Despite the illusion that exists in our nation of equity and equal access to education for all American citizens regardless of socioeconomic status, race, ethnicity, culture, age, or sex it is well known at this point in the course that this idea in the U.S. is just that- nearly an illusion that serves to placate us and allows us to live in a state of complacency and ignorant bliss believing that our work here is done and that our predecessors accomplished all the reform necessary to make equality in education a reality. Those who care to stay informed about the current educational climate of today know that this is a tragically inaccurate picture. Despite landmark cases and milestones in the fight for equity in education (ie: Brown V. Board of Education and dozens of similar cases, affirmative action legislation, etc.) institutional and social inequalities still prevail. This article traces the progression of integration of different races/ethnicities/cultures in Portland Public school since the Brown V. Board of Education case of 1964 up until 2014
Although progress has been made since the ruling, we are far from providing equal quality education to all and the achievement gap among different races and socioeconomic statuses in the U.S. (graduation rates, test scores, etc.) again show us the disparity in educational resources available to white, middle-class students and minorities in lower income brackets. In order to combat these injustices and reverse the devastating long-term effects that they are having on our society, economy, and overall national well- being we must educate, inform, and moblize ourselves and others who can be catalysts to effecting real change and progress toward a brighter, more prosperous future for our youth, low or high income, white or black, latino or Asian, English Language Learner or native English speaker. The PPS Equity initiative for Portland Public Schools has made great efforts to close the achievement gap locally between privileged and under-privileged students and its mission is “to address and overcome inequity and institutional racism, providing all students with the support and opportunity to success.” (www.pps.k12.or.us/equity-initiative)
Here is a video taken from the Portland Public Schools Board of education board meeting which highlights the goals and efforts of the initiative program in educational equity. https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_embedded&v=3FIh4PEhsQs
Please visit http://www.pps.k12.or.us/volunteer/index.htm to find out how you can help volunteer with Portland Public Schools Equity Initiative to help support academic success for all Portland youth.
Additionally, follow this link http://www.thinkschools.org/local-school-foundations/ to find out how you can donate to the local schools foundation and PPS Equity Fund, which raises funds that are distributed to high-needs schools in the Portland area. The Portland School’s Foundation website states that “Since its establishment, the PPS Equity Fund has attracted national attention for its creative and collaborative approach to addressing disparities in school funding and has awarded more than $7 million in grants to schools in need.”
Perhaps the most simple and important ways in which you can help is to spread knowledge when you can and keep yourself informed and up-to-date on the current happenings, both locally and nationally, in education. Websites like the U.S. Department of Education (www.ed.gov) and http://www.npr.org/sections/education are great places to start.
With the help of people who are dedicated to equality and justice in education and desire to take a stand against inequity we can make a change for the better. As Gandhi said, “Be the change that you want to see in the world.”