MAY I SPEAK? Diary of a Crossover Teacher by Manie Culbertson

MAY I SPEAK? Diary of a Crossover Teacher

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Why not, Mrs. Culbertson? The same Constitution which prompts the school desegregation you write about and initially resented so adamantly also guarantees your right to speak. Besides, what you have to say about your semester's experience in 1970 as a white teacher in an all-black Louisiana secondary school might help others from both the North and South to better understand that public school integration need not be a menace but an opportunity and that ""separate but equal"" is and always has been a charade. At first it was extremely difficult: when the court-ordered 60/40 plan was announced, you and your neighbors were full of self-pity and anger, getting ""into a stew just thinking about HEW,"" an acronym which must stand for ""Hate Every White"" or ""Hell Either Way."" And when you learned that, as part of the first phase of the plan, you would be transferred to a black school, the headaches and doubts multiplied. But eventually you did go to the new school and you did learn how to pronounce Negro (""knee-grow"") and, although there were problems and embarrassing questions (""Mrs. Culbertson, would you have been an abolitionist?"" or ""What color is God?""), you began as both a professional and a person to question the validity of IQ tests as a measure of black learning capabilities and to recognize and respect the black children as human beings; ""I am keenly aware of the fact that I have changed my views about the extremely unpopular transfer plan. . . as much as I hate to admit it now, I believe the school board made the wisest decision."" Hidebound attitudes die hard and educator Culbertson's diary of small progress will not set the world on fire. But under the circumstances that is something to be thankful for.

Pub Date: May 1st, 1972
ISBN: 1565545486
Publisher: Pelican (Gretna, Louisiana)