I have always believed that my success and opportunities in this country were attributable to my access to a solid education, and this fundamental belief has driven my passion to eliminate the achievement gap. Research resoundingly confirms the importance of good teachers, a solid curriculum, an appropriate cultural environment in school as well as other factors that are connected to the school setting. However, it is only more recently that I have begun to understand how segregated housing is a significant “missing” piece of the achievement gap. If we want better educational outcomes, then housing segregation – racial, ethnic, and economic – must be addressed.
When Brown v. Board of Education was passed and public schools across the country slowly trod toward desegregation, many pro-segregation parents enrolled their children in private schools rather than allow them to share a classroom with black students. We can hear echoes of this sentiment in Connecticut School Board Chair Allan Taylor’s opposition to redistricting students in Fairfield.
In 2011, when I was the editor of the old New Haven Advocate, I came across an oddity in the Yale Alumni Magazine. It was a note from a man named Sam Taylor (Timothy Dwight, 1973). With apparent glee, he said: “Did you know that one of your classmates is officially considered a ‘hate-monger’ by the Southern Poverty Law Center? I believe this is a first for Yale.” Under the alias “Jared Taylor,” he had published “White Identity: Racial Consciousness in the 21st Century.”
Amidst a rude awakening of spiking intolerance, my Ahmadiyya Muslim Community perseveres in waging the true spiritual Jihad (striving) of Prophet Muhammad and his Messiah Ahmad, peace be upon them; the Jihad of peace-loving service and life. This holiday season, we warmly invite you to make another life-giving impact at Baitul Aman “House of Peace” Mosque, 410 Main St., Meriden.
On Oct. 27, 1936, Connecticut theater-goers watched It Can’t Happen Here, performed by the Federal Theater Project, one of the New Deal’s progressive jobs programs. The Nobel prize winner Sinclair Lewis had refashioned his dystopian novel into a dramatic play. It premiered simultaneously in 21 cities across the country, including Hartford and Bridgeport. Americans in the 1930s were being groomed to accept fascism as a macho solution to the troubles faced by the United States. Lewis’s It Can’t Happen Here was a roadblock to that disturbing movement.
Recent events and the rhetoric of this year’s presidential campaign have put a sharp focus on the need to devote more energy to the issues of diversity and inclusion and combating implicit bias. The urgent need to face these challenges first grabbed me in the aftermath of the shooting in 2012 at the Sandy Hook School located in my hometown. That event dramatically changed my outlook on life and led me to devote more of my personal time working in and learning about some of our most disadvantaged communities.
In the wake of the recent CCJEF v. Rell trial court decision on school finance, we should take a moment to consider the continuing benefits of the Connecticut Supreme Court’s 1996 Sheff v. O’Neill decision for low income children in our state, and the importance of keeping this crucial legal mandate in place. The City of Buffalo’s experience with court-ordered integration 30 years ago is a reminder of how these independent constitutional rulings can maintain political will for reforms on behalf of low-income children that would otherwise get lost in the political process.
Nearly all of the ways that the judicial system serves justice are unfair, and it is the poor, underprivileged citizens who are suffering.
According to NAACP.org, “African Americans now constitute nearly 1 million of the total 2.3 million people incarcerated population. African Americans are incarcerated at nearly six times the rate of whites.” Seeing those statistics, I can’t help assume that the justice system seems to have a bias that black people are all the same: that they’re all agitators of civilization. This bias isn’t the truth and is displayed by many African Americans including 17-year-old Aymir Holland.
A state Superior Court judge heard final arguments last month on the limits of the state’s responsibility in financing the education of all students, including those with low incomes living largely in urban school districts. He is expected to rule this week. How can our state, our taxpayers, spend more to take care of all “our kids” when court decisions are already forcing the state to spend hundreds of millions of dollars desegregating Hartford schools and caring for abused and neglected children? As a mother, and a housing professional, I think I know one clear answer.