To the Editor:
A people that does not know its history is destined to repeat it. Today, education is perhaps the most important function of state and local governments. Compulsory school attendance laws and the great expenditures for education both demonstrate our recognition of the importance of education to our democratic society. It is required in the performance of our most basic public responsibilities, even service in the armed forces. It is the very foundation of good citizenship. Today it is a principal instrument in awakening the child to cultural values, in preparing him for later professional training and in helping him to adjust normally to his environment. In these days, it is doubtful that any child may reasonably be expected to succeed in life if he is denied the opportunity of an education. Such an opportunity, where the state has undertaken to provide it, is a right which must be made available to all on equal terms.
Does selective enrollment, a tiered system of education, amount to segregation of children in public schools solely on the basis of income and deprive the children of the lowest income group of equal educational opportunities? We believe that it does.
The selection process is always conducted according to students’ final point scores. The selection process starts with the top-scoring student and proceeds down the list. This system insures that the lower performing students go to the lower performing schools and the lower performing schools are in the low-income neighborhoods.
I write this letter on the behalf of the 13 students at Dyett High School that have sacrificed so much to stand up for the rights that have been illegally taken away from them: students’ ability to study, to engage in discussions and exchange views with other students, and, in general, to learn their profession. Such considerations apply with added force to children in grade and high schools. To deny them the same educational opportunities as others of similar age and qualifications solely because of their income generates a feeling of inferiority as to their status in the community that may affect their hearts and minds in a way unlikely ever to be undone. The effect of this inequality on their educational opportunities is a violation of Brown vs. the Board of Education.
For evil to triumph it only takes a good man to do nothing. Don’t let evil triumph, get involved, and help these students stand up to this injustice.