University of Pittsburgh professor Robert B. McCall’s article about the effects of poverty on our children in the United States (“Inequality Injures Kids,” Jan. 5 Forum) should sound the alarm for a swift call to action. As an educator for 38 years I have seen the evolution of a separation in our culture that creates the inequalities that he has so eloquently discussed.
I graduated from Clairton High School, where I was able to go to school and socialize with the sons and daughters of U.S. Steel superintendents and janitors, engineers and electricians, congressmen and criminals. Today few schools and municipalities have that diversity. Diversity allows children to learn from each other and see firsthand that it is possible to compete with all students in the class. Diverse schools also provide social opportunities for acceptance that include clubs, school government and sports.
Pennsylvania’s 500 school districts range from Upper St. Clair to Clairton, from South Fayette to Steel Valley, segregated schools and communities, not by race or religion, but by wealth.
I suggest that Pennsylvania:
1. Create regional schools equally funded by a state tax instead of a property tax.
2. Fund preschools for all students.
3. Give parents and students hope to see education as an opportunity, not a dreaded requirement.
Public schools epitomize the idea of the American Dream — “a dream of social order in which each man and each woman shall be able to attain to the fullest stature … regardless of the fortuitous circumstances of birth or position” (James Truslow Adams, “The Epic of America”).
LAWRENCE G. KUSHNER
The writer is director of graduate programs in education and assistant professor at Waynesburg University.