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We have not come through. Use a city without having faced. Three. But most of those were in the field. If that changed with. The hashtag. And she will not feel low. If you will help. With your strength and with a. Sense of decency for each other. Look. The. At the. Was. Was. A racist. I think that the school desegregation. Violence has spilled over into the streets. This has spilled over into neighborhoods. This was the face of the Boston showed the world in the fall of nine hundred seventy four thousand seventy five although most sections of the city.
Did erupt. It was vicious. Inspired by racial hate. More than once. President Gerald Ford put the. Bomb on alert for possible duty on the streets of the. American city. Three. Even the toughest neighborhoods are quiet. Part black and white children attend school together without incident. But that is only a sliver of Boston's story. The effect of desegregation here will not be known for years. Some vague readings are beginning to emerge but they are just as controversial and complex as the desegregation experience itself. One thing is certain Duisburg ation is no longer a story of resistance. It is finally the story of something more. The most obvious yardstick for measuring desegregation in this city is South Boston for it is here that quarter. Ration in the north met its fiercest resistance. And although four years later the anger lives on Southee has taken some grudging steps away from its reputation.
The buses still arrive with a police escort but now only four officers not four hundred. Greet them the screaming crowds are gone and students step off the bus as casually without the terror of students before them. Some remnants of the past do remain. For example these metal detectors were installed after the near fatal stabbing of a student almost three years ago. The open hatred and fear so long the hallmark of South Boston High have finally dissipated giving way to a lingering uneasiness. What strikes the visitor to sell the first is the small number of spots in the classes. Although this visit was in June a low attendance month and after the seniors graduated teachers said that even on the best of days there are only 4 to 8 students per class. I told them we had as many as 600 students in the building. That's hard to have ascertained from my viewpoint because some of the students at other locations 600 seems like a very very high number to me.
And you know if I were to estimate it would be would two or three hundred students. But I've been told I'm wrong. Desegregation was going so badly here in 1975 the Federal Court put the school under receivership. HEADMASTER Jerome weniger brought in by the court order has extraordinary powers in the school with considerable federal funding. Weniger and his staff change Southie from a traditional school to one filled with alternative programs. Frankly one of the reasons that we're having so few problems with kids is that there's more satisfaction in the classes and even at a time when there were 90 police officers and I did 35 staff in whatever and only 400 kids in school. We still couldn't keep from beating each other to death. The erratic attendance here was the worst problem that we have. I try to. Decide what my goals are going to be for the day of my goals will be for the week or the month. But I would be lying if I said that I could stick to that when I had three students on Monday and a different three three on Tuesday and a combination of the group on Wednesday I find
myself teaching the same lesson over and over. I always figured we had the worst attendance record in town I was in federal court two weeks ago and found out that out of 18 schools where I live which means there are seven schools and down who have a voice in this way of thinking the way and that's has to do with the nature of the way students are dealt with. At some point it is very very important and may be just as important to them frankly as to whether or not they do well. If I was 16 I think I'd be interested in going horseback riding or sailing and all those things. But I wouldn't be wearing a lot of these divisions in philosophy traditional learning versus loosely structured alternative programs are not unique to Southie. They confront urban school systems everywhere and are exacerbated here by forced integration. Still those on the front lines judge today by yesterday's experiences better than it was before. Like he said you know the class where.
They're going to classes are not that much walking the halls and stuff like that. It's nice this year. There's a lot more people attend than that used to be so but you like to start to realize that if you come to school you can learn to just stand home hanging on the corner. We're getting along better now. The atmosphere this year. Things so much nicer and easier laid back as the kids say it's come as a tremendous relief to the students and the teachers compared to what we've been through the last three years. It's a relief. It's South Boston High slowly integrating because of innovative programming because the troublemakers are gone because student numbers are low because the community finally grew tired of fighting. There are no easy answers here. But southeast seems indicative of the school system itself. It has come a long way in four years but has very far to go.
I think we've come miles up the road. We're now you know in a real learning process we've got to reeducate the people to the fact that a lot of good things going on in public education that desegregation did not carry with it the effect of the solid education and in many instances it meant the beginning. And that the overall environment the Boston Public Schools is a good one. You needed some help but a good one and I think that there is a recognition in the city now. Even the sharpest critics of desegregation agree that the so-called magnet program is ordered by the court which require university and business involvement in selected schools have meant new life for this aging political school system. Not only are there opportunities in art and drama but there are student internships at hospitals businesses. There are no blatant racial problems at the magnets and the magnets are oversubscribed each year. But whatever progress has been made it has been made at a heavy price in human and financial terms not including many of the elaborate programs. The first year tab for desegregation was 20 million dollars. Second year 30
million. Half of that each year for police overtime. The last two years the price has stabilized at about 12 million due largely to a drop in the excessive police costs although over half of all this is reimbursable through state and federal funds. Boston taxpayers are already carrying the highest property taxes in the country. Still struggle under the burden. The school budget remains high one hundred seventy five million dollars despite the fact Boston has lost twenty eight thousand white students since 1972. According to sociologist David Marr who is completing a study of that last the departure of 16000 students is directly attributable to desegregation. Those children transferred to parochial schools special academy set up after the court order and suburban schools but many high school students just dropped out for the lot again family in South Boston. Desegregation meant financial emotional and educational hardship. The first decision came easily. The children would not be
bused. Michelle stayed out of school for a year while Mrs. LONERGAN searched for a way to send them to a private academy. Doing what. Making beds fifty two beds in a sinkhole. The pay was 38 a week but I managed to put the children in school for two years which was 2000 and I was proud of myself. You know good job. You have your work. Right. But in another neighborhood of Boston West Roxbury there was a different story. Christina terminate attends a district school. She travels from one of the city's wealthier neighborhoods to one of its poorest. The location I really doesn't have too much to do with the school once you get inside that school there is everything humanly possible for a child in that school. Christina is in the absolute ideal situation because I couldn't wish anything I wish the high school that you could graduate from 12th grade from the like.
