Learning the Hard Way

A recent article in Time magazine discussed some of the problems with education and summer vacation. The article says that academics are concerned that children lose much of what they have learned during the school year because of the long break between the last day of one school year and the first day of the next school year. The problem is worse for children who are economically disadvantaged. Here in Wake County, however, it appears that the school board is taking some steps to keep students engaged. No, I’m not talking about calendar revisions or summer school programs – I’m talking about the direct lessons the Board is imparting to kids.

Their first lesson came before the school year had ended. It was this important civics tutorial: It is important to vote. No matter what side of the diversity/school excellence debate you stand on, it must be conceded that one side won because people voted for them. Poor voter turn out makes a difference.

Lesson # 2 provided students with an all-too-real field trip through history to the period when segregation reigned. They have seen members of the community arrested in acts of civil disobedience because they refused to have their voices silenced. They have also heard people called “outside agitators” as if the fight for civil rights is only a local issue.

In lesson # 3 students are learning that, even in a participatory government, if people do not exercise their rights, their representatives can and will try to do their business in secret and discourage dissent. They have seen the school board create onerous restrictions so that opposing views would not be heard or even allowed to enter the building.

Lesson #4 is an inspiring one. Students are learning that in 2010, people will still march for their rights. Let’s hope it will inspire them to read about other civil rights marches that took place in the South before they or their parents were even born. Perhaps then, they will wonder why there is still a need to march against re-segregation of schools 56 years after Brown v. Board of Education.

With any luck, the Board’s summer lessons, will spur kids to ask their parents to take them to Shaw University to see where the Student Non-Violent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) was created. They can see that students in Raleigh have been fighting against segregation in this state and throughout the South for 50 years.

Unfortunately, students have to learn these lessons because it appears that some powerful grown-ups have not learned from history at all.



    August 1, 2010 at 8:34 am

    Students also learned that if adults don’t get their way, they should throw a big tantrum, and call other people bad names.Even if what you are doing isn’t working, never change anything because it is the “right” thing to do. And if everything else fails, simply play the race card. It has been a learning experience for us all !

  2. Tim Tyson

    August 2, 2010 at 10:43 am

    “Neighborhood schools” has been the race card since the phrase was first uttered. Show me the struggle in which this slogan gas not been a part of an attack on Brown v. Board. This goes double for “forced busing.” planning to sell the school bus fleet? No. Planning to make all schools available to all children? No. Well, sounds a lot like “forced busing,” doesn’t it? What kind of fairy tale are you living in where half the high schools on the system are rated in the top six per cent of high schools in the nation and the system is failing? Even the results for poor and minority kids, which should be addressed, is better than most system, especially systems. “Neighborhood schools” is a road that leads to Detroit, Mississippi, and similar catastrophes. Show me a large diverse urban school system where this snappy electoral slogan, translated into assignment policies, has not created a nightmare. Then show me a school segregationist movement anywhere in America after World War II that has not used this very slogan. Case closed.


    August 2, 2010 at 11:30 am

    The K-12 education factory in this country is turning out a very mediocre product as compared to the rest of the world according to Obama. Couple this with poor graduation rates and a dumbed-down curriculum, and you have the recipe for disaster. No amount of diversity awards can mask these problems. Innovation in the classroom, better trained faculty and administration, and emphasis on each child’s development are the key to improvement. The rest is nothing but fluff.

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