Today in my Urban Policy class we watched a documentary entitled The Inconvenient Truth behind Waiting For Superman. Within the movie there was a clip of a New York man discussing the ways that Charter schools are effectively creating modern day re-segregation of schools. His argument was that Charter schools only accept certain students (those who perform well and will drive up their test scores) and so in a world that is so centralized around the use of charter schools to save America, the minority kids are always losing. In the education world, minorities and those in poverty are often tracked from an early age, put on lower tracks just because of their race, and so they end up at a disadvantage over their rich, white peers. Because charter schools only accept students who will perform well (in the long term-they may accept “problem” students at first but will kick them out of their school if they don't perform well enough), the public schools hold the poor and the minorities and the charter schools contain the white, privileged students and the few minority students who were lucky enough to break out of the system.His words reminded me of a similar struggle for equality that is currently taking place in Memphis and Shelby County schools. State Senator Mark Norris has proposed a bill that would make it no longer illegal to create new special school systems. The passing of this bill would allow all of the suburbs of Shelby County, the ones that are so against the merging of Memphis City schools with the Shelby County Schools, to create their own school districts for their students that live in their designated suburb area. If this bill passes it will, effectively, segregate Shelby County schools. The bill will not require new special school systems to pay taxes to Memphis City Schools, thus furthering the issues that exist in these MC schools-the very reason they want to create these special school districts in the first place.
Statistically the residents of the suburbs surrounding Memphis have a higher tendency to be white and affluent, and the residents of the city (especially those attending Memphis public schools) are more likely to minorities and are more likely to be living below the poverty line. By creating this divide between the inner city schools and the suburbs the state of Tennessee is effectively, legalizing racial segregation in its school systems.
You can read more about the upcoming bill, which would be passed July 1st, here: