Congressman Augustus F. Hawkins
8563 South Broadway, Suite 206
Los Angeles, California 90003


AUGUST 6, 1971

This week's Column is a continuation of last week's dealing with school system deficiencies and especially the Los Angeles City School District.

It's imperative that the Los Angeles City School District recognize immediately that if it fails to revolutionize its bureaucratic structure so as to significantly include ethnic minorities on all levels of its administration, curriculum and program development, auxiliary services, etc., its soaring rate of failure in the minority communities will continue. To perpetuate racism, be it on the levels of school and faculty integration or in the areas of learning and acquiring reading skills, is only to solidify failure. To continue to spend tax dollars in support of such a restricted and shallow approach to meeting the educational needs of minority youth is criminal.

Personally, I am fed up with the excuses I received from school districts nationwide when inquiries were made as to their unsuccessful efforts to educate black students. It's not all just a matter of insufficient tax dollars, disinterested parents, black power attacks, etc. Success will not come by ignoring

the real weaknesses of the educational system as it relates to the minority youth.

The traditional excuse used by many whites that blacks are inferior and can't achieve as well as white students is baseless, and has been disproved in localities where blacks have received adequate training. However, I feel certain that this belief accounts for much of the foot dragging by school districts in improving the quality of educational services in minority schools. The assignment of new and untrained teachers, crowded half-day sessions, and an impoverished curriculum all further contribute to failures in black schools.

Professor Rick Heber's findings at the University of Wisconsin refutes any belief that blacks are inherently inferior and therefore can't learn as well as whites. His findings also vividly point out the fact that our schools must make drastic changes in their approach to teaching reading if young children of poor and illiterate parents living in the city's worse ghettos are to successfully learn to read.

Professor Heber found, not surprisingly, that the environment of the slum neighborhood was less conducive to mental development. However, he was able to produce tremendous growth by providing each child with his own teacher until he was two years old, and gradually increasing the number of children to eleven per teacher for those who were four years or older.


My reason for referring to this study is to point out the fact that our school districts must be flexible enough to adopt those revolutionary revisions necessary for meeting adequately the educational needs of minority children. Black and brown parents want tangible results.

Whites in their carefully isolated suburbs, may exist under the illusion that inferior schools in the ghettos do not affect them and their affluence, but the hard cold facts are otherwise functional illiterates and dropouts in those ghetto schools mean soaring crime rates, a poorly trained work force, growing welfare rolls that increase white taxation, and deep black resentment and tensions, all of which affect the white suburbs directly and adversely.

As has been said, "The trouble with a cheap education is that we must continue paying for it for life."