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Murphy 1

Lydia Lorraine Murphy

Answers to Discussion Questions

Children in Room E4

Table of Contents
PART I............2
Murphy 2


1. What are the conditions facing Hartfords children like Jeremy and how it affected
their educational opportunities? How are those compared to your own education

Children in Hartfords school system, and others alike, face many adverse school
conditions, as well as living conditions. Concerning home life, James Thompson estimated that
slightly less than half of birth mothers and a far higher percentage of fathers were not
significant, constant caregivers to their children (20). In addition, most families are just getting
by, worrying about their financial income and staying above the poverty line. Jeremy also was
not phased about shootings that occurred just feet from his home.
Children in Hartford also face harsh realities in the school system. Although some may
personally strive to excel like Jeremy, many others like him fall behind very easily in reading,
writing and math. In fact, Ms. Luddy, Jeremy's teacher, knew that the road after Simpson
Waverly was not good. The reality is,
But come seventh grade hed most likely find himself at Fox Middle School
two thirds of the kids there were officially poor 9 percent of eighth graders
would meet the state standard goal in every subject on the CMT...Weaver High
School had repeatedly received warnings and probation from its accrediting
agency in 2004 two boys would get stabbed in a hallway brawl (17).
Children in Hartford do not have the same resources as others and it clearly shows in the
facts stated above. This, as well as contributing outside conditions from home life, affect their
educational opportunities and hinders their learning. One town does not just by chance have
students with that low of text scores, there is something causing those scores, and it is the lack of
funding, lack of understanding and the corruptness behind Hartfords socio-economic history.
I can try to understand the conditions that children like Jeremy live in, but I cannot, and I
believe it would be rather ignorant if I said I did. I grew up with both a mother and father, an
older sister, and a dog who ran around our medium-sized green grass lawn. To my towns
standard my house was average and my family made enough money to pay all bills, and also
enjoy extra luxuries here and there. My school was small, air conditioned, and each wing shared
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a laptop cart, and each teacher had their own set of textbooks. My town is the fraction of the size
of Hartford, yet most likely we receive more funding than most Hartford public schools. Reading
this book has truly awoken and anger in me, and I keep asking myself how what is happening in
Hartford justified?
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2. How did Hartford become a segregated place with mostly poor Black and Latino

Hartford was a booming city with many job opportunities. There was a flux in of black
and Latino Americans. As this population prospered they still suffered discrimination. Although
they making good wages and finding work, renters had a monopoly over the housing market and
charged non-white Americans at extortionate prices. The government in the 1950s did establish
public housing, but the main idea behind this was so that, Federal government housing policies
guaranteed that the poor stayed where they already lived (49).
Many white home owners sold their houses and moved to surrounding areas. In fact real
estate agents encourage new white families to move into houses outside Hartford and encouraged
black families to move into Hartford. With this, white owners also sold their shops and
businesses which caused major layoffs for the black population in Hartford.
The children in Hartford call their city and home a ghetto, which is a very natural place to
them, but the ghetto isnt natural. It is man-made. And at many points in history, those with the
power to do so could have halted its construction (43).
Continuing, another major reason behind why Hartford became a segregated place with a
mostly poor black and Latino population, is because states were allowed to draw school district
boundary lines. The borders separated middle class from poor, white from black and Latino
because they outlined housing segregation.
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3. Why did federal court system stop enforcing Brown vs. Board of Education
school desegregation and how it affected Hartford?

Brown vs. Board of Education was a humongous leap forward toward equal schools, but
it was difficult to implement. Federal courts stopped enforcing Brown vs. Board of Education
school desegregation two decades after. Integrating urban schools was not enough because there
werent enough white students left in town to go around (80). Bradley and others from the
NAACP argued that suburbs intentionally created segregation-like patterns in the city, and they
wanted the Supreme Court to enforce desegregation. However, the Court decided in a 5-4
decision in favor of Milliken, the governor at the time. Urban schools and their black and Latino
students were left on their own. Thurgood Marshall said Milliken was a giant step backwards
and In the short run, it may seem to be the easier course...but it is a course, I predict, our people
will ultimately regret (81).
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4. What motivated John Brittain and others to fight in court (rather than through
other means) for school desegregation?

