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This is the 17th in a series of programs and titled seeds of discontent presenting the program tonight as Harvard Smith Jr. assistant professor in the School of Social Work Wayne State University Professor Smith. Tonight's program again deals with the subject of public education and its special problems as it relates to the American Negro. As indicated on last week's program education quality education has been a major concern of Negro citizens since attempts at emancipation began after the Civil War. Both negro educators and education were in the forefront of drives for civil rights during the past 20 years. Most of the Negro citizens interviewed thus far in our programs seem to place the same degree of importance on education and feel that more rapid improvement must be made in this area for both white and black before this country can ever hope to solve its racial problems. Many felt that this could not come about unless the entire system of education was restructured. On last week's program we interviewed Mr. Robert Kennedy
a negro specialist in the area program development and school and community relations for the Board of Education. Mr. Cannon is one of the persons involved in bridging the gap between the school system and various inner city communities and hopes of making it more responsive to the needs of citizens most of whom in the Detroit area are Negro. He made two points last week that should be emphasized again. During the past the school has not always been responsive and relevant to the needs of many inner city children especially Negro children. Class size building conditions and space have been totally inadequate. It was his feeling that it was not so much a case of not knowing what to do but one of not having the equipment or staff to do it with the consequences have been that many Negro children are missed. Some are pushed out. Some drop out. According to Mr. Cannon the Detroit Board of
Education is trying but he characterized the struggle as one similar to fighting Goligoski with less than a slingshot. There is a more damaging indictment of schools. Last year two consultants to the Presidents Crime Commission made the following comment. The schools have not adequately adapted to new social and economic conditions with the result that the shortcomings contribute to heightened delinquency. The consultant said that the schools themselves are forcing students to drop out in some cases by failing to concentrate on slow learners by pre-judging slum children as those whose learning abilities are lower than middle class white peoples and in some instances labeling children as troublemakers. Passing the word among teachers and making conditions so unconquerable that they use want to leave school. In a recent article in a publication called the Community School and instead ministration sponsored by the Mott
Foundation said that far far too many parents and educators see the school as a kind of intellectual and debater where knowledge is hatched when youngsters sit in their school seats a certain number of days in the school year. For tonight's program we will again listen to commentaries by Mr. Cannon and other special problems of administering quality education for all. In addition you will hear the comments of another negro administrator Mr. Herschel Fort director of the program development division of the Detroit board of education is highly important that an in-depth understanding of the problems of education for Negro children be achieved. We are ever to understand the discontent and anger of many Negro citizens. Continued failure in this area can only lead to mounting social problems and nihilistic protest. Let us begin with Mr. forward statistical reporting reporting. In recent years has talked about increasing the
rate of drop bombs and I believe in the last two years some research here in Michigan has toyed with the idea of the high school. Push out whatever the case I'd like your response to this. This term push out from your point of view if you were to Valentine I'd also like some of my remarks from you regarding why does it appear that we are we are missing so many youngsters and so many youngsters at age 16 decide to give up to go some other place and try to get money other ways besides. How about working out a skill tree. I think the comment was certainly valid. We noticed for example in many inner city schools of that of the dropout rate is as high as 50 percent as many as 50 percent of the youngsters are
winter the high school in the tenth grade. You cannot continue to graduation in the 12th grade and I think one of the reasons for this as on the part of the students they perceive that education for them at that local high school level is not really relevant. It is not a meeting of their needs as they see their needs. And this again presents a challenge to a school system to design a program that will begin to make sense to youngsters that will begin to meet the needs of these youngsters and will begin to encourage them to stay in school. Now my concept of education certainly at the high school level is this. I believe that a high school is doing its job. It will one graduate at least 90 percent of its youngsters. And once these youngsters who have graduated from high school they will have the capability of finding a job in industry or business
which will give them a healthy income. Or to me it will give the monk the opportunity and provide the chance for them to continue their education either at a local university or college or at some institution that will allow them to further their education and to continue their education. Many negro youngsters feel that the education that they are receiving at the high school level really doesn't make sense to them. And as a result they are really better off by leaving in high school and going somewhere else into a job or maybe even walking the streets. And again this presents a challenge to two educators to do something about it. It means one modifying the curriculum so that youngsters will see some sense in going to school. It means too that we must attract. Professional personnel educators and administrators who see the need for identifying with these
