The Missouri Reader Vol. 43, Issue 1 | Page 12




2018 MO-STAR List

2018 MO-STAR List

Editor’s Note:

On May 17, 2019, the U.S. Supreme Court case Brown v. Board of Education turned 65. On that date in 1954, the Supreme Court declared the doctrine of “separate but equal” unconstitutional. Brown v. Board of Education prohibits racial segregation in public schools throughout the United States. The following article shares how we as educators can commit to continuing the Brown legacy.

According to National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), Schools and Staffing Survey (SASS) in 2011-12, the average age of public teachers in the United States is 42.4. Most of these teachers were born and educated after modern civil rights in education era. What do they really know about Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (1954)? Many are unaware that Oliver Brown, welder and assistant pastor brought the case against Topeka (Kansas) Board of Education on behalf of his daughter, Linda Brown. He wanted her to attend the all-white elementary school which was closer to their home. At that time, Linda had to walk several blocks to the school bus stop to ride to her segregated black school one mile away. When the Brown case reached the U.S. Supreme Court, it included four similar cases: Delaware (Belton v. Gebhart); Washington, DC (Bolling v. Sharp); South Carolina (Briggs v. Elliot); and Virginia (Davis v. County School Board of Prince Edward County). The cases dealt with educational inequity in respect to school building, pupil-teacher ratio, curricular and extra-curricular activities, travel time and distance for students and teacher training. The following links provide the historical and legal points on this case that impacted generations of students and teachers, especially those of color:

● CNN Library

● Brown Foundation

We, as career educators, have worked with students of all age ranges, abilities, and diverse backgrounds. Two of us, Anne and Sharon, were even teenagers during the passing of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Yet on the 65th anniversary of Brown v Board of Education of Topeka, there is still the struggle for helping all students become productive citizens in a global society. Despite the issues of school inequity, there are educational opportunities to help our young people become successful in and out of the classroom. Here are some ways that educators can embrace the unfilled promises of Brown:

Culturally Responsive Teaching. As stakeholders in education and regardless of school geographic area, we need to recognize that culturally responsive teaching requires us to relate, be comfortable and respectful of diversity for students to achieve and grow as caring, productive persons. Affirming students and what they bring to the classroom regardless of their backgrounds is a start. Zaretta Hammond (2014) wrote that not feeling safe nor cared for can generate untrusting, hostile feelings. She noted that the neuroscience of caring is the “on-ramp to learning.” To get there, one must build rapport and connection while showing tough love when needed to help students rise to their fullest potential. However, are colleges training and school districts hiring educators who can rise to the challenge of being culturally responsive persons? Consider using the self-checklist (Irvine, & Armento, 2000) (Appendix A) that Anne and Sharon recently shared at a 2018 NEA Foundation Symposium called, “Keeping the Promise of Public Education” to help future and current teachers and administrators do self-reflection on creating culturally responsive teaching environments.

Community Walk. Knowledge about the history, challenges and assets of the local community would help teachers better comprehend and create a strength-based learning environment. With support from the Tellin’ Stories Project, a group of parents from an elementary school in Washington, DC led teachers and administrators on a community walk in a Latino neighborhood where they spoke with residents, community activists, church leaders and small business owners who lived and worked in the neighborhood. The purpose was to help new educator s better understand that kids bring their cultures in the classroom. The Community Walk enabled educators to become aware of the community and utilize its support network. Checkout the link for more details: