In 1954, the United States Supreme Court declared the system of legal segregation unconstitutional, thereby calling for the end of segregation with all deliberate speed. That Supreme Court decision accelerated the quest for social justice in public education and paved the way for the Civil Rights Movement.
Progress has been made and positive changes have occurred, yet statistics show the continued underachievement of African American children and the seemingly intractable issues of high dropout rates and low college-readiness rates.
The National Alliance of Black School Educators is continuing the quest for social justice in public education as evidenced at their 39th annual conference held recently in New Orleans. The conference theme was “Education is a Civil Right: Today’s Strategies that Build tomorrow’s Leaders of African Descent.” All segments of the conference addressed the theme with laser-like focus. Educators and supporters of education throughout the United States and abroad were present to discuss the theme and to focus on solutions to the nettlesome problem of underachievement — which is considered one of the abiding challenges of the 20th and 21st centuries.
The conference plenary speakers, workshop leaders and chairpersons of thematic strands shared best practices and posed solutions. In the opening plenary session, the Rev. Jesse Jackson Sr., an active participant in the Civil Rights Movement and president of the Rainbow PUSH Coalition reminded conferees that “The ground is no place for a champion.” He encouraged educators to “teach up to students — not down to them.”
The president of NABSE, Dr. Carrol Thomas, superintendent of the Beaumont Independent School District in Texas; the board; the planning committees; and dedicated volunteers delivered an excellent conference. Their longstanding work in the field of public education helps to move the nation closer to the vision that Dr. Martin Luther King shared with the masses on Aug. 28, 1963, on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Kudos to NABSE for keeping “the dream” alive. –dr. margaret ford fisher