Our Schools Suck: Students Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education

Our Schools Suck: Students Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education

Our Schools Suck: Students Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education

Our Schools Suck: Students Talk Back to a Segregated Nation on the Failures of Urban Education

Synopsis

"Our schools suck." This is how many young people of color call attention to the kind of public education they are receiving. In cities across the nation, many students are trapped in under-funded, mismanaged and unsafe schools. Yet, a number of scholars and of public figures like Bill Cosby have shifted attention away from the persistence of school segregation to lambaste the values of young people themselves. Our Schools Suck forcefully challenges this assertion by giving voice to the compelling stories of African American and Latino students who attend under-resourced inner-city schools, where guidance counselors and AP classes are limited and security guards and metal detectors are plentiful- and grow disheartened by a public conversation that continually casts them as the problem with urban schools.

By showing that young people are deeply committed to education but often critical of the kind of education they are receiving, this book highlights the dishonesty of public claims that they do not value education. Ultimately, these powerful student voices remind us of the ways we have shirked our public responsibility to create excellent schools. True school reform requires no less than a new civil rights movement, where adults join with young people to ensure an equal education for each and every student.

Excerpt

CELINA SU

In 2003, Jorman Nuñez looked like a troublemaker. At fourteen years old, he should have been learning about American history, performing his first dissection in science class, and tackling algebra. Instead, by March of his freshman year at DeWitt Clinton High School in the Bronx, he began to routinely cut classes. Knowing his mother would be disappointed in him, he stayed clear of his apartment during school hours. Each morning, he dragged himself out of bed by 7:00 and tried to entertain himself outdoors until it was time to go home. He started hanging out with older teenagers and other dropouts. Although they did not engage in illicit activities, they occasionally did stupid things. “We were bored out of our minds,” he said. Jorman remembered one day, for instance, when they hand-slapped a New York Police Department van. The van chased them. They got away that time, but any day now, he felt, he might land himself in big trouble.

At first glance, Jorman's story corresponds well with a narrative trope that abounds in the popular media these days—that of the wayward, perhaps even thuggish, inner-city youth. It looked as if Jorman was up to no good.

Just two months after Jorman dropped out of school, our nation celebrated the fiftieth anniversary of the 1954 Brown v. Board of Education Supreme Court decision that outlawed racial segregation in public education. The anniversary prompted a national reflection on the legacy of the ruling . . .

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