On May 17, 1954, in rendering its decision in Brown v. Board of Education, the U.S. Supreme Court found that “in the field of public education the doctrine of ‘separate but equal’ has no place. Separate educational facilities are inherently unequal.” Today, fifty years after that landmark decision, Rep. Chaka Fattah (D-PA) and Alliance for Excellent Education president Susan Frost argue that far too little has changed for far too many students in schools throughout the nation.
In “Making a Good Education Widely Available,” published on May 12 in The Hill, Fattah and Frost maintain that it is still impossible to say that our schools are providing an “equal” education to all students. They suggest that the Student Bill of Rights, H.R. 236, introduced by Rep. Fattah with 181 cosponsors, would help address the “nationwide phenomenon of educationally inadequate or inequitable public school systems, in which high-quality public schools serve high-income communities and poor-quality schools serve low-income urban, rural, and minority communities.” Fattah’s bill would hold states accountable for providing resources for basic rights, including highly qualified teachers, challenging curricula, up-to-date textbooks and materials, small classes, and guidance counselors for all students who rely on public schools for their education.
“We know what needs to be done to improve student achievement levels,” Fattah and Frost wrote. “We can increase literacy levels and graduation rates-there are successful programs doing just that in many communities around the nation. What is needed now is the national political will to expand these programs so that they benefit all of our nation’s young people.”
The text of “Making a Good Education Widely Available” can be found at http://www.thehill.com/news/051204/ss_fattah.aspx.