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SAMUEL PROCTOR ORAL HISTORY PROGRAM at
the University of Florida.
ALACHUA PORTRAIT FORUM #3
"EDUCATION" 8 September 1983
[Transcribed from original audiotape]
VOICES IN ORDER OF SPEAKING:
TC: Tim Check, Panel Moderator, City of Gainesville Safety Officer ) ,
TS: Terry Stechmiller, panelist, Principal of Mebane Middle School /I'. 2
AB: Allan Burns, Ph.D., Humanities Consultant
DM: Debbie McGill, panelist, high school student
SC: Saint Elmo Cherry, panelist, Santa Fe Community College Minority Rights Officer
MJ: Mary Jones, panelist, retired school teacher
BI: Bill Irby-II, panelist, Principal of Alachua Elementary School
MB: Miram Byrd, speaker in audience
EO: Ethel O'Dea, speaker in audience, schoolteacher
MH: Martha Richard Hagan, speaker in audience
DB: David Bush, speaker in audience, dry goods store owner
RE: Ralph Emerson, speaker in audience, local farmer
OW: Ozell Williams, speaker in audience
JM: Joe Mager, speaker in audience, Hare Krishna Farm representative
LR: Leoris Richardson, panelist, Santa Fe Community College Dept. of Comm. Education
BH: Blanche Hill, speaker in audience, high school teacher
JO: Mike Joyner, speaker in the audience, Pincipal of Santa Fe High School
JH: Joyce Horsley: speaker in audience,/wife of Church of Christ Minister
JB: Judi Baker, speaker in audience, parent
LP: Liz Parker, Ph.D., school counselor, speaker in audience
MH: Margaret Harris, speaker in audience, middle school teacher
FC: Finney Child, speaker in audience, four years old
TW: Thelma Welch, speaker in audience, middle school music teacher(retired)
DG: Diane Green, speaker in audience, nursing instructor from UF
) ~TC: My name is Tim Check. I am a former school teacher and a former school
administrator. When I moved to this part of Florida from the north, I
decided to locate in the city of Alachua because I have felt throughout
my life that a school system is pretty much a gauge for the total
community. If you have a good school system you have a good community.
The community really reflects the values and structure.of its school
system. And you know, without talking about the philosophy of
education or anything like that, I think you can look at the people in a
community and tell whether they value their education, what they think of
their facilities, their programming, and things like that.
What we want to do tonight is get an interchange of ideas and
thoughts between panelists, and between the panelists and the audience.
But what we are really trying to find out tonight is how everyone feels
about their school system, how it has affected your life, and how it has J
affected the lives of your children. /
We have true professionals here tonight. Let us talk to them. r
will start on my far right, Mike Joyner, Principal of Santa Fe High School,
is going to hopefully get involved in our discussion. Terry Stechmiller
is principal of Mebane Mi'ddle School. I had the good experience of
working with Terry at Bucholtz for a year and Terry is a super
administrator. Debbie McGil'l is a student from Santa Fe High School. Dr.
Cherry is the Director of Minority Affairs at Santa Fe Community College.
Mrs. Jones is a retired school teacher from Alachua. Mr. Bill Irby is the
principal of Alachua Elementary School. And Leoris Richardson is a
Coordinator for the Community Education Program at Santa Fe Community
College; I had the pleasure of working with Lee for a year and she is one
swell person. After we get done with a little orientation with each
person then we will get involved with some questions and answers. I
think we will start things off with Terry Stechmiller.
TS: I feel like I am the new kid on the block, because I am definitely new to
this community. I have not been here two months yet and I still have not
gotten my feet wet. I told the faculty I still feel like we are on a
honeymoon. I am a firm believer in what we are doing. I am glad to see
that we now have a unified school system with one school, and I am talking
about one school, one is an elementary school, and one is a middle school.
I think the key is that everyone in the community is willing to work
together to make a better school system. We are not going to make it with
a dual system. We need your support and I think Mebane can be as fine a
middle school as the people in this community want ft to be. I am
committed to it as an administrator, our faculty is committed to it as
teachers and as secretaries and as lunchroom and custodial staff, and we
are all working. And I think we can make Mebane anything we want it to
AB: Terry, let me ask you a couple of questions. Where did you go to school
when you were younger?
