Thursday, November 17, 2005

Civil Rights II

In his new book, "The Shame of the Nation: The Restoration of Apartheid Schooling in America," Jonathan Kozol writes about his decision to become a teacher. Here is the first paragraph:

"I began to work among schoolchildren more than 40 years ago, in 1964, when I became a fourth grade teacher in the public schools of Boston, Massachusetts. I had never intended to become a teacher. I had attended Harvard College, where I studied English literature, then spent some years in France and England before coming back to Cambridge, where I planned to study for a graduate degree. In June of that year, three young activists for civil rights, the first contingent of a group of several hundred who had volunteered to venture into Mississippi to run summer freedom schools and organize adults to register to vote, disappeared in a rural area outside Philadelphia. The bodies were later discovered, buried in mud beneath a dam beside a cattle pond. As we ultimately learned, they had been killed by law enforcement officers and members of the Ku Klux Klan."

Civil Rights

Educational inequity is the civil rights issue of this generation. The schools that we (the Mississippi Teacher Corps) go into are high-need and almost completely African-American. They are also among the poorest districts in the poorest state in the nation. The students in these schools receive an inferior education because they are poor and black. Educational inequity is the civil rights issue of your generation.