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ECE 673 Early Childhood Education Advocacy Policy Social Justice
Lucinda Chavez sat silently as Father Michael Lewis approached the microphone to address the Centerville Board of Education. Lucinda had been superintendent for only a few months, but she already knew much of the history of Centerville School District (CSD). Until the 1960s, Centerville had been a dual school system composed of the Lincoln Schools for African American children and the Centerville Schools for White children.
After considerable encouragement from the state government, the schools were consolidated in 1968. Since that time, CSD had been officially integrated. Lucinda knew that Father Lewis planned to use anecdotes to support his claim that racial inequalities in educational opportunities and discipline practices remained commonplace at CSD. Unfortunately, from what Lucinda could ascertain, Father Lewis had a legitimate concern.
Father Lewis spoke eloquently as he told the story of 12-year-old Alejandro. Alejandro’s parents had come to Father Lewis’s church for help. They finally admitted that they were in the country illegally and told of the hardships they had endured to finally reach Centerville. Now broke, hungry, and desperate for work, the parents had tried to enroll Alejandro in school.
According to Alejandro’s parents, Centerville Middle School counselors and administrators had requested proof of citizenship, which of course they did not have. Administrators were reportedly rude and threatened to call the police. Afraid of deportation, Alejandro and his parents fled the school and into Father Lewis’s church.
Father Lewis told the story of Michael. Michael was a bright African American youth whom Father Lewis knew well. By the time Michael was in the ninth grade, he was being watched closely by several college basketball recruiters. Unfortunately, Michael was not always teacher friendly and, in spite of his repeated request for placement in college prep courses, he was placed by his high school counselors in lower-track courses and study hall.
As graduation approached, it was obvious even to Michael that his dreams of playing college basketball had ended when his course work did not meet NCAA Clearinghouse requirements. By age 22, Michael was wealthy, feared, and dead. His mother and Father Lewis blamed the Centerville High School faculty for denying Michael the opportunity to take college courses.
Father Lewis than spoke of the number of African American and Latino children in “dumbed-down” classes, the lack of access to advanced placement courses, the harsh discipline of any child of color who happened to cross the line, and the discrimination in numbers and value of scholarship awards to children of color.
Father Lewis ended his speech: “Ladies and gentlemen of the board, these are our children, and with them go all of our hopes and dreams. In all fairness, the insidious discrimination in Centerville School District must end.” As Father Lewis sat down to thunderous applause, the board chairperson thanked him and moved to appoint a committee to study the problem. Lucinda knew it would be a difficult challenge to lead the board to a reasoned discussion of Father Lewis’s claims.
Regarding the case of Michael…
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