Thursday, October 14, 2010

The State of Public Education in the South as a direct Consequence of the Civil Rights Movement

In class we have been learning about the Civil Rights Movement in its relation to education. Today public education in many of the southern states is much worse off than much of the rest of the country. All one has to do is take a look at the Memphis city school system to know the complexities of these problems. It is my hypothesis that during the fifties, sixties and even the seventies many southern schools fought against the integration of public schools causing lots of tension which eventually led to the movement of white students who had money to the growing private school sector which eventually caused for the education levels of public schools in the south to go down due to cuts in funding and socio-economic level of the students left.

After brown versus the board of education, multiple states tried many new ways to stop the integration of schools. Drawing up the school district lines to keep black schools in black neighborhoods, giving black students tests to be integrated into white schools, and making the county responsible for the schools rather than the state were all ways to keep stats from having to integrate their schools. This shows the hostility that many local governments had towards integration. When schools finally do integrate it is this hostility that completely interrupts the education of southern students, black and white. The angry mobs, throwing of fruit at black children, and overall violence that going to public school ensued must have had an effect of white parents, racist or not. It would seem logical that these parents would want to pull their kids out of the local public school that was being integrated.

The confusion that ensued in many places because of integration also must have caused major interruptions in education. The bussing of students was a major issue because of already segregated neighborhoods. In most cases the black students would have to be bused to white schools causing more spending in the transportation department and a posed threat to the white students in that the blacks were intruding their school rather than the ladder. When Atlanta decides to desegregate schools there is much debate over busing and when originally the black students are bused to white schools the backlash causes some white schools to go to black ones and vice versa. When this doesn’t work the school board decides to integrate the teachers causing even more trouble as many teachers refused to integrate. All of this confusion in Atlanta and elsewhere had to have a direct effect in the enrollment of White students from public to private school. The Georgia Advisory committee to the United States commission on Civil Rights explains how there was a huge influx of white students into private schools after integration ensued. In the Urban areas of Georgia over one third of the white school aged population was enrolled in private schools by 1975.

The main question posed here: Did integration in the south during the civil rights age cause for more segregation within the private versus public sector, and did that directly affect the level of public education in the southern states that is presented today?

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