An intimate look at America’s historically rooted struggle to adequately educate vulnerable children, and a call to action to those in positions of power who are able to open doors of opportunity.
You wouldn’t guess it by listening to our elected officials, but education is the civil rights issue of our day. At the root of every important problem we face, from mass incarceration to income inequality, is an education system influenced by our nation’s fraught history. Just as past generations fought to ensure that all Americans could enjoy the right to fully participate in our democracy, so must we rally tirelessly to advance an educational agenda that promotes equity and inclusion.
With the gap between white academic achievement and that of students of color widening, now is the time to turn our attention to the basics, and few would argue with the fact that the single most essential aspect of a good education is literacy. Beyond reading and writing, literacy encompasses a whole host of skills that allow us to develop our potential and succeed in society, including critical thinking, self-discipline, curiosity, leadership, and motivation. Helping all our nation’s young people, especially those who live in low-income communities, improve their literacy skills should be a top priority.
Numerous programs are operating around the country to address the issue of underperformance in light of the shortcomings of our public school system. Through one such program, Freedom Readers, Tracy Swinton Bailey has honed an approach to strengthening communities and the prospects of all children that invites those with the benefit of a good education into low-income areas for the purpose of growing literacy skills together. In Forever Free, she outlines clearly and persuasively how it has worked in the rural South, and how it can work across the US. This book will inspire and empower readers, and should be placed in the hands of educators and organizers at every level.