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Jspr Vol 25-N2

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The Journal of School Public Relations is a quarterly publication providing research, analysis, case studies and descriptions of best practices in six critical areas of school administration: public relations, school and community relations, community education, communication, conflict management/resolution, and human resources management. Practitioners, policymakers, consultants and professors rely on the Journal for cutting-edge ideas and current knowledge. Articles are a blend of research and practice addressing contemporary issues ranging from passing bond referenda to building support for school programs to integrating modern information.

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THEME ISSUE: Schooling and Education After 50 Years of Brown v. Board of Education

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LENOAR FOSTER

Fifty years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Americans remain a changed and transformed people because of the spirit that continues to energize the principles underlying this decision: equal access for equal opportunity.

Some of the ways in which we have been transformed stand in stark contrast to the era prior to 1954. We work together in hopes of achieving the great American dream that allows each of us to aspire and to achieve to our best abilities. We invite opportunities to enrich each other’s lives in the bigger panorama of American life and activism. But the rhetoric is far from the reality of our lives in the very place where it began in the schools of this nation.

Despite almost half a century of school desegregation mandated by the Brown decision, some observers believe that the promise of equal education for all students is at great risk. Recent demographic profiles indicate that our public schools have experienced a continuous 12-year cycle of “resegregation,” a trend that suggests that the ultimate goal of this landmark decision has yet to be achieved.

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Notes From the Guest Editor

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LENOAR FOSTER

Fifty years after the U.S. Supreme Court handed down the unanimous decision in Brown v. Board of Education (1954), Americans remain a changed and transformed people because of the spirit that continues to energize the principles underlying this decision: equal access for equal opportunity.

Some of the ways in which we have been transformed stand in stark contrast to the era prior to 1954. We work together in hopes of achieving the great American dream that allows each of us to aspire and to achieve to our best abilities. We invite opportunities to enrich each other’s lives in the bigger panorama of American life and activism. But the rhetoric is far from the reality of our lives in the very place where it began in the schools of this nation.

Despite almost half a century of school desegregation mandated by the Brown decision, some observers believe that the promise of equal education for all students is at great risk. Recent demographic profiles indicate that our public schools have experienced a continuous 12-year cycle of “resegregation,” a trend that suggests that the ultimate goal of this landmark decision has yet to be achieved.

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Fifty Years Down the Road: Have We Lost Our Way?

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ANGELA STEPHENS MCINTOSH

TONIKA DUREN GREEN

ABSTRACT: Over the course of the past five decades, we have embarked on the path toward educational equity that is strewn with obstacles and roadblocks, forcing us onto a winding path with the end not yet in sight. In order to fulfill the legacy of Brown, attention should be applied to the reconceptualization of multicultural education as an operationalized plan of action to end educational inequities of diverse students. We propose a reformed perspective on multicultural education that includes attention to school community relations and professional development as a new direction to improve the quality of schooling for all children.

The 50th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education provides an opportunity for educators, researchers, activists, and policymakers to commemorate the 1954 ruling, called “one of the most important decisions ever issued by the U.S. Supreme Court” (Anonymous, 2002, p. 11). The 50th anniversary of this landmark ruling is a reminder that all children have the right to high-quality education (p. 11). Despite the Brown decision, serious inequities still exist within our nation’s schools. Students from culturally and linguistically diverse backgrounds often do not fare well in public education and are plagued by problems such as the achievement gap, overrepresentation in special education, high suspension and expulsion rates, and high dropout rates (Jencks & Phillips, 1998; Losen & Orfield, 2002; Townsend, 2000). This half-century-old mandate for racial desegregation in schools has been insufficient to remove the countless barriers to equitable quality education for students from diverse cultural or linguistic backgrounds that exist in public education. It is, perhaps, unrealistic to expect that legislation primarily concerned with access should be the sole vehicle toward educational equity. Although the intent of the court was clear, in the wake of the Brown decision, many wrong turns have been taken on the pathway to equal educational opportunity for all students. Still, the path remains strewn with obstacles and roadblocks in the form of biases, prejudices, and misunderstandings, and the road is muddied by failure to look beyond the architectural parameters of school buildings to find valid solutions. Given that the quality of education is highly influenced by social, psychological, and economic factors, it is clear that legislation must be accompanied by effective action plans that address school, student, and community interactions and define specialized training for the professionals who facilitate those interactions.

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Rediscovering Ethnic Identity Development in Public Schools 50 Years After the Brown Decision: The Case of Malcolm Moor

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ANDRÉ J. BRANCH

ABSTRACT: Since the Brown decision of 1954, American society has moved from a position of seeing no redeeming value in black culture to acknowledging that African Americans have rich cultures worth celebrating. This article reports the case of Malcolm Moor, an African American teacher who believes it is his responsibility and obligation to nurture ethnicity in his high school students through curriculum. In this case study, school public relations specialists are provided with valuable information for equipping themselves to articulate to school administrators, counselors, and teachers effective strategies for meeting the ethnic identity development needs of African American students.

