Negative: A Change for the Worse

10% Whites / 7% Blacks

  • The black culture is different in a negative way and I don’t want this influencing the white culture. – White female, 79 years old
  • Sometimes black teachers give special treatment to the black students, that affects the quality of education the white students receive. – White female, 55 years old
  • There is a severe imbalance in education between blacks and whites. There is a perception that black students aren’t going anywhere so you … don’t encourage them to pursue further careers. – Black female, 56 years old

The comments in this theme express the idea that integration causes more problems than it resolves.  Some respondents felt that integration is a bad idea even in principle, and that blacks and whites should not mix.  Not everyone agreed that integration is bad in itself, but some felt that although integration is a good idea in theory, the act of integration was rushed, badly handled, or was forced on people, to negative effect.  Comments by Schuman et al. (2006) may account for the opinions expressed by white respondents here, observing that some studies show that a number of whites harbor resentment toward efforts to force integration on them (p. 297).

One of the outcomes of this resentment may have been “white flight”, where whites who are reluctant to send their children to integrated schools either relocate to the suburbs or take their children out of public schools and place them in private schools (Carnahan, 2003). Both blacks and whites commented that now, they believed many public schools are majority black, supporting the idea that integration was nominal and not wholly successful (Orfield and Yun, 1999).

There was also concern that education has gone into decline post-integration, and that the situation has gotten worse for children of both races.  U.S. census data does indeed show that there is a difference between the academic performances of black and white students, but it would be difficult to attribute this outcome directly to the legacy of Central High.

In addition, comments were made that indicated some respondents perceived that unfair / unequal treatment was still an issue in schools today, and was directed against both black and white students.