tv Book TV After Words CSPAN February 24, 2013 12:00pm-1:00pm EST
this week, sir garland and her vote, divided we fail, story of an african american community that ended the area of school desegregation. and i., ms. garland returns to her hometown of louisville, kentucky to chronicle the african-american parent who sued to prevent a predominantly black school for the sake of desegregation. the program is about an hour. >> host: tommy, why did you start to write this book? and i your first book was about games and central america. >> guest: in some ways it is, so my citizen. i couldn't desegregation in the suburbs of my last spoke and researchers close in as soon as i'd segregation between school districts on long island. ..
>> host: when you were bussed into the inner city, did you have a particularly sort of strident stance on the question of desegregation, the question of school integration? >> guest: i think as kids, you don't think about it. looking bag, i mean, even when i was reading back at the reaction for kids in the 70s when they started busing the kids, said, you know, i like it at the school, and they didn't think about it. it was the same way for me, but as we got older, i started to
think about not only going to schools and being surrounded by poverty that i didn't see in the neighborhood in the suburbs, that's, you know, that's definitely eye opening, but at the same time, the schools that i attended, there was tracking so you had the regular program honors, and you had the advanced program, and those were cut very closely along in the class lines, and as a kid, you absorb that and think about it, and i remember being in high school and one of the only classes i took where television mixed between the tracks, it was a global studies course, i think, and there was an african-american student in the class who said she'd tried to test into the advanced program at one point and couldn't get in, and she's, obviously, very intelligent, well spoken woman, and that really, that stuck with me. i still remember that. i was in 10th grade thinking about these rigid tracks, and i think, you know, reflecting on
that, you have desegregation, but at the same time, within the schools, you had segregation, and you send the message to kids when you have classes full of white kids that are supposed to be the smart kids and classes of black kids that are supposed to be the not smart kids. myself and lot of classmates, you know, that makes you think about, you know, how this has worked out and i've always been interested in the idea of how do we do diversity well? >> host: right. now, the dominant narrative in american life and particular american legal and educational history over the past say, well, 50 years, almost 60 years has been the brown decision, this idea that if we could be segregated, if we could force the hand of schools and of policymakers, we could have a more diverse school and greater education, not just equality, but equity. obviously, your book pushes against the narrative somewhat
to people in louisville do, but brown versus board is in the backdrop of the book the entire time. talk about what brown has meant to -- for educational equality and access in the country so far. >> guest: it's a hard question because we hold up brown as an amazing feat; right? that we accomplished this, that we rolled back segregation, and we look add what happened afterwards, and we see how incredibly difficult it was, you know, devicive in some ways, but, also, you have an incremental progress after that that was prosecutorring, i think, to people, and it's seen as a great victory, but, i think, also, it's important, you know, doing the research to look back and see what he didn't accomplish yet, and so when i was looking at desegregation and how it was finally implemented 20 years later after brown, actually, was handed down, 20
years later, started busing, but the way the programs are set up, still maintains white privilege in a lot of ways and class privilege so that, you know, poor kids and black kids had to be bussed for more time, and part of that was lo gist ticks, but part was maintaining the status quo so you didn't have white flight and so on, and so i think the brown decision, you know, it's a difficult decision. one of the most interesting books i've read is what brown, the board of education, should have said which was academics looks at if the justices did it differently, how it might have changed things. it's interesting. you probably wouldn't have had the unanimous decision which was very, very important, but it was -- it's really interesting to look at the counterfactual and think about what our victory was, and, also, you know, what it didn't accomplish. >> host: is it difficult to write a book that pushes back against such a celebrated public
policy? i mean, really considered one of the great vick trims of the 20th century for america, and did you have any anxiety about pushing back against that or highlighting the store of part-time who pushed back? >> guest: oh, yes. this was not the book i expected to write. i went into it thinking that, you know, i think this is true in louisville especially that integration was a good thing, and that it brought people -- and it did. it brought people together. it made me think differently about the world than i might have otherwise, and a lot of classmatings, i think, in the same way, and i think, you know, one of the points that i make often in the book is that you -- during the, you know, the hay day of desegregation and busing of the 70s and 80s, you saw their black-white achievement gap shrinking faster it has before since. that's a big deal. there was accomplishments in the successes. >> host: the outgrowth of the desegregation as such or do you
think that was about just having basic -- i mean, the -- >> guest: right. >> host: the gap was so huge in the 40s, 50s, and 60s, and just getting access to books, resources, and teachers and a building sometimes slunk the gap more than the actual desegregation process was incidental. >> guest: yeah, i think it's hard to separate that out. i think when you talk to people who researched, you know, how does integration affect kids? it's hard to say is it, you know, because kids are learning from each other, or is it because, you know, if you're a black child in a classroom in the majority white middle class, well, you might have more resources in the school than you otherwise would have. one of the people i interview in the book, his favorite saying was green following white so that's why he supported desegregation at the time so, yeah, i think that's a really -- it's a difficult, complicated question, and there was also a lot of other things going on at
the time when the gap was closing. it was not just desegregation, i don't think, but, yeah, you know, i want to make it clear that i think it was a very important thing to do, but i did -- i was surprised that i ended up writing this book that was looking at what went wrong. it's not what i expected to write about. >> host: it's jarring because you open up the book, and the first section is about the letters; right? >> guest: yeah. >> host: i found it compelling as the dream who dreamed to going to central high school, dreamed it all 15 years of her life, but she was essentially told she couldn't go because of racial quotas saying the school couldn't have more than 42% of african-americans, and as a result, she was on a wait list that could derail her dream of a good education, becoming a lawyer. that kind of story was compelling and jarring. how much of that came up in the research? are these just telling cases or a consistent narrative of people? >> guest: yeah. i think those stories, to me, were what made it really
interesting. it's how emotional connected people felt with the school, with central high school, which is what the book focuses on, but how they saw their future in that school, and not just because of the -- part of it was she wanted to be a lawyer, and they had a law program, and no other school in the city had a law program, but it was also very emotional familiar connection. he mom had done there, her dad had gone there, you know, it was thee black school in louisville for, you know, decades and decades, and so people had a very emotional connection to it, and so it was a good school, and it was a very good school. at the time, you know, in the 80s, eventually, there was an advanced program there, and so you had the elite of the black community going to that school, and so you know, people, the people that talk to in the book, it was -- there was two things that was going on was the concern about educational
equality, but also about our school and this is our community and it's very important we have some say and some empowerment over our schools. >> host: as people got those letters, and i mean, letters almost in a metaphor call sense, but they got the 1950s producing outcome, unintended, but nonetheless harmful, how soon did people in the town realize they probably needed adjustments and a policy push back? >> guest: there was a lot of that. the desegregation plan was negotiated over the years. there's lots of fights. it was an ongoing constant conflict in some ways, and so, you know, i think that for some people, for the activists especially. i profile activists really behind the fight, and they had gone to central predesession gages and felt very connected to the school, and so for them, they were watching in and really
concerned that desegregation was going to close central seeing the writing on the wall because so many other black schools were closed as a result. >> host: why were they closed than shifted demographically? >> guest: it was, you know, it happened a lot. it happened all over the south, and else where where to make busing work, you had more schools in a lot of places than what you needed because you'd split the population. there's a really interesting story in north carolina. there was just these two schools, a black high school and a white high school, and when they deseg gaited, well, they closed the black school. part of that, i mean, i think in louisville, they try to convince people not to -- white parents not to flee to the suburbs to the private schools, and to do that, they had to convince them to keep the kids in the public schools, and then their thinking, i think, part of it, i think, was that they don't want
to send their kids downtown, and a lot of the schools had been under resourced and were falling apart so i think in their mind it made sense to close them because, well, we have not put a lot of resources into them for a long time so we might as well shut them down. it was partly just to make it work. i think it was logistical, but also, you know, there was some, you know, how do we -- how do we maintain -- how do we keep the white middle class happy in this situation? >> host: right. activists pushed back were less concern with the white middle class plight. based on the argument, that might have been okay with them. >> guest: yeah. >> host: not for funding, but the stability of the community. >> guest: right. >> host: part was the tradition of the school itself, no? >> guest: absolutely. it was a tradition -- it was a tradition of black empowerment, i think, and that we built this school ourselves, that we did this largely without a lot of help from the school district,
without a lot of resources. we had to fight for every penny, and so i think, a lot of the people that i talked to saw the way that busing happenedded or just the attitude of desegregation as saying that, that black people basically failed, and they needed the help, they needed their kid to sit next to a white kid. i heard that a loot. >> host: from the community or outside critics? >> guest: i heard it from the activists, the american activists. >> host: wow. >> guest: we shouldn't have to set a black child next to a white child for them to learn, and there was, you know, i think an understandable frustration there that we're seen as deficient, and our culture and community has not been recognized as good as, and so i think that that was one of the
