Protests have taken place in over a hundred cities in the US from New York to Chicago over the shooting of unarmed black school graduate Michael Brown by police in Ferguson, St Louis. In Ferguson itself protesting people have been met by a militarised police force using tear gas, rubber bullets and even tanks. Michael Brown had his hands up when he was shot so this gesture is seen everywhere as people, many of them young, confront the police protesting police violence and racism and mourning the loss of the teenager.

Ferguson schools were due to restart after the summer break today but that has now been postponed till Monday because of the protests. An insightful article tells how at Michael Brown's school, which is in the Normandy school district, graduation pictures had to be taken in March, long before the graduation took place because the school could only afford two graduation gowns which had to be passed from student to student.

The reasons why the school is so poor go right to the heart of the debate on so-called education 'reform'. The Normandy district was already poor and although residents voted to increase taxes to pay for better services the district was characterised as 'failing' and taken over by the state. Because of educational 'choice' laws, parents were then entitled to send their children to neighbouring districts, leaving those that remained in Normandy even more depleted of funds because the district had to pay the tuition and transport for the children moving to often majority white neighbouring schools. This is a stark example of the effects of such policies on black and low income communities. 

There have been comments on social media about the task which teachers face in helping their students to understand what has happened. This is not something which could be dealt with by any shrink wrapped curriculum from the Gates foundation. The best teachers will be helping their students to think critically about the racism and injustice which has led to this situation, so that they can be part of the process of changing the social and economic injustice which pervades the US and capitalist societies everywhere and take part in the struggle to build a more just world.