Dr. Carla Shedd and Dr. Tressie McMillan Cottom held an important discussion on education, opportunity, and equity. Hearing of the current deficits in our educational system and the possible solutions to this problem, was an important reminder of how conversation creates change.
Inequity and disparity have been constants in our collective NYC urban experience, however it is shocking to hear how significantly our education system has faltered because of poor resource allocations, lack of support, and ineffective legislation. As Dr. Shedd and Dr. Cottom highlighted the gaps in structural, political, and social structures, it was clear that there are numerous hurdles that keep many NYC neighborhoods from obtaining an equitable education. Our nation’s dependence on capitalism and ignorance of how to properly assist urban neighborhoods has resulted in alarming inconsistencies in primary, secondary, and higher education.
Although this discussion was at times disheartening, as we came to terms with the reality that faces so many NYC communities, the emphasis on conversation and activism was extremely inspiring. To be reminded of how important the conversations we have with each other, legislatures, and community members are, was encouraging. Another important point raised, was community activism. Although community activism seemed daunting to me in the past, this discussion revealed how effective, organized, and influential community activism and advocacy can be when it comes to issues like local education inequities. The underscoring of institutional racism and unequal socioeconomic gradients was also an important reminder of the intersectional approach that must be employed when tackling such issues. Too often the experiences of minority and disenfranchised groups have been silenced and ignored. This discussion proves that uplifting these voices, will not only create current change, but will also set the foundation for future change.
While the COVID-19 pandemic has not made bridging the gap in education any easier, the optimism of leaders like Dr. Shedd and Dr. Cottom is promising. There is a long road ahead of us, but I do believe we can end the injustices educational inequities have caused in our country for decades. Individually, we have a civic responsibility to have difficult conversations, educate ourselves and others, and stand in solidarity. I am hopeful that the problems brought up by this discussion will be resolved soon, because I am confident in our ability as a cohort and as a community to be supportive, effective, and resilient.