TS: I grew up in Gainesville. I have lived here thirty-eight years, a long
time. I graduated from Gainesville High School and from the University
AB: When you were going to school back then in Gainesville, what did you
think of Alachua?
TS: I knew where it was, since r passed through it going north. I think my
first was when r was involved in athletics and coming out to what was
then Alachua High School. I played ball here. My first experience with
Mebane was when r was at Bucholtz High School with coach Jesse Heard X
and we raided part of the facilities at Alachua High School to get some
lights to help build an athletic facility, because Coach Heard was very
impressed with. what they had.
AB: Why do we not move on to Debbie McGill, who is also, as I understand it,
the President of the Sophomore Class. Before the forum started tonight,
Debbie was saying, 'Well, what can I talk about?" And r said, "Well, we
often do not get a chance'to hear what the-stUdents have to say, what'
school is like for them. What are the good points, and what are the bad
points of school from Debbie's perspective.
DM: [Debbie McGill, panelist/high school student] r really cannot reflect on
what the schools are like now, but r have always enjoyed all of the
schools that I have gone through. I have always thought that the
education was done really well. I always had really good teachers and I
think the same goes for right now. I know we have really good teachers at
Santa Fe now.
The school board is restricting a lot on education now, credits are
going up with certain classes we are required to take, and so forth. I
guess it is changing in that way because they are trying to put more
emphasis on more education at school. We have elective classes right
now to prepare for the future, for jobs and stuff like that. Like home
economics, and farming, and computer class. I do not know if they will
cut them or not, but they are really educational as far as the future
and gives us an idea of what we might want to be when we graduate from
AB: When I went to school, which was a long, long, time ago-- this afternoon
really-- we used to have cliques, and different kinds of clubs, and
different parts of our town belonged to them; is that the same here with
Santa Fe High School?
DM: Yes. We have many clubs.. We have the football team, the cheerleaders,
and volleyball teams. We have a lot of athletic programs at the school.
AB: One of the things people say is that by participating in clubs, you learn
something about leadership roles.
If you are the president of the class, you learn something about how to
work with other people. Are people in the schools still joining these
clubs, or is it Just now football and a few things like that? Are there
other clubs that are still active?
DM: Yes, there are a lot of students that do not like playing sports, and they
get involved in clubs. There i's Beta, Spanish, French, and so forth. But
it is kind of a whole school thing because if you do not like athletics,
you can always join a club, or student government, or something like that.
AB: How about the ones that do not Join clubs, are there many of those?
DM: Yes, there are a lot of them. They are called the invisible students, and
we are putting an emphasis on them right now as far as the Student
Government is concerned- trying to get them active. Many of the freshman &
do not know what their purpose is yet. They are Just kind of there walking
around the sidewalks, still trying to find their classrooms. So, we are
trying to get out now and let them know that there are certain clubs you
can get involved in, and certain athletics you can get involved in.
TC: Dr. Cherry, can you dig back into history and see if you can give us a
historical perspective on education in this area even ten years ago if you
want to go back that far, further if you would like to. Try and tell us
what it was like to go to school in the City of Alachua or in this area
ten or fifteen years ago, and bring that up to date so we can find out
what advances we have made in our academic education.
SC: I started first grade at the time it was Alachua County Training School.
And I think that was about 1950. In 1955, when we had the school separate
but equal, that was.when Mebane was built. And I think Santa Fe High was
built up the road. I finished Mebane and went on further. When I look /
back at my educational prospects, my path was a little different from most
people. I am sitting here looking at Miss Marion Burgess who taught me
home economics, and I am looking at some other people here. At that time,
my parents were very much interested in my learning, so I was a little bit
ahead of some students when I started school because I had instruction at
I came up in a system wherein we were compared with the white school
as compared with the black schools. I remember when I was in the seventh
or eighth grade, a bus came over and gave us all the books that were at
the Alachua High School; I remember things like that happening. I
remember when I got in the ninth grade we had to wait to get the old hooks
that came over from Alachua High School. How that affected my skills in
terms of whatever, I really do not know, because I was a motivated person
coming from the family that I came from, and they never did let me feel
like r was slighted in any way, in terms of skill.
