Politics, Race, and Schools

Watras, Joseph. Politics, Race, and Schools: Racial Integration, 1954-1994.  New York; Garland Publishing, 1997.

This sounds worse than intended, but I would not recommend Politics, Race, and Schools to the casual reader.  It is not a beach read.  The storyline covering desegregation and integration in Dayton public and private schools in the 1960s and 70s, is broken up throughout the text.  The story is retold told over and over again as separate chapters about the city, school administration, the Board of Education, and the court battles.  Each chapter is self-contained, but as a whole it is a burdensome read.

If you do not want to make a long commitment to Politics, Race, and Schools, I would recommend the chapters “School Board Elections and Racial Integration” and “Racial Desegregation and Dayton’s Catholic Schools” and work from there.  The discussion of the School Board Elections in the 1970s gives a good overview of Dayton’s integration story and the views of the communities involved.  Watras’ work is somewhat unique that it tells the history of school integration and private schools.  (Initially, Catholic Schools were very adamant about not taking in students fleeing public school integration.  But, enrollment appears to  have generally increased during this time.)   Continue reading

Caught in the Middle

Longworth, Richard C. Caught in the Middle: America’s Heartland in the Age of Globalism.  New York; Bloomsbury, 2008.

Over the years, there have been many studies and books attempting to regionalize the United States.  In general, Ohio is usually lumped into the Midwest or sometimes the Great Lakes region.  This is traditionally the result of history, people, and geography.  The Midwest (existing west of the Appalachian Mountains) was created with the Northwest Ordinance, and went on to be initially settled by predominately German and Scandinavian settlers.  The Midwest history is agriculture and industry.

There have been variations on this  theme in placing Ohio amongst the nation.  In Joel Garreau’s The Nine Nations of North America (1981), Ohio is completely in the The Foundry, lumping industrial Ohio with the northern Indiana and Illinois, Michigan, and southern Ontario with the mid-Atlantic states of New York, Pennsylvania, northern West Virginia, and Maryland.

In Richard Florida’s Who’s Your City? (2008), he references the idea of coming mega-regions.  Ohio’s cities are in Chi-Pitts, which spans from Pittsburgh heading northwest through Chicago to Minneapolis.   Neither Chi-Pitts nor the Foundry are desired locations.  These regions had their best days in the past.

Caught in the Middle, Richard C. Longworth’s look at the Midwest in the age of globalization, takes a more traditional view of Ohio being in the Midwest, which he uses interchangeably with the Heartland.  His reasons are mainly agriculture, industry, and shared settlers.  That said, he has some caveats.  He does not consider southeast Ohio (or southern Indiana or Illinois) parts of the Midwest.  These regions are in the South, settled by religious individualists (more likely with ancestor’s from the British Isles).  The shared history of Ohio’s “Midwest” region is small to mid-size industrial cities dotting the landscape.  Continue reading

Getting Around Brown

Jacobs, Gregory S.  Getting Around Brown: Desegregation, Development, and the Columbus Public Schools.  Columbus, Ohio; Ohio State University Press, 1998.

As another school year approaches, I thought I would look at a education-related title.

Desegregation (and its aftermath) of Ohio’s large municipalities has not been one of the state’s prouder moments.  From the late sixties through the rest of the 20th Century, terms like “Busing” and “Neighborhood Schools” have developed racial undertones.  This is a very controversial issue with many nuanced arguments, which I do not want to touch at this time.  That said, integrating municipal schools is one of the most important stories in the history of Ohio cities over the last half century.  For better or worse, it led to the creation of Ohio as suburban state.  This can be seen in lopsided number of non-city residents in all of Ohio’s Metropolitan Statistical Areas.

With the case of Penick v. Columbus Board of Education, Columbus Public Schools were declared unconstitutional regarding separate and unequal schools.  The court took control of producing a remedy, which involved massive relocation of the student population.   Jacobs’ Getting Around Brown tells the integration story of the Columbus Public Schools.  What differentiates Getting Around Brown from other “busing” stories (there have been several written from different sides about Boston’s experience) is Jacobs’ focus on how the business community, city leaders, and the development of the city, from its beginning, made the Columbus story unique.

Getting Around Brown was published in the Urban Life and Urban Landscape Series through Ohio State University Press, a series that focuses on urban history and planning issue.  It is not popular non-fiction and Jacobs does not spend much time discussing the quality of education.
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