For the final Stowe Salon at Lunch for the summer, participants gathered for a discussion on school integration and segregation. As the topic of school integration and segregation is broad and one that intersects with issues of race, housing, and poverty, two different texts were used to frame the discussion: This American Life's podcast The Problem We All Live With and Jelani Cobb's Class Notes: What's really at stake when a school closes?
The discussion began with a participant sharing information on Sheff v. O'Neill, the landmark Connecticut Supreme Court case that sought to address the inequities in public school education between Hartford and suburban schools. A result of the case was the creation of "magnet" schools, or schools with often specialized focuses, that draw in students from a regional area, not just a singular neighborhood, and an open choice program for enrollment in public suburban school. Students in the Greater Hartford region are now given access to magnet schools, many of which are located in Hartford, and students in Hartford are now given access to suburban, non-magnet schools. Gene Leach, a parent of a plaintiff in the Sheff v. O'Neill case, explained that diverse schools help all students-both white students and students of color.
Though the concept behind Sheff v. O'Neill was applauded, several participants questioned the implementation of the court case's goals. In order to attend a magnet school or a suburban school as a Hartford resident, a student must enter an electronic based lottery. The lottery will then ultimately decide whether a student attends the school which they desire. Participants explained that the lottery takes time and not all families, including many in Hartford, fully understand and participate in the process. Many students in Hartford and other areas thus remain in segregated neighborhood schools, which often lack the resources that magnet schools and suburban schools possess.
The conversation concluded with participants acknowledging that there is much to learn and much to do on the issue of education reform and integration.
How can we ensure that all students receive equitable education? What are the benefits of diverse, integrated classrooms? Are you interested in learning more about school choice in Greater Hartford? The Stowe Center has handouts and literature from Regional School Choice Officer in the Visitor Center. Come and grab a copy!
Stowe Salons at Lunch will continue in the Fall with the first program on Wednesday, September 23rd!
Welcome to the conversation!
Welcome to the conversation!
Harriet Beecher Stowe's (1811-1896) best-selling anti-slavery novel Uncle Tom's Cabin (1852), made her the most famous American woman of the 19th century and galvanized the abolition movement before the Civil War.
The Stowe Center is a 21st-century museum and program center using Stowe's story to inspire social justice and positive change.
The Salons at Stowe programs are a forum to connect the challenging issues (race, gender and class) that impelled Stowe to write and act with the contemporary face of those same issues. The Salon format is based on a robust level of audience participation, with the explicit goal of promoting civic engagement. Recent topics included: Teaching Acceptance; Is Prison the New Slavery; Traces of the Trade: A Story from the Deep North; Creativity and Change; Race, Gender and Politics Today; How to be an Advocate
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