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De facto segregation in the North: Skipwith vs. NYC Board of Education

Unit 2 , Lesson 2

Jewish Women's Archive - Living the Legacy

http://jwa.org/LivingtheLegacy

De facto segregation in the North: Skipwith vs. NYC Board of Education

Lesson plan:
  1. Introduction: Civil Rights Court Cases

    1. Break your class into small groups (or pairs) and give each group a Court Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline CardCourt Timeline Card. If you want to get students moving, you could copy the cards onto different colored paper, place them around the room, and ask students to pick them up and then get in line chronologically based on the year of their court case.
    2. Have each group/pair discuss the case on their Court Timeline Card and consider why their case is important in civil rights history. In deciding why their case is important your students may want to think about the following questions: Did it set a precedent that had an impact on African Americans? Did it change or reverse a precedent that had an impact on African Americans? What effect does this case still have on our lives today, if any?
    3. Have the groups put their Court Timeline Cards (back) in order, either by lining them up chronologically again, or by clipping the cards with paper clips or clothes pins to a piece of yarn or a clothesline strung in the front of the room. Once the cards are in order, have each group share with the class the following information about their court case: the decision, why it is important, and any Jewish role.
    4. After your students have returned to their seats, explain that in addition to moments of personal resistance, the earliest work to gain civil rights for African Americans was through the courts.
    5. Discuss the following questions with your class:
      • Why do you think so many of these cases dealt with education? Why is equality of education so important?
      • Segregation in public schools and universities in the South was instituted by law. Think about how you have segregation without laws. What are some examples?
    6. Write the words "de facto segregation" and "de jure segregation" on the board or on chart paper. Define both terms for your class. Have students give some possible examples and list them under the appropriate term.
  2. Text Study: Skipwith v. New York City Board of Education

    1. Explain to your students that as a class we will be examining another very significant civil rights case. As you read the documents and discuss them, think about how this case is similar to and/or different from the cases that are already on our timeline.
    2. Using the introductory essay, briefly explain the story of the Skipwith case to your students and provide some background on Judge Justine Wise Polier.
    3. Hand out copies of the document study "Ruling on Skipwith v. New York City Board of Education"document study "Ruling on Skipwith v. New York City Board of Education" to your students. Have a couple of students take turns reading out loud the excerpts from Justine Wise Polier's Skipwith ruling. You may want to stop the student occasionally to clarify terms and make sure your students understand the arguments being made.
    4. After reading the document, use some of the discussion questions found at the end of the document study "Ruling on Skipwith v. New York City Board of Education" to analyze the ruling with your students. (Be sure to print out an extra copy for yourself, so you can read the questions aloud.)
    5. When you're ready to move on, tell your students:
      After her ruling on the Skipwith case, Justice Polier received many letters about the case from people she knew as well as from strangers. Newspaper columnists also wrote about it. To better understand this case and its impact, we're going to examine some of those letters and articles.
    6. Have your students return to the same groups as at the beginning of class. Provide each group with a copy of the document study "Ruling on Skipwith v. New York City Board of Education," and ask them to review the documents and discuss the questions that follow each document.
    7. When the groups have finished their discussions, place the Skipwith v. New York City Board of Education timeline card on the timeline. Provide a pad of post-its to each group and have them write their responses to the following questions on separate post-its:
      • What do you think is the importance of this case (use similar criteria as in the introduction)?
      • What do you think was the Jewish influence on this case, if any?
    8. Each group should place their post-its on the Skipwith Timeline card as they finish writing them.
    9. After each group has placed its post-its, you can review them and group similar ideas together. Then share the main points written on the post-its with your class.
  3. Conclusion: De Facto Segregation and You

    1. To wrap up this lesson, discuss the following questions with your class:
      • How do these civil rights cases impact us today?
      • Many would argue that de facto segregation in education still exists, even though there are no laws restricting African Americans from living in certain places, as there were at the time of the Skipwith case. What do you think de facto segregation looks like today?
      • What are the demographics of your schools – Who is the majority? Who is the minority? (Encourage students to think about factors other than race as well.) How does this impact the school? If the school is not a public school, to what degree do parents choose the school for their children because of who the majority/minority population is?

How to cite this page

Jewish Women's Archive. "Living the Legacy - Lesson: De facto segregation in the North: Skipwith vs. NYC Board of Education." (Viewed on April 23, 2014) <http://jwa.org/teach/livingthelegacy/civilrights/de-facto-segregation-in-north-skipwith-vs-nyc-board-of-education>.