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Public Education Needs Social Justice Education

"The freedoms, equalities, and democracy we think we have – and say we want – need constant and diligent oversight, attention, and advocacy."

The importance of a “good” education cannot be overemphasized.  Most people will agree that they want society’s children to be educated.  It’s in our best interest.  What can be, and often is, debated is what education entails.  What should be taught and how?

Most of what is taught in social studies classes comes from very limited sources, giving us a narrow and limited view and understanding of our history, our present, and how our futures will look.  We want to build a proud and positive view of our beginnings, which we then use to influence and guide our current situations and circumstances.  The ways in which we construct these beginnings often ignores, forgets, and obliterates a history that makes us uncomfortable.

For example, I often hear people say, “We should go back to how our founding fathers envisioned this country.”  The feeling is our founding fathers were fair and idealistic.  However, one need only to read the Naturalization Law of 1790 to see that our founding fathers wished to create a country where only “free White immigrants” could become naturalized United States citizens.  This is only one example of how this country was founded on discrimination and oppression of others.  If we choose to stay ignorant of this history, then we will be “doomed to repeat it,” in both intentional and unintentional ways.

The recent events at Alta High School seem to confirm these concerns.  If, indeed, the student, who put the white pillow cover over his head and interacted with a student of color, was ignorant and oblivious to the historical meanings and implications of the image he was promoting, then the question becomes “How could he not know?”  Other incidences at the school cannot be explained by ignorance, such as White students calling students of color, “N*.”

A broader and diverse historical knowledge and understanding of the oppression of African Americans would be crucial here.  What is needed is an understanding and teaching of how slavery impacted this population of people.  Slave codes, Jim Crow laws, anti-miscegenation laws (look that up if you have to), Plessey v. Ferguson (separate but equal), and racial profiling keep this oppression intact and reinforced today.

Many other ethnic groups and marginalized populations have faced similarly institutionalized discrimination and hate.  Our immigration laws have never been about bringing in “huddled masses yearning to be free,” but everything about bringing in cheap, exploitable labor—those who will come and work and then return to where they came from when they are no longer needed.

We are not beyond racism.  We are not oppression free.  The freedoms, equalities, and democracy we think we have – and say we want – need constant and diligent oversight, attention, and advocacy.  The actions of discrimination, prejudice, and hate have always been a part of this country.  We have to know this in order to confront it, in order to understand it, and in order to dismantle it.

If we infuse social justice education into our current educational curriculum, these inequities and injustices can come to light and we can know where, how, and why they exist.  A social justice education also brings in ways to advocate for equality of opportunity and equality of condition.  With this knowledge, we can then work toward the demise of oppression and hate.

If we deny the presence and negative impact of discrimination and oppression, and condone this hate by excusing or justifying the actions that perpetuate them, then we allow and validate their existence.  We have no excuse.  We have no one to blame but ourselves.  Without better education in the areas of diversity and social justice, our future will be but a continuation of such acts.  Intentional or not, the impact and result is the same.  We will not be the country and society we think we are or want to be.  We have the opportunity to change that now.  Let’s begin in earnest, with sincerity and commitment.

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  • chandler5234

    Public and social education both are more important for us and i know every people are like to get such kind of education i here. From your post we get more suggestion about this.