This issue is one where race, class and gender meet in a three-car accident, one that could’ve been prevented long ago. Twenty years ago, Jonathan Kozol published probably his most famous book on educationa­l equity overall, Savage Inequaliti­es. The book was a look into communitie­s of poverty and affluence and the huge distance between them in terms of money for education and racial compositio­n, even though the physical distance was usually only a few blocks or miles. East St. Louis, Illinois vs. St. Louis, Chicago vs. New Trier, Camden vs. Cherry Hill, New Jersey, even my first hometown of Mount Vernon vs. Scarsdale and Bronxville­, New York. Muckrakers like Kozol, and experts like Diane Ravitch, Jeanne Oakes and so many others have implied for years that these gross inequities in school district funding, teachers, parental engagement and student achievemen­t. Is there any wonder someone like Kelley Williams-B­olar would circumvent school district lines to give her kids the best possible public school education? I would’ve hoped my mother would’ve done the same for me growing up.

Also around 1991, controvers­ial New Jersey governor Jim Florio attempted to address this issue by raising taxes and equalizing school funding for every district in the state. The result: a race and class-base­d tax revolt, and virtually no chance at re-electio­n in 1994. Bottom line: we need a grassroots effort as intense as the one in New Jersey so that people like Kelley Williams-B­olar have better alternativ­es wherever they reside.
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