My first career was as a Junior High School teacher in New York City. I taught in Brownsville Brooklyn (African-American), the South Bronx (Puerto Rican), and Astoria Queens (a mini U.N.). In all three schools there was no truancy problem, lack of a desire to learn or major discipline problems. I never had to remove a student from my classroom! There were, however, common themes: good teachers, and administrators, parental involvement, and support, and, perhaps as a result, a desire to learn.
Before Brown V. Board of Education, education was “separate” and certainly not “economically equal.” Integration was considered a good idea. However, busing caused white flight, and the schools became re-segregated over time. Some African-American schools, such as Dunbar High School in Washington D.C., out shined their white counterparts. Its school building was old, but Dunbar was the highest-rated school in the District before integration. That’s no longer the case, even with the new, and very expensive, Dunbar High replacing the old.
So, now we have the City of Richmond seriously considering to re- integrate several schools with a new twist called “diversity.” This is the school district that spends more than 25% more money than the counties that surround it and is building three new schools as part of the answer to the continued problem of “separate but unequal.” I find it ironic that of the two best elementary schools in the city, Mary Munford Elementary is in a 68-year-old building and William Fox Elementary is in a building more than 100 years old. In the plan under consideration, African-American children would be bused to these ancient edifices.
The logistics and the overall cost of busing hasn’t been fully taken into account yet, nor has the city’s ability to find the additional bus drivers, which appear to be in short supply across the metro area. Also not considered is the loss of federal grant money steered to schools based on their minority status. Let’s remember that Richmond’s is the school system that always needs more money. Where will these funds come from?
Neither has the risk of another round of “white flight,” to the suburbs been factored in.
Finally, let’s say for argument’s sake that graduation rates and/or statewide test scores increase as a result of adding white students. Does that solve the problem of black student achievement? Is the school system saying that without the white students the situation will be even worse?
From my perspective the key to raising black student achievement is to get more parents involved. I saw the results first hand in NYC.
Brian Glass, a commercial real estate broker, lives in Henrico County.There are currently no comments highlighted.