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Black teachers also knew that their duties went far beyond academic instruction; they were often required to use their own funds and working outside school grounds to help their students both inside and outside the classroom.
While this case led to the growth of the modern civil rights movement and the expansion of educational opportunities for children apart from race, such as those with special needs, its complex history also reflects our nation’s difficulties in overcoming systemic racism and class discrimination.
As Jim Crow segregation became the law of the land after in 1896, white southern leaders questioned the need for the continuance of African American education and segregated schools remained unequally funded. In an effort to alleviate these conditions, African American parents and educators relied upon what historian V. Franklin describes as cultural capital or non-financial assets to better the conditions of their schools.
Relying upon the Fourteenth Amendment, they won most of their cases.
Southern districts retaliated by developing unfair testing systems to determine salary ranges.
Scholar Ansley Erickson argues that city developers reinforced segregation by working with school districts to construct new schools in predominately-white suburban neighborhoods.
With the support of the GI Bill and the availability of Federal Housing Association (FHA) mortgages, thousands of families moved to the suburbs.Johnson’s War on Poverty that appropriated money to public schools to fund educational programs and resources for poor children.This funding could also be removed if school systems did not desegregate.While this case garnered national attention, most southern school officials quietly developed their own plans to delay or deny the implementation of desegregation, including grade-per-year plans, transfer plans, and school closings. In addition, school boards also funneled money and supplies to existing facilities and constructed new black schools to dispute claims that they were underfunded and quell the desire for integration.When this strategy failed and federal court orders forced school districts to develop new desegregation plans, black teachers faced massive job losses as white school boards closed black schools.While this marked a watershed moment in city planning or urban development, the FHA, leery of influencing neighborhood composition, seldom offered loans to blacks with the same criteria and these neighborhoods remained all white.For working-class whites, moving to the suburbs also reflected a symbol of rising class status and a new version of the American dream that included sending their children to quality neighborhood schools. One of the biggest problems affecting desegregation involved the neighborhoods where children lived.This extensive negative reaction coalesced into a strategy called “massive resistance.” In May 1956, 101 congressmen issued the “Southern Manifesto” that declared, “We pledge ourselves to use all lawful means to bring about a reversal of this decision which is contrary to the Constitution and to prevent the use of force in its implementation.” On every level from the school board to the state house, southerners fought this decision.We are familiar with the case in Little Rock, Arkansas, where nine high school students who enrolled in all-white Central High School faced angry mobs and threats from the governor, eventually culminating in President Eisenhower’s call for military action to protect the students.Under Johnson, the Department of Health, Education, and Welfare also helped monitor desegregation plans.While the federal government intervened in the area of education regarding desegregation and poverty, the government’s role in education had increased since the end of World War II.