Black Lives Matter is calling for changes to K-12 education. BLM leaders say that African American children receive disproportionate federal funding and that even in the country’s most affluent cities public education remains highly segregated. In their proposal, the Black Lives Matter coalition names the privatization of education and lack of local control as two of the factors that contribute most to inequality in the school system.
In order to fix this, the BLM coalition is advocating for democratic elections for school board positions, community control of discipline and the hiring and firing of teachers, and for an end to the privatization of education.
They argue that “Sixty years since Brown v. Board of Education, the school-to-prison pipeline continues to play a role in denying Black people their human right to an education and privatization strips Black people of the right to self-determine the kind of education their children receive.”
Much of what the BLM coalition considers to be the problem, rings eerily true in Georgia. For example, the BLM coalition writes, “Inequitable funding at the school district, local and state level leave most public schools — where poor communities of color are the majority — unable to provide adequate and high quality education for all students…”
In the early 2000s, a study was done in Georgia to look at the way the CRCTs (the statewide end-of-year exam prior to the current Georgia Milestones) affected “Southwest Rural Declining Counties” compared to the state of Georgia, as a whole. The study found that in Rural Declining Counties, populations were 47 to 61.5 percent African American, and in these communities 56.6 to 70.6 percent of African Americans did not have high school diplomas. This is just one region of Georgia where public schools were completely failing poor communities of color. But data shows that poverty like this exists all over Georgia.
Although the gap has gotten smaller over the past 14 years, African Americans still have a much lower graduation rate than their white counterparts. In 2014-2015 almost 9,000 African American students dropped out before finishing high school, making the dropout rate nearly 1 in 4.
With graduation rates as low as these, it’s clear that Black Lives Matter is addressing issues that have long plagued the Georgia education system.