Two of Carpinteria’s public elementary schools consist of primarily white students while the other two public elementary schools are mainly nonwhite students. This is an ugly fact. Just take a tour through the schools themselves and take a look. The differences are striking, especially because last month was the 62nd anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to outlaw school segregation in the landmark Brown v Board of Education ruling. In 2016, isn’t it illegal to separate children at public schools according to race?
How did this happen? I believe that Carpinteria Unified School District has engaged in policies and practices that have resulted, indirectly, in institutional racism. I don’t believe that the CUSD School Board, school administrators, teachers, or parents deliberately acted to exclude nonwhite children from specific schools. However, the stratified results remains clear and striking, as if it were planned.
Children are acutely aware of rules, with a compass that guides them toward justice. They recognize immediately when someone receives more or less of their fair share. This was illustrated recently in a story from a friend who works at one of the primarily nonwhite schools. A student asked her about the other nearby elementary school, saying, “Are only white children allowed there?”
As a community, how can we answer that child? While accidental inequality may have snuck into our schools, there is a chance now to correct this wrong. We must first acknowledge the segregation exists and then work to dismantle it. Of course it’s easier to deny a problem exists and do nothing, or to get defensive and blame the messenger. But what does that teach our children?