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Schooling and Civil Rights History is Central TAH Workshop Jack Dougherty Trinity College March 2008. Rethinking how we teach Brown v Board. NAACP attorneys Hayes, Marshall, & Nabrit, 1954. Rethinking how we teach Brown v Board.

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Schooling and Civil RightsHistory is Central TAH WorkshopJack DoughertyTrinity CollegeMarch 2008
slide2

Rethinking how we teach Brown v Board

NAACP attorneys Hayes, Marshall, & Nabrit, 1954

slide3

Rethinking how we teach Brown v Board

Uncritical use of popular civil rights images have “frozen the movement in time”Patricia Sullivan and Waldo Martin call upon educators to“Challenge the conventional or master narrative of civil rights history”

NAACP attorneys Hayes, Marshall, & Nabrit, 1954

comparing historical interpretations of desegregation a jigsaw learning exercise6
Comparing Historical Interpretations of Desegregationa jigsaw learning exercise

Legal and political background:

After 1954 Brown decision banned legalized school segregation, lower federal courts followed Briggs dictum:

US Constitution “does not require integration. . . It merely forbids the use of governmental power to enforce segregation”

comparing historical interpretations of desegregation a jigsaw learning exercise7
Comparing Historical Interpretations of Desegregationa jigsaw learning exercise
  • Legal and political background:
  • White deseg resistance strategies:
  • -1956 Alabama bans NAACP activity; Southern Manifesto calls for reversal of Brown
  • 1957 White mob protest (Little Rock)
  • 1959 Close all public schools (Prince Edward County, Virginia)
  • “Grade-a-year” and “Freedom of choice”desegregation plans

NAACP goes to court to demand more affirmative steps on deseg

comparing historical interpretations of desegregation a jigsaw learning exercise8
Comparing Historical Interpretations of Desegregationa jigsaw learning exercise

Guiding Question:

How did two different Southern Black communities experience school desegregation?

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What challenges and opportunities do you -- and other history educators -- face when teaching about the history of race and schooling?
1830s whites oppose black ed in connecticut
1830s Whites Oppose Black Ed in Connecticut

1831 New Haven citizens vote 700-4 against proposal to open first college for Black men

1833 White teacher Prudence Crandall opens private boarding school for African-American girls in Canterbury, but local whites respond violently and shut it down

1834 Additional controversies prompt CT legislature to pass “Black laws,” banning the teaching of out-of-state Black students (only state above Mason-Dixon line to do so at that time)

slide12
1917

“Race Problem in City Schools”Evening Post (Hartford)

Hartford school superintendent Thomas Weaver proposed segregated evening schools for older students to retain Blacks who were “slighted and ignored” by Whites; Black pastors form Ministerial Alliance to oppose segregation; Weaver drops plan

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1965

Report identified “racial imbalance and poverty”

as key problems facing Hartford and its schools

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Hartford total non-White Population, 1960

Hartford School Population, 1964

Grade % Non-White

K-9 50%

9-12 32%

slide15
1965

Recommended two-prong plan:

• HPS school construction for desegregation

• suburban districts should enroll some low-income Hartford children (perhaps two per classroom)

controversy over project concern voluntary city to suburb school deseg
Controversy over Project Concern voluntary city-to-suburb school deseg

Some suburban districts voted to accept city students, with state funding; others refused

Hartford Times 1968, Hartford Public Library

controversy over project concern voluntary city to suburb school deseg17
Controversy over Project Concern voluntary city-to-suburb school deseg

Some suburban districts voted to accept city students, with state funding; others refused

Hartford Times 1968, Hartford Public Library

controversy over project concern voluntary city to suburb school deseg18
Controversy over Project Concern voluntary city-to-suburb school deseg

Project Choice enrollment

Some suburban districts voted to accept city students, with state funding; others refused

Hartford Times 1968, Hartford Public Library

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1989 Sheff v O’Neill lawsuit filed

Ten-year-old Milo Sheff and sixteen other plaintiffs filed suit against then-Governor O’Neill, charging that Hartford’s segregated school system deprived them of equal opportunity under Connecticut constitution

