Racial Justice is Education Justice
From talks on equal opportunity to seeing it in action, racial inconsistencies are still woven deep throughout the educational system. Lower-income minority families typically have a harder time accessing everything that higher-income white families receive from their education systems. Why? Private schools, better local funding, and more involvement from philanthropic entities make it difficult for government-funded schools to compete with schools in higher-income areas.
Traditionally, low-income regions have a higher percentage of minorities and a more diverse mix of racial groups. Racial justice is having a substantial impact as the term equality is changing, and it’s impacting how people think about balance within the education system.
Discussing Race in School
Is it okay to consider race in school? Is it not? Not discussing race and racism does not make the thoughts or actions of any individual go away. However, addressing race, specifically in school, can create the opportunity to cultivate a conversation within an environment of understanding.
Discussing race doesn’t have to come from a counselor or the principal. However, the topic is so sensitive that many teachers and administrators feel they are not the right person to broach the subject.
Suggestions for discussing race in the classroom are:
- Proactively plan for all students involved to have the opportunity to speak about their background and first-hand experiences with racism.
- Have planned reactions to slights or insults which are bound to happen in any school.
- Know which topics present relevant and insightful learning opportunities for race discussions and which do not.
When discussing race and racism, carefully steer the conversation back to equality as the overarching goal. Don’t allow students to cycle through blaming or shaming after the point has been made.
Supporting New Policies and Making Change
How does change happen? Most often, change happens on a personal level before it becomes integrated with policies. The teaching staff, even reading assignments, can become part of personal transformation.
However, we must focus on the critical part, reaching students. Ultimately policy support comes from people personally involved and supportive of the changes. With many policies and proposals in motion, you can become personally involved too.
The Current Funding System – Is It Fair?
Although it varies from state to state, there is a formula for funding in nearly every education system within the U.S. Schools often receive funding from the U.S. Federal government, state programs, and local funding through property taxes. Funding formulas take these funds and then distribute them based on various factors.
Is the system fair? Not necessarily. Different areas come with different needs; however, setting one flat rate in funding per student is probably the fairest approach. The question is, is there a way to use a flat rate system to ensure that all students receive the education that they deserve, without getting into affirmative action debates?