A predicate consideration to the theme of this essay, would be (our consistent declaration) that the most valuable, natural resource of a nation, is its people. Neither plentiful natural sources of fuel or minerals, great manufacturing capability, self-sustaining agriculture nor the presence of adequate water resources, is of comparable importance. We have written on this specific point, utilizing 20th Century Germany, as our historic illustration. Germany, a small to medium- size country, during the early period of that Century, came close to actually, conquering the entire world. This was not because of its geopolitical location, or its natural resources, but rather, due to the nature and quality of its population. The German people at the time, (and at present) were educated, capable and easily mobilized. This historically painful observation of the salient criteria affording existential strength and durability to a Nation State, would appear to have universal and eternal application.
If in principle, an educated and easily mobilized citizenry, is the key to a successful and self-sustaining nation-state, the necessary corollary to that principle, is that an adequate educational system must be consistently maintained and enjoyed by its people. The latter admonition is of existential significance; inarguably more so, than the development of new and more efficient, armaments.
From the time of its inception, this Nation has been exclusively populated by people, who were born elsewhere, and their succeeding progeny. The great and enduring success, of the Founder’s 19th Century experimental Democratic Republic, is large part, due to the policy, represented by its national motto, “E Pluribus Unum,” from many (peoples, nations, and races) one, indivisible Nation. We have written, elsewhere, that the draconian immigration policy, of the current Presidential administration, turns a blind eye, to our historically profitable and empathic, policy, regarding, “want to be” American immigrants. However, this writing relates to universal citizen education, and not to immigration.
Following the end of the shameful period of America’s enslavement of black people, a long and arduous journey was undertaken, by the government and its citizens, seeking to rectify that past evil. (Judge Taney of SCOTUS, in the Dred Scott case, had once ruled, that a black person was, merely, “agricultural equipment”). To seek to rectify the many decades of proclaimed systemic evil of inequality, previously practiced by its white population against black America, virtually every aspect and venue of American life, required adjustment and reconfiguration. The most profound change, of course, was the long overdue recognition of the equality, dignity and worth of all citizens, regardless of color. As a practical, and necessary, concomitant to such newly recognized, legal and social status of black people, innumerable changes were required, regarding public as well as private life, which included, elimination of segregation from, water fountains, bathroom facilities, lunch counters, restaurants, busses, trains, employment, residency and military service. Significantly, all Americans have been recognized as sharing the franchise, to cast an equal vote, and, thereby, be a full participant in our Democracy. [Const. Amendment XV, (1870)]
A crucial predicate to restoring equal rights in the Nation, was that of equal education for all Americans, regardless of race or ethnicity. Schools, like water fountains and residency, had traditionally been segregated, so that white and black students attended separate facilities. This state of affairs had been determined to be acceptable and legal, by (SCOTUS), provided the educational facilities were, “Separate but Equal”. Objective studies, however, revealed that the facilities, as well as the general quality of education, in black schools, were, demonstrably, below the level of white schools. Finally, in 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court, in the landmark decision, Brown v. Board of Education, in an empirically determined ruling, held that “Separate is not equal,” and that all school segregation is unconstitutional.
During the many decades since the Brown case, there have been alleged instances of arguable segregation in the schools, whether apparent, or claimed existing, by indirect effect. The issue has, at times, been the subject of considerable legal contention. The bright lines drawn by the Brown decision, proved to be somewhat more difficult in their application, than in their clear intention and meritorious purpose.
A complicating factor in any effort to avoid segregated schools, can have its origin, in various contexts; often in demonstrated economic disparity. Statistics reveal far higher earnings and accumulated wealth among the white, as compared to black citizens. We do not care to hazard a sociological analysis of the causative factors (such as, starting late, viz., only after rescue from the servile condition of slavery, suffering decades of societal repression, educationally, or otherwise), however, there seems to be no demonstrable argument, disproving the existence of such general economic disparity. District school taxes, a vital source of revenue for suburban schools, are levied in the same manner as real estate taxes, viz., calculated upon the valuation (assessed, or market) of the real estate, in the respective community. As a consequence, it does not take a great leap of faith to deduce, that in the white and, generally, more affluent areas, containing more expensive houses, more revenue is paid into school taxes than in the less affluent areas. This, as a practical matter, results in better school facilities, teacher salaries and materials, in more affluent school districts, as compared to areas which are poorer, and, as reported, generally inhabited by minorities. We are tempted to presume, that this problem is a frequently occurring one, andto conclude, that such prevalent economic inequality results in a predictable, but unintended existence of unequal education, as outlawed by SCOTUS in the Brown case. In such instances, apparently, economics, and not racial prejudice, is responsible for the resultant, illegal segregation of education.
Experience seems to show that solutions to economic issues, are more easily and satisfactorily attained, than age-old issues of prevailing, acculturate bigotry. In the absence of a more cogent solution, we would suggest a program of properly calculated and monitored, supplemental payments (perhaps by the Federal Government) to economically challenged school districts, to effect a general equalization of the quality of their education, with the more fortunate ones.
The above policy would refresh and update the legal and moral intent, as well as the continuance of the principle of the 1954 Brown case, and additionally, (in keeping with our initial observations) aid in the maintenance of a high level of strength, durability and quality, of the American Nation.