As education editor at Black Enterprise I am deeply concerned about the flagrant inequities that characterize American education. Segregation is alive and well in 2017, and the vast majority of schools that black children attend are uninspiring places where expectations for the children are low.
It isn’t unusual to encounter high school graduates who are convinced of their inability to do math; I read about a valedictorian of a Chicago high school who’d had no exposure to the periodic table. Yet, often with encouragement and steady support, even these students can and do excel.
A brave and powerful piece in The Washington Post by a young Duke University student states the case eloquently. Ehime Ohue attended failing K-12 schools but by her own efforts was accepted to Duke—where for the first time she encountered students well-prepared for college and began to understand the magnitude of her deficient education.
Her article is excerpted below.
“Lake Marion does not prepare you for college!”
I heard this at my high school College Homecoming, an annual event where recent graduates share their college experiences.
This failure does not fall solely on my alma mater, Lake Marion High.
The state of South Carolina perpetuates what’s called the “Corridor of Shame,” a string of rural school districts where students receive inferior educational opportunities.
As a rising sophomore at Duke University, I now see what the phrase means. I was educated in one of those districts from Head Start to 12th grade. I know firsthand the issues these students face.
The “Corridor of Shame” consists of 36 school districts along Interstate 95. Overall, South Carolina’s population is about 36% minority, but the majority of students in the corridor are minority, mostly African American. There, schools receive resources that fall below state averages.
I noticed deficiencies in many ways. My kindergarten teacher complained that she could not “do this anymore” and quit.
Other teachers lacked training and asked to be moved to non-teaching positions. It’s hard to blame them when most teachers in the corridor are paid $3,000 to $12,000 less than those in nearby districts.
High school was where I really noticed the disparities.
We didn’t have enough math teachers and barely enough working calculators. When the school added the International Baccalaureate program, the first class of students completed the program, but none were awarded the diploma. I enrolled the second year the program was offered, and our math teacher was still undergoing training. When he announced he would not be returning, training had to start again for another teacher.
Two AP classes were announced my senior year, but were scheduled at the same time. We were considered a technology center, but our computers were always down. Many of my peers ended up dropping out or flunking out of college.
And my school is considered one of the best in the region.
Read more at The Washington Post.