Archive for April, 2014

STAY IN THE STRUGGLE!

April 17, 2014 Comments Off on STAY IN THE STRUGGLE! General

STAY IN THE STRUGGLE!

I recently attended the American Educational Research Association annual conference in Philadelphia.  It is a huge and busy conference, but I always attend as many sessions on social justice, equality, and civil rights as possible. It has been interesting, as the years have gone by, to see many changes in sessions on the Brown decision of 1954. Over time, it has become clear that some of the greatest hopes first engendered by that historic Supreme Court decision were naïve – many early civil rights leaders could not possibly have predicted the level of resistance to equal educational opportunity that we have seen in the past 60 years. Today, many children remain seriously shortchanged in segregated and underfunded schools — still waiting for the dream of equal access to an excellent education that should have been their fully established birthright by now.

 The last session that I attended, right before the conference ended, was focused on “Brown at 60”. It was really wonderful to see some of the great advocates for equality I have admired throughout my career presenting their perspectives on what has and what has not been accomplished.  There was some understandable fatigue and discouragement in the air; the conference itself can be  exhausting and many of the equity problems we face as educators can start to feel overwhelming.  But, toward the end of the session, one of the speakers – Dr. Linda Darling Hammond – gave an animated response to a question from the audience. How should we all respond to setbacks, to resegregation, and to continued violations of civil rights in educational institutions?  She reminded us that — no matter how great the challenges we face — it is far better to remain in the struggle than it is to leave it.

I think this is true! Human rights and civil rights are always works in progress.  Youthful hopefulness is an essential early step for many of us; persistence, resilience, and willingness to take on the burdens of the common good for the long haul are equally essential. The eyes of the children are on us; our struggle is their greatest hope.  Stay in it!

Written by Beatrice S. Fennimore a teacher educator focused on advocacy and social justice for all children