Most of us learned about the parable of the good Samaritan some time during a Sunday school class. You remember the story: A traveler was beaten, stripped of his clothing and left on the side of the road. First a priest, then a Levite came along and neither stopped to give aid. Then came a Samaritan who did not hesitate to help the injured man.
Jesus told this parable when he was asked, “And who is my neighbor?”
Unfortunately when you read all the pages of the A-F legislation, you find that it is void of the spirit of the good Samaritan. A few days ago the state identified 104 schools in Alabama as F schools, at the direction of this law. But we are like the priest and the Levite because we offer no help to those in need.
No where do we say that these F schools will receive any kind of help or support in order to get better. Like the beaten traveler in the parable, these schools need assistance. But this law was not written by the good Samaritan. We just tell everyone they are struggling and go our merry way.
We love to pound our chest and crow about our “Alabama values.” But then we pass laws dealing with children and make a joke out of whatever “Alabama values” are.
And who goes to school in those marked with an F? For the most part, they are poor. Only ten of them have a poverty rate of less than 50 percent, while 70 have a rate of 70 percent or higher. Of course, we’ve known about the correlation between poverty and performance for many years. So all this new report card exercise did is tell us what we already knew.
It is also noteworthy to look at who attends these schools. The vast majority of students in F schools are African-American Three of the 104 are 100 percent minority. Fifty-six are more than 90 percent.. Another 30 are 70 to 89 percent. Only seven of the 104 do not have a majority of African-American students.
So we put a big F on schools that are largely poor and minority. And then we forget about them.
Frankly this is not only wrong, it is immoral in my book.