Organizing for Equity. Can Parents Fill the Void?
By Michael B. Fabricant
At least since the civil rights movement, Americans have documented and decried—but done little to decrease—the achievement gap. This gulf, one of many that divide us by race and class, has festered in part because the larger question of inequitable investment in poor communities of color has long been neglected. Demonstration projects of various kinds have been tested in selected communities—but little has been made of the successes. Demonstration projects, if they work , are meant to be scaled up; however, amore ambitious, transformative investment in a cross section of poor communities across the nation has never been attempted.
The reticence to make such an investment has to do with the magnitude of resources required and a lack of political will. Presently, any call for such investment is undercut by both the recession and a political reluctance to tax even the wealthiest citizens. Income inequality in the United States is now at its highest level since the Census Bureau began tracking household income in 1967. According to the Economic Policy Institute, the “top 10 percent of the income distribution has claimed almost two-thirds of the gain to overall incomes since 1979, with the top 1 percent alone claiming 38.7 percent of overall gains.”1 Child poverty is increasing, the middle class is disappearing, and the wealthy are becoming dramatically wealthier. In 1983, the net worth of the wealthiest 1 percent of households was 131 times greater than the median family net worth. By 2007, it was 181 times greater—and by 2009, it was 225 times greater.2 Such inequality is neither natural nor inevitable: the United States has the highest income disparity among Western industrialized nations.3
…Because the problems in our inner cities are not new, I see little reason to hope that any positive change will emerge from our nation’s elite policymaking circles. When it comes to public education, our leaders are far too insulated from the consequences of their choices. Those closest to the disasters of growing inequality, long-standing underinvestment, and new recession-related disinvestment in public education must organize a counterbalancing power to challenge present policymaking trends.
Read more; http://www.aft.org/pdfs/americaneducator/spring2011/Fabricant.pdf