THE REPENTANCE PROJECT / AN AMERICAN LENT
Separate But Equal,
Public Education, and Zip Codes
Public Education, and Zip Codes
WEEK VI / DAY IV
Thursday, March 22, 2018
Scripture / Luke 10:25-37
And behold, a lawyer stood up to put him to the test, saying, “Teacher, what shall I do to inherit eternal life? He said to him, “What is written in the Law? How do you read it?” And he answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and your neighbor as yourself.” And he said to him, “You have answered correctly; do this, and you will live.”
But he, desiring to justify himself, said to Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?” Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers,who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead. Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side. So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side. But a Samaritan, as he journeyed, came to where he was, and when he saw him, he had compassion. He went to him and bound up his wounds, pouring on oil and wine. Then he set him on his own animal and brought him to an inn and took care of him. And the next day he took out two denarii and gave them to the innkeeper, saying,‘Take care of him, and whatever more you spend, I will repay you when I come back. Which of these three, do you think, proved to be a neighbor to the man who fell among the robbers?” He said, “The one who showed him mercy.” And Jesus said to him, “You go, and do likewise.”
Loving God and loving your neighbor is the essence of what God calls us to do. When the expert on the law asked “Who’s my neighbor?” Jesus tells the story of a man who was on a road that was known for being dangerous. The Jericho Road was a winding road where people who engage in criminal activity could lay in wait for someone to rob or mug. Jesus’ audience was familiar with that part of town and when he said a man was robbed, beaten, and left for dead by the Jericho Road, his listeners were not surprised and probably expected that kind of behavior. The priest and the Levite saw the man and chose to pass by in order to do their religious duties. It was the Samaritan who stopped to invest his time and money to bring healing to the man who fell upon unfortunate circumstances. Jesus told this story so that we would have a clear picture of who we should focus on when we think about our neighbors and being faithful to God.
Our History and Its Legacy
One of the primary questions that home buyers ask in deciding where their family should choose to live is whether the school zone has a great school or not. In most situations, the more expensive the house, the better the local school. The poorer the house, the poorer the school. The fact that we can determine the quality of education based off of a zip code is an injustice.
In 1954, the US Supreme Court determined in Brown vs. Board of Education that creating segregated schools that were “separate, but equal” was unconstitutional. Integration of public schools then became mandatory and led many wealthy white people to start private schools in order to not integrate. Many of these private schools were Christian schools.
During the 1950s and 1960s there were strides made to bring racial and economic integration within public schools so as to create a better school system for all students. But, in 1974, the Supreme Court determined in Milliken vs. Bradley that the school systems were not responsible for desegregation across district lines unless it could be shown that they had each deliberately engaged in a policy of segregation. In essence, this segregates students of color in inner-city districts from white students in wealthier White suburban districts.
When you add this law to the fact that schools are funded by personal property taxes and housing values have been crippled in Black neighborhoods by the legacy of redlining, this creates a perpetual cycle of underfunded schools around the country. This is why we can determine high performing and underperforming schools by zip codes.
Reflection and Response
When the expert in the law asks the question, “Who is my neighbor?,” Jesus tells about a man that fell under unfortunate circumstances. If you are a child born in a poor zip code, in essence you are at risk to be beaten and left for dead by the perils of this unjust housing and educational system. Yes, there are students that make it out of that educational system without being beaten up and left for dead. But, it is telling that the majority of us Christians who have the wealth to make choices about where we live choose, just like the priest and Levite, to walk by these children when we settle in a better zip code. Educate yourself on the injustice of our housing and educational system. Spend some time praying, journaling, and asking God, “How can I love my neighbor as myself in the areas of educating our children?"
Written by David Bailey