Sixty years ago in the United States, we had less equality in our schools than we do today. We had segregated schools, so that children from different races did not attend the same schools. There were many "Whites Only" schools, as well as restaurants, parks, hospitals, businesses and neighborhoods. I think you would not be surprised to know that the schools for white children were better in every way because these schools had better budgets for everything from buildings, books and supplies, libraries and teachers.
We have been learning about the U.S. Constitution, justice, our rights and responsibilities. Today, let's listen to a story about our equal rights and education from the Mendez sisters, whose parents decided to fight against injustice in schools.
- Listen to their story. Use your mouse to stop or rewind the story.
- Listen again and answer some questions. We'll check answers together.
- For extra practice, you can also write the words you hear on your class handout.
Work with a classmate to look online for more information about them. The Mendez story is interesting and important.
- Go to Google.
- Type Mendez vs. Westminster.
- Look at the first three links.
- Skim the websites to answer these questions together:
- When did the families file the lawsuit because of unconstitutional discrimination in schools?
- When did they win the lawsuit?
- Where was the lawsuit?
- What did Sylvia Mendez do later in her life?
- What year was Sylvia Mendez born?
- What career did she choose?
- When did she go to the White House to meet the President?
Many people discriminate against the poor in many different countries. Other people have noticed that if we can give everyone a fair chance and protection, people who are poor or rich can do well in life. Here is a video from television about an exciting and successful program for poor children. They don't live here in the U.S. but we can learn from their story. Maybe their success can give us some ideas for our schools here. (Sorry, but there is a short commercial at the beginning.)
Do you have a comment or an idea for how to make schools fair and equal? Why do you think it is important to have fairness in education?