TCS Daily

Supreme Court Justices Save Children from Educationists—Finally

By Mary Grabar - July 10, 2007 12:00 AM

When I went to see my childhood home in Rochester, New York, last Thanksgiving, I knew that the house would be smaller than I remembered. It is, indeed, tiny. As I drove the route I walked every day from Benjamin Franklin High School down Norton Street, down Jewel, to Beach Street, I wanted to weep at the wasteland the once working class neighborhood had become. Many of the houses, always plain and modest, but once maintained in neat yards, were boarded. My sanctuary, the Hudson Avenue branch of the public library, was closed. Otto's, at the corner of Conkey Avenue and Saranac Street, where we used to buy penny candy on the way home from #8 School, closed after the 1964 riots and follow-up outbreaks of violence. In 1974 I walked to Quality Bakery on Joseph Avenue and promised the Jewish owner I would memorize the price list for my interview. I got the job. The business is gone now, indistinguishable from the other boarded buildings.

As a twelve-year-old I had been petrified at the thought of attending Ben Franklin. My fears were borne out when I was locked into French class at the direction of the principal over the P.A. system. In the halls, stampeding students were breaking glass and beating up teachers. The school day atmosphere rippled with intimidation. I was "asked" for quarters at my locker. As I walked home, I was knocked on the head—for carrying books. In the girls' bathroom I shrank back, as older girls sported "Black Power" buttons. I begged to go to a Catholic school.

Teachers gave up in the classroom, and became satisfied with keeping students in their seats, entertaining them with chin-ups in the door frame or holding rap sessions on free love as my social studies teacher did.

Recently, National Public Radio interviewed high school teachers who had been severely beaten by students. The focus was on "connecting with" and "respecting" students to prevent such life-threatening assaults in the future.

The Supreme Court's June 28 decision striking down racial quotas and forced busing demonstrates a return to sanity -- but after nearly forty years of harm done to schoolchildren and neighborhoods.

Benjamin Franklin had once been a good school, I have been told. But in the early 70s when I started attending it as a seventh-grader, it was a Darwinian jungle. The social experiment of busing, rather than enhancing the educational experience, ended up making a cynic of this A-student. It turned a once diverse blue collar neighborhood of immigrants, new and settled—from Poland, the Ukraine, Yugoslavia, Germany, Italy—Christian and Jewish—into a blighted area.

I did go back to school, in my thirties, to earn a Ph.D. in English. But throughout my graduate school years I repeatedly heard about the need for "diversity"—as I had through high school. An immigrant from Slovenia, I walked past posters advertising grants and scholarships, only to learn that they were not for me, even though I had had no scholarship fund set up, nor any encouragement by parents to go to college.

While black and white families may not have broken bread together routinely in their homes in the 1960s, they did live peacefully side by side in the neighborhoods around Clinton and Joseph Avenues. Were my and other parents prejudiced? Yes, they applied their ideas about gypsies to blacks, with my mother using the old story about gypsies kidnapping small children to keep me at home while she shopped at the second-hand stores. But my mother also spoke bitterly of the Italian foreladies who favored their own kind by passing on the easier, more lucrative bundles of suit parts to sew together in the piecework done at Bond's Clothing Factory.

I disagree with Spelman College President Beverly Daniel Tatum's assertion in the Atlanta paper recently that "the likelihood of having either a multiracial social network of acquaintances or at least one close interracial friendship is linked to the experience of attending racially mixed schools." I had no such "interracial friendship." But my Ukrainian best friend moved to the suburb of Irondequoit to go to a safer school. The lunchroom at my high school was markedly segregated. School buses and lunchrooms are still self-segregated.

The social engineers profited, however. They made careers with their theories of forced racial integration and new curriculums based on abstract notions of "diversity." My excuse for a social studies teacher went on to become a prominent union leader for teachers.

And Beverly Daniel Tatum is making the rounds of a publicity tour for her new book, "Can We Talk About Race? And Other Conversations in an Era of School Resegregation."



Re diversity in the classroom leading to diversity in life-I agree with the post, and thus with the criticism of Dr. Tatum's comments.

I went to school in rural Michigan. There were no African-Americans (indeed, only one African-American family in the county), no Asians, no Latinos, no Jews. There was one Catholic in my class--probably the only one in the whole school--and I didn't know she was Catholic until the day when President Kennedy was shot and she got out her rosary and started praying. The "minority" where I lived were Amish and Mennonites.

