As today's events unfold, I reflect on major breakthroughs and the long journey to social justice and racial equality.
Quality education for minority students and the desegregation of schools were contended in the city of Boston long after the 1954 landmark Supreme Court case, Brown v. Board of Education.
In 1974, a federal district court judge ordered students to be bused city-wide to integrate the Boston Public Schools. In his ruling, judge Garrity said the school committee had consciously maintained two separate school systems.
I was too young to remember the politics and the players involved. But I do remember the consequences of judge Garrity's decision; the ominous, unsettled feeling in our neighborhood, and of course--the riots. We were bused across town to the “better schools,” and escorted by the police inside the school buildings.
We have come a long way since then. Yet, continuing challenges to equal educational opportunities remain.
My early American experience pales in comparison to that of our inner-city kids who day after day go into overcrowded classrooms, in under-funded schools, and are taught to the test because of senseless policy-making by politicians, not by educators.
Today I celebrate a new dawn, and an amazing triumph. I also look ahead at the challenging work that is still needed to improve our children's education, such as: strengthening our public education system, help ensure that disadvantaged students have access to quality educational programs, reduced class size, support schools in development, and innovation through new technology.
I am hopeful and inspired. A new era of change and responsibility has come to America. I know significant, real change can happen, because I've seen it happen.