I believe John Brittains fire to fight grew in 1977 when he received a call from an
investigator from the US Department of Justice concerning discriminatory practices from real
estate agents in Hartford. Before 1977 John Brittain was already an established lawyer fighting
desegregation battles and other social injustice. He was fueled to conquer racial separation and
break down barriers for black and Latino community members. But that phone call, ignited a
larger flame. Brittain in fact stated, These things dont happen by accident. I suppose, for me,
that phone call is what started it all (76). From this point on he assembled a team to research
everything they could about the events that led Hartford to become so segregated. Brittain
communicated with the NAACP and spoke to large crowds of people and got his voice and
message out there. Brittain recalled, basically, we were watching the school system decline (82)
and his colleague Jack Boger recalled, So we had to do something because, well, the alternative
was to just sit there (84). Brittain and others were motivated by the injustices and the lack of
government intervention to stop these injustices.
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5. Create or find a visual, music piece, or poem that reflect important aspects from this
reading. Attach to your paper and explain your choice.

I have chosen this image (artist unknown) to represent part one of The Children in Room
E4. Albert Einstein once said, Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to
climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid. I have, in my own experiences,
witnessed people belittle Hartford and their school system without knowing the history behind
why these certain stigmas exist - I came to believe what others were saying. However after
reading part one, my perspective has changed greatly. I am now angered about how the
government and people in positions to help sat idly by while Hartford digressively became the
way it is today. District lines were drawn to keep in the black and Latino population and the
white population fled to surrounding towns. Shops and factories were run out of business, and
others left when the others fled the city. These factors caused a huge negative fluctuation in
finances and caused many to lose jobs. The citys population grew poorer, and so did the
In the cartoon, the man asks the various animals to climb the tree to pass the test, but
clearly others have more advantage than the rest. The monkey can climb to the top quick, the
bird can fly to the top, the dog may get there slowly with more struggles, but it is nearly
impossible for the fish, the penguin, the seal and the elephant to climb the tree. This is a
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metaphor. The man represents government and the nations educational expectation, and the
animals represent different towns. The monkey and the bird are well equipped to get to the top of
the tree, they represent rich towns with well-off schools and government support. The dog
represents towns that may be struggling a bit more, but they still have some support and show
good results. But, the fish, seal, penguin, and elephants will never get to the top. They are the
towns like Hartford who face so many obstacles and challenges, so they never can win. Hartford
will never be able to meet state education regulations if funding and support do not come from
the state of CT and the nation as a whole.
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1. What did you learn about Connecticut politics and justice system through the
Sheffs court case?

I would like to say that our justice system is indeed just, but after reading up to part 6 in
Children in Room E4, I cannot say this. In fact, Sheffs court case has proven to me, that the justice
system is in fact downright lousy. In my opinion, the Sheff case should have been a no brainer.
Who would not want to desegregate schools and give all children the chance to an equal education?
Susan Eatons reports have proven to me that sometimes, if not most of the time, the justice
system does not rule in favor of the morally right side, in reality the system rules in favor of the
most convenient way. I have this opinion because Judge Hammer in a requisite of finding of facts
shared his reasons regarding his decision, and two of his main reasons to rule in favor of the State
was because, ...a students poverty (not segregation and not concentration of poverty) lay at the
root of poor performance and because there was no specific law or set of laws that could be
named as the instrument or cause of inequity, such as it was (159). This is astonishing that Judge
Hammers decision primarily was based on these points. He either did not get the very essence of
Sheffs plea, or decided to purposefully overlook it.
I also have other opinions about the justice system in Connecticut. Sheffs court case was
dragged on months, and when it was brought to the Supreme Court it lasted for years. Clearly,
money and time need to be spent in large quantities, creating what I believe an unfair system.
Many citizens, who the court was made for, cannot afford to spend money on lawyers and they
cannot afford to miss work for so long. If a citizens case has lost, they not only have lost their
plea, but much more of their life as well.
This reading, also angered me, when I found out how Connecticuts officials reacted when
they won the decision of Sheff vs. ONeil. It is disgusting that Governor Rowland and Dick
Blumenthal celebrated over a bottle of champagne. They took pride in what they did for
Connecticuts school system, however John Brittain said it perfectly. Whats to celebrate? We
still have segregated schools? You want to go on record celebrating that? Youd think it was a
sports victory. It was disgusting (163). It was disgusting, and it was also disgusting for
Blumenthal to say afterwards that he did not drink it, and he was sorry. The officials of the State
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did not care about the minority, they cared about the majority and how they can save money and
resources instead of provide justice to those who need it.
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2.What pressures did Ms. Luddy and other Hartford teachers and administrators
experience and how did it affect the education experience of their students?

