We must do better.
Next month marks the 65th anniversary of the landmark 1954 Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka decision by the U.S. Supreme Court. The case is most famous for declaring that the practice of separate but equal public education was unconstitutional.
The ruling was supposed to end the practice of segregation. Every child was supposed to receive an equitable education.
For many of today's youths, that goal is still incredibly far away.
In Sunday’s edition, our statewide news team has prepared a special report titled “Promise Unfulfilled.” It discusses progress — or the lack of same — made since the Brown v. Board ruling.
We find the stories unsettling and the lack of headway disappointing. Much has been done, but so much more must be done to help 36 percent of Kansas students who are of color.
We don’t normally run editorials on the front pages of our papers. We reserve this space for objective news reporting, and we leave our opinions to an inside page. But this is too important. We would argue that the safety and well-being of our children is paramount to the future of our nation.
To be clear, we are not blaming any individual. This is a community problem. This is a state problem. This is a national problem.
We are failing our children of color. We are failing our future.
EdBuild, an organization whose mission is to examine the way states fund public schools, noted in a report issued earlier this year that nonwhite districts in the U.S. get $23 billion less than white districts, despite serving the same number of students.
In Kansas, EdBuild says predominately nonwhite districts have 12 percent less funding on average than their predominately white districts.
Almost one half of our state’s students attend racially isolated school districts, EdBuild found.
EdBuild isn’t a fly-by-night popup looking to gain attention. The organization is supported by, among others, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation and the Walton Family Foundation.
The section also points to disparity in how our children are disciplined in our schools.
Suspensions are issued at a significantly higher rate to minority youths than their white counterparts. Why? How is it that a black or brown child is twice as likely to be suspended from school? What kind of assumptions are being made and going unchallenged?
Our reporters talked to students of color who say they are admonished for wearing the same clothing as their white peers. They ask why they alone are assumed to be in gangs.
All youths need role models, but the racial makeup of our faculties isn’t representative of the student population. Students in one central Kansas district are 38 percent minority, but 97 percent of their teachers are white. And that district isn’t alone. The National Educators Association says only 16 percent of our nation’s teachers are people of color.
Many of us can point to a teacher who had an important impact on our life. Doesn’t every child deserve to see someone who looks like them at the front of a classroom, inspiring hope and confidence?
What is happening in our state's schools affects each of us. Our children are sitting in these classrooms. They are our future mayors and legislators. They are tomorrow's business owners and revenue drivers. They are our artists, our educators and our caregivers.
Each deserves an equal education with their peers regardless of race or social circumstance.
While we don't have the answers, we know we have a problem.
We hope this section inspires conversation, and we work together to do better.
We must do better.