problems with the way desegregation was thought of or the way it was implemented was we're not going to share resources but help you kind of thing if that makes sense. >> host: no, absolutely. is there danger in that approach? that seems to me that could return us back to the 1954 mind set of saying, you know, we're going to hold on to failing schools, pre-1954, mind you, hold on to failing schools so say we have our own stuff, say we have a nationalist posture that, ire irrespective of the outcome for the kids. >> reporter: yeah, i agree. i was telling the people whose stories have not been told and whose perspectives have not been out there. i agree. i think it's a really difficult question to say, you know, do we -- it's a question we deal with now. do you close the school down because it's failing or because it doesn't have enough students
or because it's, you know, test scores are low, or do we, you know, try and keep it together even though it's -- even though those things are happening for the sake of the community, and i think it's a really difficult balance, and i don't actually have the answer to that. sorry, but >> host: no, no, noun of us do; right? i think what's interesting in the real virtual of the book which i think is amazingly written, amazing well written is you chronicalled the per perspee and highlight it and how they engaged in the pushback. i think victories are celebrated by people who get a sense of the foot print. you know, what steps they took to get there. talk to me about that, though. these activists who pushed to save central, and, ultimately, to advance the legal argument that shifted the tide for the entire country, not just -- >> yeah. >> host: how did they do it? >> guest: well, just really a bunch of very interesting and no
-- people, and they came at it from very different places, although, a lot of them had been friends, some were, you know, one of them was a very gore gary yows football coach, a coach attitude, wrote editorials constantly to the newspaper. they were at the edges in activism, and they knew what they were doing with community activism. another was part of the nationalist movement in the 70s involved in that, and they grew up from that. they were of the civil rights movement, and of the time period, but also on the outside and critiquing but learning from it. they knew what they were doing. thomas is one of my favorite people who i write about, and she was just a wonderful lady, and she -- she was, you know, she got involved in protesting
the first iraq war in the 1990s, and she was involved, and that's how she got pulled in because, you know, shemented to save the school -- she wanted to save the school she'd gone to. they knew what they were doing. it's -- there were also very alone, i think. they were a minority in the community in a lot of ways. it was an acronym to be an african-american fighting against desegregation making it interesting which as i read a booing about them -- >> host: that's compelling, imagine how a group of activists have an argument and how do you, as a black person in a black community, convince black people that, you know, getting rid of white people -- you know, the shorthand; right? is the best way to make schools better? >> guest: yeah, i mean, you know, it's interesting. the thing is they were drpt they were alone in bringing this first.
they behind this first federal case, and they didn't go on to the supreme court because they saw it as they won their fight between central high school. that's what they dare cared about, and my parents took it on; right? when i was doing the research, it turns out that in a whrot of places you had fights with the naacp on wane side to expand or maintain programs, and then you'd have a black school board member orer ban league person or a group of black parents on the other side saying, you know what? get rid of the busing program like we want our neighborhood schools back so, really, they were -- i mean, they were lornly, but they were not necessarily completely alone nationally. >> host: fighting against power brokers like the naacp. i wonder, and maybe you can answer this through the voice of your subjects. i also wombedder if they hold on
to this because if makes policy sense? they have an ideological commitment to the approach? deseg works, multiculturalism is its own thing, its own virtue, or if they hold on to a tradition? i mean, the ncaap makes its bones politically on brown v. board 5 # 4 and 55. were any of these resentful of the black organizations for the stance they were taking? >> i mean, yes in some ways. it's interesting. i think in louisville, on the board in louisville, and there's other issues other than schools, and i think that it became that you didn't have a huge uprising in louisville bringing the case. you didn't have a lot of black leaders in the community. you had some. you definitely had a significant, you know, some of
the leaders saying that there was not a big uprising against them. there was, you know, people in the community said, yeah, you know, this has not gone our way, but, i mean, it's an interesting question, and i don't know. >> no, i mean, again, i don't think there's an answer. i just as wonder, and after reading the book, i became more, sort of compelled to question the reasons why the organizations like the naacp ander ban area, hold on to the public policies with a symbolic value, but they don't necessarily play out on the ground for the people, you know, who are supposed to be held. >> guest: yeah, in some ways, there's a need for our schools to be more diverse than they are. it's a, you know, maybe not an
