Movement for Community Control of New York City’s Schools, 1966-1970. The Class Wars

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Describes how the failure of racial integration led to new alternative demands for increased parental powers over schooling and ultimately for ‘community control’. The story of the school reform movement citywide and especially that which grew up on three officially-sanctioned demonstration districts in East Harlem, Ocean Hill-Brownsville, and the Lower East Side is told in detail. The clash between parent and community activists on the one hand and majority factions within the teaching and supervisory organizations on the other constitutes the bulk of this work. Matters relating to racial, class and gender configurations are assessed. Broad issues of white racism and black racism come under scrutiny, not least in the context of charges and counter-charges which surfaced at the height of the conflict about black anti-Semitism and Jewish anti-black behavior.


What Edgell does bring to the topic that is otherwise in relatively short supply is the combination of a careful critical analysis of the claims, actions, and interpretations of the participants and their apologists with an evenhanded approach that is laudable. He demonstrates when and how various arguments were false, exaggerated, or oversimplified (which was almost always) and ultimately finds that all sides were partly right as they struggled unsuccessfully to deal with difficult social realities. . . . Edgell deals fully and fairly with a difficult aspect of the story, the emergence of open conflict between some African Americans and some Jews, manifested in some racist language and behavior on both sides, followed by massive recriminations. . . . Edgell’s success in sorting this out may be one of the benefits of his trans-Atlantic vision. Ultimately, he does answer the question of why this story is important.” – History of Education Quarterly

“. . . .will make an important contribution to our understanding of race relations and education in America’s largest city during the latter part of the Civil Rights Movement. This is a superb work which deserves as wide an audience as possible.” – Frank Cogliano “From his detailed and complex account, Edgell determines that community control could be seen as a radical policy that offered the opportunity for community-wide change. However, he notes that it could be conservative because, at best, it allowed the residents to run their own ghettos without resources or direction for improvement.” - Choice

Table of Contents

Table of contents:
Acknowledgments; Preface; Foreword; Abbreviations
1. Race Matters - New York City, 1955-65: the civil rights’ coalition under strain; Jewish-Americans and African-Americans; the politics of law and order; race and schooling; integration’s poor showing; special programs for ghetto schools
2. Crisis in Black and White, 1966-67: East Harlem’s new school; the Civilian Review Board; the Ford Foundation and proposals for I.S. 201; winter of discontent – I. S. 201 Ocean Hill-Brownsville; the People’s Board of Education; Harlem’s P.S. 36-125; other areas; school protests; Brooklyn CORE, spring 1967; the Bundy Panel; the mixed coalition for school reform.
3. The Invisible Become Visible – The Demonstration Districts. 1967-68: planning the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Demonstration District; the UFT’s strike, 1967; deepening rifts in Ocean Hill-Brownsville; the I.S. 201 Complex; the Two Bridges district; the Joan of Arc proposal; the bureaucracy at 110 Livingston Street; the Bundy Report; crisis in East Harlem – the Malcolm X Memorial Rally; the price paid – Les Campbell and John Hatchett; the George Fuccillo affair; crisis in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, spring 1968
4. A Visibility Problem, Summer 1968: the disputed nineteen staff; sorting the evidence; the decentralization debate in Albany; teachers ‘for’ the local governing board; local parents ‘against’ the demonstration board; towards the Rivers’ inquiry; Mr. Rivers adjudicates; new York City’s African-American militants – the summer of 1968
5. The Unheavenly City – New York, Fall 1968: City Board re-organizations; the September teachers’ strike; renewed strike action; to the brink – the UFT, Oct-Nov 1968; aftermath of the strikes in Ocean Hill-Brownsville; divisions in the city, fall 1968; school personnel; the Central Labor council; racial minorities; inside Ocean Hill-Brownsville; name-calling and the antisemitism scare of 1968; the scuppering of the reform coalition from the top; the grassroots’ movement for educational change
6. Movement Days in the Deep North at an End, 1969-70: the I.S. 201 project after the school strike; the new antisemitism scare; the student revolution of 1969; the state legislature, 1969; Ocean Hill-Brownsville during 1969; the Two Bridges project; the mayoral campaign of 1969; the 1970 school elections; District 23 and ‘skin politics’ during 1970-71; post-mortems on the Ocean Hill-Brownsville project.
7. Interpretations – Race, Class and Gender in the Community Control Controversy: the ‘strange bedfellows’ theory of events; the alliance of rich and poor; the middle layer coalition against community control; class, race and gender – the ‘language’ issue; conspiracy theory and the community control issue
8. Interpretations – The Dreams and Nightmares of African-Americans and Jewish-Americans: Black-Jewish relations in historical perspective; getting ahead – racial sensitivities; the debate over black antisemitism; Jewish racism; the racial slanging match; social class conflict; comparing racisms
9. Interpretations – Community Control and the War of Words: the ‘image’ thing – the media and Ocean Hill-Brownsville; gang warfare amongst New York’s intelligentsia; community control as an idea – benefits and disadvantages.
Works Cited, Index

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