Years ago, Martin Luther King had a dream that all men and women would be equal, all students would be equal. Our laws and progression of civil rights and immigration has changed the United States Public Education System. Racial inequality and color prejudice has damaged the United States; affecting the American education system through legislation meant to help students. The differences in culture background and heritage are being traversed. Borders are supposedly being crossed. Educational theories and classroom practices are taking up new forms in order to conform and meet the educational needs of the global societies.
Educators and teachers are being expected to share views and recognize values from different cultures, races, societies and ethnic groups. They are expected to move outside the system and custom of the dominant society and incorporate beliefs other than those they are accustomed with. Our laws and progression of Civil Rights and immigration has changed the United States public education system. The challenges that face our nation’s children relates to the civil right movements and immigration laws that have guided us to a direction of multicultural education.
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During the civil rights movement, there were two America’s, a black America and a white America. The school, bathrooms, water fountains, restaurants, bus seats, libraries, movie theaters, hospital floors, and even the line to see Santa Clause were all segregated based on the color of skin. African Americans went to school four months out of the year because they needed to help earn incomes the rest of the months. Their schools had no cafeteria, most with outside bathrooms; and their books were passed down from the white schools so they were all out of date (AARP, LCCR, & Library of Congress, 2004).
The school building that contained African American students were falling apart. The classes were overcrowded with too many students, and not enough room for all the needed classes and materials. For the most part, these students had teachers that were substitutes who didn’t know what they were doing. The teachers that were in these schools had fixed values for these students and did not provide curriculum that was interesting or pertained to the students who were learning.
The assumption of teachers was that these African American students did not deserve “a great deal in life and that a little, even a very little, (a very little) for a Negro child is a great deal more than he or she has earned” (Kozol, 1990). Complaints were being vocalized with the school districts letting white students ride the bus to attend white schools, and black students had to walk to their school when they lived right next to an “all white” school (Rafferty, 1965).
In 1951, the Supreme Court finally had to face and rule on the subject of Civil Rights. A group called the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), created in 1909 to work towards eliminating segregation and discrimination, came together in a court case Brown versus Board of Education. African Americans had started filing suits against the educational systems as early as 1845, but the Supreme Court combined five cases to hear in 1951.
The issues brought before the court was because of school conditions, segregation, deficient curriculum, pupil to teacher ratio, teacher training, extracurricular activity programs offered, transportation deficiencies, and of course teacher salaries (Brown Foundation, 1996). The discriminatory environment derived from civil rights and immigration issues unlocked, and then caused the world to see that human tendencies are to prejudge, discriminate against, and stereotype people based on their ethnic, religious, physical, or cultural characteristics.
In 1954, Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (347 U. S. 483), also called Brown I ruled by Chief Justice Warren, acknowledged learning to be the most significant task of state and local government and “repudiated the separate but equal doctrine”, deciding that “racially segregated schools were inherently unequal” (Cambron-McCabe et al. , 2004). The decision had great impact and important to the civil rights movement. The Supreme Court ruled that school had no place for “separate but equal” status (AARP, LCCR, & Library of Congress, 2004).
A year later the Supreme Court decision in Brown II defined how and when school desegregation would be achieved because there was no standard or deadline set in Brown I (Orfield & Eaton, 1996). The legal precedence of this time caused far reaching social and ideological implications that brought about changes in the 1960’s and beyond. On the other hand, the legal wrangling did not make immigration and civil right issues disappear because of the ambiguity of the legal decisions. The 1960’s brought about race riots all over the U.
S. , deaths because of race, and more laws that declared discrimination illegal (http://www. cnn. com/EVENTS/1997/mlk/links. html%20). On January 20, 1964, Vice President Lyndon B. Johnson was sworn into the Presidency, after the sudden death of President John F. Kennedy. As America mourned the death of JFK, President Lyndon B. Johnson placed his hand on the Holy Bible that was being held by his wife and took the oath of office. On that particular day, Lyndon B. Johnson launched his new program called “the Great Society.
” The agenda was intended to produce a better quality of life for all Americans (Campbell, 1965). Reporters knew the Presidency of Lyndon B. Johnson as a “legislative miracle. ” In fact, Dick West of the Dallas Morning News wrote, “Mr. Truman couldn’t get started on a civil rights bill, because a rebellious congress passed an immigration law over a veto. Jack Kennedy took one whirl at federal aid to education, and then backed off. Then he tried to get Congress to set up a Department of Housing and Urban Development with Cabinet Status and was turned down in the House 264 to 150.
