No one wants to address the elephant in the room, so I will.
The real issue with public education is the battle over who controls kids.
Everyone is fighting for control and power from special interest groups, the business community, school board members, district leaders, administrators, teachers, and parents.
The public education system plays a significant role in the oppression and continued perpetuation of hatred against specifically racial and ethnic American citizens.
Racial hatred and discrimination was evidence from before Brown vs the Board of Education to continued advocacy efforts from ending high stakes testing, the grave issues with discipline and School Resource Officers (SROs), challenges with special education support, and current battles against mask mandates and critical race theory.
In the 50’s and 60’s when America was divided over public schools being segregated and Black Americans having the right to enter the same public school as any other Americans.
These views can be seen today as privilege and racial discrimination is fueling the fight over what is being taught to children in public education and who is teaching them.
The control of schools is important to politics and economics.
Who hires the teachers who are represented in the school and what’s being taught is the new focus on power. The battle of the local control of schools will only further the disenfranchisement of students already underserved in public education.
Representation matters just as much as what is being taught. Which is one reason why we see such attacks on public education about how the schools are failing. It’s not just the schools, it’s the entire system.
In the battle of control for public education I am most concerned about the barriers that silence the voices of students. I’ve worked with students from 5th -12th grade who are actively lifting their voices to have a seat at the table in regards to reimagining education and making critical decisions about their education.
This reminds me of the words of Jovan Manning, a Seven Pillars Career Academy student. “We don’t just want a seat at the table for show and tell. We want to impact how we learn and what education looks like moving forward just like everyone else.”
Jason has worked in education for over 15 years as a teacher, blogger and community advocate. He speaks and writes primarily about the need to improve education for Black boys, particularly increasing the number of Black male educators in schools. In addition to blogging here at EdLanta, Jason is also a featured writer at Education Post.