Education issues - and specifically the achievement gap between low-income and minority children and their more affluent peers - made a cameo appearance in Sen. Barack Obama’s highly anticipated speech on race, delivered in Philadelphia today. Obama acknowledged that schools in many parts of the nation remain racially segregated, even 50 years after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark Brown v. Board of Education school desegregation ruling.
No policy prescriptions (that wasn’t the point of the speech) but in his remarks, Obama appears to frame educational quality as a civil rights issue, particularly in this passage, in which Obama urged listeners to avoid focusing on racially polarizing distractions:
“At this moment, in this election, we can come together and say, ‘Not this time.’ This time we want to talk about the crumbling schools that are stealing the future of black children and white children and Asian children and Hispanic children and Native American children. This time we want to reject the cynicism that tells us that these kids can’t learn; that those kids who don’t look like us are somebody else’s problem. The children of America are not those kids, they are our kids, and we will not let them fall behind in a 21st century economy. Not this time.”