Friday, September 24, 2010

The Story of Schools, Episode 3: 1950-1980

I really liked this video because of all the positive changes that were occurring. People were slowly starting to realize how important equality truly is, especially when it comes to education. I really liked seeing people push for equality. The inequities that were occurring during this time brought on a number of different reforms that were fully supported by Lyndon Johnson, the president at the time.

One of the biggest changes in this time period was from segregation to integration. African American children didn’t have the same resources as white children. They were forced to attend a different school, one that wasn’t quite up to par as the white schools. In fact, there were eighteen schools for whites and only four schools for African Americans. They weren’t receiving an equal education and they weren’t happy about it. One student, Linda Brown, and her family decided to do something about it. Her parents talked to one of the nearby white schools and tried to get her enrolled. When the principal refused, Brown’s family took it to court and fought it as hard as they could. Soon, they had decided to desegregate schools, but it still took some time for it to take full effect.

A second minority group that was suffering in this time period was Mexican Americans. They weren’t given the support they needed in school because teachers believed they weren’t smart enough to succeed. They weren’t even allowed to speak Spanish. If they did, they were forced to choose between receiving a slap or receiving detention. Finally, a group of Mexican Americans decided to write a letter to the school board making reasonable demands: no name calling and being allowed to speak Spanish. Until these demands were met, they decided to go on strike. Before long, there was the bilingual education act and Spanish was allowed to be spoken in schools.

Women were also struggling with rights during this time period. They were taught to be lady-like, domestic, and maternal. They learned to cook, clean, and sew. They were discouraged from playing sports and taking higher-level math and science classes. One woman in particular, Dorothy Raffel, loved playing basketball. When she tried out for the boy’s basketball team, they refused to let her play. Because of this, a girl’s “pick-up” team was created. This meant barely playing a game or two after school. They never got to travel or play other teams. Raffel kept fighting and eventually in 1972, Title IX was created, which allowed all women to be treated equal. If a school had a male sports team, they had to have a female version as well. There were also bias-free textbooks and co-ed activities.

Students with special needs weren’t receiving the help that they needed. In fact, 72% of special needs students weren’t even enrolled in schools. This gives them no opportunity to socialize with other students and absolutely no chance to try. It is truly disheartening that teachers and schools weren’t always willing to try at first. But soon, disabled students were allowed to come to school. It meant some very expensive changes, like ramps and automatic doors, but it was worth it to finally see those students attend school like everyone else.

Lyndon Johnson provides an interesting view as president because he was once a school teacher. He truly believed in the importance of equality and was willing to do whatever he could for minorities. He started the war on poverty and created Head Start, a program for children in low-income families. He also created low-cost college loans so more students would be more likely to attend college after high school. In 1964 he signed a bill that meant equality for all people. He even threatened to take funding away from schools who weren’t willing to fully integrate students.

No comments:

Post a Comment