National School Choice Week is a chance to rededicate ourselves to continuing the fight for more and better educational options in our communities.
It is a sad reality that for far too many children from low-income and working class black families, the promise of the American dream remains elusive due to poverty. For the vast majority of poor children, a quality education is the only pathway to success. Yet across our country today, 42 percent of black students attend schools that are under-resourced and performing badly. Forty-three percent of black students will not graduate from high school on time with a regular diploma.
This is unacceptable.
Our belief at the Black Alliance for Educational Options (BAEO) is that every child, regardless of their socioeconomic background, deserves a high-quality education to set the foundation for their pursuit of college or a professional path of their choice. Unfortunately, factors like low expectations for children, inconsistent accountability measures, ineffective teaching, underfunded schools and inadequate facilities are often obstacles to achieving this goal.
Families Need Quality School Options
Another obstacle, which may be the most damaging of all, is the practice of forcing children from low-income families to attend low-performing schools based simply on their zip code, while children from wealthier families are given options simply because their parents have the resources to move to communities with good schools or to pay private school tuition.
It is troubling that so many Americans not only tolerate a practice that is clearly inequitable and unjust, but also fight to keep children from less affluent families in schools they would never consider for their own children.
Black people have waged a continuing struggle to educate themselves and their children, and at BAEO, we are honored to continue that struggle on a daily basis. This year, during National School Choice Week, BAEO will join other organizations that will produce more than 11,000 events nationwide bringing attention and awareness to the critical need for more educational options, especially for those in low-income and working class families. BAEO will host or co-host numerous events in Alabama, Louisiana, Tennessee, Virginia and Washington, D.C.
Much Work to Be Done
This week, all eyes will be on the education reform community as we celebrate the remarkable progress we’ve made in advancing school choice.
At the same time, however, we must be mindful of the fact that we’ve only scratched the surface. We cannot declare victory until all parents have both the power and freedom to choose the best possible education for their children.