Politics, Moderate



Another slap in the face of minorities

Esther J. Cepeda on

Some think nothing of insisting that it is equitable for institutions of higher learning to lower their expectations for students of color. Yet these same people seem to have given up on expecting that public schools will adequately prepare the most vulnerable students to compete for seats at elite universities.

It's a national blind spot -- public education has been off the radar for years. No presidential candidates made education a centerpiece on the campaign trail leading up to the 2016 elections. Neither presidential candidate was asked about specific policy proposals for shoring up education during the debates.

We could bemoan that the Trump administration is so wrapped up in base-pleasing issues like restricting affirmative action at colleges and moving toward using public school funds for private school vouchers, but there's plenty of blame to go around for the seemingly intractable puzzle of how to improve education.

For instance, failing schools are given latitude because of poor funding. But no one ever talks about the fact that the Obama administration spent $11 billion in School Improvement Grants and Race to the Top Grants to fix failing schools and basically ended up with nothing to show for it.

To be sure, getting more students of color into college won't be easy, but it's certainly not a lost cause.

Actually, it's far simpler than fighting the contentious battle over whether and how private elite universities should populate their campuses: If we want more students of color to get into and graduate from college, we need to get serious about making K-12 public education work for them.


Esther Cepeda's email address is estherjcepeda@washpost.com.

(c) 2017, Washington Post Writers Group



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