Equity in Resources

Remarks to Board of Education–Thursday, April 22, 2021

by Barbara McDowell Dowdall

PBS just ran the film showing how NAACP attorney Thurgood Marshall guided the U. S. Supreme Court to replace white car/colored car Plessy v. Ferguson with Brown v. Board: 

Separate (as with city and suburban, public and private, most district schools and a few district schools) is not equal.

Our city is not the only town where the shuttering of professionally-staffed libraries stamped their students inferior in worthiness. Yet George Floyd’s Houston high school, Jack Yates, took steps four years ago to bless all students equally. (Houston Chronicle, January 21, 2017):

The magic of books has returned to Jack Yates High School.

The school’s once-depleted library shelves are filled with novels, nonfiction, [and tech]. Students gather to [talk] about books they’ve read. 

It’s enough to bring tears to the eyes of Houston school Trustee Jolanda Jones.

“Libraries are what kept me sane when I was little,” Jones said at the Yates rededication… her voice cracking with emotion. “I couldn’t afford to travel and I couldn’t go anyplace. And I just want for kids to appreciate books like I appreciate books.” 

The [event marked a move] to rebuild closed or abandoned libraries across the District…many without librarians.

District officials now concede that efforts to cut costs and use “classroom libraries” to increase literacy left many schools without proper resources.

“We made a mistake; we forgot some of our schools,” said [the] CAO.

“Trustee Jones, elected in 2015, said: “This district has not been equitable in [providing] resources. It never occurred to me as a trustee to ask: ‘Do you have a library?’ – because everybody is supposed to have a library.”

Velda Hunter, certified librarian at Yates, [would add] more print periodicals, [even] though students have access … online.

Principal Ken Davis emphasized the importance, in [this digital age], of having books “that you can actually touch and feel”.

“When you … can’t get that iPhone or that iPad to work, the books still work. Books aren’t part of our past – they’re…part of our future.”

So, SDP:  Let’s add libraries with CTLs to CASA’s 5. 

Quality and equity!