Separate but equal has no place in the field of public education. Mode: Day 1 – What does a fair and equal education look like?
Begin with a writing prompt: Ask students to describe their vision of a great school. (What resources would be available? What would the classrooms look like? What would you see in the halls? What type of training would the teachers have?)
Discussion Questions – ask the class to share their thoughts:
Do most schools in NYC look like this vision?
Do all schools have equal facilities? Resources?
Should schools be equal?
How did our schools grow to be so different?
How does race and economic status factor into the equality of schools?
Day 2 - How does America’s history of segregation give us a context for today’s inequity in the education system?
Make copies of two photos from the early 1900s: one of a Caucasian school, one of a school for African American students. Ask students to identify for each picture:
Exterior differences: What are the buildings made of? What does the playground/yard area look like? How many windows are there? Describe the way you’d feel if this was the outside of your school.
Interior differences: How are the classrooms lit? What is on the walls? How do the students look? Describe the desks and other furniture. How many students are in the room? Does this seem like a good environment for learning?
Revisit the categories and criteria the class came up with yesterday. Which school fits the criteria better?
Pass out examples of Jim Crow laws. To obtain samples of these laws, visit http://academic.udayton.edu/race/02rights/jcrow02.htm
In groups, have each student examine a different set of laws and images of segregated facilities. Have them compare their sources and come up with a statement that answers the question: What was the impact of segregation on American society?
How did segregation impact schools?
Day 3 How do people work towards achieving justice?
Ask students to identify the majority opinion (separate but equal)
Ask students if they think schools could be segregated and still be equal.
Why can’t separate be equal?
Examine the 14thAmendment – does it allow for segregation laws?
How did Justice Brown (majority decision) justify segregation in relation to the 14th Amendment?
What was Harlan’s dissent? (Explain that justices who do not agree with the majority have the right to issue a separate opinion.)
Ask students to compare Brown’s decision to Harlan’s – which makes more sense? Why?
Ask students to imagine they live in a legally segregated world. What are some ways
they could work to end segregation? (Students will most likely hit upon the fact that groups of people have more power than individuals alone. They may also say small steps are needed before bigger changes can be made.) Are there ways we live in a segregated world now?
Day 4 How does CFE continue the work that Brown v. Board of Education began?
1. Connect Brown v. Board of Education to today’s world through CFE’s work – How far have we come? Why aren’t schools equal yet? How does race and economic inequity fit into the differences in schools today? (See mini-lesson on CFE using Timeline).
1. Look at Bill Clinton’s speech (Sept. 25, 1997) at Central High Schoool’s 40th anniversary of integration. What does he suggest we still need to work on? How?
2. Read the memoir Warriors Don’t Cry by Melba Patillo Beals (adult and young adult abridged versions are available) to gain a deeper understanding of school integration at the time of Brown.
3. Watch clips from the Civil Rights Movement: see Eyes on the Prize 4. Visit Facing History and Ourselves website. They have a unit titled “Choices in Little Rock”. www.facinghistory.org
5. Read special classroom section from Teaching Tolerance’s Spring 2004 issue. www.teachingtolerance.org