#All Lives Matter: An Educational Perspective

#All Lives Matter: An Educational Perspective

The United States of America has long been revered as the “Land of Milk and Honey.”  Milk symbolizes the flow of opportunity, and “Honey” represents its sustenance. The slogan born from the Declaration of Independence,  is a twist on the founding tenets of this great Union. Declaration of Independence. We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.”Building a viable democracy, America’s founding, promises unlimited potential.  Although welcoming, America has not always been inclusive.

America’s Lady Liberty embraced the arrival of her neighbors on American soil; carrying “Hope” and “Determination” in their left and right pockets; fostering a multi racial, ethnic and social culture.  Public education, protected and represented by the federal government, is an example of America’s architectural plans for an educated society. It is said, “Education is the panacea to all social ills.” Then by all means, everyone should have equal access to a quality education.  After all, such access is inextricably bound to America’s Truths, penned July 4th 1776.

When conflict ends, and the perverbale dust settles, the remnants expose the character of a nation. Brown vs. Board of Education (1954) Brown vs. Board of Education impacted the trajectory for national and social policies.  The landmark decision of the Supreme Court, opened floodgates of Milk and the abundance of Honey; creating legitimate lanes to access Education, and the pursuit of Happiness.  However, the trajectory has endured several unpaved roadways, sharp turns, and dead ends; arriving where architects could not have anticipated.

Atop the millennium, the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) in 2004, revealed the United States dropped from 1st-to-7th, among the 30 OECD countries on the percentage of 25-34 year olds with a bachelor’s degree.  The college graduation rate in the U.S. has fallen below the OECD average. Subsequently, the United States’ ranking has further dropped to the 17th (2015), with a forecasted decline to the 24th position by 2020.

The disinvestment of state funds for public colleges and universities occurring since the 1980s and the declining value of federal student grant aid have all aided in the creation of a higher education system that is stained with inequality. Once known for wide accessibility to and excellence within its higher education system, the United States now has an educational system that serves to sort students in ways related to later life chances.  These chances are based on their demographic characteristics rather than provide all youth with the opportunity to use their creative potential to realize the many benefits of higher education and advance the well-being and progress of the Nation. Trends in Education Equity.

Social unrest and educational inequality are like the proverbial “Chicken-and-the Egg” scenario.  Not sure which came first but both are obviously present.

The current climate of racial, economical, political, and social unrest, fueled by social media, have spawned #BlackLivesMatter, and #AllLivesMatter movements. Social media maintains focus on the aforementioned, while Education is being marginalized and relegated to blind spots.  It's the silent killer of the Nation’s future. At stake, America’s educational prowess and global positioning. The 2015 Programme for International Student Assessment (PISA) results revealed, the United States ranking has dropped to 38 out of 71 for math, and 24th position in science among the developed countries, and ranks the United States 30th in math and 19th in science. U.S. International Rankings in Education.

Nearly a century ago, President Truman’s 1947 Commission on Higher Education called attention to the dangers of a higher education system that functioned not to provide opportunity but to sort students: “If the ladder of educational opportunity rises high at the doors of some youth and scarcely rises at the doors of others, while at the same time formal education is made a prerequisite to occupational and social advance, then education may become the means, not of eliminating race and class distinctions, but of deepening and solidifying them." Commission on Higher Education.

Student  success or failure in the public schools will determine the entire body of human capital and educational potential that the nation will possess in the future. Without improving the educational support that the nation provides its low income students – students with the largest needs and usually with the least support -- the trends of the last decade will be prologue for a nation not at risk, but a nation in decline…" Low income and Public Education.

This blog post is part of a six-part series which will explore  “#All Lives Matter: An Educational Perspective.” The exploration will include the factors which impact educational attainment at varying levels, including but are not limited to: financial literacy, socioeconomic status, academic preparedness, parental influence, and cultural acceptance.

About the Author

Dr. Tonia Perry Conley, Dissertation Chair/member

Additional content will be provided upon request.

Tonia Perry Conley
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