Since 1974 Milliken v Bradley federal ruling in Detroit blocked mandatory city-suburban desegregation remedies, Sheff plaintiffs turned to Connecticut state courts instead

Hartford 91% minority students (1988-89)

Milo Sheff and mother, Elizabeth Horton Sheff, Hartford Courant

1992 sheff lawsuit finally goes to trial
1992 Sheff lawsuit finally goes to trial

11 week trial

1,000 pieces of evidence; 50 witnesses

State defended its position by arguing that government action did not create segregated schools; individual decisions in housing market was to blame

Hartford Courant

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1996

What the court did (and did NOT) rule:

• racial segregation in schools violates state constitution, but no specific remedy for legislature to follow, and no deadline

• school boundary lines have caused unconstitutional segregation, but no mandate to change boundaries in Hartford or metro region

Republican Gov. Rowland and Democratic legislative leaders agree not to force suburban districts to integrate; voluntary only

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2003

The Settlement emphasizes:

• voluntary city-suburban enrollment through magnet schools

• voluntary city-suburban transfers through Project Choice (formerly Project Concern)

• raise Hartford minority student enrollment in voluntary deseg from 10 to 30 percent by 2007

Sheff attorney Horton, Atty Gen Blumenthal & Comm of Ed Sergi with Sheff plaintiffs, H Courant

q1 are voluntary measures sufficient to meet sheff goals and the other 70
Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%?

• voluntary city-suburb enrollment in 22 magnet schools

q1 are voluntary measures sufficient to meet sheff goals and the other 7026
Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%?

• voluntary city-suburb enrollment in 22 magnet schools

• voluntary city-suburb transfers through Project Choice

q1 are voluntary measures sufficient to meet sheff goals and the other 7027
Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%?

The current Sheff settlement does NOT redraw city-suburban district boundaries, nor does it require suburban districts to participate in Project Choice or magnet school programs.

Are mandatory measures the answer?

q1 are voluntary measures sufficient to meet sheff goals and the other 7028
Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%?

Even if the current Sheff settlement reached its goal, only 30% of Hartford minority students (about 7,000) would be enrolled in “reduced-isolation” magnet schools or suburban districts

The remaining 70% would remain in Hartford neighborhood schools, which tend to be racially isolated and have low achievement levels.

q1 are voluntary measures sufficient to meet sheff goals and the other 7029
Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And the other 70%?

“Is it the vision we started with 14 years ago? No. It is a giant step forward? Yes.”

“It’s a good thing. . . This isn’t the end of it. We’ll come back and see where we are in four years.”

- Elizabeth Horton Sheff

Hartford Courant January 23, 2003

Even if the current Sheff settlement reached its goal, only 30% of Hartford minority students (about 7,000) would be enrolled in “reduced-isolation” magnet schools or suburban districts

The remaining 70% would remain in Hartford neighborhood schools, which tend to be racially isolated and have low achievement levels.

q2 do hartford parents experience freedom of choice
Q2: Do Hartford parents experience “freedom of choice”?

See: 1) Proj Choice Campaign DVD

2) Project Concern alumni oral history interview: "If you are stuck, as a parent. . . and you can’t put yourself in the neighborhood that you want your kids to go to school in, then you have no choice but to be in the city-to-suburb desegregation program.” (Banks & Dougherty, 2004)

q3 what do specific cases of high achieving minority schools mean for sheff
Q3: What do specific cases of high-achieving minority schools mean for Sheff?

Jumoke Academy, public K-8 charter school located in Hartford’s North End

On CT “failing school” list 2002-05, but now on top-10 list of high-achieving elem schools for Af-Am and low-income students

four questions to consider34
Four questions to consider

Q1: Are voluntary measures sufficient to meet Sheff goals? And what about other 70%?Q2: Do Hartford parents experience “freedom of choice” ?Q3: What do specific cases of high-achieving minority schools mean for Sheff?Q4: What do changing suburban demographics mean for Sheff?

what s the current status of sheff

What’s the current status of Sheff?

