Reality Shock in the American Classroom: A Guide for the Perplexed.


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Facing Reality is a simple book in the best sense of the word. It begins with a historical sketch of race and American education which, although brief, will contain matter both new and surprising to most readers: schools open to both races existed as far back as colonial times, but well into the nineteenth century no more than a quarter of Americans received any formal schooling at all; segregation mandated by law was introduced in the South not following the Civil War or Reconstruction, but at the very end of the nineteenth and beginning of the twentieth century; it was viewed as a progressive measure at the time, and met with little initial Black opposition.

Black schools generally received funding comparable to that of White schools through the end of the nineteenth century. The inequalities we hear so much about arose in the early years of the twentieth century: e.g., in the North Carolina of 1917, $3.08 was spent on White pupils for every dollar spent on Black pupils. A reaction then set in, and the disparities eroded slowly but steadily over the half-century that followed. By 1952, two years before the Brown decision, the difference had fallen below 25 percent, and by the mid-1960s it had disappeared.

The Supreme Court’s decision in Brown v. Board of Education was made explicitly with a view to improving the academic performance of Black students. It did not do so; in other words, judged by its own standard, Brown was a failure. If desegregation is celebrated today, that is because it is now viewed as an end in itself.

(Occidental Observer, January 24, 2016).

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