Asignificant, and compelling, part of the argument that Thurgood Marshall used in the landmark case of Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka Kansas was that the segregated school system had damaged and was continuing to damage African American children by inflicting them with a negative self-concept (Cross, 1991). Prior to the Brown case, “Negro self-hatred,” as the negative self-concept was called, was firmly established in the scientific literature (Kardiner & Ovesey, 1951; Myrdal, 1944). Through his expert witness, Kenneth Clark, himself a believer in the Negro self-hatred paradigm, Marshall argued that because black culture offered no redeeming qualities, black children needed integrated schools to, among other things, deliver them from their self-hatred by putting them in the company of whites.

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African American Parental Involvement in a Post-Brown Era: Facilitating the Academic Achievement of African American Students

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LINDA C. TILLMAN

ABSTRACT: The Brown v. Board of Education decision defined public education for African Americans in the United States. In this article I discuss the tradition of African American parental involvement in the pre-Brown era, challenges to parental involvement in a post-Brown era, and a parental involvement initiative in an urban elementary school. I conclude with a discussion of the continued imperative for African American parental involvement and some implications for leadership.

The 1954 Brown v. Board of Education decision has in many ways defined public education for African Americans in the United States. An important aspect of the Brown decision is the role of African American parents and the African American community in the education of its children. It is significant that this discussion appears in the Journal of School Public Relations, since this landmark decision not only affected African American students and their parents, the judicial system, and education policymakers, but the African American community as well. The positive and negative consequences of the Brown decision have had long-term effects on the African American community’s participation in the education of its children.

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Thinking Outside the (Bricks-and-Mortar) Box(es): Using Cyberspace Technology to Reconceptualize Schooling and Community in the Face of Resegregation

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JONATHAN D. BECKER

ABSTRACT: As the 50th anniversary of the landmark Brown v. Board of Education decision arrives, a notably gesellschaftliche (individualist, freedom-oriented, rationalist) paradigm in the education policy agenda prevails. That is to say, in the wake of a series of Supreme Court decisions and the proliferation of publicly funded, ethnocentric charter schools in the past few decades, this country has moved away from Brown’s celebrated ideals and closer to the old idea of “separate but equal.” Furthermore, the disconnect is occurring along racial and cultural lines. Thus, if we are to achieve the benefits of diversity in schooling and create a more gemeinschaftliche (communitarian, help-oriented, democratic) orientation in education, we must think outside of the box; we must think digitally. The Internet as an embodiment of multiple forms of computer-mediated communications is a notably communal space imbued with gemeinschaftliche properties. Thus, to the traditional forms of schooling, we should look to add the community-building nature of computer-mediated communications to create virtual learning communities that bring together young people of different racial, cultural, economic and/or geographic identifications.

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Talking About Race in Schools Post-Brown: A Public Relations Challenge

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ROBERT COOPER

ESTELLA WILLIAMS CHIZHIK

ABSTRACT: The Brown v. Board of Education of 50 years ago was perhaps the most significant school reform implemented in American education. The goal of this landmark decision was to end public school segregation and introduce racially integrated schools. Now in the 21st century and clearly in the shadows of this decision, we argue that the hope and promise of Brown v. Board of Education has not been realized. Many public schools are still segregated and those that are racially and ethnically integrated face segregated classrooms as a result of white flight and college tracking. We argue that Brown v. Board of Education, the most racially explicit school reform enacted in 50 years, can be made more effective through additional racially minded and social justice reforms. Specifically, public school administrators and teachers can promote racial equity academically and socially by promoting learning opportunities, shaping the discourse about race, and developing multicultural curriculum.

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Administrator and Teacher Recruitment and Selection Post-Brown: Issues, Challenges, and Strategies

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LENOAR FOSTER

ABSTRACT: The number of African American teachers and principals in the nation’s schools has declined precipitously since the legal decision rendered in Brown v. Board of Education. In this article I explore the historical and contemporary reasons for the decline in the numbers of African American educators in U.S. public schools and relate the negative effects this situation has had on the school life and achievement of African American students. Several strategies are offered as proactive means to increase the number of African American educators in schools throughout the nation. It is clear, however, that these strategies will be futile unless school districts possess a deep commitment to increase the diversity of the teaching and administrative staffs of their schools.

School districts throughout the nation are finding it difficult, if not close to impossible, to recruit sufficient numbers of people of color for positions as teachers and principals. This is particularly true in the recruitment of African American candidates for these positions. Currently, the representation of African Americans in the teaching and administrator corps in American schools contrasts markedly with the numbers of these educators who served in schools nearly 50 years ago. For example, in 1993–1994, African American teachers represented approximately 13% of public school teachers in U.S. schools, as compared to 7% today (U.S. Department of Education, 1998, 2003). African American principals account for less than 10% of all administrators in public schools (Gates, Ringel, & Santibanez, 2003; U.S. Department of Education, 2003). Although the number of minority students of color in the nation’s schools continues to grow, the number of minority and ethnically diverse teachers and school administrators, particularly among the ranks of African American educators, continues to decline. This disparity deprives African American students of important role models who exemplify professional achievement, leadership, and success, who understand the dynamics of cultural and family practices and behaviors and the relationships of these factors to student growth and achievement, and who can serve as advocates for them in making educational institutions responsive to their educational, social, and cultural needs.

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