[Hpn] Homeless and separate

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Fri, 22 Jun 2001 15:50:39 -0700

mighta been a whole lot more effective if the chicken-shit assholes on the
editorial board of the Chronicle had run this editorial BEFORE the Senate
voted on S-1. 


color me "fuming"


Homeless and separate

Friday, June 22, 2001
©2001 San Francisco Chronicle


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.

©2001 San Francisco Chronicle   Page A - 22

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