Editorial: Are Detroit’s Most Terrible Schools Unconstitutional?

by Destiny Wong

 

   I am a product of the public school education system. I am lucky to have been taught by people who are dedicated, creative, and inspiring. These individuals are not only educators; they are also motivators, confidants, and counselors. I am fortunate enough to have attended public schools with accessible resources and workable facilities; I have had access to a wealth of information through comprehensive databases and up-to-date technology. Unfortunately, not everyone has access to the same quality of faculty and facility.

    I believe that public services are meant to be equalizers; to me, public education is the greatest of them all, because public education equips people with the necessary means to attain their goals. The fundamentals of public education are designed to serve students regardless of race, religious preference, socioeconomic status, or sex. Everyone is equal, and ideally, everyone should be treated as such. Equity is especially important in public education because as its name entails, it is a public service. Students should all receive the same quality of education, regardless of whether the school is located in inner city Detroit, or the suburbs of Staten Island, New York.

    According to a New York Times article, in Detroit, there are students who attend schools that violate numerous safety and health regulations. The schools’ facilities are dilapidated and their resources are insufficient. In some schools, most of the staff are teaching out of their subject area; many teachers are personally financing supplies like markers and paper. At many schools, students sit alongside rodent feces and use bathrooms without toilet paper. How can this even be allowed? How can students be expected to succeed in such an environment? How can schools be denied the aid to provide students with a decent public education?

    What I really wonder is this: why do disparities exist in the quality of public education?

    I am aware that there are many variables that must be considered when deciding where funds are allocated for public education. I know that there are limited resources that cannot satiate the ever present needs of the spectrum of students that public education serves. Yet, I also know that everyone is guaranteed the right to pursue what makes them happy by the Declaration of Independence and the U.S. Constitution. However, when public schools are underfunded, the government undermines this principle by not allowing students the proper facilities to learn, and in turn, they deprive students of resources that might make their goals more attainable.

    If everyone is entitled to the pursuit of happiness, how is it fair that students are given unequal opportunities and resources through the public education system to pursue this right?

    High school students earn a diploma at graduation; the ceremony celebrates the completion of academic curricula and certifies that the recipient is proficient in the basic core requirements. A diploma represents a milestone on the journey to achieving the “American Dream”. Through the public education system, shouldn’t everyone be given the opportunity and resources to pursue this dream if they so choose?

Source: Geoffrey R. Stone, October 21, 2016

 

 

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