When I first came to Pine View about seven years ago, I saw something extremely different. It was a gaping hole so apparent even a third grader could see. I saw that there wasn’t a single African American student in my entire class. Actually, there weren’t any African Americans in my entire grade. I didn’t mind it, but it was definitely something everyone noticed. This past summer I decided to put in a bit of time to figure out if what I saw was really true. It was disconcerting just how right that original observation was. I found that Pine View had a total of about 17 African American students out of the 2180 total students. This is in a school district that has over 4000 African American students. No, that is not a typo. There are seventeen African American students at Pine View!
This is a baffling, infuriating and horrifying fact in the 21st century. Students are taught from childhood that they live in a time when segregation has been crushed and schools are no longer segregated but instead separate and equal. So why does it feel like we live in a time that the doors to Pine View are not being opened fairly to all students as if there is some kind of lock on it. There are arguments against this statement saying that there are many schools around the nation that have similar problems, but that does not justify anything! How could it ever be OK to do an injustice to thousands of our own students just because some other schools decided to shun their students? We have to be the ones that other school and districts will look to when they decide it’s time for them to fix this diversity problem too.
Suppose that there is a hurricane that smashes through your roof, but also happens to break your neighbor’s roof too. Are you simply not going to fix it until your neighbor does it too? Either way, our neighbors have already started building, so we better get working immediately.
The number one school in America according to US News Rankings is School for the Talented and Gifted. They are very similar to Pine View with a 100% gifted population, and the top test scores in their state. However, there is one thing that separates this school from Pine View. Their minority population is about equal with the minority population of their school district. Along with this 25% of their school is economically disadvantaged and on a free/reduced lunch plan.
“The root cause is resource and book deprivation,” said Mrs. Kingsley, the superintendent of elementary schools in Sarasota County who is also very passionate about solving this problem. “The problem isn’t being addressed openly. We have to speak about it openly if this problem is ever going to be fixed.” She went on explaining how the blame begins with parents and schools. It is their job to strive for their kids and students to have the brightest futures possible, but often poor African American kids are given a poor education at sub par pre-k and elementary schools and aren’t ever given the chance to take an IQ test to prove their intelligence. Yet, we can’t simply expect parents to know how and why they should provide their kids with the best education possible or expect teachers to be able to fairly identify kids of all ethnicity as gifted if we have bring it up anywhere.
The chart above portrays how troubling this problem truly is, but the chances are that many people have never been introduced to the data in this chart and many people never will as long as we as a community continue to shun the problem. But every day we continue neglecting it, there are hundreds of talented African American kids not being recognized and are losing out on a chance for brighter futures that Pine View has provided their students for decades.
A lot of people may be thinking, “This problem doesn’t affect me so why should I have to take any part it fixing it.” Yet that way of thinking is what kept this problem snowballing for generations. Also, it is dead wrong. A lack of diversity is such an important problem for students because they are the future. The efforts thousands of civil rights rallies and hundreds of lives are all in vain if we choose to be separated. That is the road we are taking as we continue to give different levels of opportunity to certain ethnicity. Along with this, the lack of diversity also leads to great loss of bonds and friendship between people of different ethnic backgrounds. The dream of millions of Americans over the last century has been to have a society where people of all ethnicity can share culture and be friends. However, this dream is crushed when we decide to forget about keeping diversity in our schools. For example, I am genuinely saddened to say that I haven’t talked to even five African American kids since I came to Pine View. This is a problem that has to be solved now, or may one day cause us to fall back onto the horrific path that America just crawled off of a few decades ago. If we don’t solve it, who will?
“It’s a critical issue that needs to be fixed,” told Mr. Largo, the legendary former principal of Pine View. He had been keeping track of this problem and had dealt with it for several years, and thus he had a lot of input on the issue. He showed the efforts of a few initiatives that occurred over the course of Pine View’s history, but they generally didn’t have much of an effect. This just proves that regardless of what a few people do, it will take the cumulative awareness and hard work of everyone. Nobody can neglect this problem anymore, but instead we must bring it to light and show others the necessity of fixing it.
Dr. Covert, the current principal of Pine View, is putting his highest efforts into fixing this problem. He has been dedicated to it since the day he became principal three years ago. We should all take this issue with the kind of determination and seriousness as Dr. Covert has in order to fix this problem.
It is dire that we fix this problem. If we don’t, everybody in the community will be losing out. We will lose out on the acceptance diversity, on brighter futures, and on an overall more successful society. It is our duty to break the lock that is causing an unequal flow of kids and open the gates to Pine View to everyone in order to create a more equal society for the future just as every generation before us has done. It is a job that is so tough that it can’t be done by a single person even if he spent his entire life time trying. However, it is one that can be accomplished in a few years with just the awareness and the genuine concern of everyone.