BY DONNA WESTFALL
On May 17, 1954, U.S. Supreme Court Justice Earl Warren delivered the unanimous ruling in the landmark civil rights case Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas. State-sanctioned segregation of public schools was a violation of the 14th amendment and was therefore unconstitutional. This historic decision marked the end of the “separate but equal” precedent set by the Supreme Court nearly 60 years earlier in Plessy v. Ferguson and served as a catalyst for the expanding civil rights movement during the decade of the 1950s. It all started when 9 year old, Linda Brown, was barred from attending public school because of her race. She was black. Her parents sued.
In July 1955, six black children, all from the Clark Stonewall family, attended Griffin Elementary, a one-room schoolhouse in rural Monticello, Kentucky. It was the first public school in the state to become racially integrated. The children ranged in ages from 6 to 15 and had previously been educated at home because their parents couldn’t afford to send them to the all-black school in town. The Stonewalls were the only black family in the area. The Supreme Court ruling gave them the opportunity to go to public school.
58 years later, a Georgia high school, known for decades for segregation and racial discrimination, had their first interracial prom dance this year put together by 2 black girls and 2 white girls.
But now, in local Del Norte County public schools, children are being yanked out and home schooled because administration is not clamping down on racial bullying despite a non-bullying school policy being implemented. How could this be happening? In California? In Del Norte County?
Racial discrimination is nothing new. Calling someone a “nigger” is popular among the gangsta/music/rap industry. Calling your classmate the “N” word is out of bounds.
What’s to be done about it? The School Board is already looking at closing one, maybe two public schools due to declining attendance. The goal of public schools is to create an inviting, safe environment of learning where children want to go to school. If teachers, principals, administration and the School Board are not handling the problem adequately, then public schools are going to lose more of their students which will result in more school closures.
How does this affect the children being bullied? It’s hurtful. Not only are children being called names, but some are being beat up. This is not acceptable. Superintendent Don Olson has been having meetings with at least one Principal. If this bullying does not get handled promptly, civil law suits will ensue.
In one incident at Redwood School, only one child was sent home. The others were sent back to class where they laughingly repeated the hateful word. No parents were called in or read the riot act. That means that the teachers and principal are not acting in accordance with the law. In the meantime, all elected school board members have been contacted, but chose to be unresponsive. These elected officials have a duty to be responsive, but their silence is sending a strong message. Is that message saying, “I don’t care.”
Looking back to World War II, we had the mother of all racial bullying as Nazi’s killed Jews, Blacks, Christians, Gypsies, Homosexuals and more. Oftentimes started by name calling.
Have we learned nothing?