Gladwell’s History

I confess haven’t spent the requisite 10,000 hours reading his books and listening to his podcasts, but I like Malcom Gladwell’s work. His stories bring unrealized facts to light.

I have just finished listening to the first thirty minutes of the podcast entitled Miss Buchanan’s Period of Adjustmentan explanation of what the supreme court should have said in the Brown vs. Board decision. The Browns were not dissatisfied with the quality of the school their daughter was to attend, they simply wanted a school that was much closer to where they lived. It happened to be a school for white students.

The court framed their decision around the inferiority of the education that the black schools provided. In Topeka, where the Brown’s lived, that was not the case. And although I disagree with Gladwell’s characterization of racial prejudice as strictly a “Southern” philosophy (I seem to remember the integration of Northern schools was just as rancorous), I admit that the text of the decision seems to echo that bias.

By focusing on the race of the students and not the quality of the education provided, the court laid the groundwork for districts to close black schools to comply. In the wake of those closures almost all of the teachers and administrators in those schools were dismissed. And nearly 70 years after that decision, for a number of reasons, we still are not able to hire enough educators of color.

Why is that important?

Research says that black students that have at least one black teacher during their  education are more likely to succeed.

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