Norman Rockwell’s was an artist who communicated his thoughts and observations through paintings. He was born in 1893 in New York at an era when racial discrimination was at its highest level. His 1964 painting, “The Problem We All Live With” has continued to be instrumental up to date. The painting depicts desegregation in American schools at the time. The painting shows 6 year old Ruby Bridges being escorted to the school by four U.S. marshals. This painting was drawn at a time when the minority groups in America were beginning to demand for equality and end to racial discrimination.
Ruby Bridges was the first black American child to enroll in a school considered to be of the whites only. This came after the court ordered desegregation of public schools to give opportunity to all children regardless of their background to enroll in any public school. The country at large was so much opposed to the idea and this resulted to demonstrations in major cities aimed at criticizing the court’s decision. Ruby had to be escorted by the marshals to ensure her safety as the mob gathered at the school heckled at her. The painting captures the girl in her white dress, carrying a ruler and a book while escorted by the 4 marshals, also captured is the wall having some racial epithet together with a recently thrown splattered tomato. The painting first appeared to the general public in January 1964 in the Look magazine. The message under the painting was on how Americans live and relate with each other.
Though, the context of Ruby Bridges had been heavily criticized on television and in print in November 1960, the appearance of the portrayal reminded the public of the plight young school children went through, as they were heckled while attending school and their safety put at stake by the angry mob. The painting’s tittle is meant to show how the Americans considered the blacks as a problem which they had to tolerate to live with. Blacks were considered an outcast of the society. They had designated residents and social amenities. Racial discrimination was real and adapting to changes was another challenge. That is why the idea about sharing amenities such as schools and hospitals was not readily acceptable to many Americans. In 2011, through the effort of President Obama, Rockwell’s original painting was brought to White House where it is currently displayed. The painting is a national reminder of an error when accessibility of education by the minority groups was a challenge. Most of Rockwell’s paintings challenged the social injustices that existed at the time. He promoted interracial relations through his paintings.
“Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid”
In his book “Still Separate, Still Unequal: America’s Educational Apartheid,” Jonathan Kozol observes that educational segregation still exists. The segregation is so apparent in the urban areas as compared to the rural areas. Those who live far from the city have all their kids attending same public schools regardless of skin color. He observes this is not the case in major cities such as New York and Washington where public schools are dominated by either blacks or Hispanic with only a small percentage representing the whites. He takes a look at various public schools both elementary and high schools. The statistics shows that children from poor background are to a large extent isolated to certain schools.
The rulings by the federal courts on integration have not helped much either. Policies aimed at addressing racial segregation are seriously affected by arbiters of society found in the cities. People shy away from the reality on the ground by using some descriptor words to refer to the situation. Example is the use of the term “diverse schools” yet such schools are in actual terms segregated. In addition, some schools employ euphemism in referring to the composition of their students. The actual picture is not depicted by the administration because they try to hinder the worrying situation. Unfortunately, high school kids understand better what discrimination is all about. They usually feel neglected and segregated from other schools. It’s like the situation has remained worse as before. Most white students attend expensive private schools where only a few minorities can afford. This in a way results to indirect segregation of kids from minority groups.
The idea of change regarding education is well analyzed by Jonathan Kozol. He notes that schools found in ghettos where most blacks and Hispanias’ live are in bad condition and either requires renovation or being rebuilt. Classrooms are in deplorable conditions that are difficult for learning. In addition, the few available resources are put under pressure by the ever increasing student’s population (Pero etal, 2007). Some courses offered in other schools such as music and art are a thing of the past in such schools. The ratio of student to teacher is high which means little attention is given to students in assisting them to learn. The result of this is the high dropout experienced in such schools. It is estimated that the graduation rate is at an average of 34%. This rate is too low as compared to that of private schools where almost all kids graduate.
In her article “Education Gap Grows between Rich and Poor” Sabrina Travernise analyzes data on the differences in performance between kids from wealth background and those from poor families. She notes that the notion that education puts less advantaged kids at a good level of improving their probability of success does no longer exist. Instead, children from wealth families perform far much better than those from humble backgrounds. In addition, the achievement gap is increasing at an alarming rate and this threatens to lower the essence of education. The policy makers are doing little to rectify the situation as more funds still go to better performing schools at the expense of those from the ghettos (Pero etal, 2007). The family income seems to determine the quality of education kids are likely to have. Only well paid parents can afford to take their kids to private schools while others can only rely on the public schools in the neighborhood. This also has an impact on the number of college completion with those from poor families facing challenges in completing college education on time.
The recent recession is believed to have widened the gap. It is so unfortunate that those who get affected by economic crises such as recession and inflation are the poor. This puts pressure on the little income they make as they have to buy basic commodities at a higher price thus leaving little amount to cater for their kid’s education. It has been noted that wealthy parents spends so much on their kids in terms of their time and money. They have time to look into their kid’s education and talk to their teachers. This way, they are able to monitor the performance of their kids and realize it when weaknesses start developing. It is believed parents concern and concern is crucial to kid’s performance at school. On the other hand, low income parents have little time for their kids as they are busy working for a livelihood.