Since 1954, it’s been illegal to segregate schools based on race. Of course, that’s only legally. Look around East and it’s clear. We’re still segregated. The vast majority of East is made up of white students. The poorer the schools get, the more African Americans are in them. Then look across the border at the unaccredited Kansas City Missouri School District. Its students are primarily African American.
It’s clear that we still have yet to fully integrate schools. We’ve just moved the good ones away. Here in Shawnee Mission, more affluent whites are able to move to the area and pay higher taxes for their kids to go to better schools. African Americans, stuck in poverty, can’t do that. They’re stuck in bad neighborhoods with failing schools.
It’s the same story around the nation. Only 14 percent of African American eighth graders can read at their grade level. The average reading score for African American high school seniors is the equivalent of the average score for a white eighth grader. Only 54 percent of African Americans will graduate high school.
I hear a lot that it’s their fault for not being able to work their way up or for getting better grades, but is it? How can you work your way up if the base you’re starting from, your education, is so low? Do good grades really matter if you’re in a school that isn’t accredited?
One day in my AP American History class, Yoda, our teacher, told us that the dumbest kid at East is more likely to go to and complete college than the smartest kid from an inner-city school. That needs to change. We need to fix these inner-city schools, and bring them up to the level of a school like East. They need the funding, they need the teachers, they need the supplies. They need the money.
If we start to see inner-city schools get better test scores and grades, then we’ll start to see the playing field level out. We’ll see schools integrate. We’ll see everyone get that equal shot at success, through hard work and persistence, instead of from wealth and birth.
Every child in this country deserves a good education. It’s how we became a world power, and, right now, it’s what’s holding us back. It’s time we fix the inner-city schools. Until then, next year in Copenhagen comrades (where we won’t be killing giraffes.)
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