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There are few things that are purely American. On that short list are baseball and the two-year community college. Bill Jason Priest possessed skill and acumen for both. The better part of his life was spent developing and defining the junior college into the comprehensive community college. His contributions earned him a prestigious place in the annals of higher education, but his personality was not one of a stereotypical stodgy educator, nor is the story of his life a dry read. After working his way through college, Priest played professional baseball before serving in Naval Intelligence during World War II. His varied experiences helped shape his leadership style, often labeled as autocratic and sometimes truculent in conservative convictions. The same relentless drive that brought him criticism also brought him success and praise. Forthright honesty and risk-taking determination combined with vision brought about many positive results. Priest’s career in higher education began with the two-year college system in California before he was lured to Texas in 1965 to head the Dallas County Junior College District. Over the next fifteen years Priest transformed the junior college program into the Dallas County Community College District (DCCCD) and built it up to seven colleges. He performed major roles in the evolution of nursing education, the founding of a telecommunications center for the production of televised courses, the delivery and acceptance of vocational education, and in greater breadth in noncredit courses. After his retirement in 1981, he continued to serve as Chancellor Emeritus until 2003. Drawing from archives as well as from numerous interviews with Priest and his personal and professional associates, Kathleen Krebbs Whitson presents the life of a giant in Texas education and reveals his lasting influence upon the community college movement.
Students, Segregationists, and the Struggle for Justice in Prince Edward County, Virginia
In 1959, Prince Edward County, Virginia, abolished its public school system in opposition to the landmark decision against school segregation, Brown v. Board of Education. It took five years and another Supreme Court decision for the county to reopen public school doors. Titus explores the background of the crisis, the period in which the schools were closed, and the repercussions of this educational tragedy. She focuses on the years between 1951 (when black students walked out of the decrepit Moton High School) and 1969 (when black students staged a second strike), but also carries the story up to the present to demonstrate the consequences of the county's years of massive resistance to desegregation. Titus show that the Prince Edward County story is a vital chapter of America's civil rights story. While there have been journalistic, autobiographical, and fictional stories about the educational crisis, there has been no scholarly treatment of the subject. In 1965 the Press published journalist Bob Smith's They Closed Their Schools: Prince Edward County, Virginia, 1951-1964. However, Titus has a wealth of new archival material to draw upon and takes a broader perspective.
A Test of Anglophone Solidarity
This book richly documents the battles fought by the Anglophone community in Cameroon to safeguard the General Certificate of Education (GCE), a symbol of their cherished colonial heritage from Britain, from attempts by agents of the Ministry of National Education to subvert it. These battles opposed a mobilised and determined Anglophone civil society against numerous machinations by successive Francophone-dominated governments to destroy their much prided educational system in the name of 'national integration'. When Southern Cameroonians re-united with La R?publique du Cameroun in 1961, they claimed that they were bringing into the union 'a fine education system' from which their Francophone compatriots could borrow. Instead, they found themselves battling for decades to save their way of life. Central to their concerns and survival as a community is an urgent need for cultural recognition and representation, of which an educational system free of corruption and trivialisation through politicisation is a key component.
Activism in the Community
Much of the history of Mexican American educational reform efforts has focused on campaigns to eliminate discrimination in public schools. However, as historian Guadalupe San Miguel demonstrates in Chicana/o Struggles for Education: Activisim in the Community, the story is much broader and more varied than that.
While activists certainly challenged discrimination, they also worked for specific public school reforms and sought private schooling opportunities, utilizing new patterns of contestation and advocacy. In documenting and reviewing these additional strategies, San Miguel’s nuanced overview and analysis offers enhanced insight into the quest for equal educational opportunity to new generations of students.
San Miguel addresses questions such as what factors led to change in the 1960s and in later years; who the individuals and organizations were that led the movements in this period and what motivated them to get involved; and what strategies were pursued, how they were chosen, and how successful they were. He argues that while Chicana/o activists continued to challenge school segregation in the 1960s as earlier generations had, they broadened their efforts to address new concerns such as school funding, testing, English-only curricula, the exclusion of undocumented immigrants, and school closings. They also advocated cultural pride and memory, inclusion of the Mexican American community in school governance, and opportunities to seek educational excellence in private religious, nationalist, and secular schools.
The profusion of strategies has not erased patterns of de facto segregation and unequal academic achievement, San Miguel concludes, but it has played a key role in expanding educational opportunities. The actions he describes have expanded, extended, and diversified the historic struggle for Mexican American education.
