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Hamilton High Controversy

May 02, 1999

Re "A Beacon of Integration, a Magnet of Controversy," April 25:

As a former teacher at Hamilton High School Academy of Music (1991-94), I offer the following observations:

1. White pupils who make up less than 12% of the district's student population shouldn't be guaranteed 40% or in some cases 60% of the seats in the magnet schools of their choice.

2. All of the teachers assigned to the non-magnet school should be compelled to produce an instructional program that emulates the instructional program of the two magnet schools.

3. Parents of low-achieving students need to work with their children and help them to succeed academically. Parents don't need political power at the school site.

4. Students attending the non-magnet school must apply themselves as diligently as the magnet students do.

Charges of racism only obscure the real issues at Hamilton. While racism is certainly in the hearts and minds of some, the opportunity to get a good education is available to any family that makes academic success a priority.



In the mid-'60s Crenshaw High School was still under construction and white flight was just beginning at Dorsey High School. Most of those checking out were fleeing to Hamilton. In 1968 the African Americans who were living in the Crenshaw district when Crenshaw opened made every effort to stay at Dorsey. Dorsey was still integrated, with almost an equal balance of Asian Americans, whites and African Americans, with a few Latinos.

The parent who said, "When the school goes all black, then the neighborhood goes all black," had it backward. Schools become all black due to white flight from the school's neighborhood. I was a witness to this in my own elementary school and later saw the same thing happen at Dorsey. As far as teachers being prejudiced, there probably are some who are and some who are not. This is nothing new. African Americans have succeeded in spite of this since the 19th century.


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