I remember they gave us some standardized tests. Miss Fannie
Goodman was the elementary school principal at that time. Mr. Whitfield
was our principal at ACT, and they gave about fifteen or twenty of us
some sort of standardized test, and about ten to fifteen of us passed it.
SC: So they gave us a double promotion. There were about ten or fifteen of
us in the fourth grade for about three months, and then we all went to
fifth grade and were in Miss Mary Jones's class. Going to Mebane, that
was when it was supposed to be separate but equal. We had a gymnasium,
which was a brand new experience compared to the clay courts at ACT. We ,
had a new agricultural department, with Mr. McCaslen and Mr. Brown at (t.b
that time. It seems like it was fun to go down and see things growing
Home economics was a good experience because that was my first time
having to make something.. I learned how to make my first skirt and C
blouse under Miss Burgess. We had new sewing machines as compared to old '
ACT. I remember new science equipment. It was supposed to be separate
but equal, but we only had one microscope. We had English, we had Algebra,
we had Trigonometry, we had Geometry, social studies, and Spanish. I
think at that time you had to have at least four units of English and
about three units ofMath before graduating. You were not allowed to
select a certain kind of Math. Everyone was in pretty much a college
track whether you were going or not; you took what the principal felt you
needed: his attitude was that it was better to have it and not need it,
than need it and not have it.
AB: Dr. Cherry, Debbie was mentioning that number of clubs and the other
activities that she tries to get the new freshmen to be involved in.
Were there clubs at ACT. that people belonged to?
SC: Yes, we had the New Homemakers of America, the New Farmers of America, the
Dramatics Club, the band, the chorus, and the debate clubs. We had
student council which gave us a chance to exercise certain kinds of
leadership activities, such as parliamentary procedure. I remember I was
secretary every year in my class. I got tired of being secretary
because I wanted to do something else, but I was never in line for it. I'
remember the science club, because I did an exhibit on drawing. I was very
good at drawing animals and insects in Mr. Alvin Banke's'class. I still
remember the biology that he taught me.
TC: What kind of value have you been able to draw from your education?
SC: When you say what kind of value, specifically?
TC: What is the worth of an education in your life, what value do you place on
good academic early background?
SC: Let me put it to you this way: I have always known from childhood that r
would go beyond high school, because my parents really valued that. My
mother's attitude and my father's attitude was this: we want you to get an
education because we do not want you to have to experience the kind of
living and the kind of living conditions that we had to go through. My
mother's attitude was get an education so you will not have to depend on
a man. She also said when you make your own money, it is better than
SC: anything in the world, because there is not any man in the world who is
going to give you what you can go out and make. r remember a certain
kind of attitude would prevail that if you Were born black in America
you could only achieve so much. My daddy's attitude was that that may
be true, but you go as far as you can, within the system. His attitude
was there are ways to get what you want, but you have got to know how to
play the game. And t remember him saying that everything is survival.
When you learn how to survive in an integrated society or a segregated
society, let those experiences teach. Let your negative experiences--
racism, or whatever you want to call it, let those experiences teach
you something. Because out of every negative experience, a positive
experience would come. So I had the kind of orientation to forge ahead
in spite of the odds.
AB: You mentioned that your family really trained you at home. I think in
today's school world, that is one thing we all face, the school cannot
do everything. We only see students a few hours a day and the rest
of the day they are at home or they are elsewhere. Maybe you could just
comment on the kind of help or assistance you got from your parents. Was
it actually sitting down after dinner working on math problems or what?
SC: As long as I can remember, my mother had always read to me. She detected
very early that I knew how to read, and let me tell you how she detected
that she knew that r knew alphabets and how to figure it out.
We would visit some relatives of ours down in St. Petersburg and
during that time they would talk about things kind of over my head. And
they would spell things like the old M-A-N did not C-O-M-E O-V-E-R until
L-A-T-E N-I-G-H-T, so I would listen to all that and I would write it all
down. When I felt like they were all finished and we would go up to bed
and everything, I would ask Momma, playing around, I would ask, "Momma,
what does M-A-N spell?" She would tell me, then I would look it up.
