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Shannon D.

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EDCI 512 Response Paper #6

Mr. Alan Christensen

15 November 2017

The Fate of Desegregation Today

In podcast #562 recorded and published by This American Life, Nikole Hannah-Jones

discusses the one problem that the educational system in the United States faces, but which is

rarely if ever discussed, school segregation (Hannah-Jones, 2017). In her report, she talks to a

parent and two students from the Normandy School District in St. Louis, Missouri, about the

unintentionally forced integration between Normandy Schools and the Francis Howell School

District. The podcast includes comments made at a community meeting in the Francis Howell

district before students from Normandy enrolled, exposing the bigotry that still occurs in our

education system today. This podcast brings to light the persistent attitudes of some people that

continue to keep black students from receiving the education they deserve.

Ms. Hannah-Jones begins her report by stating, I find this one thing that really worked,

that cut the achievement gap between black and white students by half but it's the one thing

that we're not really talking about and that very few places are doing anymore integration

(Hannah-Jones, 2017, 2:17). She goes on to explain that while segregation was illegal beginning

with Brown v. Board of Education in 1954, massive desegregation did not start until 1971 and

lasted until 1988 (3:08). During these years, data collected showed that the academic

achievement of black students increased, cutting in half the achievement gap that existed

between black children and white children. Since then segregation has again become

commonplace, but not in the same way it was prior to the 1954 ruling. At the end of the podcast,
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Ms. Hannah-Jones reiterates, this is how far they will go to avoid that one thing, that one thing

that already seems to be working, integration (57:37).

During her research, Ms. Hannah-Jones talked to one mother and her daughter from the

Normandy School District in St. Louis, Missouri. Realizing that the Normandy School District was

failing her daughter, she set about trying to move her daughter to another district. After

hundreds of phone calls, she found her daughter could not change schools without paying a hefty

tuition. By sheer luck, the mother and daughter received their wish when the Normandy School

District lost its accreditation after being on provisional accreditation for fifteen years. By Missouri

law, if students wanted to go to a different school should their own school lose their

accreditation, their school was required to transport students to a different district and pay for

them to be educated, in this case to the Francis Howell School District.

The Francis Howell district consists of primarily middle to upper class white students. As

one would expect, there was a hullabaloo among white parents in the Francis Howell district.

They voiced their opinions, some of them very derogatory and negative at a community meeting,

but in the end, by law, if the students from Normandy School District chose to attend Francis

Howell the school must admit them. One thousand students chose to attend Francis Howell

schools. None of the fears the Francis Howell parents presented at the community meeting

occurred and, as shown by past desegregation data, the achievement gap closed between black

students and their white classmates.

Francis Howell schools kept trying to send students back to Normandy. Even after

Missouri dissolved and reorganized the Normandy District, it received the status of non-

accredited. Those students who chose to go to Francis Howell had to return to the Normandy
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schools. Eventually Missouri determined that non-accredited still was unaccredited and so

students could return to Francis Howell district. Some chose to remain at Normandy and even

though the intent is to get Normandy students an equal education, the problems persist. Those

who chose to return and continue at Francis Howell are involved and succeeding.

As an educator, this story appalls me. Especially the perceive entitlement the parents at

Francis Howell believe they and their children deserve and their lack of compassion towards

those less fortunate, regardless of the color of their skin. However, people are creatures of habit

and are a product of their upbringing. As a nation that thrives on choice, education of children is

the one thing in which many state educational institutions refuse to allow choice, Montana

included. Although this story is about segregation between black students and white students in

Missouri, I believe it applies to our Montana schools as well, although in a slightly different way.

The difference being city schools versus rural school. Students in the larger districts have so many

educational electives and opportunities available to them. Rural schools are barely hanging on to

enough teachers to teach the required subjects. As far as extras are concerned, if there are any,

they are eliminated first if there is a reduction in staff or budget crunch. Supposedly, the

Montana Digital Academy (MTDA) offers online electives for students, but the few online classes

offered do not receive the full attention needed for successful student learning.

How will this change the way I teach? It will not. I prepare for, teach, and attend my

classes. I expect my students to perform to the best of their abilities. I help students to reach

their individual potential. I do not care what color their skin is or who their parents or

grandparents are. When students try these tactics I say, That and a $1.25 might get you a cup of

coffee. I do not see color or ability when I teach. I see attitude and effort.
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Works Cited

Hannah-Jones, N. (2017, June 4). The Problem We All Live With. This American Life #562.

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