[Hpn] Homeless and separate;Editorial;San Francisco Chronicle;6/22/01

Morgan W. Brown morganbrown@hotmail.com
Fri, 22 Jun 2001 12:35:33 -0400


-------Forwarded article-------

Friday, June 22, 2001
San Francisco Chronicle <http://www.sfgate.com/chronicle/>
Homeless and separate

IT'S HARD to believe that, 47 years after the epic court ruling overturning 
Plessy vs. Ferguson, the country would again find a reason to argue over the 
issue of separate but equal education. The recent congressional educational 
package includes little-noticed rules that shuttle homeless children out of 
public classrooms and into separate schools.

Advocates for the homeless are fuming at the notion, which isolates children 
by their housing and poverty status and places them in "transition" schools.

Odd though it may be, that's what the bill -- crafted in part by U.S. Sen. 
Dianne Feinstein -- will do.

Under Senate bill S1, five homeless schools in California and one in Arizona 
get federal funds for offering segregated -- and substantially abbreviated 
-- educational opportunities to homeless children. An even more expansive 
amendment -- funding about 30 homeless schools nationwide -- was tacked on 
to the House's version of the bill. The two must be reconciled before 
President Bush signs it into law.

Amendments exempt the schools from the 1954 federal law that explicitly 
prohibits school segregation.

"Schools can be different and they can service children differently," 
insists Feinstein, who is convinced that homeless schools may offer hygiene 
and other services that public schools don't.

Such logic, while well-intended, seems short-sighted. It adds to the stigma 
and pain homeless children already face.

For starters, the homeless school may well be a church basement room with a 
teacher and several students of varying ages and grades. No extracurricular 
activities -- no sports teams, no glee clubs. No French or Spanish. No 
chemistry or zoology either. It's hard to see this as better.

Children shouldn't lose their educational rights simply because they have 
additional needs. Surely, it's wrong for these children to be denied public 
education because they're homeless.

It's also wrong to relieve school districts of their responsibility to teach 
all children -- no matter how or where they live.

Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-San Francisco, who opposes the amendments, says they 
heap more disadvantage onto children who are already substantially deprived. 
Pelosi is right.

Feinstein should take a closer look at this objection, reassess the 
potential for social harm, and retool her political position.


**In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. section 107, this
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-------End of forward-------

Morgan <morganbrown@hotmail.com>
Morgan W. Brown
Montpelier Vermont USA

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