Opinion: Racial inequality is a shared burden for whites as well as blacks
Browne-Marshall says: 'Ending affirmative action after only thirty years ignores the vestiges of the last 300 years.'
March 19th, 2012
03:45 PM ET

Opinion: Racial inequality is a shared burden for whites as well as blacks

Editor's note: Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, an Associate Professor of Constitutional Law at John Jay College (CUNY), is the author of "Race, Law, and American Society: 1607 to Present" and the "U.S. Constitution: An African-American Context." The Founder/Director of The Law and Policy Group, Inc., she is a former civil rights attorney, and a freelance correspondent covering the U.S. Supreme Court.

By Gloria J. Browne-Marshall, Special to CNN

(CNN) –I was born into a country with immense opportunity and a deep history of racism.

Jennifer Gratz, the plaintiff in Michigan’s “reverse discrimination” case, and other opponents of affirmative action inherited this conflicted state of affairs as well. Yet, they want the great weight of America’s racial legacy to fall only on the shoulders of people of color. This inheritance belongs to all of us.

In the fall, the U.S. Supreme Court will hear the case of Abigail Fisher v. University of Texas. Then, the Court may deem affirmative action in higher education as unconstitutional, thus locking generations of people of color into an inherited inequality. In its present eviscerated state, affirmative action may be a mere bandage on the festering wound of American racism. It is neither a panacea nor a cure-all. However, for now, it is quite necessary.

Challengers of affirmative action focus on the last thirty years of alleged inequality. Unfortunately, for all of us, the seeds of racial injustice were planted centuries ago. Africans were part of the Jamestown Colony before the landing of the Mayflower. Anthony and Mary Johnson, a married African couple, with servants and land, resided in that Virginia colony in the 1600s. Before the century ended, laws were enacted to take their land and create chattel slavery. This is American history. For nearly 300 years, legal inequality subjugated people of color who lived, loved, hoped, and died praying for justice.

When slavery ended due to the efforts of Black and White abolitionists, the 14th Amendment was ratified. The 14th Amendment gave citizenship and equal protection to African-Americans whom the U.S. Supreme Court had previously designated under the Dred Scott decision as non-persons, outside the protection of American laws. The backlash was immediate. African-Americans became the object of terrorism unprecedented in American history. This malevolence by law and tradition would continue for 100 years, assuring every inch of progress would be hard fought and uncertain. Despite Black Codes designed to re-enslave African-Americans and Jim Crow segregation, the quest for equality under law remained the battle cry of people of color.

Read the full story from the In America blog
Posted by
Filed under: After High School • College • In America • Legal issues • Policy • Voices
March 19th, 2012
03:16 PM ET

Student motivated by college visit program

Tyra Gleaton, now a college sophomore, talks about the program that encouraged her to stay in high school.

Posted by
Filed under: After High School • Attrition • High school • On air • Practice • video
March 19th, 2012
02:16 PM ET

Why are dropout rates so high?

CNN education contributor Steve Perry tells Soledad that dropouts "just don't fit in the school that they're in."

Posted by
Filed under: Attrition • High school • On air • Perry's Principles • Practice • video
March 19th, 2012
11:32 AM ET

Is college worth the cost?

You can't afford to go, but you can't afford not to go. Ali Velshi, Anthony Carnevale and Christine Romans break down the numbers and explain that what you major in matters too.

March 19th, 2012
10:37 AM ET

Number of 'dropout factory' high schools in the U.S. drops, report says

by Sally Holland, CNN

Washington (CNN) - The number of "dropout factory" high schools in the United States is decreasing, according to a report from the Building a Grad Nation Summit being held this week in Washington.

Between 2009 and 2010, the number of "dropout factories" - the term used in the report for those high schools that graduate 60% or less of the number of freshmen who reported for class four years earlier - dropped from 1,634 to 1,550, continuing a trend that has accelerated in recent years, the report says.

It is estimated that around one-quarter of students in the United States do not complete high school. The Grad Nation campaign has a goal of attaining a 90% graduation rate by the year 2020.

Only the state of Wisconsin currently reaches that benchmark, although Vermont is less than half a percentage point away, the report says.

"The good news is that some states have made improvements in their graduation rates, showing it can be done," said Robert Balfanz, one of the report's authors. "But the data also indicate that if we are to meet our national goals by 2020, we will have to accelerate our rate of progress, particularly in the states that have shown little progress."

Over the past decade, the report says, the number of high schools considered "dropout factories" has declined by 457, with the largest decrease coming since 2008.

Posted by
Filed under: High school • Issues • Policy • Practice
March 19th, 2012
06:10 AM ET

My View: Avoiding freshman failure

Courtesy A. Blake Gardner By John Nissen, Special to CNN

Editor’s Note: John Nissen is the Dean of Transfer Services at Landmark College in Vermont. Landmark offers an AA degree and serves students with learning issues, such as ADHD and ASD.

With the advent of spring comes the avalanche of college acceptance letters. Now what? Students will send along those enrollment deposits, colleges will mail or e-mail a mountain of information, instructions and admonitions. The fundraising letters and invites to join the parent organization come later.

The shopping plans will be put in place. But the basic transitioning to the requirements of the daily tasks in a new world is often put off.  These are perilous waters, and roughly one out of 10 new students doesn’t make it past freshman year. It’s made even more difficult as many parents will try to take on all the key responsibilities that rightfully belong to the young adult college student. The stories about contemporary family culture and the centrality of the helicopter parent are legion.

I know a recent college student who called his dad in Paris when his cash card was refused at an ATM at Penn Station. We all know of the mom who receives the frantic call at 2 a.m. from the daughter who has misplaced her car keys or is having anxiety attacks over doing a paper. These sometimes funny, yet genuinely serious, issues affect students and families of all types.  But there are more important things that cry out for attention and need to be addressed.

What we know is that all students need to clearly understand their new environments and the individual challenges that await them at college. For starters, almost no student understands the vocabulary of college. Few know the words syllabus, add/drop, distribution requirements, the core.   Many have no idea how to choose courses or create a balanced course program.  Having to be in class only 15 hours a week leaves many with too many hours to organize and manage. Living in community with others, even sharing a bedroom, will be a new undertaking and a challenge for the vast majority.  Becoming the sole regulator of personal behavior is beyond the experience of almost all. Understanding how to develop consciously new or better habits is a novel responsibility.  In short, how to take on genuine adult living once the term begins is the challenge.

Posted by
Filed under: College • Voices