Ms. Luddy and other Hartford teachers and administrators experienced many pressures that
affected the education of their students. I want to focus on how the high-stakes assessments and
the changing programs and standards created an environment that was less than ideal for the entire
school system. Tony Amato, the new superintendent, demanded training regimens to prepare for
tests, for example, Power Hour, Power School, Super Saturdays and, summer school for fall test
takers. This could have helped, if not so extreme. Ms. Luddy and others were forced to focus on
rigid exams rather than discovery in the classroom, and this affected students. Ms. Luddys
classroom was changed physically (desks were put in rows, rather than groups) and spiritually.
The children in her classroom were tired, sore from sitting, and fed up with test prep. They were
anxious about getting high scores and nervous during test taking time - even Jeremy grew weary
from this.
In addition, the frequency that the curriculum and program changed was not beneficial to
the school system as a whole. In fact Susan Eaton reports that one program SFA, the teachers did
not like, experienced teachers often told me they resented the SFA teacher manuals, which
dictated to the minute what teachers should be teaching, and how they should teach it (231).
Although Ms. Luddy accepted each new change and tried adhering to it, the programs were an
inconvenience to all, Each program was presented to Ms. Luddy over the years had arrived with
its own exotic, legitimizing narrative (242). They were scripts of how to teach, and did not let
the students discover new things. Topics were aligned and presented to them each day and in each
period. In fact, SFA was not proven to work. The reading scores remained some of the lowest in
the state.
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3.Create a short skit/dramatic act that reflect the content of this reading (such as an
interview with a Ms. Luddy or with the children).

Ms. Luddy: Children 1..2...3 (The children settle into their seats and take out their
standardized test practice booklets)
Marus: Not this stupid stuff again.
Lyssa: DRP stands for Dumb Reading Poop (all the children laugh)
Ms. Luddy: (walks to Lyssa and whispers to her) Lyssa you know the rules in the classroom, one
more outbursts and we will talk outside. (Stands and walks around the row of desks). Okay class,
I am going to read out of the handbook, and we will go through this story about the history of the
pyramids in Egypt. Everyone open your books. Begin reading.
Jason: Ms. Luddy??
Ms. Luddy: Yes dear?
Jason: What does pharaoh mean? And where are the pyramids?
Ms. Luddy: Jason, remember we overlook about where places are when we read these stories. And
try reading the sentences around the word pharaoh to figure out what it means.
Jason: Yeah, but Ms. Luddy what is a dessert?
Ms. Luddy: Desert Jason. Does everyone see the word desert? It is not the same as dessert. Does
anyone know what a desert is?
Lyssa: I think its kinda like the beach, but with no water.
Ms. Luddy: Yes Lyssa, which is kind of what a desert is like. Does anyone know what the desert
in the story is called?
(The children more interested now, search the reading passage like a clue game)
Marcus: I know, I know. The Sahara Desert! Wait, huh? What does that mean?
Ms. Luddy: Okay everyone close your books, we will take 5 minutes and 5 minutes only to go
over some quick history. (Ms. Luddy lugs out a huge world atlas from underneath the cabinet that
used to be in her parents house. The school did not provide the teachers with any maps, so the
atlas helps Ms. Luddy give brief geography lessons. Ms. Luddy sits on her white stool in the front
of the room and points to where Egypt is on the Africa map). Here is where our story is taking
place right here are where the what are?
Analese: The pyramids!!
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Ms. Luddy: Yes the pyramids. What shape are the pyramids do you think?
Analese: Ummmm, square?
Ms. Luddy: Try again, think of a shape with three sides.
Analese: A triangle!!
Ms. Luddy: A pyramid is a special 3D triangle!
(Just outside the door, Ms. Luddy heard footsteps. She hoped it was only a janitor or a child going
to the bathroom. This was her test prep period with the kids, and if it was any of the administrators
she would get a reprimand)
Mr. Amato: Ms. Luddy! Class, how are we doing today! I was told this is your test prep period
how are we all doing?
(Ms.Luddys test book was upside down on the floor next to the stool, and she grasped her atlas a
little bit more)
Analese: Mr. Amato!! Do know what a pyramid is? Its a 3D triangle!!
Lyssa: And the Sahara desert is like a giant beach but with no water! Ms. Luddy? Where is all the
Marcus: And it is in Egypt! Which is in Africa, look its right there on the map!
Mr. Amato: (Noticing that all the childrens test booklets lay on the desk closed, sighed) Oh kids,
now is not the time to distract Ms. Luddy or ask questions. It is your test prep period. Everyone
take out your books again and continue please. These test are important for me, the school, you
and Ms. Luddy.
Ms. Luddy: We are sorry Mr. Amato we got excited about the story.
Mr. Amato: (dismissing Ms. Luddys apology) Marcus, dont we skip names and places when
reading and taking the DRP?
Marcus: (attentive and sitting tall, now dropped his head and slouched) Yes mister, we do.
Mr. Amato: Okay guys, you only have 45 more minutes left, lets get those test scores up! (Walking
by Ms. Luddy on the way out) We will talk about this later, Ms. Luddy. (He leaves the room)
Lyssa: This is stupid! I want to learn about the pharaohs and the teepees!
Ms. Luddy: Lyssa! (Ms. Luddy was going to take her in the hallway but she already wasted enough
time) ..pyramids, not teepees.
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1. When the children of class E-4 visit Marlborough they experience a different
Connecticut. What were some of the main differences? Find a quote that illustrates
well this gap and explain your choice.

