_education_apartheid.html ).
Margaret Kimberley on Educational Apartheid blighting the lives of Black children in New York and in the US (2005): “We haven't even lived up to the promises of Plessey v. Ferguson [163 U.S. 537 (1896), a key US Supreme Court decision upholding the constitutionality of state laws requiring racial segregation in private businesses (particularly railroads), under the doctrine of "separate but equal". This remained standard doctrine in U.S. law until its repudiation in the 1954 Supreme Court decision Brown v. Board of Education: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Plessy_v._Ferguson ]. . American schools today are separate and no one would even pretend they're equal. Every expert has a new plan for creating successful segregated schools, and the white society loves to hear these stories because they let them off the hook completely.
Campaign commercials for New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg claim that public schools have improved under his stewardship. The ads tell us that test scores have risen and "social promotion" has ended. This claim is supposed to convince New Yorkers to cast votes for Bloomberg because higher test scores and fourth graders being "left back" are supposed to be good things.
In fact, the opposite is true. The end of "social promotion" via test results is a sign of educational failure that is visited primarily upon children of color. Testing is a financial boon to the companies that produce the tests. It is of little value to teachers forced to teach to the test or to the children who are forced to take them.
The colossal scam brings with it failures that are touted as successes. The children who are not allowed to pass into the next grade are also conveniently not allowed to take the high stakes test. If the most challenged students can’t take the test, it is inevitable that scores will rise. Children are being used as political pawns in order to make politicians look good with tales of rising test scores.
What Bloomberg doesn’t tell us in his commercials is that the state of New York is under court order to remedy discrepancies in public school funding. New York City spends $8,171 per student, while its suburbs spend an average of $12,613 per student. Some New York City suburbs spend as much as $17,000 per student…
The plight of black America in public education is consistent with our plight in every other arena. Shortages of wealth and income, political power, and good political leadership conspire to prevent us from succeeding as individuals and as a group, and it all begins as soon as we learn our ABCs.” .
. Margaret Kimberley, “Educational Apartheid lives on”, Freedom Rider column, The Black Commentator, 20 October 2005: http://www.blackcommentator.com/155/155_freedom_rider_education_apartheid.html .