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Posted on January 27, 2011 | tags


U.S.: “Separate but equal” returns: On the Kelley Williams-Bolar situation

  • Is this case The new “separate but equal”? The case of Kelley Williams-Bolar, a single mother who went out of her way to put her children in a better public school district that wasn’t crime-ridden, sparks a lot of emotions. The biggest, of course, is caused by the incredibly harsh punishment that Williams-Bolar received. The Akron, Ohio resident, a teacher’s assistant only a few credits shy of a teaching degree, can no longer teach in the state of Ohio because she’s a convicted felon. (They knew this when making the decision.) While she was released from jail yesterday, the court seemed to make her an example for something which doesn’t seem like it should be a crime. Some thoughts:
  • Kelley’s crime The crime that Williams-Bolar committed is one which may not be clear from the surface. She filed paperwork claiming that her children lived with her father, but she in fact shipped them over to her dad’s house daily. Williams-Bolar lives in subsidized housing, and the method prevented her from paying tuition and property taxes – a key issue for many.
  • “But we pay taxes!” For many not so kind to Kelley’s case, this is the crux of the issue. The people who live in the Copley-Fairlawn City School District pay out the wazoo for those nice schools, and in their view, Williams-Bolar is carpetbagging. There are a lot of issues at play, but by no means do they reach the level of felony. It’s way too harsh and has long-term ramifications.
  • The system doesn’t work The school district found out about what Williams-Bolar did by doing a stakeout after they got suspicious. You know, that really says it all, doesn’t it? The public education system, whether it’s intentional or not, favors haves over have nots. This is a brave act on the part of Williams-Bolar. She chose to defy the system, and by doing so, she exposed a major flaw. Kudos.
  • » One other thought: Race plays a huuuuuuuge factor in this story, obviously, and that is one point we don’t want to underplay. Blogger Kalimah Priforce has a great open letter up about the whole situation from a racial/civil disobedience angle. The whole thing is worth a read, but this is the point that really struck home for us: “At some point they determined that your girls didn’t belong in their schools and rather than meeting with you to determine a way for your children to stay with the same teachers and classmates they become accustomed to, they hunted you down and threw you into prison.” Honestly, we could see this case going to the Supreme Court. source