” On the other hand, West writes that President Johnson was able to get these laws passed exactly the way he wanted them, thus being named “The Congressional Magician” (West, 1965 p. 2). President Johnson signed the Civil Rights Act of 1964 on July 2, 1964, during a luncheon honoring late President Abraham Lincoln in the East room of the White House. The bill was about discrimination based on race, color, religion, sex or national origin (http://en. wikipedia. org/wiki/Civil_Rights_Act_of_1964).
“The President sat at a small table in the center with racks holding 72 pens, which was an insufficient amount. ” He actually used over 100 pens to sign this triumphant bill into law (“Big Audience”, 1964). Robert F. Kennedy sat in the front row, Martin Luther King sat in the second row, and other senators and cabinet members attended (“Big Audience”, 1964). President Johnson’s speech was “swift but had great emphasis as he called on all Americans to close the springs of racial poison and eliminate the last vestiges of injustice in our beloved America” (“Big Audience”, 1964).
The President spoke of the challenge that Lincoln bestowed upon America asking for “preservation of the union, enlargement of liberties for America and for being true to the Declaration of Independence which gives liberty to all. ” The speech was a direct challenge for all Americans to ensure that all people including Black American’s will be a part of a “complete and equal” society (Negro Due, 1965). In 1968, the Supreme Court decision on Green v. County School Board of New Kent County gave the students the option to transfer from a black to a white school.
The ruling states, “That schools must dismantle segregated dual systems root and branch and that desegregation must be achieved with respect to facilities, staff, faculty, extra-curricular activities, and transportation. ” Because the Southern United States were fighting against the rulings of the Supreme Court because of their dissatisfaction of desegregation the case Alexander v. Holmes County Board of Education in Mississippi ruled that desegregation must be achieved in every district at once (Orfield & Eaton, 1996).
Multi-cultural education is a program seeking to revise and reform both schooling and the political and cultural context of formal schooling and studying. It was designed to have a better impact to society by reducing racial tolerance brought about because of immigration and civil right problems that has plagued our nation. Several categories of programs that are designed encompass not only to restructure and reform subjects and curriculums at school but also to generate and increase contact among races.
They are designed primarily to bridge the gap among races. However, instead of harmonious co-existence and peace being attained, the proposed inclusion of cultures to curriculum, poses lots of intriguing questions. The public is uncertain with their thoughts regarding the changing of curriculum. Often times, multi-cultural education has become the topic of numerous debates and disputes, resulting to a further division of the nation. Multicultural education is intended to decrease if not totally abolish race, ethnic and gender divisions.
By helping students achieve the necessary skills and by guiding them they are being prepared in facing the challenges they would soon be encountering. Students are trained to equip themselves with the attitudes needed in order to survive in the real world. However, before such programs can be implemented, a thorough understanding of the real issue at hand must first be achieved. Factors such as demography, social class, funding, quality of educators, student’s cultural backgrounds and public interest should be carefully considered and taken in to account. References
AARP, LCCR, & Library of Congress (2004). Save Our History: Voices of Civil Rights. The History Channel: The Hearst Corporation. Big Audience: Over 200 Guests See Bill Signed (1964, July 3). Dallas Morning News. Section 1 Page 8. Brown Foundation (1996). Brown VS Board of Education: About the Case. Retrieved October 1, 2007 from http://brownvboard. org/summary/. Cambron-McCabe, N. H. , McCarthy, M. M. , & Thomas, S. (2004). Public School Law 5th Edition. Pearson Education Inc: Boston. p. 149 Campbell, M. (1965). President Johnson Chosen 1965 Newsmaker of the Year.
Dallas Morning News, December 24: page A12. Kozol, Jonathan (1990). Death at an Early Age. New York: Penguin Group. Negro’s Due Full Rights, Johnson Says. (1965, February 13). Dallas Morning News, Section A Page 1 Orfield, G & Eaton, S. (1996). Dismantling Desegregation: The Quiet Reversal of Brown vs. Board of Education. New York, NY. The New Press. Rafferty, Max (1965). Children Should Be Taught Sweep, Drama of U. S. Past. Dallas Morning News, December 16: Page A29 West, D. (1965). Johnson’s Legislative Miracle. Dallas Morning News, September 26: Section C page 2.
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