Why Do Black Parents Have to File Lawsuits to Achieve Educational Justice?!

Upper Dublin, a district outside of Philadelphia, recently settled a discrimination case that was filed with the U.S. Department of Education by Black families and the Public Interest Law Center four years ago. One more reason why Secretary DeVos’s moves to dismantle the Civil Rights Office at the U.S. Department of Education must be challenged and thwarted.  

I previously wrote about Upper Dublin High School, a school in a very wealthy district with brazen, in-your-face racist practices. While Black students made up less than 8% of the student population, they were disproportionately suspended – almost 50% of all suspended students were Black.  

But, the discrimination didn’t stop there (when does it?). Students were routinely tracked to less rigorous courses. Even if a Black student received high grades in middle school, they were not rostered to high school Honors courses. Now, why would that be?

Senator Hughes, who has worked to highlight the racist school funding that violates the state constitution, remarked,

The promise of many positive changes to curriculum and disciplinary policies that CAAP believes will hold the district accountable to providing a just and equitable education for its African-American students is a step in the right direction. Too often we’ve seen these types of discriminatory educational practices exhibited…

We know that biases against Black children begin as early as Pre-K and stays off track throughout high school and beyond. 

Black children and their parents must continue to be vigilant in the face of low expectations, and deeply troubling mindsets that too many educators and the districts they oppress in have about Black and Brown students.

This vigilance needs to be in the form of parent strikes, lawsuits, and by any other means necessary to achieve educational justice for Black children.

Sharif El-Mekki
Sharif El-Mekki
Sharif El-Mekki is the principal of Mastery Charter School–Shoemaker Campus, a neighborhood public charter school in Philadelphia that serves 750 students in grades 7-12. From 2013-2015, he was one of three principal ambassador fellows working on issues of education policy and practice with U.S. Department of Education under Secretary Arne Duncan.


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