4 Million Children Might be News

Saddle up the Messenger Hoss:
4 Million Children Might be News

By

GREG MOSES

CounterPunch 9-16-

2004

(7 a.m. Central Daylight Time)–The morning after
Texas district judge John

Dietz ruled that the state’s
school system fails to satisfy criteria set forth in
the Texas

constitution, I’m browsing some of the “top
headline” sources on the internet to see how the

fate
of 4 million Texas schoolchildren rates on the
national news scale.

“More

than 130 years after Alferd Packer ate his five
companions to survive a Colorado winter, a

museum
curator is making a case that the notorious cannibal
was innocent of murder,” reads a

report from the
Associated Press that I find seven stories from the
top at Yahoo’s US National

News. But no news of Texas
education in the total of twenty stories that are
either listed as

“top” or “more.”

“Three men shot to death in a Willowbrook parking lot
apparently were

victims of a planned ‘hit’ that by a
fluke occurred just as a village police officer drove
past,

law enforcement sources said Wednesday,” reads a
story out of Chicago that gets number seven billing

at
Google’s US news page.

“The Times Fills 2 Editing Posts,” reads headline
number

six under New York Times national headlines.
The Education section also finds other things to

talk
about.

With Hurricane Ivan consuming three of the top dozen
stories at USA

Today’s “Nation” page, it’s Southern
weather that rules the day.

Maybe we can find the

headline at CNN US? Nope. But
if you look under local news from the US Southwest you
will find

this number one headline: “Former anchorman
out of prison.” Or this headline, ranked second:

“Henna tattoos cause family pain.” The Education page
leads with a story about college

affordability.

As the school buses pass my window here in Texas,
taking kids to their

unconstitutional destinations,
I’m reading parts of the US Supreme Court decision in
1973 that

set the precedent for not putting Texas
education on the national agenda. The Rodriguez

case,
which was the first of the “Edgewood” cases to be
filed—-way back in the summer of ’68—-set

the Supremes
to fidgeting over the prospects of “wealth
equalization.” They said they could

handle a lawsuit
where folks were completely deprived of some good
because of poverty, but the if

the High Court started
getting involved in cases where relatively poorer
people were only

relatively deprived of such things as
education, well you know, the great black-robed

scions
might have to stop taking summer breaks!

The dissenting judges in 1973 were

Thurgood Marshall
and William O. Douglas, not bad company to keep on a
morning such as

this.

“The Court today decides, in effect, that a State may
constitutionally vary the

quality of education which
it offers its children in accordance with the amount
of taxable wealth

located in the school districts
within which they reside,” wrote Marshall (with
Douglas

concurring). “The majority’s decision
represents an abrupt departure from the mainstream

of
recent state and federal court decisions concerning
the unconstitutionality of state

educational financing
schemes dependent upon taxable local wealth. More
unfortunately, though,

the majority’s holding can only
be seen as a retreat from our historic commitment to
equality of

educational opportunity and as
unsupportable acquiescence in a system which deprives
children in

their earliest years of the chance to
reach their full potential as citizens. The Court does
this

despite the absence of any substantial
justification for a scheme which arbitrarily

channels
educational resources in accordance with the fortuity
of the amount of taxable wealth

within each district.”

“In my judgment,” continued Marshall, “the right of
every

American to an equal start in life, so far as
the provision of a state service as important

as
education is concerned, is far too vital to permit
state discrimination on grounds as tenuous

as those
presented by this record. Nor can I accept the notion
that it is sufficient to remit

these appellees to the
vagaries of the political process which, contrary to
the majority’s

suggestion, has proved singularly
unsuited to the task of providing a remedy for

this
discrimination. I, for one, am unsatisfied with the
hope of an ultimate ‘political’

solution sometime in
the indefinite future while, in the meantime,
countless children

unjustifiably receive inferior
educations that ‘may affect their hearts and minds in
a way

unlikely ever to be undone.’ Brown v. Board of
Education, 347 U.S. 483, 494 (1954). I must

therefore
respectfully dissent.”

But it was the refusal of Marshall’s peers that

sent
the issue of equalized education back to the Texas
courts and a series of state-level

rulings known as
the Edgewood cases of the early 90s. Texas courts
today are doing the work that

national courts refused
to do thirty years ago, and in the process historical
contributions are

being made to the human rights of
children everywhere.

For these reasons and others

that might be given with
more time and space, can we please ask the editors of
the national desks

to dig a little deeper into their
Associated Press dispatches and post the ones about
Texas

education? After all, attention to the human
rights of 4 million children today will bring you

so
many more avid readers tomorrow.

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