Many of Christina's fellow students walk from nearby Franklin Field housing projects. Idea Alison your. Children are wonderful. They can communicate at any place they they play the same games. They sing the same songs they sing them in the project in the backyard almost Roxbury and they really do get along beautifully there. I think that once they come here they're all equal. There are they all have the same tow tray they all have the same cheer they all have the same desk it doesn't matter what their bedroom looks like at home. And they don't really worry or wonder what each other's bedrooms look like at home and what they're what kind of TV they have they are there are equipped with the same things when they come to school.
The success of the school cannot erase one glaring problem is under-utilized with a capacity of one thousand only 600 seats are filled despite the caliber of the school white students who could attend have opted instead to leave the system. But the spirit within the school is not easily dampened. There was no uneasiness here and the only confrontation is between a lion and a scarecrow. I. Think. You. Can. Have so much more stuff over a swing. Music. So much. Let's get. You to get there with. The. People. And you get to make a. Friend. The school was terrific and it does have a great reputation but I've taught in seven other schools in the city and I still would defend the system. Initial image obviously was one of what's happening the boss and I wouldn't want to be there.
Isn't it horrible. I think now that there's more cities desegregate and experienced the same problems. The guilty finger no longer points in Boston quite as heavily as it did before. But the confusing part of our image is the the new thrust of the school system the magnet programs and success of the magnet programs. The new overall stability that's come to the system at this time is confusing to those outside it thought the Boston would never recover. It. Was. Not. Like. Things are relative. The Boston school system is especially so. It's progress since quarter to desegregation is made impressive in large part by what the schools were before deliberately segregated stubbornly old
fashioned rife with political patronage. The system is changing now slowly thanks to significant parental involvement and a shift in the citys political leaders away from busing rhetoric to quality in the schools and the city at its heart a poor city has been forced to confront its own anger. I think the city is better because now everything is only open. People say Well everything is fine here. We have no problems. Everybody gets along fine you know I went to school black people of color. Some people say we never had any problems. That school on that cover is off. And we can no longer hide behind. That kind of couple. Four years later the federal courts still rules over Boston schools. Fact remains inconclusive. And I just graduated from school. It's worth it. So.
Yes. Not. A. Oh. Yeah.
Ten O'Clock News
Boston school desegregation review
Contributing Organization
WGBH (Boston, Massachusetts)
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Episode Description
Some sound dropout at the beginning of the tape. Pam Bullard's 1978 review of school desegregation in Boston. The review focuses on the effects of desegregation on South Boston High School and the Joseph Lee School. Bullard reports that attendance is low at South Boston High School, but the school atmosphere and programs have improved. Bullard reports that the Joseph Lee School is a good example of a successfully integrated elementary school. The story includes footage of Kevin White (Mayor, City of Boston) and interviews with Ruth Batson (African American community activist), Jerome Wynegar (headmaster, South Boston High School), David Finnegan (Boston School Committee), Robert Peterkin (headmaster, English High School). Bullard also interviews teachers and students at the Lee School and South Boston High School. The report ends with footage of students at the Lee School performing in a play of "The Wizard of Oz."
Series Description
Ten O'Clock News was a nightly news show, featuring reports, news stories, and interviews on current events in Boston and the world.
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Raw Footage
White, Kevin H.; Finnegan, David I.; School integration; Busing for school integration; School attendance; teachers; students; schools; classrooms
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Publisher: WGBH Educational Foundation
Reporter2: Bullard, Pam
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Identifier: f5009919937af29bcb96daafc1a100a5460d6eaf (ArtesiaDAM UOI_ID)
Format: video/quicktime
Color: Color
Duration: 00:00:00
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Chicago: “Ten O'Clock News; Boston school desegregation review,” 1978-06-01, WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed February 24, 2024,
MLA: “Ten O'Clock News; Boston school desegregation review.” 1978-06-01. WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Web. February 24, 2024. <>.
APA: Ten O'Clock News; Boston school desegregation review. Boston, MA: WGBH, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from