What responsibility does one have to acknowledge a life of undeserved privilege, particularly in light of the resentment, guilt, and historic injustice experienced by so many of our fellow Americans. It’s one thing if the injustices of this great nation’s history were exactly and only that: history. But ours is a history that lives on today in an American culture and economy that still feels the residual effects of an economy and culture that was built and depended, both in the South and the North, upon slavery. This model of the collective responsibility of our entire nation is a concept that educational leaders should embrace, realizing that it lies beyond the simplistic view of prejudice taught in classes by those who may or may not enjoy privilege. Can we teach this history that moves into a full rejection of the misinterpretations and distortions of American history as presented by most generic textbooks today. Although eyes are more open these days, today’s educational leaders have an obligation to mold the misinformation subtly representing historic learning in today’s schools and present an alternative, more representative approach that recognizes privilege of all kinds and seeks to remedy the disparity of advantage.
Disparate outcomes must be revealed and challenged in class. Regardless of the good intentions of teachers in our schools who, for the most part, treat all students with respect and care in a collective effort to master the material in class, this approach cries out to be revealed. School leadership still has been unable to consistently employ and empower a rich diversity of faculty and staff in their own communities using coursework that approaches all aspects of American society and culture honestly. The result is the perpetuation of a local system that cries “privilege” and keeps us from our own acceptance of this reality.
Could it be that a lived honesty of accepting our own “privileged status might relieve a deeply buried sense of guilt and make us more proactive in searching for solutions to the problems that plague the schools of America? These things aren’t easy, but they must be the center of focus in a nation that lives its own reality.