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they want in on the American dream that they see on their broken down TV screens in living rooms with a sofa that is half broken down.1

Past generations of Americans have escaped from the economic insecurity and meanness of ghetto life by bettering their economic circumstances, obtaining for themselves or their children a good education, and moving outside the ghetto. For many reasons, these avenues are closed to most Negroes.

The Role of the Ghetto School

One of the most significant barriers impeding progress in opportunity for Negroes is the ghetto school, which has provided inadequate education for Negroes and has failed to equip Negroes with the skills needed for competition in the job market."

Negroes are less likely to finish public school than whites and they are much more likely to attend schools with high dropout rates. In Cleveland, John Stafford, principal of the almost all-Negro Glenville High School, testified that almost 30 percent of his students dropped out of school between 10th grade and graduation.


As early as the third grade, the average Negro student in the United States is one year behind the average white student in verbal achievement. And by the 12th grade, the average Negro student is nearly three years behind the average white student.*

John Solar, Executive Director of the Harlem Neighborhood Association and a resident of Harlem, told the New York State Advisory Committee:

[N]ow it really isn't... necessary to say to a person, I am sorry, you can't have the job because you are Negro. What happens more frequently now is that they say, you

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can't have the job because you are not properly educated,
you are not motivated, you are not prepared.

This is quite damning, because you see how this
prejudice has operated for so long that now it's no
longer necessary to say, I don't want you because you are
black. I don't want you because you are just not pre-
pared, and it has been an educational system that has
worked to create this condition."

Parents and teachers who testified at Commission hearings and participated in Advisory Committee meetings expressed concern over the quality of education in slum ghetto schools. In Boston, Negro parents commented on the overcrowded and poor physical condition of many of the schools, and their lack of facilities. Mrs. Betty Johnson told the Massachusetts Advisory Committee: "In the old [Roxbury] schools children were crowded by as many as 45 in a classroom, with classrooms in the basement and in the auditorium. The teachers said it was very difficult to teach 45 children.""

Donald E. Snead, chairman of a parents group, agreed with this observation:

I first noticed that the schools in Roxbury weren't ade-
quate when I visited the school which my nine year old
son was attending. There were 40 to 47 children in a
classroom and I wondered how any one teacher could ef-
fectively teach such a large group.1

In Cleveland, Mrs. Percy Cunningham, a science teacher at a predominantly Negro school in the Hough ghetto, compared the school to the segregated Southern schools in which she had taught. The facilities in Cleveland were worse, she said:

[In Georgia] there were adequate supplies

.. for the children to work with.... [W]here I now work I teach general science and I haven't yet used a microscope. [L]ook at 2100 children in a building with

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one or two microscopes available.

Mrs. Hattie Collins, who lives in Hough, was asked if she believed her children were receiving a better education than she had received in Alabama. She felt that "they are getting better speech but not a better education." She commented that although she had gone to school more than 30 years ago she used the same textbooks as her children were currently using in the all-Negro elementary school they attended:

I have gone to school 30 years ago in the first grade and I had "Alice and Jerry." Maybe this is a new edition, but it still says "Alice and Jerry". This is the textbook I had when I was going to school, “Alice and Jerry". 10

In addition, Mrs. Collins testified that the life illustrated in "Alice and Jerry" was irrelevant to her children:

The life that is shown in “Alice and Jerry" this is for the
suburb children, the beach, the playgrounds, circus,
horses. We don't have anything in this book concerning
inner city children. If they didn't see the police with a
horse they wouldn't know what it was and the teachers
are all white and everything. So they don't know any-
thing about the suburbs. They are reading something
opposite from their education."

At the open meeting of the Commission's California State Advisory Committee in Los Angeles, Rosalinda Mendez, a Mexican American high school senior, said:

We are taught about our great American heritage, about
democracy, freedom, equal opportunity for all, and yet
in the very history and geography books, all we ever see
are pictures of Anglo kids, a blond world that we cannot
identify with or associate with.


