In America there have been many issues, problems, and mistakes. There have been many attempts to fix these problems that have occurred in the United States and even though some solutions fall short there are some that stand the test of time. Problems that deal with poverty, race, and lack of education are usually intertwined with each other yet not every solution that plans to tackle these three topics fall into place spectacularly. There was one plan though that is still in effect today and leaves a lasting impact on the face of the country and especially in the heart of the south. This act is the Elementary and Secondary Education act put into place by Lyndon B. Johnson.
Lyndon B. Johnson was a schoolteacher from Texas. Johnson was enveloped in the way that children had to deal with their misfortunes and their impoverished state. He saw these struggles daily because he was an educator for a school that primarily taught students who were under the poverty line and were also of mixed race. Most of these students were the children of Mexican Americans “Johnson’s classes were made up of the children of Mexican-American farmers” says Hilary Parkinson. This was one of the primary reasons Johnson was an advocate for the bill that he eventually signed into office.
This bill that Lyndon B. Johnson signed into office was a landmark when it came to equal opportunity for people of color and for people in poverty. Until this point there had not been any educational reform or bills passed that had this much of an impact on the groups of people that were affected by this bill. This bill impacted the lives of millions of people due to the funds that were funneled into poverty stricken schools and due to the fact that it forced integration in states that were previously purposely ignoring the stipulations put in due to the court case Brown v. Board of Education.
Lyndon B. Johnson knew that he was going up against a racist and prejudice system that would be hard to get on his side, that is why he made it so that if this was not enforced and schools were not integrated he would start pulling funding. Joel Spring goes more in depth on this topic on an interview for a documentary about Lyndon b. Johnson “Most southern school systems ignored the nineteen fifty four brown decision, but suddenly when money got involved in it the federal government had the power to […] go in and say “Are you integrated? And if you’re not integrated we’re gonna cut off your funds.”” This was a way that allowed Johnson to basically force racial integration in the school system.
He knew that this wouldn’t be an easy task though, In an interview for a documentary on Lyndon B. Johnson, Historian and Dean of Education at the Illinois College of Education, said “ Johnson was from Texas, Johnson understood southern society. […] he knew what he was up against. He knew you couldn’t ask southern states, southern communities to integrate”.
So not only was this great for impoverished students, it turned one of the most segregated parts of the united states into one of the most integrated places in the country. Now this did not prevent racism, it just alleviated the systematic racism and segregation of the south during this period after the civil rights movement.
The Elementary and Secondary Education act has changed and been amended over the years since its introduction in nineteen sixty-five. The act was recently just amended into a new name and new function. President Barrack Obama Signed off on the Every Student Succeeds Act (ESSA) in twenty fifteen. This act enhanced upon the old ideas that the previous act had set into motion. According to the U.S. Department of education the ESSA “Advances equity by upholding critical protections for America’s disadvantaged and high-need students.” With these advances in these more modern times we can see how far we have come from segregation to equal opportunities granted to students, impoverished or not. This however does not diminish the fact that students in poverty cannot get extra help and tutoring for standardized testing that makes it possible for them to get into college.
Students take these tests that are far out of the reign of the public school district. These tests have a history of favoring richer test takers rather than all test takers due to the lack of prep that is given during the actual school day where most students learn material. According to an article by HS insider “The SAT has no correlation between the GPA and graduation rate of college students, fails to measure skills that indicate better success in college, is mastered by memorization over intellect and favors the rich over the poor.” This has not been affected by any of these acts while there is a solid amount of evidence pointing to the fact that these tests do not help in the search for higher education.