Failing Schools

The Revolutionary Paideia January 2011 Person of the Month: Kelley Williams-Bolar

Each month, Revolutionary Paideia selects a person who “unsettles, unnerves, and unhouses” us in meaningful and positive ways. Kelley Williams-Bolar has been selected as The Revolutionary Paideia January 2011 Person of the Month. She is a Black mother who was sentenced to 10 days in jail and two years of probation in Ohio for sending her children to a school district that they supposedly did not live in. This woman is a heroine! She refused to allow her children to stay trapped in a failing school district. She was not willing to allow her children to continue to be victimized by egregiously underfunded schools and by serious educational inequities. Kelley Williams-Bolar was not simply willing to sit back and complain like many other people about social and educational inequities—she went out and attempted to create the change that she wanted to see. Many timorous and comfortable Americans can learn from the great example of Williams-Bolar. This woman is not a criminal—she’s a heroine.

One of the great promises of Brown v. Board of Education (1954) was to provide all students with educational equity. Unfortunately, many Black students are still in schools that are really not any better than those Black students were situated in during Jim Crow. Conservatives, liberals, and moderates should all be in the business of championing true educational equity for all students. One of the best ways to continue to progress America towards its optimal greatness is to ensure that all students have access to a truly quality education. Kelley Williams-Bolar saw that there was a school district available that could offer her children a quality education, and she resolved that she was going to give her children access to schools that can truly educate them. If this means that this woman should be considered a “criminal,” then we need more “criminals.”

I want to applaud Williams-Bolar for having the courage to do what it took to give her children the best education possible.

Governor John Kasich, I like you very much but I want you to pardon this woman.

It is my pleasure to name Kelley Williams-Bolar as The Revolutionary Paideia January 2011 Person of the Month.

Antonio Maurice Daniels

University of Wisconsin-Madison