economic need, but i do think there's an idea that if we, if the kids are educated together, maybe the country is less divided than it is politically, economically, maybe understand each other better and that kind of thing, but there's a reason for it, not just that that traditional aspect. >> host: the resource question. >> guest: yeah, how do you get money into, you know, poor minority neighborhoods? well, a fast way to do that is, for example, in new york, if you have the parents, start, you know, start at the peek. >> host: isn't it though? >> guest: it is horrible. that's what the education reform movement is trying to do now is saying, okay, you know, we -- desegregation, you know, it didn't work or it's gone, it's mostly over in most places. how do we deal with that and the fact that in most cities in
urban areas, it's not a possibility. it's not even, you know, feasible anymore. >> host: based on pop mew lar -- popular opinion or legal terms? >> guest: i think, legally, i mean, you can't really -- it's very hard to do forced busing anymore. there's this school force movement, and that's in the consciousness of the american public, and people feel they deserve the right to have a choice of schools, and so i think turning around to implement a busing program and seemed your kid here, there's a huge outcry, and it's not politically feasible in that way. in louisville, it's a controlled choice. it's a choice program, but choices are managed. that, i think, that has sort of undermine any opportunities to do this, and just in temples of where people live, i think, you
know, the growth of city, and in the suburbs you have neighborhoods becoming more diverse, and the inner cities you have the why'd middle class moving back, and there's opportunities, but forced busing is not going to be it. >> host: glad you mentioned that, if the sofort of demographic landscape shifted so much that it almost makes no sense to rely on moves of 50s and 60s, and it means something different in 1975, and you used new york city as an example. brooklyn or harlem now, even in the 09s. >> guest: yeah, absolutely. >> host: what i wonder is i'm interested in the parents before we change gears is sort of if the parents take account of those kinds of shifts, the
policy shifts, demographic shifts, making demands in louisville k making demands for new approaches to education reform, are they factoring that stuff in or locked into a certain historical moment as well? >> guest: i think, i mean, for parents, whenever you talk to parents, they care about where their kid is going to go to school, and that's all. you know, i hear of people talking about parent involvement in schools, and parents are really focused on their kid, and what's going to happen to them and get them in the best school they can, and some parents have more savvy than others in figuring out what school it is, and some value things about schools, you know, being close to my house, maybe, you know, of very importance or the teachers are nice to me, care about my kid, that thing. parents weigh different things, but i think, you know, in all of the people i talked to in louisville, the parents, that
was the motivation. they were not thinking about, you know, oh, i mean, even crystal meredith who took the case to the supreme court, the vote vaition was she wanted her son to be in the school shemented him to go to. it was not i want to tear the system down. i don't think that's how she started out, and it was the same with the other parents not thinking big picture, but very small picture, you know, my 5-year-old. >> host: that's when it becomes bike picture; right? >> guest: all of that, i think that's what is so difficult about school reform is that you have these clashes, and so it's really hard to think about the larger society -- the good of the larger society when it's your child, and i think, you know, in my personal case, you know, my parents sent me down to the school. my mother had spent time in the
school where i went to elementary school before busing so she was -- she was particular with the school, and she did not -- she was there as a social worker. it was a rough -- it was a rough school. it was a high poverty area, and so when she was sending me to the school, you know, i imagine it must have been difficult, but at the same time, it had been, they really, i guess, worked on the school to make it paletteble for middle class families to have the advanced program, and that's what made it okay to, you know, i think, for my classmates and i to go there, and stay there, you know, i was only -- i only had to go there for two years, and i stayed for four because, you know, it was a good program. i think our parents could say, you know, we're doing a good thing because we're, you know, taking part in busing and sending our kids, but at the same time, it was also a really good program. it was a good school. >> host: when does the program sort of die? >> guest: i mean, that's -- my
elementary school is still an excellent elementary school. >> host: in the desegregation. the program is solid, but -- >> guest: louisville, they are pretty -- there's not very much many school districts around the country. i wrote about a study recently that looked at how few districts and 200 something still doing desegregation, but louisville is still doing, and just reelected a school board that was supportive of doing desegregation. they fiddled with it because they just can't use race because of the supreme court decisions so they use income and parental education and other factors and race. >> host: in louisville in particular -- >> guest: yeah, yeah, they are. you look at -- i think this is what got the lawyer who is involved in bringing this case got so angry when they drew up the new plan because they drew
