Fifty years ago today, President Lyndon Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 into law, ending formal segregation in public spaces and accommodations. This was the culmination of years of tireless work by civil rights advocates and ushered in a new era of reform that brought us the Voting Rights Act one year later, the Fair Housing Act, and the Elementary and Secondary Education Act. Many Louisianans played key roles in making this “humanizing” of America happen.
In an era of partisan gridlock, we must remember that the concerted actions of individuals can still move mountains. Those of us who work in public education should redouble our efforts to authentically and actively engage communities in creating better schools.
Public education remains our country’s great equalizer and serves as the fundamental cornerstone of our democracy. While today we remember the crowning achievement of the Civil Rights Act, we must never forget that race, poverty, and joblessness too frequently serve as barriers to equal educational opportunity.
Today, on this anniversary, let us, the charter school movement of Louisiana recommit ourselves to the spirit and ideals of the Civil Rights Act of 1964.We know that all children can succeed when given access to quality schools and an education that builds the foundation for a successful future. In fact, your leadership proves it every day and is a model for the nation. So, let us pledge to continue to challenge the status quo and help the most vulnerable among us by ensuring quality public school options exist and are accessible for all children.
Executive Director, Louisiana Association of Public Charter Schools