It’s Time to Call American Public Education What It Is: A Caste System

It’s Time to Call American Public Education What It Is: A Caste System_5fbe56c355a63.jpeg
Achievement Gap Better Conversation Black Panther Party Black students Diversity Hope + Outrage racism segregated segregation Students of Color Tanesha Peeples

It’s Time to Call American Public Education What It Is: A Caste System

Hope + Outrage

It’s Time to Call American Public Education What It Is: A Caste System

A super selective public high school in New York handed out acceptance letters to 895 kids like how Oprah was handing out cars to her audience members back in 2004.

Out of that group of almost 900 kids, seven were Black.


Twitter was shocked and appalled despite the fact that acceptance of Black students there and at a few other highly sought after schools in New York had been on the decline.

But there were, of course, those people who had the audacity to say, “Well, those kids had to test in,” and, “The majority of the student body is Asian…their families put education first”—sending the message that racial bias is a non-factor in education, Black students aren’t smart enough to pass these entrance exams and Black families don’t put education first.

Y’all, I am too tired.

Tired of people overlooking the disparities faced by Black and Brown students, ignoring the roles of White privilege and racial bias in education and making excuses for an overall piss-poor system.

It’s time to call American public education what it is: a caste system where White kids are at the top and Black and Brown kids are at the bottom. Still separate, very much unequal—apartheid.

At this point, I don’t have anymore faith in this janky institution that’s been designed to fail our kids.

Matter of fact, y’all can just give us our education reparations and we can do our own thing. This system at least owes us that.

I mean, Black and Brown school districts are underfunded by $23 billion, there’s constant opposition to affirmative action and reform in combating White privilege and disingenuous/failed attempts at real school integration.

Schools have let racist educators and staffers get their hands on our kids. Like this former Hamden Public Schools employee who clearly has no problem calling Black people the “N-word.”

And the Trump administration continues to find ways to steal money from education and eliminate protections for students of color.

If I read between all of those lines, it says that y’all don’t want us in this system.

So, like Chuck E. says in his tweet, we’ll just have to fund and open our own schools.

You may be thinking, “Tanesha, you’re crazy,” but it’s entirely possible.

Let’s not forget that Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) were born because White people didn’t want Black people attending their schools. Sound familiar?

During the Civil Rights Movement, the Student Nonviolent Coordinating Committee (SNCC) started Freedom Schools for Black and poor White people.

The Black Panther Party opened the Oakland Community School in 1973. It received recognition for its effectiveness in educating children.

Marva Collins started her school, the Westside Preparatory School, on the second floor of her home and it ultimately grew into an entire building on Chicago’s West Side. And the Marva Collins Method of teaching is still used worldwide by educators.

Black people are continuing these same trends today. In fact, Marva Collins paved the way for Black women educators like Veriner James to open her own STEM school for girls in 2017.

More and more Black parents have abandoned traditional public schools to homeschool their children and others.

And the National Charter Collaborative has identified 400 plus single site schools led by people of color. Dr. Howard Fuller’s Milwaukee Collegiate Academy is one of them

I’m not an educator or a policymaker. I’m just an activist and organizer who wants better for our kids and believes in the power of our communities. We all have to believe in that power because there’s no way we can expect a fair shake from this system as is.

We have the ability and the resources to give our kids a quality and rich education—the urgency in tapping into that is real.

Share This HOPE + OUTRAGEI want to start a movement where people of color feel compelled and empowered to advocate for better education, so every week I’m sharing some HOPE and OUTRAGE right here. But I’m not writing this to be famous, I’m doing this because our youth need all of us in this fight.

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