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Routine discrimination needs to stop

Published: Friday, May 30, 2014 11:06 a.m. CDT

To the editor:

In the 1954 Brown vs Board of Education decision, the Supreme Court (unanimously) said:

“Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training, and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.”

U.S. public schools routinely ignore these words through their rationalization that some demographic groups of students have problems learning and are making the schools look bad. This is taught in teacher training programs, and creates lowered expectations for students falling into those targeted groups, resulting in achievement gaps that have no bearing on capacity to learn but are products of discrimination. Using this discrimination as an excuse, proper assessment of curriculum content and teacher training programs has failed all other students for the past 50 to 60 years.

In 2001, Congress attempted to put a stop to the discrimination by disallowing the practice of eliminating all low test scores through the labeling of students, but the system refused to stop its discrimination. In 2004, the Manhattan Institute issued its teachability report, demonstrating how achievement gaps disappeared when the discrimination stopped, but public schools continued. This year, an international report from the Organization of Community and Economic Development (writers of the PISA exams), issued a report, “A USA and International Perspective on 2012 PISA Results”, pointing out that the countries out-educating us are doing so with the very demographic groups of students U.S. public school educators discriminate against.

This school year is over, so during the summer teachers, administrators, and school board members need to read these reports and decide if they can stop their routine discrimination of children (which amounts to child abuse). If they cannot, then they need to get out of education.

Sue Atkinson, PhD


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