youngsters of working with them. It means that we've got to do something in the whole area of guidance and counseling. As you probably know as many of us probably know the average counselor in our high school today is really not providing any great counseling and guidance assistance to pupils. They're too busy with the record keeping and with attendance and tardiness problems and and dealing with the so-called problem child to provide active kind counseling and guidance for these youngsters. It means it seems to me that we must add to the staff of the counseling personnel in our local high schools and we do see this counselor pupil ratio so that counselors can go once and through our provide the kind of in-depth guidance and assistance that the peoples need. It means that that people in the local industry the people in the in the in the universities and colleges must feel that they also have a responsibility to these youngsters. It means
that they must come into the school. They must begin to know these students they must show them that they are concerned and interested in their problems and that they will in fact be willing to invest their time and their money their energies into their concerns into the problems that these youngsters have in fact experienced over the years. If a youngster feels that that all hope is lost that teachers don't concern that there is no hope. As far as college or continuing their education is concerned then they are in fact going to give up. So it's a total society process it seems or problem it seems to me. Educators must be concerned. People in the industry and business in the local universities and colleges most also indicate that they they they have be a legitimate reason for being in that local school and must communicate this this concern to the student body.
And the area of what we call motivation helping the youngsters more or less. To achieve a desire to learn to have some successful experiences within the school system. Now as we know there are areas where people because of both historical reasons and because of cyber shit present day realities cannot become as as as totally involved in supporting the education of their child as we would like them to be. I think this is a fact of history within this area within this problem group as we go on the ground to know what kinds of special things are being done in this here field and the fines and the stamping. That he has been allocated in this area is going to be sufficient to meet the challenge.
I will let me say that I do not believe that the funds that have not been allocated are sufficient. I'm saying that massive amounts of additional support must be forthcoming and I'm suggesting that perhaps the federal government at this moment in history is the only agency or department of our governmental system that can provide the kinds of massive support. What are some of the specific problems and the number of citizens who seem to have some resistance to federal law. Large scale of federal action in this area there is this feeling that schools are local managers and should be handled strictly on the local level for the most part. But what to do within this local structure. The support of education and the local structure what are some of the basic problems and defects in this series.
Let me respond to this by saying this. I do not believe that Negro citizens per se are opposed to federal aid assistance to education because I think that the Negro population recognizes the fact that our school system is not equipped financially to do the kind of massive job that has to be done. And as a result the federal government must in fact become involved in the educational process. I think the negro citizen the U.S. citizen we say that we want to have some say some. Way of becoming involved in the way that federal moneys are expended Historically as you know the citizens of the have not or operative reasons been involved in the in the priority setting for programs in the in the decision making process that goes on in the local school and they are now saying and I think rather legitimately that if this is federal money then by my legislative eat it
we must become involved. We must state our concerns. We must issue our recommendations and we must invite share in the decision making process. I think that's true certainly in terms of Negro citizens. I think though that looking at the community as we have at large I think there's great fear maybe perhaps mainly on the part of white citizens in terms of federal action in this particular area. And I'm wondering about the whole question of intergration. He quality of opportunity from the point of view of classroom space the right of Negro citizens to have their kids go to to to any schoolyard least some of the issues and maybe underline a certain kind of local resistance that we see in this area. I think that many white citizens if I may be honest about it fear that with
federal programs necessarily comes integration of the races in terms of student involvement and student interaction. And certainly the federal government has made it very clear as evidenced by the 1954 Supreme Court decision that quality integration quality education must be an integrated education. And I think our school system supports this notion. But at the same time I think we must also recognize that within a school district where pretty 5 percent of the student population is Negro and 25 percent is white then it's almost mathematically impossible to achieve any lasting racial balance in our schools. And as a result of this I think that our thrust must be to quote one I think we must. Explore every possible avenue for integrating our classrooms wherever this is possible. But Khan currently and very importantly we must also recognize that there is a large segment of black children in
our school system who need to be educated and as a result we must do everything that is within our possibility within our control to give them quality educational opportunities which may in fact be segregated education. And this is the case then so be it. We have a responsibility to educate all people which includes negro youngsters as well. And I'm not convinced personally and I'm speaking personally that a Negro youngster cannot receive a quality education or a decent education because it's segregated I'm convinced that every kid whether he be black or white is A.O. and should be educated. And there is nothing to indicate that to me at least that just because you place a long signed a white youngster that he is necessarily going to receive quality education. The problem is I think much more deep seated than this. It means that the first of all he must be provided with the kind of classroom