two areas of the city they were going do, and it was clear. part of the frustration with that and part of the frustration with the program was that you had busing going on and integration going on between poor and black students and upper middle class white students, but then you also had black students sent to poor white neighborhoods, and i think in louisville and kentucky is maybe more of a factor, but you have a very, you know, population of low income and working class whites, very large population, and so you have mixes and high poverty schools, perfectly integrated racially, but every kid in the school was
poor. >> host: creating its own problem. >> guest: right. it doesn't necessarily solve -- it's important for the kids to know one another, but it does not necessarily solve the research problem. >> host: speaking to broader issues to take seriously with ed reform more broadly, and social politics, and i want to talk about that, but we are going to take a quick break first, all right? >> guest: okay. >> guest: the book talks about desegregation, and parents frame it as a policy that failed; right? >> guest: yeah. >> host: talk about the reasons why. >> guest: the main reason, i think, that they were so frustrated is the way it was
implemented ended up undermining in some ways what black people wanted for their schools so you had hundreds, thousands of black teachers fired as busing was implemented, and that is obviously not what people were looking for when they fought for desegregation of schools, and that, again, like i said earlier, was to really make way for bringing white kids and black kids together and not scaring white parents away from the schools. >> host: the argument because i want to unpack it. the implicit argument of that is that black teachers are fine for black kids, but white people or white parents don't want their -- they'd be scared by black teachers teaching their children. >> guest: i think that was the thinking at the time. i think that's what happened. i think, also, you know, you had mergers that happened so louisville and the county system merged. that was a fairly rare situation, but, you know, you
had the school closures, but it was part of the thinking, and, also, you had, you know, there's some situations in louisville that i write about where a school was -- a white school was going to be closed, and the parents freaked out, and so they kept that school in tact, even though it was an issue and so on, so those parents had clout and political savvy, and i think that also had something to do with it. black prince pams fired and administrators. there was a fallout that i don't think people anticipated, and it was -- >> how did you not perceive that? i read the book, and how do people not perceive it? >> more teachers than you need, and there could have been fairness with the seniority system and the teachers newest would be the first fired, but in the 50s and in the 60s and 07s far more reasonable to
anticipate black teachers would be fired. was not foreseeable, naivety, or a bill of good? >> guest: i think that for at least for the lawyers is this just needed to happenment we just needed to get rid of the dual system of education because it was not -- it was so much more unfair than what that, you know, having these two systems where you had salary scales for black and white teachers was the case for desegregation where you had -- where you had -- i mean, you couldn't have any integration between faculties, and you had second hand. that was just, you had to get rid of that so, i think, you know, i don't know, i have no idea if people foresaw, i would imagine that you actually had a -- in the south, i think you had some am biff lance about this because i think that --
ambivalence because i think black people saw this is potentially going to hurt, you know, hurt my school or lose my job if we integrate with the white school because they don't want me teaching their kids. there was an interesting polls dope, and they are not very reliable, but they are interesting in that they showed influence among black southerners. i think people saw it, i think that, you know, it was an important -- i mean, getting rid of the segregated schools was maybe worth the risk. i don't know, but, yeah, you know, that was -- it had a fallout, and i think maybe it could have been anticipated, but there was, in louisville, especially, there was reports that were done. you had civil rights activists actively saying and tracking this saying, look, at how many
black teachers we had, how many we have now, and how many we used to have, and so people were pointing it out at the time. >> a sub text of the book, and maybe i read too much into it. tell me if i am. i do that a lot. black activists, black policymakers, black advocacy groups are constantly chasing symbolic victories at the expense of real policy victories. it seems it was foreseeable. it seems to me, as you mentioned, that the end of the legal segregation was an an important victory, maybe not just for black people for america, but brown v. board, exfor theextraordinary victory,t the other effects, and, really, collateral damage done were -- as you said, were worth it, you know, because we ended legal segregation. i mean, would that be a fair analysis? >> guest: i mean, it's -- it's hard for me to say.
you know, i don't -- i think every time you look at the issues, there's feasibility versus the dream of what could be, and then there's what's practical and what with ce do and what's political possible? what was political possible in the 50s, you know, it obviously had a lot of other ripple effects that i think were a big deal and very important. i don't know if calculations were made and didn't get everything they wanted, 3, but we'll get a big symbolic victory you know, i think weighing the differences, i think, that it was still an important victory. >> host: no doubt, no doubt. >> guest: i'm not going to say it was not. >> host: not that it was not important, but not good; right snow >> guest: right.