Then one day she told my daddy, she said, "You know, we cannot talk over
her head anymore, she knows letters and the alphabet and all, and she
knows how to hook them all together.
So then I had not started school. My daddy said, "Let us train her
the best we know how." So my mother started getting the basic readers. r
She went to one-one-the teachers to find out what kinds of things to get.
So I had read all of Alice's and Jerry's and Little Red Riding Hood and all
of that, and I knew how to count. She would use pennies to show me how to
add and subtract, to do all of that, to show it, to demonstrate it. So it
was that kind of thing. I was always encouraged to read. You may not go
and visit and touch a mountain, but ifAcan read about a mountain,
understand its description and visualize it, you do not have to go and
touch the mountain to be able to understand it.
TC: Let us come back to that comment, the last couple of comments a little
later on with the audience. Thank you very much. Miss Jones, a little
bit about what it was like to be a teacher here a few years and how you
TC: have seen education in Alachua change over the years.
MJ: [Mary Jones, panelist/retired school teacher] I was born and reared in
Alachua My early schooling came from right here in Alachua. We did not
even have a school, although ACT.was there when I started school. And so /.
my first experience-that I really remember was in an old church that was
out by Evelyn Hines, who is dead now, but she would take us and teach us
what she knew. At that time they were trying to get the Alachua County
Training School established, and that was the first formal school I
remember going to, They did not have a twelfth grade at ACT, so after
the eleventh grade, I transferred to Gainesville High School, where r
finished. Then I went to college, came back and got a job. I heard
somebody say something about one-teacher schools-- well, that is where I
TC: What made you want to become a teacher?
MJ: Well, actually, when I was coming up, I did not think I wanted to become
a teacher. Actually, I wanted to be a registered nurse. And, you know,
sometimes people do not give the children the right encouragement. I grew
up real scrawny and weakling-like. I had everything ready to go to
Atlanta. I was told that r would not make it through because r was too
skinny. I got a chance to go to Bethune-Cookman College. After I got
there I found that I kind of liked that just as well or better.
So r went on then with my training for teaching and after I came out
I started teaching In 1940 I started teaching in a one-teacher school.
Then I was transferred to ACT. I stayed there until they built Mebane, ;.('.
then I was transferred to Mebane. I taught at Mebane for twenty-two
years; that is where I retired from. It is like Dr. Cherry said, the
difference back there, now probably some of our parents did not do as much
as others, but what they knew was that they were trying to instill into
the children. And they would try and teach them what they knew. And all
of them had some value. And you did not have this problem with discipline
that you have now. They were not all that highly educated, but you could
take them children and teach them something.
TC: When in time did discipline become more of a parent problem than
MJ: Well, I am going to tell it like it is. Now I started having a problem,
the larger the school got, the more discipline you had a problem with.
And then since integration, it has been a great problem.
MJ: I just could not tell you.
AB: Well, what kind of discipline problems? Do you mean kids just do not
want to do their homework? Or work in school?
MJ: Not only will they not do their homework, but then they also have the
attitude that they can do anything they want to do. They will say, "I
do not want to do that." Now the children are going to hold you
responsible for that child learning. If that child goes home and says,
"I did not do some work today. What did you do today?" The teacher
has planned activities and everything for learning, but that -teacher
cannot make that child learn and cannot make that child accept what he
or she is teaching that ch.ild.
That is the parents's'responsibility, but most parents are very good.
They will come in here and talk with the teachers and find out what that
child is doing and what the teacher says, then they will go back and have
a little talk with the child. But then some of them you tell them that
and you just get in trouble.
AB: Let me ask you a question, because I am from up north. From what I
understand, integration took place here about 1969, or 1970. So you are
saying that kids in the 1950s and 1960s did not have discipline problems?
MJ: No, I am not saying that you did not have any, I said that they are more
of a problem now than they were.
