Women Have Gained, Minorities Still Struggle

[I had the good fortune to spend my first seven years teaching mainly women — at Vassar, Hunter, and Barnard. The span was from 1963 to 1970 when the women’s movement was beginning to support equal opportunities for women, but had not yet opened up higher education generally to minorities. At Vassar we had 3 lonely African American students of 1,700. I had one African American and two Latino students at Hunter. I don’t recall any at Barnard. Part of my role in teaching women was encouragement in believing that they could compete with men — which they were more than ready to do — and I am proud of the many that subsequently distinguished themselves as lawyers, judges, professional philosophers (a field that had virtually no women when I began), etc.

The year I moved on to Brooklyn College, 1970, open enrollment in the City University of NY was just being launched. And it was a delight for me to be able to encourage my minority students and see them thrive. When I had first worked with African American teens in West Harlem in 1956-7, they were routinely being told by counselors that they were “not college material” and should seek out jobs such as pushing wagons around the garment district. Many of my minority college students, too, moved on to distinguished careers in a wide variety of areas. I don’t want to brag, but one develops a parental sense of pride in one’s students’ accomplishments — a distinguished doctor here or a Wall St./Brooklyn law firm started by two women who met in my philosophy of law class.

Nevertheless, with all the advances for women and minorities this past half century, we are still aware that women are not quite accorded equal treatment in the market place, although many do well. And tragically half or more of our minority students in all too many locations do not make it out of high school before they head upstate to our prisons. We have not yet granted the equal educational opportunities presupposed as the outcome to be sought with the Brown desegregation decision.

The article below does not spell out all the details. But anyone who knows anything about educating children, is aware that their education must begin at the earliest possible age, particularly for those who are culturally deprived. Many of the European countries have made the jump to universal early childhood education. We have backed away from some of our earlier Headstart efforts with our ‘cut your taxes’ policies. One hopes that our new president and supporting legislators will rectify this terrible flaw in our American democracy in which the majority still tyrannizes over our minorities!

We shall see in the near future whether we can begin to make up for lost time. A McCain, living on hundreds of millions of dollars with 7-8 reputed personal residences, will not do it. Ed Kent]


Girls’ Gains Have Not Cost Boys, Report Says
A new report says the largest disparities in educational
achievement are not between boys and girls but between
those of different races, ethnicities and income levels.


“A war is just if there is no alternative, and the resort to arms is legitimate if they represent your last hope.” (Livy cited by Machiavelli)

Ed Kent 212-665-8535 (voice mail only) [blind copies]

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