setting that enhances education such as a classroom size that is 25 or 20 or perhaps even less. He must have adequate equipment. He must have and most importantly must have teachers who are convinced that he can learn who are committed to the notion that negotiators are not animals who are convinced that the negro youngsters are capable of learning once the opportunity is presented for them to learn. It also means that we must have principals who feel the same way and we must also have the support of community people and parents who must also convince him that he is capable of learning and capable of receiving a good education. Many have taken the position however. That. As long as the present statistics in terms of the amount of Negro youngsters as opposed to the amount of white youngsters
are in a particular school system that there will be no quality education and secondly that there will be the problem in terms of how this social awareness of different kinds of people which area which we all recognise as a as a necessary as a necessary experience of growth. Government are responsible citizens and this does pose and somewhat of a problem in terms of how can not only Negroes here but White kids be prepared to live in any world where reason can be used where people can live together as people going to separate districts. I think it's a good question and one that proves to be cognisant to school districts such as Detroit where you have a majority of its population either white or black. As is the case in Detroit and certainly the ideal that a democracy is for all youngsters to have experiences
with very In kinds of racial ethnic and cultural groupings. And this is the ideal and it's a goal that we should continually strive to meet. Let's turn now to Mr Cannon. The community relations specialist last week emphasized the need for large scale federal funding and participation. I asked him to respond to what is being provided now how and in tribulation shipped to the total need in terms of the total number see the job it has been. Pitifully. Pitifully too little. I we don't care how you consider the problem. When you look at what those funds are designed to do. There is too much. Designing a program and cutting back on funds. There is too much what we feel.
Plainly it's politics. Tied to the kinds of programs that come out of Washington. We wish that this were not true. But it's a world in which we live. But it's the nature of the people because all people in America do not view the problem the same. And politicians who make programs who pass bills and debate them. At the federal level determine the bills that are passed and all too often they are political considerations. So we are now. Operating programs not on the basis of need but on the very basis of. Our resources. Which are available to be dispersed over the many needs which we have. Last week Mr. Cannon also placed great emphasis on community involvement and participation. He continues this theme in the following dialogue.
You place great emphasis there. Community participation or community involvement. And yet on the other hand there are angry people and people who feel that somehow you don't want their participation. Now I'm looking at this from a concept of maximum feasible. The dissipation clause as it's stated in many of the guidelines for programs. Are there limitations and then asked Do you feel there are other perceptual problems just just what are some problems in theory. When you ask me this one it makes me smile. Because it is one of the really challenging. Directives I'm 1068. We hear self-determination. We hear involvement. We hear people
say that nobody listens to us. We hear you'll tell us what's good for us and we aren't buying it anymore. We hear take your money and go home. We would rather burn down the streets and let you know that we reject the American dream. Rather than continue to have you tell us. What to do. In such a climate the Detroit public school is operating. In too many places. In such a climate. We are saying there is a significant area of citizen participation. The citizens must first start talking about how bad we are and staying home. But they must come and sit down and try to relate with us and understand that as we will have that it many in that are unfortunate in trying experiences with them they will find us also trying very very trying because all of the many strangers in the public schools have not learned this
and it is something which we all must learn. That some of us who say that maximum feasible participation is interpreted by Sun by taking over the school system administering without any of the responsibilities. In some cases. There are citizens who say that all they want you to do is do is to. Participate by giving. By signing off and agreeing that we can spend the government's money in a way that we want to and really it isn't either of those. It is learning how and notice I say learning how and we don't know how this is done now having enough openness and trust to operate at a new dimension that the people learn that they have no opportunities and new responsibilities. And that at school people throughout learn that there's a new voice in the land and that people are going to participate. And they must learn to sit down and
share this I think is the great great directive of 68 when as many principals as we have or as many teachers as we have or as many custodians as we have many administrators top administrators as we have it is reasonable to feel that some a matter of the message. What do you do about those who have not heard. They are with us increasing in in increasingly small numbers now because so many have heard and the hope of the system lies in getting people who have heard to offer direction at every local school level and it is critical and it is known in the school system it is critical. When operating a school system is not a simple matter. You just don't wave a magic wand with 15000 people
and they all do what they need to do or what they should do. And one of the most challenging. And one of the most just plain scary hard for. Considerations. Is. What do you do about those people who don't hear. What do you do. You don't dig holes and put them in. And yet the Detroit Public Schools must be accountable. They must meet the challenge of this time. What about me. This leads me into another area which certainly is related to the most emotional historical sense. Problem of integration of grade school districts and rated cars for most cities large cities throughout the country.
