Untangling the skein of economic, educational and historic threads that ensnare Lexington's poor, minority and disabled children is no simple task.
The last 20 years prove that.
The so-called achievement gap is widening, despite two decades of scrutinizing unequal opportunities and achievement in the Fayette County Public Schools.
"The numbers you will find in this equity scorecard haunt me," Superintendent Tom Shelton wrote in the 2014 report to the district's Equity Council. "The simple truth is that we are not reaching all kids."
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No one can argue with the Rev. C.B. Akins's conclusion that "we need some new efforts because what we are doing is not working."
While putting the right combination of efforts into practice may not be easy, some things are obvious, such as: Schools can't teach students who are not there.
The district should quickly eliminate out-of-school suspensions as Paul Laurence Dunbar High School has done.
This is the second year that Dunbar has been using in-school suspensions to punish violations that in the past would have bounced students out of school.
Dunbar students on in-school suspension are closely supervised, keep up with their class work and receive help aimed at avoiding trouble in the future.
While the new system enhances the chances that suspended students will earn a diploma, it also improves order overall by serving as a deterrent to bad behavior, says principal Betsy Rains. Guess what: Some students regard out-of-school suspensions as a reward for violating school rules.
Youngsters fighting uphill against poverty, disability and a long history of bias need to receive more days of teaching, not fewer.
Yet, suspensions fall disproportionately on students who can least afford to miss school.
In the 2012-13 school year, 13.7 percent of black students were suspended compared to 3.5 percent of whites.
The scorecard shows 7.6 percent of poor students were suspended compared to 4.3 percent who were better off financially, and 14.4 percent of disabled students were suspended compared to 5 percent who were not disabled.
No one is suggesting that classroom order should be sacrificed to a few disruptive students. What schools must do is find a way to discipline students without putting them out on the streets or on the couch in front of video games.
The Equity Council will consider the latest equity report card next month before forwarding it to the school board.
Now is not the time to give up, but to redouble efforts to educate all of Lexington's children. Our common future depends on it.