U. S. Leadership Essay
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Minorities are concentrated in urban areas or CBD’s by a variety of forces. After World War II, many people (mostly African Americans) migrated from the South to the North. The housing demand was much greater than the housing supply. The FHA and other organizations, supported by the U. S. government, began offering low interest loans to white people in the newly developing suburbs.
“While many organizations were providing low-cost financing for houses in the suburbs, such as the Home Owners Loan Corporation and the Federal Housing Administration and the Veteran’s Mortgage Guarantee Program, the FHA refused to guarantee suburban loans to poor people, nonwhites, Jews and other ‘inharmonious’ racial and ethnic groups because the value of homes in the neighborhood, according to the FHA, would drop in value (Chudacoff 270).
Because of these low interest loans to aid whites in moving to the suburbs and the restrictive covenants that kept blacks and other minorities out of suburban areas, minorities were not able to move out of CBD’s.
So whites fled to the suburbs (a phenomenon called white flight), but minorities were forced to stay. Many jobs went to the suburbs as well, which means that urban jobs became decentralized as well. Black neighborhoods were then further divided by freeways and other projects of urban renewal.
The freeways became barriers between whites and other races, as Graham Greene called this “the racing and placing of America” (Greene 39). Jalbert also sums this up with “Suburbanization was a decidedly white experience enforced by blatant racism, unequal access to economic opportunity, and restrictive housing covenants” (Jalbert). This segregation affects schools in a variety of ways. Since schools are funded chiefly by state property taxes (except for the 8. 5% from the federal government), suburban schools have always fared better.
Economic differences exist between CBD and suburban areas obviously. Because of white flight, enhanced by the FHA’s low interest loans for whites to buy in the suburbs, and restrictive covenants that left minorities out of the suburbs, economic inequity remains. Houses in the suburbs are assessed generously while houses in the CBD are redlined, or assessed for less money because the neighborhoods are mixed). Education is unequal. This is a large and seemingly insurmountable problem in American education.
Harris (2002) sums up the entire problem quite eloquently in the following quote. It is perfectly obvious that the highest at-risk students have the poorest, most run-down physical environments, the greatest instability of teachers coming and going, the fewest fully qualified teachers, a shortage of textbooks and instructional materials, far less availability of technology in the classroom, overcrowded classrooms, poor working conditions for the teachers, and fewer resources to teach students to pass the tests that they have little chance of being properly prepared to take.
To compare these schools with those serving the most affluent majority of students is akin to comparing a backward, emerging nation with a highly industrialized nation. It is no contest” (Harris. 37). The inequities in education are directly caused by the breakdown of the CBD’s. The U. S. government put money behind the loans the FHA program and others gave to whites. The government even financed the freeway system with 50/50’s so that suburban people could have roads for a faster commute. Minorities were relegated to the CBD’s.
Even in recent years, projects of urban renewal have further harmed CBD’s, like Dodger Stadium in an area called Chavez Ravine in Los Angeles. Schools in this country are more segregated than they were before Brown vs. the Board of Education, and schools in CBD’s are mostly minorities. To further illustrate the reality of these inequities in education, a quote by Jonathan Kozol’s recently published article for The Nation is needed. “The contrasts between what is spent today to educate child in the poorest New York City neighborhoods, where teacher salaries are often even lower.
than the city averages, and spending levels in the wealthiest suburban areas are daunting challenges to any hope New Yorkers might retain that even semblances of fairness still prevail. Teachers in the schools of District 7 in Mott Haven, for example, where some 99. 8 percent of children are black or Latino, now receive a median salary that is approximately half the median salary of teachers in the affluent communities of Great Neck and Manhasset. (The actual numbers, which are annually compiled by the state, are $42,000 for a teacher in Mott Haven, versus $82,000 for the teachers in these two Long Island suburbs.)
Including all the other costs of operation of a public school, a third-grade class of twenty-five children in the schools of Great Neck now receives at least $200,000 more per year than does a class the same size in Mott Haven, while children in a comparable classroom in Manhasset now receive a quarter-million dollars more. ” (Kozol 1) Kozol sums it up absolutely. These are the cold hard facts of urban economics in the schools of New York City. Schools in CBD’s are inequitable; they are segregated. They contain the students who need the most help with the teachers who are least prepared to help them.
They need more money for remediation programs, but do not have the property taxes nor the influential parents to get the money. They never had an equal chance from the start, and if education is to play the role of the great equalizer, these problems need to be fixed.
Chudacoff, Howard. “The Politics of Growth in the Era of Suburbanization, 1945-1974, in Chudacoff and Smith, The Evolution of American Urban Society, pp. 263-296. Greene, Ronald Walter, Malthusian Worlds: U. S. Leadership and the Governing of the Population Crisis, 1939. Harris, Louis (2002).
If You Want to Know About the Schools, Ask the Teachers: A Survey of the Status of Public Education in New York. Prepared for Recruiting Teachers, Inc. (July 2002). p. 37. Jalbert, Matthew, “Burbs, Blockbusting, and Blacks: Morphosis of the Postwar American City, “Radical Urban Theory, Accessed March 29, 2007, at www. radicalurbantheory. com/mjalbert/burbs/index8. html Kozol, Jonathan. (2002) Malign Neglect. Children in New York public schools are being shortchanged-again. The Nation. June 10, 2002. Retrieved March 26, 2007, from http://www. thirdworldtraveler. com/Third_World_US/Malign_Neglect_Kozol. html