Certainly it's rather obvious that they have this problem. What do you see being done now. What do you see being done in the future do you feel like the national mood and whole structure that is one primarily global control is going to be able to come to grips with this drug problem. De facto segregation of schools public school administrators just like everyone else has to recognize the fact of life is that we live in a segregated society. That's the fact and that you have that and that the vast majority of the schools are and will continue to be and if the direction continues increasingly. Segregated. Now you really have a choice. I just go down. I design a program and get going with it that permits you to educate the young in a segregated school. That's a fact of life.
To argue the desirability of integration. Of course we know that it is most desirable for all children. These are the truckers who thinks he is committed to quality integrated education. We have programs. Which CGs try area program a shared experience program which which is attempting to do. To offer some people an opportunity to live and to learn in an integrated setting. But it is pitifully. Inadequate. The fact is. That our children are going to neighborhood schools in 1968. The fact is that we have a responsibility to educate those children in the schools where they are. It is a fact of 68 that we must concern ourselves with putting the people the services the facilities and the commitment and the
climate. Into that school that teaches a child to be able to compete in the greater American society was the Unity assurance and self-respect it's overwhelmingly are but one LO expects and solution for the locals. Or again are we going to have to go back to the Iraq amendment. In Syria we're going to have to get the money. In 1968 69 and immediate future in the federal government because local people are not ready to do this. But there are so many things our personnel practices making inadequate people accountable. These are things which we can do and the public schools increasingly do and then we are able to demonstrate naturalized. To the people who they are but demonstrate it and share with them many of the policy making
decisions and let them participate in being acquainted with. And in some areas determining the direction of our program. Then we are well on the way toward making things better for children because as long as hostile and alienated parents and community people send hostile and alienated children to our classroom we are doing nothing more contributing to burn baby burn. This then is the challenge of both now and the future for America and the American Negro. If we do not meet the challenge it can only mean more pain suffering bitterness anger distrust and resistance to authority without rational reference to the intent of authority. The resulting conditions could mean greater internal conflict division and destruction. And next week we continue our examination on this crucial question of discontent among American Negroes.
You have just heard Harvard Smith Jr. assistant professor in the School of Social Work Wayne State University. Seeds of discontent is engineered by David pears and produced by Dave Lewis for Wayne State University Radio. This program was distributed by the national educational radio network.
Seeds of discontent
Episode Number
Episode 17 of 26
Producing Organization
Wayne State University
WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland (College Park, Maryland)
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Series Description
For series info, see Item 3313 and 3314. This prog.: The American Negro and public education, as a source of both hope and frustration. Addresses serious problems confronting present day school systems in large metropolitan areas.
Social Issues
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Producing Organization: Wayne State University
Producing Organization: WDET (Radio station : Detroit, Mich.)
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University of Maryland
Identifier: 68-15-17 (National Association of Educational Broadcasters)
Format: 1/4 inch audio tape
Duration: 00:29:52
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Chicago: “Seeds of discontent; Episode 17 of 26,” 1968-04-01, University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC, accessed June 5, 2023,
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APA: Seeds of discontent; Episode 17 of 26. Boston, MA: University of Maryland, American Archive of Public Broadcasting (GBH and the Library of Congress), Boston, MA and Washington, DC. Retrieved from