Click to go to the Subscriber Log In Page
Go to menu with buttons for all pages on BC
Click here to go to the Home Page
Donate with PayPal button
Est. April 5, 2002
July 1, 2021 - Issue 872
Bookmark and Share

Students of color are facing their third generation K-12 public education crisis. The 1954 Brown Decision ushered in a period of furious opposition to the desegregation of the nation's public schools. It was followed by in-school segregation, and the harassment of Black students and their parents, which fed into the growing civil rights movement of the 1960s.

School busing became a hot political issue and a proxy for the stark divide between Black and White citizens. Students of color, mostly Blacks, weathered vicious social, emotional, and physical attacks as they served on the front lines of these intense battles. Whites fled southern public schools in droves, and de facto segregation prevailed in northern public schools until court-ordered school desegregation began dismantling it.

As White flight intensifies and White birth rates decline, students of color have ascended to majority status in K-12 public schools and now make up the bulk of students in the 50 states. A preponderance of these students is poor and lacks the governmental financial resources and family support to enable them to succeed in school.

Likewise, as their numbers continue to surge, especially in our urban centers, their plight is worsening daily. The COVID-19 pandemic laid bare this reality as these students were and are ill-served by the remote learning that replaced nearly all in-person instruction since the late fall of 2019 and early winter of 2020.

Although scheduled to return to classroom teaching on a full-time basis in the fall of 2021, the general absence from remote learning has negatively impacted students of color. Their lack of desktop and/or laptop computers, along with inconsistent and stable internet connections, limited their access to learning.

Students of color and their White counterparts also suffer from depression and other mental health challenges as they attempt to negotiate this new educational paradigm, causing a further lag in positive educational outcomes. In addition, they have less contact with mental health professionals than they did while physically attending schools.

Public schools in economically and socially distressed areas were already under-staffed in school counselors and social workers, which has long been accepted as a condition of poverty. Although complaints about this situation are routine, responses to address them are limited, despite teacher unions including them in their contract bargaining. One of them led to the 2012 Chicago teachers' strike.

Amid the current rush to return to so-called educational normalcy, the aforesaid issues are being pushed to the side. Unfortunately, even as they are ignored, they continue to fester.

In the meantime, Democrats, viewed as public education’s most reliable allies, are consumed with passing infrastructure and climate change bills and voter suppression and police reform legislation, and consider remote education difficulties largely resolved. Democrats’ preoccupation with these matters is leaving a critical part of their base—parents of students of color--to fend for themselves.

Given their slender takeover of the federal government, it seems that they have over-promised what they can do.

As the 2022 midterms loom on the political horizon, national and state-level Democratic leadership are in disarray as to what their political focus will be. Its unfocused approach to crime is providing Republicans with a political club to batter them in the electoral arena. Last week’s New York City Democratic mayoral primary showed the leading candidate, a former police officer, using his emphasis on crime prevention to give him an edge.

It is unclear whether Democrats are even considering their narrow margins in the House and Senate to be at risk in the upcoming midterms. They are operating as if they have political leverage in a nearly 50-50 split with Republicans in both chambers. They need to energize their base to ensure that they remain in power. Forcefully addressing public education in the aftershock of remote learning is one way to do so.

As little progress is being made on their chief emphases on infrastructure, voting rights, and police reform so far, Democrats badly need a political shot in the arm to rally their base. Addressing the failures of remote instruction and its continuing impacts on students of color could buttress their parents who are having a tough time in the workplace.

Democrats need an issue to rally around, one that pulls together the diverse elements of their support base—ethnic minorities, young people, LGBTQ+, Independents, and disenchanted Republicans—and education could serve that role. With less than six months before midterm campaigns start, it is imperative that Democrats come up with viable approaches for victory.

According to recent polls, little in their political arsenal seems to have galvanized members of their base to be ready to turn out in sufficient numbers to win the 2022 midterms. Democrats spear to be playing an insider political game that primarily appeals to their personal political agendas. It is imperative that they incorporate the concerns of their most avid supporters if they are to hold on to power.

An additional stressor for students of color, especially males, is the persistent conservative and Republican attacks on critical race theory which prevents them from discussing racism in their social science and history classrooms. While being continuously assaulted and slaughtered by the police in the streets, they are, in effect, being told to shut up and die quietly.” Columnist, Dr. Walter C. Farrell, Jr., PhD, MSPH, is a Fellow of the National Education Policy Center (NEPC) at the University of Colorado-Boulder and has written widely on vouchers, charter schools, and public school privatization. He has served as Professor of Social Work at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and as Professor of Educational Policy and Community Studies at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee. Contact Dr. Farrell and BC.

Bookmark and Share




is published  Thursday
Executive Editor:
David A. Love, JD
Managing Editor:
Nancy Littlefield, MBA
Peter Gamble

Get On The
Email List

Perry NoName: A Journal From A Federal Prison-book 1
Ferguson is America: Roots of Rebellion by Jamala Rogers