SC: When I was at school, if I acted out at school, the teachers would tell
my parents, and I remember my mother telling me: "Now you better not come
here and tell me any lies about what happened to you up there, because I
am going to tear your little rear end up if that teacher tells me what
has been happening." So many of us knew as students that teachers kept
in touch with parents,that that made a difference. I knew that if any of
my instructors were going to say anything to my momma and daddy about my
behavior, I knew I would get a tearing up. So I think that made a big
difference in terms of discipline.
So it was like parents and teachers worked:together, to do a good:job,
And when you have discipline you can do a better job in terms of teaching
skills and classroom management. When a student knows that you cannot
touch him, and'my momma and daddy do not want me in your class anyway,'how I
much discipline can you have? Let us not color up the truth.
MJ: That says it. Now after integration,,I really did not have problems such
as the white and black. If any problems came up, it was probably on both "
sides. I did not have any type of problems. I think there was one thing
in my favor, that when integration came, I was reared here and both the
white and the black knew me.
AB: Can we have Mr. Irby say something now about the school system, and his
unique perspective as the Principal of Alachua Elementary School.
BI: [Bill Irby:II, panelist/Principal of Alachua Elementary School] Soon after
ACT., they began to look for a site for a new school, our school. They il,
thought they would build it on this hill, a four-acre site. This building /
was dedicated in 1901. I did not attend back then, but I did in 1931.
BI: The building that was built in 1901, I might say just a few words about.
It was a three-room brick building and upstairs was a sort of auditorium.
Then in 1917 a high school building was built. That was a two-story brick '
building that was built to the left or the west of the present elementary
school. It had an auditorium in it and six classrooms. I might pause
here at this point and say I think we should get more dialogue going
between the panelists and the audience. So I am going to call on some of
you In a minute.
We have been stressing something this year at our school called think
time. We have been stressing asking better questions, trying to get better
answers. Getting students to think about a question first, before being
called upon. The teacher asks a question, gives the children time to
think about it-- "think time"-- then and only then calls on one of them.
That way, everybody is forced to think about the question-- in case they
are called upon.
This way, everybody will have thought about the best answer that
they can possibly give. This we know from studies will bring out more
learning. If you do it this way, instead of having everybody frantically
raise their hands and jump up, and wiggle their eyes and holler and do
all the things that children do. So I want you to be thinking now,
because I am going to call on some of you. I am giving you more think
time than we give children. We give them about four seconds.
So we had two buildings then, in 1917. And as we come on up C
through the years, another building was built on this particular site
back in 1927. Back when the Smith-Hughes Act was passed, and which was J
called the Vocational, Agricultural, Home Economics Building. That was
so confusing, I am surprised I can still remember it. Then came 1934
and the WPA days and the old building thati\built in 1901 had gotten v\Y' v
pretty run down and shoddy, so it was moved to build a new building.
And I was thinking about what somebody said tonight about discipline
and children back in the old days. In 1931, one of my teachers, who is
here tonight-- Mrs. Hortense M. Cauthen-- was the first teacher to ever
paddle me. She has probably forgotten it. She had left the room for a
few minutes and when she did, another fellow and myself-- Carl Floyd--
proceeded to show off our athletic ability by getting up and jumping over
the chairs. Then Mrs. Cauthen walked in, picked up a paddle, and gave us
both a few good licks. I remember that paddling well. She also used to
say that whenever you take a bath or shower, it was good to always rinse
off in cold water.
Then in 1934, another permanent building was built. It had a
large auditorium and eight classrooms on each side. Glancing back on
some of the material supplied for tonight, we have a listing of some of
the teachers from back in those days. I noticed that in my first year,
1931, we had seventeen teachers. There is usually about a teacher for
each gradeifor that size. Consolidation has been under way. Back in
1918, the smaller one-room schoolhouses began to consolidate in Alachua.
BI: Such places as Hainesworth, Bland, and Forest Grove, Hague, and LaCrosse
had for years been one-room schoolhouse sites, right up to the 1940s.
Many of these smaller places had a school, one through six. LaCrosse
was the last of them to be consolidated into Alachua. But when I
graduated we really di'd not grow much 'n that time, just twenty teachers.
