Charter Schools and the Waltons Take Little Rock Back to its Segregated Past
In many ways, it's 1957 all over again.
Stories about historic efforts to address racial segregation in American public education often start with Central High School in Little Rock, Arkansas in 1957. But the story of Little Rock and segregation badly needs updating.
Central High became one of the first practical tests of principles established in Brown v. Board of Education, the Supreme Court ruling that overturned racially separate public schools. When nine black students showed up for opening day of the historically all-white school, Arkansas Governor Orval Faubus called in the National Guard to prevent them from entering. President Dwight Eisenhower responded by calling in federal troops to escort the students into the school, and Faubus eventually backed down.
But the story of racial integration in Little Rock shouldn't be confined to Central High. The same year Central was integrated, another school, Hall High, opened in the all-white part of town with an all white student body. Hall would not integrate until 1959 (Faubus closed all Little Rock high schools in school year 1958-59 to protest federal intervention), when three black girls were allowed to attend.
By the late 1960s, through busing and other efforts, Hall had been transformed into a much more racially diverse school, according to Kathy Webb, who graduated from Hall in 1967. Webb, who is white, currently represents Ward 3 on the Little Rock City Board and has served in the Arkansas state legislature.
In a phone conversation, Webb tells me that she remembers Hall High as a racially diverse school with an academically solid reputation and a relatively high graduation rate. But then, she notes, something happened: Hall High underwent a profound change.
By 2002, when Webb returned to live in Little Rock after decades away, Hall looked more like a school from the segregationist past than the model of Charter Schools and the Waltons Take Little Rock Back to its Segregated Past | Alternet: