Monday, April 18, 2011

The Right to Write

By Bisi Orisamolu

Something that was said at the educational panel last night really resonated with me. For those who did not attend Thursday night’s panel discussion, it consisted of five teachers and administrators who had taken an alternative route to teaching. One of the teachers who works in tenth and eleventh grade classrooms said something that I thought was truly inspiring. To paraphrase, he said that educational reform is the new civil rights movement. Stop and think about that for a second. If you let it sink in, then you feel the full impact of this statement.

Many can remember the time before the civil rights movement of the 60s when children of color and white children were not allowed to attend the same schools. America prides herself on moving beyond segregation and becoming the land of opportunity for all its citizens. But is this really true? It seems like segregation has been moved from between races to between social classes. As many like to say, the poor are getting poorer while the rich are getting richer. Cycles of poverty seem to be never-ending. This all stems from education. How can we say that everyone is granted equal opportunity when the quality of education in our public school system has such an immense gap? 

The way people react to things has a lot to do with the way a problem is presented to them. The importance of rhetoric is often underestimated. I think that if we talk more about education as a right, one that is as important as the civil rights we possess, people would take this issue more seriously. Maybe then people would be more inclined to become teachers or have greater respect for the profession. People recognize that education is a problem but the gravity of the issue seems to sometimes be overlooked. To deny a child the right to read or to write or to learn in general on a level that is equivalent to that of their more fortunate peers, is a sentence to a life of despair and destitution. It is an intolerable injustice that we must all strive to change.