it didn't work the way it was supposed to work i think which what happened. it was really, i think what they fought, there was this dream that this is going to open up the doors for black children and white children to be educated together and share resources, and thrft limited progress, but, still, today, you can look at the resources that minority schools have and compare them to the suburbs, and you see huge disparities. >> host: there's another piece of this, though; right? there was the clat -- collateral effects of liquidating schools in terms of teachers, human capital, those sorts of things, but there was the community effect. in your book, you talk about how people pushed back not because teachers were fired and all of that stuch and not just because programs were lost, although, that was important as well, but
communities were broken and fragmented from this; right? >> guest: right. that's one of the big issues people talked about is your neighborhood school, and i don't have an experience of a neighborhood school so i don't really get that because i didn't go to my neighborhood school. >> host: you were bussed. >> guest: i love my elementary school, and -- but so -- that was a very important to people, and they really cherished that. >> host: why? what does a neighborhood school in in that logic, in that perspective offer the community? >> guest: i think especially looking back at the history of southern black education, that there's this deeper pride in the schools that were built because it started out that black education south started out in people's homes and churches and so this was, you know, it was not something that white society said here's your school. it was something that the black
community built themselves, and they got help from philanthropists from the north in a lot of cases, but there was a lot of pride in that, i think, and this was more than just the school down the street where i send my child because it's convenient to my house and all my neighbors send kids there, and we hang out at the pta meetings. it was we built this. this is our pride of our community. this is -- >> host: symbolic. >> guest: yes. >> guest: i'm going to lure you into the argument the symbolic trumps the policy demand. >> guest: yeah, but i think the symbolic matters. i think that it matters to people, your identity and who you are. this is also the tension that i look at a lot in the book is, like, are, you know, people grappling like this, am i american or african-american american and how do you deal with assimilation and success in the larger society and still
maintaining history and identity? that's really what people, you know, the heart of what people grappled with, the activists who got involved with this is how much of that identity acculture do i have to give up to belong in the society. there's symbolism, but there's deeping questions that i think are really important. >> host: no, absolutely, and part of how people hold op, at least from intern -- interpreting the book, is a stable, somewhat dense community of people that included middle class people, working class people, the rich -- not rich, but upper middle class people, the professional class along with the sort of blue collar class, all in the same neighborhood. it's not exclusive to the book, but part of how the black community was fragmented was desegregation because you had
white this way and black folk believing the other way, and they left the neighborhoods too. >> guest: absolutely. in the previous book looking at gangs, looking at suburbization and the rates of black flight are bigger. the numbers are smaller because there's fewer people, but the rate, people are running out of the inner city. >> host: nobody wants to live there. that's the argument; right? if there's no schools, if there's insecurity, if they are in crumbling housing opportunities, and the neighborhood's bad, black people don't want to live there either. they leave the first chance they get. the argument is that, yes, we have to stay in and rebuild and best and brightest, the most exed, well resourced, most disciplined, if they leave, then the neighborhoods fall. same with the school choice argument; right? take the kids to the private school, home school option, charter schools, whatever.
to that extent, again, your book makes a pretty persuasive argument that whether you intended to or not that this is not a good thing taking the best people letting them go to school elsewhere. i think, yes. i'm a journalist. i'm careful about the arguments, but i think that there was -- there was this very detrimental fall out, and the answer is not to just not have deseg -- not to have lifted segregation laws and jim crowe. that's not the answer. >> guest: -- >> host: right. >> guest: i think there were, though, you know, federal policies that made it attractive for people to move out of the city and into the suburbs and sort of took a part of these vibrant city neighborhoods that used to exist or mixed income and so on, and so it was not just individual choices saying, like, hey, let's move to the suburbs all the sudden.
this was, you know, federal policy choices. >> host: absolutely. >> guest: local policy choices to make this easy for the people who had the money to get out, to get out, so i think there was issues, but it was not just desegregation. i think there's a lot of other things that went on to facilitate what went wrong so just as, you know, desegregation didn't fix the achievement gap, it helped probably, but it didn't cause all the problems, but it was, you know, one of the factors. >> host: a tough thing. i think the book really spotlights that complexity in a real masterful way. talk to me about the supreme court because that becomes the moment and mentioned while it was rooted in grassroots of local activism, black parents advocating forever e-for -- for themselves, their high school, this becomes a supreme court fight that changes the
