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.
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
prevailed in northern public schools until court-ordered school
desegregation began dismantling it.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
their slender takeover of the federal government, it seems that they
have over-promised what they can do.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.”