Brown versus Board of Education didn't work. The Civil Rights Movement didn't work. Equal Rights didn't work. Bussing didn't work. Affirmative Action didn't work...and so on.
By THOMAS C. TOBIN
Published March 25, 2007
For decades, school districts have organized around a simple idea: Whatever you give to white students, give it to black students, too.
Put both groups of students in the same schools. Expose them to the same teaching. If they struggle, give them the same help.
In the Tampa Bay area and across the nation, this was how educators atoned for the long-ago sin of relegating black children to inferior schools.
Now, in a class-action lawsuit that has Pinellas County's top educators on the defensive, the plaintiffs say the policy of equal access has failed the school district's 20,000 black students.
Black kids, they contend, will need uniquely tailored programs if the district ever hopes to erase an education gap that has them lagging behind every other ethnic group in school performance.
The case of William Crowley vs. the Pinellas County School Board - seven years old and finally headed for trial - may be the only one of its kind in the nation.
"What's unique about it is the unadorned claim that if you have an achievement gap, you are violating the law," said Michael Kirk, a Washington, D.C., lawyer hired to help defend the district. If that were true, he argued, then every district with a significant number of minority students would be liable.