Zoe Weil is a blogger for Psychology Today, and we share her blog posts here.
Most people in industrialized countries have experienced thirteen years of formal schooling, so it is not surprising that many consider themselves to be legitimate critics of education. Our feelings about schooling run the gamut.
Some believe that if the curriculum and pedagogy were good enough for them, they should be good enough for children today. Others remember school as primarily anxiety-provoking and often boring. They know that the opportunities to learn today are abundant and exciting, making traditional approaches to education outdated.
While our perspectives are shaped in part by our memories of school, as well as our children’s experiences, they are also shaped by our zip codes. Because public schools in the U.S. are funded in large part through property tax revenues, people in higher-income areas have better-funded schools than people in lower-income areas. Therefore, ideas about school reform may differ substantially depending upon where one lives.
In communities across the U.S., schools have become more rather than less segregated over the past half-century. The promise of equal educational opportunities for all has shown itself to be illusory.
Racist practices and attitudes that have led to segregated neighborhoods, as well as income disparities, perpetuate educational inequities. Moreover, while the majority of students in public schools are non-white, according to a 2016 government report only 18 percent of teachers are people of color. There are several reasons for this and many efforts to change it because studies reveal that having teachers who represent a similar background, race, and ethnicity to the majority of their students makes a positive difference for both children and their communities.
To be clear, fully representative schools aren’t just good for children of color; they are good for society as a whole.