It has been a while since I posted, and in that time, much has happened. Scandals of some sort or another have come to light, innocent children and teachers were mercilessly assassinated, and somehow, we’re still dangling on the edge of the Fiscal Cliff. All of this, and education is becoming more polarized in this country probably since reconstruction. In fact, I can see some eery similarities between education of Reconstruction, the Civil rights era and today.
- Depending on your sources, the Reconstruction Era could be anywhere from 1865-1878. This again largely depends on which sources you read.
- Depending on your sources, the Civil Rights Era is typically from 1954-1970.
During the Reconstruction Era, educating newly released slaves was controversial; most Northerners knew they needed to be educated to be functional citizens in society. The Southerners were completely against this idea, thus they attempted to fund separate, but equal schools. We know this was a dismal failure, because the wealthy Southeners so objected to meaningful reform, that they formed the Ku Klux Klan to terrorize Blacks and other minorities who would dare help.
During the Reconstruction Era, Black churches and the American Missionary Society helped educate not only the children, but the parents in the evenings who worked the entire day in the fields.
Insufficiently educated Blacks and poor Whites meant they could be taken advantage of by unscrupulous landowners who cared not for the well being of their hirelings, but how to maintain labor at a minimal cost to them. Thus the forming of chain-gangs. Think about who usually ended up in them; Blacks and poor Whites.
During the Civil Rights Era, public schools appeared to be desegregated (1954 Brown v. Board of Education), so races could begin to peacefully co-exist and appreciate each others’ unique qualities under the banner of equally educating both groups. Again, a dismal failure. The media stirred up enough fear in Whites stating their daughters might actually marry Negroes, and disaster would soon strike, resulting in many Whites leaving the city, creating their own suburbs, thus leaving the state to again fund separate, but inherently unequal schools. Many Black teachers were displaced as a result of desegregation and forced into unemployment and underemployment.
History did repeat itself during the Civil Rights era in that Blacks and Whites worked together (as they did during Reconstruction) for what we now call “social justice,” so people could be enlightened on the educational and political process and how they needed to be informed individuals so they could take their rightful place in society. History also repeated itself in the violence that soon ensued as a minority, but very powerful and financially group of people intimidated White supporters of Blacks and Blacks themselves. Brutal killings took place in this era, but righteousness and justice prevailed.
Think about today’s current educational hot button topics, such as charter schools, standardized testing, Race to the Top, vouchers, privatization, and anything else that you think is related. What would you say the similarities are between Reconstruction, Civil Rights, and today’s education challenges? Naturally, I have some thoughts, but I would really like to hear what they are from you, compile them, and give you my spin.