Remarks by Jitu Brown were one of the highlights of the recent Public Education Forum 2020, which featured the top Democratic presidential candidates in this year’s race. Brown, National Director of the Journey for Justice Alliance (J4J), delivered a poignant message about the state of public education, and the continued threat of public school privatization. He underlined the fact that the United States has failed to commit to fulfilling its constitutional obligation to all students by fully funding schools, especially the schools that educate students of color and low income students.
“We don’t have failing schools, the public has been failed.” This underlines the experience that so many public school students, parents, teachers and community members have had to endure: our leaders frequently failing to acknowledge the root causes of struggling schools and not investing in real equity in public education. Jitu Brown described the public school system as “a system that intentionally provides one quality of education to one group of children, but denies that justice for another group of children.” Too many of our leaders claim that we can’t afford to pay for a public education system that serves all our children. Still, these same politicians always find a way to pay for new prisons, new defense spending and tax breaks that benefit the super-wealthy.
Brown’s remarks go to the heart of an inequitable public school system: a system that does not live up to the mandate of quality public education that it promises to all students. He made it clear that what we need going forward is a positive vision for public education and a sustained fight for justice. Jitu Brown and J4J provide us with a way forward — making school funding formulas equal, providing qualified teachers, culturally relevant curricula, health care services, the end to unaccountable charter schools and treating black and brown children like criminals, and the end to high stakes testing. Through this vision, we can create a more equitable and fair public school system.
J4J and the Schott Foundation believe that all students deserve the opportunity to learn and that the mandate of education equity has not yet been fulfilled. Jitu Brown’s words are a continual call to action. We hope that education justice is at the forefront of each presidential candidate's platform and a reminder of what is possible when parents, students and educators take a stand together to demand the resources and opportunities our children need to learn and thrive. To learn more about the Journey for Justice Alliance and their platform, click here. To learn more about school funding disparities, check out the Education Law Center’s recent reports here.