Chicano Education in the Era of Segregation analyzes the socioeconomic origins of the theory and practice of segregated schooling for Mexican-Americans from 1910 to 1950. Gilbert G. Gonzalez links the various aspects of the segregated school experience, discussing Americanization, testing, tracking, industrial education, and migrant education as parts of a single system designed for the processing of the Mexican child as a source of cheap labor. The movement for integration began slowly, reaching a peak in the 1940s and 1950s. The 1947 Mendez v. Westminster case was the first federal court decision and the first application of the Fourteenth Amendment to overturn segregation based on the “separate but equal” doctrine. This paperback features an extensive new Preface by the author discussing new developments in the history of segregated schooling. “[Gonzalez] successfully identifies the socioeconomic and political roots of the inequality of education of Chicanos. . . . It is an important historical and policy source for understanding current and future issues affecting the education of Chicanos.”—Dennis J. Bixler-Marquez, International Migration Review
Fictions of the Past in U.S. Classrooms
For more than three decades, the same children’s historical novels have been taught across the United States. Honored for their literary quality and appreciated for their alignment with social studies curricula, the books have flourished as schools moved from whole-language to phonics and from student-centered learning to standardized testing. Books like Johnny Tremain, The Witch of Blackbird Pond, Island of the Blue Dolphins, and Roll of Thunder, Hear Me Cry stimulate children’s imagination, transporting them into the American past and projecting them into an American future. As works of historical interpretation, however, many are startlingly out of step with current historiography and social sensibilities, especially with regard to race. Unlike textbooks, which are replaced on regular cycles and subjected to public tugs-of-war between the left and right, historical novels have simply—and quietly—endured. Taken individually, many present troubling interpretations of the American past. But embraced collectively, this classroom canon provides a rare pedagogical opportunity: it captures a range of interpretive voices across time and place, a kind of “people’s history” far removed from today’s state-sanctioned textbooks. Teachers who employ historical novels in the classroom can help students recognize and interpret historical narrative as the product of research, analytical perspective, and the politics of the time. In doing so, they sensitize students to the ways in which the past is put to moral and ideological uses in the present. Featuring separate chapters on American Indians, war, and slavery, Child-Sized History tracks the changes in how young readers are taught to conceptualize history and the American nation.
Madison and the New Left in the Sixties
As the Cold War between the United States and the Soviet Union escalated in the 1950s and 1960s, the federal government directed billions of dollars to American universities to promote higher enrollments, studies of foreign languages and cultures, and, especially, scientific research. In Cold War University, Matthew Levin traces the paradox that developed: higher education became increasingly enmeshed in the Cold War struggle even as university campuses became centers of opposition to Cold War policies. The partnerships between the federal government and major research universities sparked a campus backlash that provided the foundation, Levin argues, for much of the student dissent that followed. At the University of Wisconsin in Madison, one of the hubs of student political activism in the 1950s and 1960s, the protests reached their flashpoint with the 1967 demonstrations against campus recruiters from Dow Chemical, the manufacturers of napalm. Levin documents the development of student political organizations in Madison in the 1950s and the emergence of a mass movement in the decade that followed, adding texture to the history of national youth protests of the time. He shows how the University of Wisconsin tolerated political dissent even at the height of McCarthyism, an era named for Wisconsin's own virulently anti-Communist senator, and charts the emergence of an intellectual community of students and professors that encouraged new directions in radical politics. Some of the events in Madison—especially the 1966 draft protests, the 1967 sit-in against Dow Chemical, and the 1970 Sterling Hall bombing—have become part of the fabric of "The Sixties," touchstones in an era that continues to resonate in contemporary culture and politics.
Fighting for Literacy in America
The first woman elected superintendent of schools in Rowan County, Kentucky, Cora Wilson Stewart (1875–1958) realized that a major key to overcoming the illiteracy that plagued her community was to educate adult illiterates. To combat this problem, Stewart opened up her schools to adults during moonlit evenings in the winter of 1911. The result was the creation of the Moonlight Schools, a grassroots movement dedicated to eliminating illiteracy in one generation. Following Stewart’s lead, educators across the nation began to develop similar literacy programs; within a few years, Moonlight Schools had emerged in Minnesota, South Carolina, and other states. Cora Wilson Stewart and Kentucky’s Moonlight Schools examines these institutions and analyzes Stewart’s role in shaping education at the state and national levels. To improve their literacy, Moonlight students learned first to write their names and then advanced to practical lessons about everyday life. Stewart wrote reading primers for classroom use, designing them for rural people, soldiers, Native Americans, prisoners, and mothers. Each set of readers focused on the knowledge that individuals in the target group needed to acquire to be better citizens within their community. The reading lessons also emphasized the importance of patriotism, civic responsibility, Christian morality, heath, and social progress. Yvonne Honeycutt Baldwin explores the “elusive line between myth and reality” that existed in the rhetoric Stewart employed in order to accomplish her crusade. As did many educators engaged in benevolent work during the Progressive Era, Stewart sometimes romanticized the plight of her pupils and overstated her successes. As she traveled to lecture about the program in other states interested in addressing the problem of illiteracy, she often reported that the Moonlight Schools took one mountain community in Kentucky “from moonshine and bullets to lemonade and Bibles.” All rhetoric aside, the inclusive Moonlight Schools ultimately taught thousands of Americans in many under-served communities across the nation how to read and write. Despite the many successes of her programs, when Stewart retired in 1932, the crusade against adult illiteracy had yet to be won. Cora Wilson Stewart presents the story of a true pioneer in adult literacy and an outspoken advocate of women’s political and professional participation and leadership. Her methods continue to influence literacy programs and adult education policy and practice.