I have friends of many ethnic and religious groups. That may be because of, rather than despite, my experience at school: I got bored hanging out only with people who looked and thought I do. And it could also be because I never spent much time around any "others" except highly educated and accomplished people, and there was no compulsion to socialize with them.

Whites I know who experienced busing, or sudden and drastic changes in the racial composition of their schools, have much more negative attitudes toward African-Americans and minorities in general.

Diversity is a lie
Good story. I attended High School in Seattle before the "integration" and then "Diversity" liars got cotrol of the school system. Back in the 1960s a student could attend any of the Seattle district schools he wanted to attend. Most attended the nearest school, but some traveled across town on public transportaion to attend a different one. My school, Roosevelt High" was known at the time for high quality education. 32 of 50 National Merit qualifying scholars in the entire state attended my school. You had to work your brain hard to get a B in my school. The next school over was widely known as an easy grad good athletics school. But the lying bigots who promoted "diversity" ruined the system.

Seattle was one of the recent SCOTUS cases. The ruined neighborhoods will take at least a generation to return to life, maybe they never will. The harm done to 40 years of students can never be repaired.

Nobody has ever been able to explain how "diversity" helps anybody or anything. From all I've seen in schools or at work the so-called "diversity" is an excuse for racism, bigotry, and promoting poor quality results.

Its a shame that it took so long. Sometimes things have to get so bad they collapse before the average stipid person can seen that the lies they were told have no benefit. Sometimes even a total colapse doesn't help.


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This isn't a reply to the point of your article at all, but to that first paragraph.

You wrote about the neighborhood where I grew up, too. Do you remember the Catholic school across the street from Franklin? St. Stanislaus? That is where I went until my parents fled to Greece for my high school years (of course they ended up moving to Tampa, Florida a couple of years later, where I now live.)

I attended St. Stan's from 1980-1987 - give or take. That Hudson branch library was the place to which I escaped, also - sometimes from the kids streaming out of Franklin, itching to harass a little catholic school girl laden with books.

I became a librarian in part because of the way the librarians made me feel at home there in the Hudson branch, so while I knew it had only gotten worse in that area, I was especially sad to hear about the library.

All of it, though, makes me sad. I've often wondered how the old neighborhood fared, and now I know. Thanks for this, even if it wasn't what you intended to share by writing this piece.

Nonsensical Notions
It is nonsense to think that just because we force diversity in schools that we will become more diversified in our friendships. I went to a rural public school in Kentucky. There were two black families in the entire town, and the eldest sons of each were in my class. When I went to high school (no middle school at the time and place), the few blacks self-segregated. There was no other diversity.

Now, I am married to a Hispanic and one of my closest friends is Japanese. I am also friends with a Pole, a Ukanian, a Syrian, and a Tunisian. Never went to school with anyone from any of those places.

diversity is real, but not what they claim it is
Diversity as in the dictionary definition is real. People all of kinds of backgrounds, racial and cultural, live together in our cities and countries.

What isn't real is the assertion by what we call the "soft sector" that there is no difference between all those people, that they're all the same in their thinking and values, that in fact they're not diverse at all but a homogeneous blend.

And that's where the problem lies. In denying that people from different cultural backgrounds (which can be indicated by different skincolour but doesn't have to be) are not different you're setting up for disaster.
By denying that a kid from a neighbourhood where you're not respected by the other kids unless you have at least one conviction for armed robbery is to be treated no different from a kid coming from a neighbourhood where there is no crime, where it's still safe to leave your doors and windows open at night, is beyond silly, it's criminal.

And it doesn't have to be so plain. Different cultures have different sensitivities and ways of dealing with them.
As a result putting people from such cultures together without giving them a common set of values and culture is gearing up for disaster, yet we're doing exactly that by denying that those differences exist (or worse, admitting they exist and just expect one group to submit to every other in the name of "tollerance" while those other groups can do as they wish).

Rochester NY and diversity in wake of Supreme Court
Mary - Like one of your responders, I know your area: I went to #8 school, bought candy on the corner of Conkey Ave, got my first library card at Hudson Ave branch. Franklin High once WAS a good parents and many of their friends got a good education there. We moved to Irondequoit when I was in 2d grade. There we found better schools but another diversity & the self segregation of jocks, nerds, greasers, etc. The tyranny and gangs you describe is so sad...would love to hear reactions from more immigrants, blacks, Hispanic-surnamed people.

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