- Associated Press - Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Recent editorials from Alabama newspapers:

May 20

The Decatur (Ala.) Daily on school segregation:

In 1954, racial segregation suffered a fatal blow when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that separate but equal schools were unconstitutional. From there, the civil rights movement gained unstoppable momentum, leading to the passage of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

Gradually but inexorably, public schools, especially in the South, began to have student bodies that reflected the racial makeup of the communities in which they were located.

Now, 60 years later, there is concern that much of the nation is creeping back to a segregated education system. Ironically, only the South has bucked that trend.

The Associated Press reported that, outside of Texas, no Southern state is in the top five in terms of most segregated for African-American students. But more than half of African-Americans in New York, Illinois, Maryland and Michigan attend schools where 90 percent or more are minority.

In New York, Texas and California, more than half of all Latino students go to schools that are 90 percent or higher minority.

In most segregated schools, observers and critics say the student population is low-income, and that a lack of support and funding are contributing to the problems. A student at an urban Chicago high school said the school does not offer physical education and art classes, and advanced placement classes are only available online.

Too many schools are sliding back the old separate but equal standing that the Supreme Court found completely unequal 60 years ago.

Reports and studies of public education have found for more than a decade that students in the United States are trailing many of their fellow students in other developed nations. Part of the problem is lack of academic rigor, but even more problematic is the lack of support and funding for public schools.

In an era of economic turbulence, too many politicians want to cut spending instead of investing in education and infrastructure, the very things that create jobs and opportunity.

There are no easy answers to the resegregation of our schools. Economic and geopolitical factors weigh heavily in the problem. But it should not be difficult for thinking people to understand the value of education and the importance of funding it at adequate levels.

Without a strong public education system, this country will become less competitive in a global economy, and poverty and disillusionment will spread like a drought.

Online:

Story Continues →