I often wonder that if we as Blacks(Asiatics) were to stay segregated… would we have been better off? Here’s an interesting article I found at www.historycooperative.org. PEEP!

The Cost of Brown: Black Teachers and School Intergration

– By Adam Fairclough –

Beginning with Vanessa Siddle Walker’s 1996 history of a high school in Caswell County, North Carolina, a stream of studies have documented African American schools that were forced to close or lost their identities when desegregation engulfed the South. The dominant tone of those works is elegiac; far from celebrating the departure of segregated schools, they lament their loss. Once stigmatized as symbols of Jim Crow and engines of educational failure, the black schools of the era before Brown v. Board of Education (1954) are now portrayed as proud institutions that provided black communities with cohesion and leadership. Their teachers, it is argued, inspired and motivated generations of African American children. Virtually absent from this literature is the central assertion of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People’s (NAACP) brief in Brown—which was accepted by the Supreme Court and central to its judgment—that segregated schools generated feelings of inferiority in the children who attended them.

The notion that integration destroyed something uniquely valuable to African Americans in the South has been powerfully influenced by memories of and about black teachers. Graduates of segregated schools have testified to the commitment and skill that those men and women brought to the classroom in the era of Jim Crow. They recall that segregation encouraged a special sense of dedication in black teachers that helped compensate for the material deficiencies of the schools. “I didn’t feel I was getting an inferior education,” recalled the former teacher Louise Metoyer Bouise, who attended public schools in New Orleans during the 1920s and 1930s. “In fact, I am sure I had very good teachers.” Even in the crude, two-room schoolhouse that she attended in rural North Carolina, insisted Mildred Oakley Page, another retired teacher, “anyone who wanted to learn could learn.” As described in teachers’ memoirs and oral history interviews, black schools were places where order prevailed, where teachers commanded respect, and where parents supported the teachers. Teachers, pupils, and parents formed an organic community that treated schooling as a collective responsibility.

Former teachers have often questioned whether the benefits of Brown outweighed its costs. When interviewed in 1994, a retired high school principal from New Iberia, Louisiana, bitterly concluded, “When they desegregated secondary schools in this parish, they threw the blacks back a hundred years.” At about the same time, a former teacher from Prince Edward County, Virginia, flatly asserted that “if we had stayed separate, but equal, our children would have been better off educationally.” Much earlier, in 1977 Horace Tate, the respected former head of the black Georgia Teachers and Education Association, offered a more qualified view but arrived at a similar conclusion. Before integration, he recalled, black teachers commanded little respect from whites. They made do with hand-me-down textbooks, taught a limited curriculum, and worked in grossly inadequate school facilities. Nevertheless, although blacks enjoyed superior buildings, an expanded curriculum, and better equipment after integration, Tate doubted that the overall quality of education had improved at all. In the environment of the segregated school, teachers enjoyed close relationships with their pupils based on empathy with the individual child and an intimate knowledge of the black community, enabling them to motivate their charges. Integration destroyed that relationship by undermining the position of the teacher as a mentor, role model, and disciplinarian. It caused a loss of interest in learning on the part of black pupils. “Leaving us alone to teach our children … may not have been such a bad idea,” thought Tate.


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