Schott President & CEO John H. Jackson was interviewed on a recent podcast on education organizing, the election, and what direction education justice movements should take over the next four years. Dr. Jackson was interviewed by Allison R. Brown, Executive Director of the Communities for Just Schools Fund for CJSF's SchoolHouse podcast.
The silver linings of the 2016 election were found at the state and local levels:
"What you saw in Georgia is voters voted to ensure that their educational systems are not void of a democratic process. They voted against the state’s desire to takeover several of the school districts across the state. In Massachusetts you saw voters push back an effort to increase the number of charter schools across the commonwealth. I think voters are in a place where they would like to see the state make substantive investments that are going to impact all students regardless of what type of school they exist within, but mainly those students that exist within the public educational system. And to your point we have seen that education is more of a bipartisan issue."
"I think voters are recognizing that you can’t have a broken economic system, you can’t have a broken health care system, and expect to have a highly effective educational system, all exist within the same ecosystem. I think its also important to note that voters do recognize that the public education system can work and that we have to invest in it so that it can work for all students. And that’s the major hurtle that many of the bond initiatives to increase resources, to increase taxes, were designed to do – to begin the types of supports so that regardless of where the student is located, regardless of what zip code the student lives within, that they will have the supports that will provide them a fair and substantive opportunity to learn."
The far right wants to dismantle the Federal Department of Education, but to do so would be an immense undertaking that isn't likely in the short-term.
"There is a long-term threat of perhaps losing the Department of Education. That threat I don't view as immediate, because even if you get rid of the Department of Education you would still have to identify where they're sending Title IX complaints, where they're sending the Civil Rights portion of the work the Department of Education does — how then do you provide the grant support that the Federal government provides to the states? Will that be block grants that the states receive directly every year? Who's going to administer that process? And then there's this thing called the student college loan system, where there's a trillion dollars of college loans that some institution is going to have to manage.
"We have to be able to map out, ‘what are some of the more immediate threats’ and what are some of the ways that we can push back those immediate threats. And what are the opportunities that exist? There are many opportunities at the state and local level, where we see individuals who are willing to make decisions on education who are not necessarily along party lines, but are looking at the value of the issue."
"To pull back and take a broader look: if you look at the history of the fight for justice, it has never been a linear track. It's always been three steps up, one step back. Two steps up, one step back. While we had emancipation, around the corner were Jim Crow laws. While we had Brown v. Board of Education, around the corner was the Bakke decision that said you can’t use race in higher education. While we’ve had opportunities to move legislation like the Civil Rights Act, like the Voting Rights Act, we also had the Reagan administration, which pushed back on that... I do think it's important that for this generation and generations to come, we put this struggle in context... It’s going to be our efforts during this season that determine how many steps back we take, and how many steps forward. And that’s where I’m hopeful, because we’re still in the game."
Listen to the entire podcast here: