• Gertrude S. Williams
  • Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson
Part of the Palgrave Studies in Oral History book series (PSOH)


Free, universal public education is a critical element in the democratic way of life to which Americans aspire. The country’s public school system has created a population with a level of literacy that ranks at the top of all nations and can be credited with taking the United States to its position as one of the most productive nations in the world.1 Yet, just as democracy itself has fallen short of securing the blessings of liberty to all Americans, public education has shortchanged the children of the country’s most impoverished communities. Among the instruments of this deprivation, three of the most wicked have been state-sanctioned segregation as well as state-tolerated de facto segregation of public schools; school funding formulas that deny children living in poor jurisdictions resources equal to those enjoyed by children in wealthy districts; and what scholar/author Charles Payne has labeled “the doctrine of the ineducability of the children of the urban poor.”2


Public School School District School System Public Education School Community 
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  1. 2.
    For a discussion of de jure segregation, sanctioned by law, and de facto segregation, supported by custom, see Jennifer Hochschild and Nathan Scovronick, The American Dream and the Public Schools (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003) 31–36. For an overview of school funding policies and practices, Hochschild and Scovronick, The American Dream, chapter 3, and Jonathan Kozol, Savage Inequalities (New York: Perennial Books, 1992). For elaboration on “the doctrine of ineducability…” see Charles Payne, Getting What We Ask For (Westport, CN: Greenwood Press, 1984) 5.Google Scholar
  2. 14.
    W.E.B. DuBois, The Souls of Black Folk (New York: Modern Library: 1996; originally published 1903) 109–110.Google Scholar
  3. 17.
    Mike Rose, Possible Lives, the Promise of Public Education in America (New York: Penguin Books, 1996) 4. This book, Deborah Meier’s Power of Their Ideas, andGoogle Scholar
  4. 19.
    Andra Makler, “Courage, Conviction and Social Education,” in ed. Margaret Smith Crocco and O.L. Davis Jr., Bending the Future to Their Will, Civic Women, Social Education, and Democracy (New York: Rowman and Littlefield, 1999) 258—source of “responsibility to the world.”Google Scholar
  5. Kathleen S. Hurty, “Women Principals—Leading With Power,” in Women Leading in Education, ed. Diane M. Dunlap and Patricia A. Schmuck (New York: State University of New York Press, 1995) 380–405; “power with,” 338; “interactive web,” 394.Google Scholar
  6. 24.
    Ibid, 381. Referring to Sharon Welch, A Feminist Ethic of Risk (Minneapolis: Fortress Press, 1990).Google Scholar
  7. 26.
    Joyce Antler and Sari Knopp Bilden, Changing Education. Women as Radicals and Conservators (New York: State University of New York, 1990) 193, 197.Google Scholar
  8. 27.
    Deborah W. Meier, in symposium on “Saving Public Education,” 23. Examples of the general research include Sandra L. Christenson and Susan M. Sheridan, Schools and Families (New York: Guilford Press, 2001);Google Scholar
  9. Michael Fullan, Changing Forces, Probing the Depths of Educational Reform (London: The Falmer Press, 1993);Google Scholar
  10. Sara Lawrence Lightfoot, Worlds Apart. Relationships Between Families and Schools (New York: Basic Books, 1978);Google Scholar
  11. and Seymour B. Sarason, The Culture of the School and the Problem of Change (Boston: Allyn and Bacon, Inc., 1971).Google Scholar
  12. 28.
    Sulayman Clark, “Educational Philosophy of Leslie Pinkney Hill: A Profile in Black Educaional Leadership, 1904–1951,” Ed.D. Thesis, Harvard University, June 1984, 236. Clark refers to Charles V. Willie, who is the source of the “exposed to two worlds” quotation. Charles V. Willie, “Theory of Liberation Leadership,” Journal of Negro History (Fall 1983), 1–7; Quotation, 7.Google Scholar
  13. 32.
    These barriers are identified and examined in an interesting study set in Baltimore by Howell S. Baum, Community Action for School Reform (Albany: State University Press of New York, 2003).Google Scholar
  14. 37.
    Gertrude quoted in John Kasich, Courage is Contagious (New York: Doubleday, 1998) 145.Google Scholar

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© Gertrude S. Williams and Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson 2005

Authors and Affiliations

  • Gertrude S. Williams
  • Jo Ann Ooiman Robinson

There are no affiliations available

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