by Max Liebel
NIAGARA UNIVERSITY- Our history as Americans is something that seems lost in today’s context, why? For some it is simpler this way. To say “That’s the way things are” is often easier for those who don’t face inequity on a daily basis. Discrimination in the United States is not just rooted in immoral thought as some would like to believe, it is also perpetuated systematically. One of the oppressive systems that still exists today is education inequality.
The development whites only suburbs and redlining. Redlining was a practice used by the Federal Housing Administration from 1934 to 1968. This system limited financial services to neighborhoods based on race and ethnic composition. Schools and educational institutions were directly affected by this practice and in most cases justice still has not been served.
Maria Huot, is quite familiar with this kind of discrimination through her background in education.Huot is currently the Director of Professional Development for Brighton schools in Rochester New York and has over 20 years of experience in the New York State Education system. I sat down with Huot to get her take on these issues as an educator.
What is your perception of education inequality in New york
“I think you have to look at the history of this country. Historically the U.S. has done what it can to oppress people of color systematically and economically. A lot of that has to do with geography and how we look at the development of suburbs and who was allowed in those neighborhoods.”
What Factors as far as our education system play into education inequality in our area?
“A lot of this falls on taxes. Suburban areas generally have higher school taxes and in addition to school aid that the state is required to provide every year, however most schools urban and suburban, find themselves having to petition to the state for more aid to keep things running. this is where the gap generally is. There are city school districts that depend mostly on school aid to run and the tax discrepancies are so far apart that we see schools fall behind. That being said none of that is equitable or justice. Justice would require a massive shift in policy that fits the needs of those without the necessary school taxes.”
What are some of the cause and effects that occur under this current model.
“ One thing that breaks my heart is that the state education department has decided to create charter schools for certain areas and in my opinion it is breaking the education system. Often times charter schools cannot provide all the support for kids in different situations, such as learning disabilities or most special needs requirements because they are basically pseudo private schools that can’t afford to support those children like public schools. In impoverished areas this creates an idea that you can send your kids to get a good education but in reality charter schools service a very small minority of students and cant meet the necessary needs public schools can.”
What would you personally like to see change/have seen change in the our educational system
“I believe access to education is a human right and coming from a different country I do acknowledge that we have parts of public schools that are positive. The idea that all public schools will take you in regardless of your economic status, race or otherwise is a great thing. In certain other countries you would have little to no access to them based on these factors.” I would love to see schools become places where not just kids but families can find safety to grow and continue to move into prosperity which is what they are on paper set up to do. We need places where we come together as a society and help one another or we will be doomed and I do see schools moving in that direction and groups like “OECD or The Organization for economic development and education doing great things for education not just here but on an international scale.