Proposed Legal Settlement

(aka Sheff II), spring 2007:

- Increase state support for Project Choice and interdistrict magnet schools

-Add charter schools and vocational-technical schools

-5-year goal to raise Hartford minority student enrollment in desegregated settings from 22% (08-09) to 41% (by 2012)

July 2007: Sheff II agreed to by CT Atty General and Sheff plaintiffs

But Hartford officials object, and CT legislators do not act on bill

Nov 2007: Plaintiffs to back to court; Jan 2008: Judge calls for Legislature to respond

Feb 2008: Sheff II bill introduced

March 2008: CT Atty Gen withdraws Sheff II agreement; more negotiations continue. . .

slide36

Reassessing Brown: A Century of Race & Ed Reform

How do we make sense of school desegregation struggles, particularly from our perspective in the post-Brown era?

slide37

Review Evolution of Federal Legal and Political Struggles

1896 Plessy v Ferguson - Court upholds “separate but equal”

slide38

Review Evolution of Federal Legal and Political Struggles

1896 Plessy v Ferguson - Court upholds “separate but equal”

1930s

to NAACP shifts Court opinion, from focusing on lack of equal

1954 facilities, to attacking the principle of racial separation

slide39

Review Evolution of Federal Legal and Political Struggles

1896 Plessy v Ferguson - Court upholds “separate but equal”

1930s

to NAACP shifts Court opinion, from focusing on lack of equal

1954 facilities, to attacking the principle of racial separation

1955

to NAACP persuades Court to require more affirmative deseg

1974 actions, in an effort to halt white resistance to Brown

slide40

Review Evolution of Federal Legal and Political Struggles

1896 Plessy v Ferguson - Court upholds “separate but equal”

1930s

to NAACP shifts Court opinion, from focusing on lack of equal

1954 facilities, to attacking the principle of racial separation

1955

to NAACP persuades Court to require more affirmative deseg

1974 actions, in an effort to halt white resistance to Brown

Third period of change:

1974 Milliken v Bradley

1991 Oklahoma City

1995 Missouri v Jenkins

2003 U Michigan cases

2007 Seattle & Louisvillle

slide41

Review Evolution of Federal Legal and Political Struggles

1896 Plessy v Ferguson - Court upholds “separate but equal”

1930s

to NAACP shifts Court opinion, from focusing on lack of equal

1954 facilities, to attacking the principle of racial separation

1955

to NAACP persuades Court to require more affirmative deseg

1974 actions, in an effort to halt white resistance to Brown

Third period of change:

1974 Milliken v Bradley - bans city-suburb deseg if no intentional seg

1991 Oklahoma City - deseg plans removed if good faith (not results)

1995 Missouri v Jenkins - voluntary city-suburb magnet plan cut back

2003 U Michigan cases - no race points in adm, but diversity goal OK

2007 Seattle & Louisville - are voluntary race deseg plans allowed?

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Review Evolution of Federal Legal and Political Struggles

Seattle & Louisville cases

Facts: Seattle Public Schools, about 40% white, 60% non-white

Students assigned to neighborhood schools

District voluntarily adopted a racial integration goal that each school would be ± 10% of the citywide minority average

Rising 9th graders may choose high schools

About 97 percent of students received 1st or 2nd choice

About 3 percent (300 students) affected by district use of race

Question: Does the US constitution prohibit school boards from using race-conscious criteria in a limited way to achieve racial diversity and integration in K-12 schools?

slide43

Review Evolution of Federal Legal and Political Struggles

Seattle & Louisville cases

Question: Does the US constitution prohibit school boards from using race-conscious criteria in a limited way to achieve racial diversity and integration in K-12 schools?

US Supreme Court divided in a 4 -1 - 4 decision

Breyer, Stevens Kennedy Roberts, Scalia

Ginsburg, Souter Thomas, Alito

School districts may <---

consider race

---> Seattle and Louisville

deseg plans violate the

constitution because they act in “non-individualized, mechanical way” on race