John Edwards on race and education
Sen. John Edwards plans to warn later this week that the nation’s schools have become segregated by race and income, and he will propose measures to diversify both inner-city and middle-class schools.
The plan calls for beefing up inner-city magnet schools to attract suburban kids, and providing extra money for schools in middle-class areas as a reward for enrolling more low-income students.
Edward lingered in the Big Easy this morning – admiring a 5-year-old Head Start pupil’s sneakers and hobnobbing in a wood-floored café -- before racing into Mississippi, Arkansas and Tennessee as part of a three-day poverty tour designed to shine a national spotlight on the plight of often-invisible groups like struggling home-health-care workers.
During a town meeting staged in a New Orleans museum by ABC’s “Good Morning America,” he said the nation’s schools reflect the “two Americas” that he wants to unite with the ideas he’s proposing on this week’s “Road to One America” swing through the South and Appalachia.
“We still have two public school systems in this country,” Edwards said. “They're not segregated just based on race. They're segregated, to a large extent, based on economics, which has racial implications.”
“The result is,” Edwards continued, “if you live in a wealthy suburban area, the odds are very high that your child will get a very good public school education. If you live in the inner city or if you live in a poor rural area, the odds of that go down dramatically. And I think there are very specific things we can do to not only improve the quality of the education in those areas but also to improve the quality of our schools at large.”
In his remarks later this week, Edwards plans to criticize last month’s 5-4 Supreme Court decision striking down two school desegregation programs and saying that schools cannot use race as a basis for assigning students, even to promote diversity.
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