Education reform is a civil rights issue

Patrick Gibbons

Racial segregation in education ended with the 1954 Supreme Court ruling in Brown v. Board of Education. Sixty-five years later, racial segregation is long gone, but a racial achievement gap still remains.

The Nevada Policy Research Institute highlighted this devastating achievement gap in its 2009 report “Failure is No Longer an Option,” noting that, while 71 percent of Nevada white students in the fourth grade read at grade level, just 47 percent of African Americans and 42 percent of Hispanic students do so.

These problems are not isolated to Nevada. The Citizens Commission on Civil Rights has been looking closely into this issue for a long time. The group’s goal is to “eliminate the racial and ethnic achievement gap in public education by working to create an effective school for every child.”

The Citizens Commission on Civil Rights released a report titled “National Teachers’ Unions and the Struggle Over School Reform,” in which it placed some of the blame for the existing racial achievement gap on the teacher unions.

Over “the last decade,” notes the report, “the national leaders of the National Education Association and the American Federation of Teachers have made their unions implacable foes of laws and policies designed to improve public education for disadvantaged children.”

As I have noted already, “education reform is a civil rights issue.”

Read my latest commentary on this issue, “In self(ish) defense: How teacher unions harm students and teachers alike.”