Education Reform Debate Puts Spotlight on Institutional Racism

Friday, May 3, 2013

Recently, I attended the Reset Education forum sponsored by the Minneapolis Foundation, which featured Steve Perry, Ph.D., from Hartford, Conn. Perry, an African-American principal of a highly successful school that is diverse in terms of race and socio-economic status, spoke truth in a manner that is uncommon in Minnesota. He talked about the fact that many of our school districts and teachers unions are adult-centered as opposed to child-centered and how that focus is contributing to the intolerable disparities in public education that exist in our state.

Although Perry's talk was provocative and clearly ruffled some feathers, the bottom line is that he demonstrated that yes, children of color, and even children of color who live in poverty and/or so-called "broken homes" can learn! What Perry did that was so profound was that he proceeded to bust every myth and upend every excuse that is used to explain why the intolerable gaps between children of color and white children exist. (Notice that I did not use the term "achievement gap," largely because of the importance of language and perception in this debate.)

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