Friday, December 03, 2004

Equity Center Celebrates Brown Anniversary

The Equity in Education: Training and Resource Center celebrates the 50th anniversary of the Brown V.Board of Education Supreme Court decision by providing the public with information they need to help them make a positive change in society.

We can all draw inspiration from the 1954 Brown V.Board of Education decision because it exemplifies how a thoughtful, dedicated, group of people can improve the structure of society.

The notion Oliver Brown single-handedly ended segregation because he was disturbed his that his daughter, Linda Brown, could not attend a local school is inaccurate.

“My husband [Oliver Brown] did not start the case. It was through Mr. McKinley Burnett and the NAACP. They were the ones that started the case, not my husband,” said Leola Brown Montgomery in a May 15, 2004 Associated Press article entitled Reflections on Brown V.Board of Education decision -- 50 years later.

According the Myths v. Truths: Brown v. Board of Education Web site, the case that became know as Brown V.Board of Education was “a combination of five cases from various parts of the country, representing nearly 200 plaintiffs.”

The Equity in Education: Training and Resource Center honors all of those participated in this momentous decision.

Teaching Tip: Boundaries and Expectations Activity

This activity is designed to help students think about how boundaries and expectations affect the way people live.


You will need:
Gumdrops sorted into plastic bags
Three sets of written instructions

Instructions for Group #1:
Use the tooth picks and gumdrop to build two cubes. Use exactly eight gumdrops and 12 toothpicks for each cube. Do not talk to any other groups.

Instructions for Group #2:
Build a tower using the gumdrops and toothpicks. Do not let the tower fall. Do not talk to any other groups.

Instructions for Group #3:
Use the gumdrops to make whatever you want. Get creative. Have fun but do not talk to any other groups.


Ask your students to build something using gumdrops and toothpicks. Divide students into three groups. Give each group one of the three different instructions.

Walk around the room and observe students while they are making their gumdrop structures. Enforce the “no talking” rule.

When Group #3 is almost finished, ask each group to read the instructions they were given.

Ask the Discussion Questions. Try to get students to talk about what it feels like to work under different boundaries than the people around them. You may want to record the response on the blackboard.

Discussion Questions

  • How fun was your activity?
  • Did you want to be in a different group? Why?
  • Did any of the instructions bother you?
  • How did you feel watching other groups?
  • Can you think of an example of people having to work with different boundaries and expectations in real life? (Like older brothers and sisters having a later bedtime.)
  • How did it feel to have the kind of things you could make out of the gumdrops controlled by someone else?

This activity is based on Making Equity Count for Classroom Achievement training.

Harvard Study Indicates Segregation Increasing

Segregation is increasing in American public schools according to the Civil Rights Project of Harvard University.

The Jan. 2004 report Brown At 50: King’s Dream or Plessy’s Nightmare? suggests Americans should be concerned about segregation because it creates disadvantages for students of all ethnic backgrounds.

The study indicates most white students have little contact with students from other ethnic backgrounds.

“The typical white student attends a school where four out of five children are white,” reports Brown At 50.

Lack of contact with students of other ethnic backgrounds inhibits the development of a skill essential to future personal and professional success -- the ability function effectively with diverse groups of people.

Black and Latino students often face additional challenges as a result of segregation.

“The strong correlation between race and poverty show that a great many black and Latino students attend … schools of concentrated poverty,” reports Brown At 50.

Students in schools of concentrated poverty are more likely to face challenges including:

  • less developed preschool experiences;
  • few pre-collegiate courses and more remedial courses;
  • peers with lower levels of achievement on tests scores;
  • less qualified or less experienced teachers; and
  • higher teacher turnover.

Attending a segregated school increases the likelihood of black or Latino students attending a school of concentrated poverty.

By contrast, minority students in more integrated schools tend to have higher levels of achievement and are exposed to a broader range of career possibilities.

Desegregated schools prepare students of all ethnic backgrounds to live and work successfully with people of diverse ethnic backgrounds.

“Students indicate that their school experiences [within a desegregated school district] have increased their level of understanding of diverse points of view, and enhanced their desire to interact with people of different backgrounds in the future,” according to a 2002 Civil Right Project study entitled The Impact of Racial and Ethnic Diversity on Educational Outcomes.