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From School Desegregation to Open Schools. By : Heather Petz & Jennifer Thompson. The 1950’s Post War School Systems. “ Separate But Equal ” Profound inequalities within schools: women African Americans Students with Disabilities Mexican Americans. Women:.

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From School Desegregation to Open Schools

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From school desegregation to open schools

From School Desegregationto Open Schools

By : Heather Petz

& Jennifer Thompson

The 1950 s post war school systems

The 1950’sPost War School Systems

  • “Separate But Equal”

    Profound inequalities within schools:


    African Americans

    Students with Disabilities

    Mexican Americans



  • School sports teams unavailable

  • Scholarships not provided

  • Professional schools and many colleges not open to women

  • All readers were gender bias

  • Girls were steered away from math & science

African americans

African Americans

  • 17 states still segregated schools

  • desegregated schools were still separating students within the buildings and classrooms (separate proms, student governments, sports teams, classes, etc.)

  • Unequal facilities- no gyms, no science labs, no foreign language teachers, old books (typically 4-5 years behind)

  • Classrooms were in poor condition

Students with disabilities

Students with Disabilities:

-72% of students with disabilities were not even enrolled in schools-Before the start of the Civil Rights Act, Most children were institutionalized

 -Special Education legislation started as part of the Civil Rights Movement in the 60's

 -Government made grants available to state schools for children with disabilities 

-In the mid-seventies, The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act IDEA began.  This allowed children with disabilites to an appropriate education including developing Individual Education Plans (IEP) and placing them in Least Restrictive Environments (LRE)

Schools were separate but un equal

Schools were Separate but Unequal

  • Segregation was legal if schools were proved to be “equal.”

  • African American Schools were vastly inadequate compared to white schools.

From school desegregation to open schools

1941- GeorgiaThe NAACP had traveled through the south to uncover the inequalities between the white and African American schools.

N a a c p school is the place to bring down segregation in america

N.A.A.C.P.“ School is the place to bring down segregation in America!”

It all began in Topeka Kansas.

The NAACP asks 13 black families to enroll their children in their neighborhood white school.

Film- segment #3

Linda brown

Linda Brown

  • In the fall of 1950, Linda Brown’s father tried to enroll her in her neighborhood “white school.”

  • They, along with

    12 other families,

    were not allowed


  • The NAACP filed

    A lawsuit against

    The Board of Education

    in Topeka.


After the ruling

After the Ruling

  • Black teachers were not considered or “integrated”

  • 30,000 African American teachers lost their jobs

  • Most southern states refused to comply to new law

  • Students and adults petitioned in the streets

  • Many African American students who did integrate felt unwelcome, isolated, and discriminated against


President lyndon johnson a desegregation champion

President Lyndon Johnson:A Desegregation Champion

“An equal chance at education

is an equal chance at life.”

Pres. Johnson signed the

1964 Civil Rights Act-

banned discrimination in all

publicly funded programs

(including schools)

  • Provided 4 billion dollars to public school systems to help disadvantaged youth

  • Money was used to help integration: school would loose funding if they did not comply to integration rules

    Film #5

    Film: #5

Mexican americans average schooling 5 4 years

Mexican Americans- average schooling 5.4 years

  • Books portrayed Mexican Americans as “Lazy” and “always taking a siesta”

  • Students were paddled or received detention for speaking native language

  • Put down by teachers

  • Commonly told they would not go anywhere in life

1968 chicano civil rights movement

1968 Chicano Civil Rights Movement

  • Crystal City High School

    87% Hispanic student body

    Principal and 3 out of 4 teachers were white

    Film #7 25.28

From school desegregation to open schools

  • Through the segregation period, many reforms were created to provide opportunities for an equal education in America for all children no matter their race, disability, and gender.

Open schools 1965 1975

Open Schools1965-1975

  • Schools ranged from having 2 classrooms joined with no walls to enormous spaces housing up to 200 students.

What was it about

What was it about?

  • Several teachers per “classroom”

  • Large groups of students, of all ages, with diverse academic levels

  • Mostly small group & Independent study

  • Minimal whole group instruction

Goal and theory

Goal and Theory

  • Open schools had an understanding that children learn in various ways and at their own pace.

  • Children learn best using their environment and by incorporating their interests.

  • Promoted creativity, higher order thinking skills, and active learners.

What happened to the fad

What happened to the fad?

  • Classrooms were noisy and disorderly

  • Inadequate ventilation

  • Difficult to implement successfully – because of unclear definition of “Open Education” and lack of professional knowledge

  • The theory of “Open Schools” sounded effective but many of the key aspects were never truly implemented.

  • 10 years later – walls returned and more traditional teacher-directed learning continued.

The end

The End!



  • Cuban, L. (1993). How teachers taught. NY: Teacher’s College Press. Pp. 149-204

  • Films on Demand: A Struggle for Educational Equality: 1950-1980

  • Tyack,D.B. (1974). The one best system: A history of American urban education. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University press. Pp. 217-229

  • OpenClassroom. Wikipedia. November 28,2011.

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