We look for others like ourselves in these history books, for something to be proud of for being a Mexican, and all we see in books, magazines, films and TV shows are stereotypes of a dark, dirty, smelly man with a tequilla bottle in one hand, a dripping taco in the other, a serape wrapped around him, and a big sombrero on his head." John Callahan, assistant principal of a school in Roxbury, testified that 70 percent of the teachers in his particular district-composed of four predominantly Negro elementary schools-were “nontenure," that is, they had less than three years experience in the Boston school system. He also testified that there was a very high rate of teacher turnover in his district:

In my 16 years there I have seen many teachers transfer
out of the Dearborn School to less difficult districts. I have
never seen another teacher transfer from another district
into the Dearborn School.

my 16 years I have seen four principals transfer out of
the Dearborn School to less difficult schools. I am now
working under my sixth principal.

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When these teachers who do transfer from the Dearborn School, these teachers of some experience, to less difficult schools, they are usually replaced by beginning or recently appointed teachers. I think this had led to problems, many problems, in the school.13

Parents who testified described how they were made aware of the difference in the quality of education offered at predominantly white and predominantly Negro schools when their children transferred. In Rochester, Rev. Arthur L. Whitaker, a minister and an assistant professor at the University of Rochester, compared the education his two sons received in predominantly Negro schools with the education they received in predominantly white schools:

They were the first two Negro pupils to enter No. 16
School, and while there was no social problem at all
involved, it was quite clear that our oldest boy was
deficient in the area of English at the point of not under-
standing the break-down of words in terms of syllables.
At his particular fifth grade level he had not had this
whereas the children at the fifth grade level in No. 16
School had had this, so this was a real difficulty for him,
and we had to work especially hard with him along this


In Boston, Charles Jiggetts stated that although his daughter's grades had been all A's in predominantly Negro schools, when she entered Girls Latin School (predominantly white) she had difficulty:

Now if a child is an A student in one school she should
be an A student when she goes to another school, but
when she got her first report card from Girls Latin School
it was evident that she was sadly lacking. So what do all
those A's mean? If she had received A's for six years why
can't she get A's or even B's now? Nobody should think
that an A student in a Roxbury or Dorchester school
means anything.15

Witnesses testified that the standards set both by students and faculty in slum ghetto schools have a negative effect on student motivation and achievement. David Jaquith, President of the Syracuse Board of Education, explained at the Commission's Rochester hearing why a

group of Negro students from disadvantaged backgrounds did better when they were transferred to a school whose student body was composed mainly of advantaged white students:


. [a]t Madison Junior High School [predominantly
Negro] if you cooperated with the teacher and did your
homework, you were a “kook.”

At Levy Junior High School [predominantly white] if
you don't cooperate with the teacher and don't do your
homework, you are a "kook.""


Norman Gross, who taught at the predominantly Negro Madison High School in Rochester described the difference in student aspiration between Madison and Brighton, a suburban high school. After an exchange program in which Madison students visited Brighton:

[O]ne of the Madison youngsters said: "At Madison we
asked a question, are you going to college? At Brighton
the question is always what college are you going to?” “


Dr. Charles Pinderhughes, a psychiatrist, explained in Boston that children learn from each other by means of a "hidden curriculum": [W]hat the pupils are learning from one another is probably just as important as what they are learning from the teachers. This is what I refer to as the hidden curriculum. It involves such things as how to think about themselves, how to think about other people, and how to get along with them. It involves such things as values, ... codes, and ... styles of behavior. . . .18

John Stafford testified that:

[T]he peer influence in a segregated community is very
strong, and there are times for example where you must
commit yourself with the peers even though really you
would not do this if you were in a more rational

Recently, the Commission conducted a special study of the effects of the confinement of Negro pupils to schools attended largely by members of their own race. The study confirmed the testimony of the witnesses that students who attend school with less advantaged students do not do as well as students of similar background who attend school with more advantaged students.20

Many witnesses also testified that predominantly Negro schools

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