Sunday, February 22, 2009

corridor of shame

the title of this post is borrowed from a documentary which was produced several years ago and documented the deficiencies of several school districts in south carolina along the i-95 corridor. the school districts profiled are all underfunded, under-performing and under-supported.

the problems there have been festering for the last forty years. they began, coincidentally, with what was supposed to be the end of segregated schools. 1967-1970 proved to be pivotal years for education in south carolina. a look at the charters of many of the state's private schools will show them founded during that period. the impetus for their founding was the same as that behind the 'separate but equal' era of public education. it was racism, pure and simple.

the school districts along the so-called corridor of shame share several things in common. the affected school districts are predominantly black and the majority of the white students are in private schools. (dillon district 2 is a possible exception, where perhaps a slim majority of the white students are in public schools.) the districts are among the poorest in the state. local funding for schools depends on property taxes, and the affected districts have a very low tax base. there is considerable resistance from the white community to any increase in taxes to fund the schools, in large part because the white parents and property owners have withdrawn their children from the public schools.

the problem facing the schools along the corridor (which extends well beyond the three districts profiled in the documentary) is the result of the combined forces of poverty and racism. the solution, ultimately, needs to deal with both facets of the problem. one thing that must be done, is the funding for south carolina's public schools must be restructured. that is part of the solution, that is the easy part. the more difficult task is face the deep-seated racial fear and mistrust that perpetuates the enslavement of our children. no one can be free when racism shackles us to our past and bars us from our future.

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