by Morgan Willis

In today’s society, where people should be unifying and flourishing with equal opportunities, we instead find ourselves in a new wave of segregation in the educational system. This country continues to find new and innovative ways to keep systemic racism and discrimination alive while constantly changing to preserve inquality throughout our country. In particular, this is seen in public education, where school zoning can change depending on the surrounding neighborhood socioeconomic status. Reconfiguration of school zoning brings a significant change in school funding and resources. There are neighborhoods with public schools that appear to be private, for example a school in Southern California that has state of the art athletic facilities, iPads for student use, and high-tech classrooms. Alternatively, there are public schools that appear as if they have received zero funding. It is no secret that separate but equal means anything but equal.

The fight for desegregating and equalizing the school system hit a turning point in 1954 the Brown v. Board of Education case handed down a decision that ruled segregation in public schools is unconstitutional. With this mandate to desegregate the school system came great resistance from the people living in and enjoying previously segregated neighborhoods and schools; in addition to politics finding creative new ways to continue to disenfranchise Black students. For example, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos is defunding schools that predominately serve underprivileged communities. The creation of private schools in affluent neighborhoods further separates underprivileged families, most of whom were Brown and Black. Inner-city schools, which are predominantly minority, are continuously underfunded compared to those in urban neighborhoods. Statistics show that schools that serve students of color have significantly fewer resources than those serving predominantly white students. This again returns the focus back to the early argument that separate does not mean equal.

Placing these schools in urban, hard to reach areas indirectly keeps schools segregated. However, this inequality stems further than just the placement of schools and the funding allocated to them. It is entrenched in the legal system. This type of entrenchment has not only overcome our public schools but our universities as well. With respect to public elementary and high schools, a Black woman in Ohio, Ms. Williams-Bolar, misrepresented her addressvand used her father’s to send her children to a better school. Her outcome? Jail time, Williams-Bolar, received two felony charges for “stealing an education” by lying about her residency to get her daughter access to a better school district.[1]A very similar situation occurred at the collegiate level; however, with a level of intricacy and manipulation far greater than that of Ms. Williams-Bolar. This scandal involved rich white individuals finding ways to bribe tops schools into accepting their children. Not only did these wealthy white individuals bribe schools, but they also had SAT test scores changed and fake photos made so their children appeared to be on school athletic teams.  For actress Felicity Huffman the outcome of seems a mere slap on the wrist.[2]This disparate treatment of individuals both striving to provide their children with better education, further solidifies the racial divide in this country and amongst the school systems.

Why is it that society views one of these as so severe it rises to the level of felony punishment while the other was viewed as a rich mother who just wanted to provide the best opportunities for her daughter? Why does society not see the lack of funding of inner-city schools as robbing a child of an education? Isn’t this country stealing from our children when it chooses not to fund certain schools or afford their students with equal resources? Are we not stealing from our children when weed out public schools and replace them with charters? How do we as a collective society address the systemic divide in our school system?

[1]Williams-Bolar was found guilty of grand theft and tampering with evidence and sentenced to ten days in jail, three years of probation, and given a $70,000 fine.

[2]Huffman will serve 13 days in prison, was also fined $30,000, must perform 250 hours of community service and spend a year on probation