complex of the nation, really ends desegregation. >> guest: yeah, it did. it got out of their hands. they couldn't find anybody to be their lawyer in the first place, but found this guy, teddy gordon, an interesting guy, really enthusiastic, saw it as a great opportunity, compelled by their story, and it really was taken out by white parents who wanted to send their kid to this school but couldn't because of the race, so they took it on to the supreme court. it was a big deal in some ways and sort was just also was a book end to something that was already happening to even when the decision came down, most school districts in the nation were not busing anymore. in some ways, it was an official end to something that had already been waning in a lot of ways. >> host: but it did allow for a conversation about the role that race plays in public
policy. >> guest: yeah. >> host: right, that still matters now because at the same time this happens, there's affirmative action debates still wrestling with the question of what role should race play? the supreme court essentially codified a kind of trend towards saying race can't be thee only factor, a factor, but not thee factor. > guest: that's right. >> host: what other factors can play in regards to school? >> guest: there's parental education, and the argument is they use proxies for race because no place like louisville, you have drsh look at race and poverty levels and they tend to coincide, but there's been a -- the big idea now is that we should be looking at socioeconomic status and really using that as a basis of integrating schools at the k-12 level, and this is 5 big
conversation happying in higher ed as well rather than affirmative action which tends to, you know, opponents say it creams the best and brightest. we should be using class in stead because you have so few poor students attending only universities. >> host: childhood, could end up in louisville with residential segregation, poor white kids in one school and poor black kids in another, counter you? >> guest: yeah. you know, i think that's, you know, that was the complaint all along, one of the big complaints all along. you still had high poverty schools, but i think it's compelling. those who say race matters say that, yea, income can capture and can be a proxy for, you know, making sure we also have racial diversity, but racial diversity matters because people come with different experiences
for its own sake. they argue that it matters, and they say the experience of race is not -- is more than just about income so for black americans, for example, the wealth gap, i think, is much harder to measure, but you may have differentiations in income, for example, but wealth is just a different matter if that makes sense. >> host: absolutely. income being -- you get the property, could be inheritance. >> guest: right. harder to capture. those experiences, really are caught up in the history and a history of discrimination and desegregation that -- and the continued, you know, institutional races in the country that those things are not captured by just looking at class. that's the argument for saying, like, we still need to do
affirmative ax action or, you know, assignment schools based on race. >> host: do the parents see the value of that? there was -- i understand the nationalist argument. i understand the argument that, you know, we want to protect the schools and the symbolic arguments we don't want to lose the legacy, but was there a vision within the community that sort of mirrored the arguments of the sort of liberal elites who say, the academic liberal elites who say we have to value diversity that there's something good in a school about having black and whites and latinos in the same place? the sotomayor argument, that a wise latino could have something to offer a school. >> guest: it was interesting because the two families i focused on, they, within the mom and the daughter and in each case, had different. s about this such as, you know,
they in the case, they had a horrible experience of being bussed out to a white working class, fairly high income neighborhood, you know, kids spitting at her, throwing snowballs with rocks in them, awful, awful experience, and so it had been really nervous about sending her kids when they had to be bussed eventually, but they had a good experience, and she changed her mind. she kind of saw that, you know, this is important. my kids have had opportunities that they would not have had if they had gone to this school across the street which was still, despite busing, a struggling school. , and so she, you know, when we talked about it, she really said, you know, these opportunities were important, and they met people they wouldn't have met. they have these networks and
experiences that they wouldn't have gone camping, probably, i wowbt have been able to do that for them, and so, with that said, her daughter, says she had really good experiences, ended up going to school, actually, near my neighborhood. we switched places at different times, and she had god experiences, but she also felt these racial quotas were wrong, and it didn't mat ere, but should have the same experiences down the street from her out -- her house. >> host: there's not a policymaker who disagrees that saying, yes, of course, we want schools to be choice schools, equal -- >> guest: easier said than done. >> host: right. that's where i want to push you because your book offers a powerful critique of desegregation. not rejecting it, but talking
about how it perhaps is an over simplified analysis. you think works or doesn't work for that matter. >> guest: right. >> host: what works? you have pickedded up the book, and they are going to have strong responses. you know, for example, one response, read a review of the book that said that they said too much government is bad, that government intervention is the problem. >> guest: huh, really? >> host: right. >> >> guest: interesting. >> host: it's reasonable to interpret your book that way; right? one says, a conservative, maybe a libertarian could say, wait a minute, this is what happens when government tinkers and engineering. they try to make us be desegregated, make us equal, and as a result, we hurt the very people we tried to help. this is what happens when government gets in the way. >> guest: that's, yeah, i mean, it's not necessarily what i was trying to get across. >> host: it's not absurd justification. >> guest: right.
