By Charlotte Young
Across the country, the media has been picking up on a recent trend in public education—the separation of white and minority students to different and unequal schools. It’s a recurring trend that brings alarm to many who thought the fight for equality in schools had already been won.
But Dr. Martha Bireda, who’s been an education equity consultant for 20 years, is one who has known for a long time that “equal education is still elusive.” Throughout her consulting career, she took notice of the biases and dilemmas low-income minority children face everyday at school.
“There’s negative beliefs about the students and their families, low expectations for student achievement [and] a lack of collective responsibility for student achievement,” she said.
She further explained that there are often ‘stigmatizing’ learning environments that focus on controlling students instead of pushing them to academic excellence. As a result of her frustration around the disparities low-income children face in education, Bireda picked up her pen and addressed the problem in what became her recent book, Schooling Poor Minority Children: New Segregation in the Post-Brown Era.
“I believe that these students will continue to be chronically undereducated until the context in which they are schooled changes,” said Bireda. “It is my hope that this book will start a real discussion of all the factors, including those that contribute to low academic performance among this group of students.”