The main difference between the Marlborough school and Simpson-Waverly is opportunity -
the opportunity of freedom, the opportunity of trust, and the opportunity for growth. When the
students of class E-4 visited their sister school in the suburbs, I found the quote by one of the
Marlborough aides to be very representative of Simpson Waverlys visit,
Here, let me open the window, the aide continued helpfully. Here, you can look right out
(278). In context, two girls from Ms. Luddys class were staring outside of the Marlborough
classroom window at the playground. The aide walked over and when the girls said, We dont
have as much stuff, the aide was uncomfortable and left them alone. The children of Hartford
are not aloud to open windows, and even if they were there would be no colorful playground to
look at, no fresh air to breath, no green grass to smell and no birds chirping. Simpson Waverlys
kids have no opportunity to go outside and play, which according to Piaget is essential in the
growth of childrens cognitive skills.
The children of Simpson Waverly also do not have the opportunity of earning trust that
the Marlborough students do. At Simpson Waverly the students must be in lines, must be quiet,
and must be always working. In fact, I have witnessed this in Pulaski Middle School in New
Britain as well. One day during lunch duty, I asked a teacher why procedure was so rigid, and he
replied, We are here to contain the kids, without us, they would be even more out of line. This
confused me. I felt as though the students were treated more like military cadets than children.
Perhaps the lunch procedure is necessary, and I simply do not have enough experience, but in my
gut, I feel like the kids are being robbed of their full potential.
Additionally, the children in Marlborough have the opportunity for growth - academically
and personally. The students at Marlborough are able to study topics like the rainforest, which do
not comply with high stake assessment standards. This allows them to understand the world,
unlike the children in Hartford. The children in class E-4 and the curriculum is only focused on
CT state standards and testing, which hinders them from valuable and beneficial learning.
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2. What are the pros and cons of using magnet schools as the main way to solve
segregation among children in the greater Hartford and what other options could
have the state used to achieve school desegregation?

There are certainly many pros of using magnet schools as one of the main ways to solve
segregation among children in Hartford. Kloczko, the principal of UHMS said,
But we just would not be as good if we didnt have the racial diversity and see that as
our strength, as a precious, nonnegotiable characteristic No. No. Let me restate what I
just said...Without everyone included, all races, backgrounds, without wanting that and
doing it that way on purpose, we wouldnt be a good school, period (297).
This quote truly exemplifies some of the pros of magnet schools. With more diversity students
at UHMS are offered more opportunities to learn from others than students from a non diverse
school. In fact Mike Larkin, the teacher in Marlborough suggested that we are so white out
here (279). It feels contrary to say that the students in Marlborough were at a disadvantage,
even though they had a playground, recess, windows that opened and other resources that the
students in Hartford did not. However it is true, that the perspectives of those students in
Marlborough are more close minded because they do not have diversity among the student
In addition, magnet schools attract parents and guardians of parents from many
backgrounds to apply by offering innovative curriculum and professional development. Many
schools offer college prep and focus on certain subjects like the arts, sciences, math, english and
more. Therefore those who are from outside Hartford, like the suburbs are attracted to attend the
magnet schools.
With pros, come cons. A con of magnets schools is the amount of children they can
teach. The magnet schools are not able to offer a spot for all children of Hartford and surround
areas. Although there are many magnet schools in Hartford, many are placed on waiting lists.
This can cause resentment. Another concern is the cost of transporting students. A term that
many use, but has negative connotations, is busing. Coordinating buses and transportation with
students can be costly and inconvenient.
Other options beside magnet schools, include freedom of choice programs. Guardians of children
in Hartford can have their children attend suburban schools outside of the city. However this
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causes problems as well. Students who join suburban schools, may be looked at as outsiders, and
by transporting students away from their homes, it is as if these programs are saying that their
community is not good enough. The cost of transportation is considered here as well.
Another option is to create opportunities to set up Simpson Waverly - Marlborough like
sister school programs. Students from urban districts and students from suburban districts would
be able to visit each other and understand the difference in communities.