A documentary history of racial segregation in public schools. Broadcast on Public Television. Nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Social Issues Program.
AwardsNational Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, Boston/ New England
Emmy Nomination, Documentary/Current Issues
Hartford Courant, The (CT)
SEGREGATION IN CPTV'S `SCHOOLS' CPTV `SCHOOLS' OFFERS PRIMER ON SEGREGATION
Author: JAMES ENDRST; Courant TV Critic
Thousands of parents in Connecticut put their children on school buses this week. And despite what Americans have been taught to believe, the education and future many of those children are headed for has more to do with their color than their ability.
Tonight Connecticut Public Television offers a well-timed primer on Connecticut's de facto segregated school system called "Schools in Black and White." (The program is to be broadcast from 8 to 8:30 p.m. on WEDH, Channel 24.)
It should be required viewing for every parent -- not to mention taxpayer -- in the state, even though this original, half-hour documentary can do little more than spell out and briefly confront the complicated and emotional issues involved. (Toward that end, though, CPTV will follow the show with an hourlong "Town Meeting" call-in show featuring interview subjects from the sho! w and CPTV's Bob Douglas as moderator.)
"Schools in Black and White," which also happens to be one of the most smartly produced documentaries ever to come out of CPTV, wastes no time getting to the point.
"This is the story of 450,000 boys and girls attending Connecticut public schools," says the narrator as the faces of hopeful, excited but (thanks to the system) unequal children flash by, MTV-video style -- some in black-and-white, others in color. This story, however, has a happier ending for some (whites) than others (non-whites). Connecticut, the producers point out, is increasingly multiethnic and multiracial and, therefore, so are its classrooms, where one out of four students are non-white.
"But segregation in Connecticut public schools is staggering," the show concludes. "Eight out of 10 minority students are concentrated in 10 percent of the school districts. And by the year 2000, minority enrollments in Hartford, Bridgeport and New ! Haven public schools will be approaching 100 percent." It's our dirty -- but not particularly well-hidden -- little secret. But "Schools in Black and White" spells it out for viewers in such direct terms, it's hard to ignore, particularly for those of us whose politically convenient solutions have socially devastating ramifications for
society at large.
Using a combination of historical perspective and educated opinions (from teachers, students and the politically interested), "Schools in Black and White" manages to keep an even tone (though weighted in its own, politically correct favor) with commentary from Commissioner of Education Gerald Tirozzi, John Brittain, University of Connecticut law professor and attorney in the Sheff vs. O'Neill school desegregation case, Mary Carroll of Project Concern (a program of voluntary integration) and other experts.
There are no answers, but perhaps some seeds for the future may be be found in the final segment of the show (not available for preview) featuring high school se! niors from urban Bridgeport and suburban Trumbull in a point-counterpoint debate on segregation.
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