Injustice in Inner City Public Schools


volume 16, number 9, March 2, 2017

But let justice roll down like the waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream.”  -Amos 5:24

Injustice in Inner City Public Schools

Every time I think about it, I become very angry. The Democratic Liberal establishment, in lock step with the National Education Association, has kept inner city children “on the plantation” for over fifty years. The Republicans generally have been no better. The vast majority of inner city public schools in the United States are an abject disaster. In 2000 the Los Angeles City School system voted down a measure to end social promotion because it would require holding back 350,000 students, mainly Hispanic, which was half the student population. According to the 2015 National Assessment of Educational Progress published by the Department of Education’s National Center for Educational Statistics only 4 percent of eighth graders in the public school system of Detroit are proficient in math and only 7 percent in reading. Detroit public schools spent $18,361 of taxpayer money per student in 2015. Nationwide, only 33 percent of public school eighth graders scored proficient in reading and 32 percent in mathematics.[1]

David Horowitz, a former radical leftist whose parents were members of the Communist Party, became a conservative a number of years ago and urged Republicans to take up the issue of poverty and poor public education. He pitched his idea to George W. Bush’s campaign in 2000 but they refused to act upon it. They figured the Democrats had a lock on the black vote, so why bother? Republicans, however, have an opportunity to make headway into the Democratic hegemony with African Americans. The simple fact is that liberal policies have not helped the poor. Can anyone possibly refute this assertion? Senator Jeff Sessions of Alabama, now the Attorney General of the United States, has been speaking out repeatedly on the issue of injustice in our inner city public schools. Thus, Sessions, for years, has been an advocate for charter schools and vouchers to allow inner city parents the option of placing their children in whatever schools they wish. My friends, this is a civil rights issue. Just because people live in the hood is no reason they should be kept from placing their children in a school environment where they can succeed. Until now, if a child lives in downtown Birmingham or Fairfield, he is generally forced to attend one of the public schools there. While many administrators and teachers are sincerely trying their best to educate the children in these neighborhoods, the system is against them. A culture of mediocrity and hopelessness can eventually work its way into the culture of any school. I remember being given the opportunity years ago to teach the American literature classes one day at Glynn Academy (a public high school in Brunswick, Georgia). I was able to give the “other side” of the story on the Puritans. I taught several classes that day, and the classes ran the gamut. One of the classes was an Advanced Placement class and the students were highly motivated and engaged, asking lots of questions. But in the other classes the students were poorly motivated and some slept through the class. I remember thinking that day, after I finished teaching, “I can understand why a really good teacher could become very discouraged in this environment and opt for a better school district or a private school teaching gig. I can also understand why other teachers would begin, after several years of trying, to simply ‘dial it in,’ and go through the motions.” 

This is why the narrow vote to approve Betsy DeVos as the Secretary of Education is so important for inner city children and their parents. DeVos is pushing charter schools and vouchers, something over which the National Education Association (NEA) is going apoplectic. The NEA seems to be all about maintaining their monopoly on education. This doesn’t seem to be much about the children. President Trump is calling for $130 billion in inner city public school vouchers. This would allow for a $12,000 tuition voucher per child, the same amount paid per student by taxpayers into school systems where forty percent do not graduate and another forty percent are functionally illiterate. 

And here is where the church and the work of the gospel of Christ comes into play. We need to labor for Biblical justice. Just think about what a church or group of Christians could do if they had $12,000 per student to educate children in our inner cities? Most of the inner city Christian schools are severely under funded with teachers making a pittance of what they deserve. Free market competition makes products better. If the public schools want to compete, then they need to step up and deliver an excellent education product. If they cannot do that, then they will lose students, and they should lose students. Having said this, however, solid academic schools in the inner city is not enough. We need strong gospel preachers who will preach Christ crucified, who will warn people to flee the wrath of God which is to come, who will call the parents and their children to sexual purity, who will model for young people monogamous marriage, giving the children the hope they can do better. Without question, a family with both a father and a mother in the home, living in marital fidelity, mitigates poverty significantly. In 2014 40.6 percent of children in the U.S. were born to unmarried mothers. The poverty rate for single parents is 37.1 percent and for married parents it is 6.8 percent.[2] Vouchers and charter schools, therefore, without stability at home will not generally improve the education of our children. Our inner city children ought to have a level playing field. There is no reason why these children should not receive a quality education, whether secular or Christian, like children receive in over the mountain[3] schools like the Mountain Brook school system or the Westminster Classical Christian School at Oak Mountain Presbyterian Church, both outstanding schools. Pray and labor for justice to roll down like waters, and righteousness like an ever-flowing stream. School vouchers and charter schools will go a long way toward addressing the injustice in our inner city school systems. It is time for inner city children to have a shot at outstanding educational opportunities. 


1. <> October 28, 2015.

2. The Heritage Foundation, September 5, 2012.

3. “Over the mountain” is a term everyone in Birmingham understands. It refers to people living on the southern side of Red Mountain, away from the city of Birmingham. “Over the mountain” has always communicated a place of privilege.

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