What does it mean to be an American the day after Georgia may have just murdered an innocent man?
Read the first words of the preamble to our Constitution: “We the People of the United States, in Order to form a more perfect Union, establish Justice.”
Read the phrase engraved above the entrance to the U.S. Supreme Court: “Equal Justice Under Law.”
And read the reaction by the widow of the man Troy Jones was convicted of murdering 22 years ago: “We have laws in this land so that there is not chaos.”
In this year of global upheaval – from Egypt to Wisconsin – what is happening to our capacity to serve as the world’s beacon of freedom and equality? And when did our conception of justice shift so mightily – from securing equal treatment to avoiding chaos?
“But how, exactly, will they be reared and educated by us? And does our considering this contribute anything to our goal of discerning that for the sake of which we are considering all these things – in what way justice and injustice come into being in a city.”
—Plato, The Republic
Heard the bass ride out like an ancient mating call, I can’t take it y’all, I can feel the city breathin’, Chest heavin’, against the flesh of the evening, Sigh before we die like the last train leaving.
—Black Star, Respiration
What characterizes the ideal city – and the cities in which we live? How accurately does the health of a city reflect the quality of its plan for educating its youngest citizens? And does the push towards greater school choice get us closer to, or farther from, that ideal?
I’ve been thinking about those questions a lot since reading a column by George Will in last weekend’s Washington Post. In it he references two U.S. Supreme Court opinions in which the Court affirmed the constitutional right of parents “to direct the … education of children under their control.” As a student of the 14th Amendment, I sought the opinions out. What struck me had less to do with the legal arguments, however, and more to do with an excerpt in one of the opinions from Plato’s Republic, arguably the most famous political work of all time, and a work squarely concerned with the role a city – and, by extension, its education system – must play in helping all people develop their fullest potential.
, Organizational Change
Tags: 14th Amendment, Black Star, cities, David Bohm, DCPS, George Will, Learning, Plato, school reform, Socrates, The Republic, transformational change, us supreme court, washington post