i think that, you know, the issue with that is it who is running government and for whose benefit. that's what happened. the problem was decisions were made with, for the most part, with a certain con sitwent sigh -- constituency in keeping them happy. that was not just the white middle class, by the way. there's this, we're trying to keep the black civil rights liberal class who fought for desegregation happy too, and there was that contingent in louisville fighting for desegregation intensely all these years as well, and so, yeah, in terms of what works, i think, you know, i listen to a lot of people every day talking about to me about what works, and i don't have an answer because i spent a lot of time in
really good schools that seem to be working. there's also something that's, you know, problematic with how, you know, why it's working so well; right? i think it is a really, really hard question to answer. one of the thicks i'm interested in now is the effort to do school choice and diversity at the same time which is a new trend so this is something that charter schools, operators, are interested in, and it's, you know, here in new york city, for example, but also in new orleans, starting at charter schools where the purpose is to create diversity. you think everyone says, wow, school choice and desegregation, you know, it's voluntary, but there's huge controversy over it. >> host: what's the push back on that? >> guest: it's part of that, yeah, and part of it is that you have -- it's just an anticharter school argument that people don't want why don't you work on
the schools we have versus opening a new school that will take the students who are doing well and the parents -- >> host: creaming the idea that they are the most talented students and high preppal involvement are taken off the top to go to other schools leaving the schools with what's left. >> guest: exactly, exactly. i think that's the main issue. in one instance, i went to really fascinateing school in atlanta where they pit a community, a planned community, where not only was the school -- it was becoming more victories verse, but they created a school that was in this mixed income community. the issue was they had to tear down the prompts there before hand and the people who, a lot of the people who lived there didn't get to stay. >> host: that is a consistent thing as well. every form often companies
dislocation of somebody, you know? i ran an idea by you saying, okay, well a person could read this as the consequences of liberal democratic tinkering; right? trying to appease the civil rights movement. i could say we rejected that argument out of hand, at least not the argument of your book. another argument that this is why we need school choice in the most liberal sense possible. i don't mean politically liberal, but let options flow. people should be able to did wherever they want to get access to good education, increase fuming for home school options, the chat charter school movement should expand and be prieftized. there's -- privatized as well. there's that argument as well. is it fair to interpret your book why we need more school options? >> guest: no, i don't think so. i mean, partly because what i think, and i think that choice
is not a bad things. parents want it. i think kids are benefiting from different learning environments and parents know best what's good for the kids. one of the issues with school choice is the issue of equity, and if we care about equity and care about providing a good option for every child, there's kids out there who don't have the parents who will be able to navigate all of those choices, and i think you found that in new york city as an example where there's, you know, for high school, there are hundreds of choices of schools that you can go to, but you found that the large comprehensive high schools that are just a regular high school, those have really, you know, a lot of us have struggled because they fend to get the kids who don't make an active choice, if that makes sense, so it is, you know, just like desegregation, there are
problems that come with it that need to be dealt with. look back and say, okay, this worked and this didn't work, and, really, think about those, not necessarily critique in school choice, and, you know, the other reform ideas that's happening now, but as a way to make them better or more thoughtful and at least try to avoid repeating some of the same mistakes. >> host: basically, i read the entire book, and you have not involved -- >> guest: i have not solved the education problems of the world. maybe in the next book. >> host: all right. >> guest: sounds good. >> host: all right. that was "after words" booktv's signature program in which authors are interviewed by journalists, public policymakers, legislators, and
others familiar with their material. "after words" airs every weekend on booktv at 10 p.m. saturday, 12 and 9 p.m. sunday, and 12 a.m. on monday. you can also watch "after words" online. go to booktv.org and click on "after words" in the book series and topics list on the upper right hand side of the page. here are some of the latest headlines surrounding the publishing industry this past week. a class action lawsuit filed by three independent book sellers against amazon and six other publishers. simon, randomhouse, pen jguin and harper coal lips. they file the suit, fiction addiction of greenville, south carolina, and book house of albany, new york, and poseman books of new york city claim amazon and major publishers formed confident reel agreements to monopolize print and ebook sales. it concentrates on rights
management to urge the court to prohibit amazon to sell e-books limited to only certain devices or applications. the suit was filedded in the u.s. district court for the southern district of new york. the finalists announced for the 33rd los angeles times book prizes. they are broken into ten categories including biography, current interests, fiction, history, and science and technology. among the finalists are jake tapper, robert car o, nate silver, and the winners will be announced april 19th, the night before the l.a. times festival of books effort for -- books. for the entire list of timistst, go to la times.com. like us on facebook at facebook.com/booktv. visit our welcomes, booktv.org and click on "news about books." at age 25, she was one of the
wealthiest widows in the colonies, and during the revolution while in her mid-40s, she was considered an enemy by the british who threatened to take her hostage. later, she was our nation's first first lady at age 57. meet martha washington, monday night in the first program of c-span's new weekly series, "first ladies: influence and image," as we visit some of the places that influenced her life including colonial williamsberg, mount vernon, valley forge, and philadelphia, and be part of the conversation about martha washington with your phone calls, tweets, and facebook posts live monday night at nine eastern on c-span, c-span radio, and c-span.org. next, a few interviews from our college series. ..