Improving education for Black students has always been an uphill battle even before Brown v. Board of Education in 1954
By Yussuf J. Simmonds
Since the landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision, Brown v the Topeka Board of Education was handed down in 1954, it has been serenaded as one of the greatest legal rulings in the court’s history and furthermore, it has been used as a precedent for many other rulings in other areas. However, the ruling has never really fully solved the problem of a proper quality education for Black children. And some may argue that was not its intent; was it not? White children were getting proper education and Black children were not–they were separate and indeed unequal. Some of that persist and remain today.
A coalition of community organizations called the Coalition for Black Student Equity (CBSE) has issued a community call to action aimed at improving education for Black students in the Los Angeles area. For many years the Black community, not only in Los Angeles, but also in other areas, has stated that the Los Angeles Unified School District (LAUSD) has failed to properly educate the children under its care–Black children and others.
To combat this tragedy, parents who can afford, have pursued options to educate their children including private schools, parochial schools, home schooling and other methods. The public schools’ failing have given rise to breakaway choices that though they still use the public tax dollars, they have become virtually separate and equal, depending on one’s point of view.
There have been a proliferation of charter schools, magnet schools and even Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa have taken some of them ‘under his wing’ in an effort to prod them to do better.
In the midst of all of the above, the focus tends to slip away from the children who are the real reason the LAUSD is in business–the main business is to educate the children properly in a safe, secure and healthy environment.
The CBSE consists of many prominent organizations including the L.A. Urban League, NAACP, SCLC and National Action Network. According to the flyer the agenda of the call to action meeting is to discuss plans with LAUSD’s new superintendent, John Deasy for improving Black educational outcomes, and to focus on community outreach, political pressure and models of academic success. CBSE is notably clear in its effort to illustrate: “there are actual models of academic success in the Black community that proves that proper quality education is an achievable goal, not an abstract concept.”
LAUSD has issued a request for proposal: Given the ongoing academic underperformance of a number of schools within the District, parents and communities have expressed a strong interest in playing an active role in this process. Applicant teams that successfully incorporate the community into the process will have an opportunity to present their plans to the school community. LAUSD recognizes the urgency for educational reform in underperforming schools. Waiting is not an option. Immediate action is the key to academic success.
However, words have to be followed by concrete action and the problem and basic messaging points that CBSE wants to convey to LAUSD are as follows:
The Problem: Black students in schools under the control of LAUSD, are the most underserved and have the lowest achievement rates in all major indicators.
The Issue: There is lack of a coherent strategic plan to implement models of excellence for the Districts lowest performing and most underserved students–Black students in District-run schools.
Furthermore, CBSE is ready willing and able to provide concrete workable solutions to help eradicate this scourge that has descended on the Black community and the result are as follows:
LAUSD is responsible for educating a high number of African American students;
For decades, African American have consistently scored lower in math, English than their Latino, White and Asian counterparts within the District;
These conditions have forced thousands of Black parents to flee the District;
In the midst of financial hard times, many local Black parents are making sacrifices to send their children to private schools. Thus, our parents are being double taxed by paying for private schools and maintaining a public school district they do not have confidence in.
At a time when many of our schools are being given to operators outside of our community, the time is now for Black leadership and the community to act;
And as a broad base coalition of education experts, teachers, parents and activists, CBSE believes that the solution is two-fold, which can be eluded to and expounded in our community forum.
Meeting location: Southside Bethel Baptist Church, 10400 S. San Pedro Street, Los Angeles, CA 90003 on Saturday May 14 at 10:00 a.m.