Educational apartheid a disgrace

Peggy Schulz:

On Sept. 21, concerned Milwaukeeans will gather for the Public Education is a Civil Right March and Rally. Participants will assemble at Milwaukee High School of the Arts and then march to Forest Home Avenue School for a rally.
It’s been nearly 60 years since the Supreme Court’s landmark Brown vs. Board of Education ruling. That decision declared “separate but equal” was not a valid construct when it came to public education. In that case, the separation was between racial groups.
Apartheid, the government-enforced system of racial segregation in South Africa, endured for almost 50 years until the election of the African National Congress led by Nelson Mandela.
So, why is it that in 2013, we in Milwaukee can’t grasp the fact that many of our city’s students, often the most needy ones, do not have the same access to a free, quality education as their peers in the suburbs? In other words, separation by socioeconomic status.
President John F. Kennedy spoke to the vital importance of truly public education.
“Modern cynics and skeptics …see no harm in paying those to whom they entrust the minds of their children a smaller wage than is paid to those to whom they entrust the care of their plumbing.”
Kennedy unknowingly presaged the current budget battles when he added: “Our progress as a nation can be no swifter than our progress in education. The human mind is our fundamental resource.”
Milwaukee is a city where public schools once were nearly as much a given as the right to exist or even to breathe. The native language of many of Milwaukee’s first residents contributed the idyllic word “kindergarten,” meaning “children’s garden,” to our vocabulary.