The Value of School Choice (For Education Equity) from a Black Male Educator Perspective

Reflecting on my experiences as a domestic and international student, I can’t help but think of how I felt cheated by the inequities of my public school education. For too long, the American Education system has perpetuated racism and white supremacy, and now it’s time to acknowledge and reimagine what Brown v. The Board of Education should have actually accomplished this. The only time that I recall feeling a sense of pride was never at school but in those affinity spaces within my community that reaffirmed me in an unapologetically sense. Of the many educators that I have crossed paths with, less than 10  of them looked like me. If anyone knows what it takes to navigate through a system of oppressive practices, I do both as an educator and a student. Education freedom and equal access to equitable learning opportunities are key measurements of school choice’s value.

Education equity for all students should be a cornerstone of public policy, but for students of color it is instead a constant fight and struggle through historical systemic oppression. School choice is an essential facet to ensuring diversity, equity, and inclusiveness in public education. Families of Black and Brown students should feel the same ease and support from administrators who understand and value them.This is because they make up the majority of students receiving public education. For some, education is the means to change the trajectory of their life and become a productive citizen. For others, education is a passport to freedom. Minority students are forced to attend alternative public schools due to disruptive behavior or poor grades, but students who are not identified as such have greater access and opportunities that encourage and enable them to succeed than those who are identified as such..

The first-ever equity policy for the Wake County Board of Education was just recently passed. This is alarming given the fact that the Wake County Public School System inception was a result of a merger in 1976 that grew out of concerns with the continued “white flight” facing Raleigh’s inner city schools’ negative impact on the county’s overall economy.  The forced merger between the Wake County School System and Raleigh City Schools was expected to ease tensions within the community as a direct result of the court-mandated desegregation order, but nearly 46 years later, we are now addressing concerns for equity. Despite integration efforts, marginalized students are barely meeting yearly progress goals. Despite reassigning students yearly, the Wake County Public School System has failed to diversify the school community in an attempt to maintain a degree of economic diversity.

There is no simple solution to diversify the teaching profession or school community. What we need is a comprehensive, evidence-based, and equitable approach that guarantees equal access to education that addresses the current plight of pedagogy in the 21st century. We no longer need promises of reduced antiracist policies. Instead, we demand a driving force of educators and institutions who are culturally inclusive, relevant and highly qualified to dispel any negative notions of a failing institution. The American Educational System is deeply woven with threads of racism and racial bias that must no longer be the narrative we relate to.

 It is imperative that the American Educational System no longer be a narrative that is woven with racism and racial bias.

As educators, we often only consider students, but without them, we would not be able to function and coexist. Having said that, School Choice has a lot of value and can be summed up as follows:

  • Allows for greater access and choice for a high quality education

  • Addresses disparate conditions in schools such as economic disadvantages, school discipline and the disproportionate policies that funnel a pipeline to prison.

  • Creates a pipeline for Educator success

  • Enables educators to decide which school is the right fit for their respective teaching style and vision for success

  • Eliminating the “invisible tax” that contributes to teacher burnout

  • Reinforce diversity, equity, and inclusive practices by closing achievement gaps

  • Encourages educators of color to create affinity groups and spaces to develop a pedagogy that is inclusive and empowers everyone