Letter from the President: A Golden Opportunity
This year at Teachers College we have celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision in the case of Brown v. Board of Education. On one hand, it has been a commemoration of the landmark case that ended legal segregation in this country. On the other hand, it has been an opportunity to examine what has and has not happened since 1954.
What is immediately clear is that we have a long way to go. The causes have changed from a national policy of "separate but equal" to demographic shifts and economic transitions, but the results are the same. America remains a segregated nation, divided by race, geography andincome. In education, we have reserved our worst schools for low-income, urban children of color and our best for white, suburban youngsters from affluent families.
We live in a time when our children's future is determined by the quality of their education. To deny a child an adequate education because of the color of her skin or parents' income is more than bad social policy. It is a sin.
We have a moral obligation to end the inequalities that the new seg-regation brings. Each year that we hesitate to act, we lose a generation of children entering our urban schools. If we fail to respond, we will be setting the stage for the next Brown decision, and our descendants will look back at us and ask, as we do of pre-Brown Americans, "how could they have allowed these conditions to exist?"In this inaugural issue of the new TC Today, the magazine of Teachers College, we are presenting the story of Ruby Bridges Hall, to whom we awarded the Teachers College Medal for Distinguished Service to education. Ruby Bridges is a personification of the Brown decision. In 1960, she was a black six-year-old who alone integrated an all-white elementary school in New Orleans. Hers is a story of courage and moral fortitude, demonstrating what one determined person can accomplish. She is a model to us.
Teachers College, Columbia University
Published Thursday, Jan. 13, 2005