But I know we added some courses during that time. Not saying a record
number, but we had Typing, Latin, Spanish, Vocational Agriculture and
Home economics. In fact, one of the highlights of the year, the reason ?
we would go out for Vocational Agriculture, was so that we could get to
go to the Tampa State pair. I can remember that was a big highlight back
in those days.
AB: How did you go to the State Fair, by train?
BI: An old school bus, and I remember freezing to death. I think February
was colder back then. I like to feel that our teachers are very
dedicated, and very good teachers. So with that now, I am going to call
on two or three of you. All r am going to give you now is about thirty
seconds, so if you talk longer,,than that, I am going to say thank you. /),l
How do you remember school Mriam? /
MB: tMidrm Byrd, speaker in audience] I can remember all of those buildings \\i4'it
you were talking about. I guess that our parents really instilled in us
the fact that we should have pride, that we should learn and that/we
should do the best we could. I know that I used to feel like that if I
was not at the top of my class, or if I did not make A's or B's, well
then, I felt that I was ruined, I mean, I just had that feeling when I
went to school. And I think that back in those days the kids did have a
little more of that instilled in them, or they felt that way about
getting an education. More so than they do today.
BI: Okay, let us jump over to Ethel.
EO: [Ethel O'Dea, speaker in audience, teacher] I started here in 1941. And
a lot of my teachers when I came back in 1966 became my colleagues. Going
on back, talking about changes I guess, when I went to high school, and by
the closeness of the community. One example' we decided, a group of girls -
and myself, to wear bluejeans one day per week. So we wore them one day,
and Mr. Donald Gates called some of us down to the office. He said, "I d( i1
had an occasion for some young ladies to go entertain the Woman's Club
today, but I do not see any young ladies here." We were quite startled
for a few moments. If you can arrange to have someone get you there, and
you can get changed so that you look like young ladies, then you can be
part of the Woman's Club chorus. So wevdown and sang for the Woman's
Club Luncheon. ,i '
BI: One of my old classmates back there, Martha? Remember me getting my
MH: [Martha Richard Hagan, speaker in audience] Well, we just all had a lot
of fun. Let the teachers take advantage of making us behave if they could,
because we were kind of rowdy ourselves. Not just way back when Mary was
talking, in the 1970s or 1980s, but r can remember a little meanness
going on back then too.
BI: I can remember the timewhen M.O. Worthington was the principal and boy,
did we have a problem!' When r was in about seventh or eighth grade, a
group of our seniors/decided to skip school and go to BurnettsLake. He
was going to expel t them all. They were not going to be able to graduate.
Some of you may have remembered that. So'we had problems. Davi'd, how
about quickly telling us about what you remember?
DB: [David Bush, speaker in audience, dry goods store owner] Yes, I started
there about 1935, and the building was brand new, the one you are speaking
of. And Mtss Hortense was here, but r do not believe I was ever in her
class because I was in the second grade or third grade when r came here,
but I was in Miss Myrtle Langford's class and Miss Lucille Ellis" and later '
on, the undisputed favorite of everyone, Miss Bernice Dew. She was really
a great person.
AB: Why was she the favorite? Tell us a little bit about her.
DB: She stood about four feet ten inches and weighed about seventy pounds
more or less, but she never had any discipline problems.
AB: What grade did she teach?
DB: High school and junior high.
BI: She was a very respected teacher.
DB: Anyone that misbehaved she would just stand and look at them. And in about
thirty seconds he would quiet down.
BI: That is half of teaching-- getting the respect of your school.
DB: Oh yes, there was discipline with other teachers, problems, but it was
different teachers who had different attitudes.
UN: In Miss Bernice Dew's classroom you could not hear a pin drop. She was
not rude, she was not cross or anything, but you could not hear a pin
BI: She had the respect of students, this is what she had, and they knew that
she meant business when she told you to do something. One way or another
you were going to do it. Now for those of you who are just itching to
sharer am going to let you raise your hand again. 1
OW: I have heard the word "discipline" used quite a few times. Where has
discipline gone so far as the school system of today is concerned?
BI: It is still there.
OW: Is it?
BI: It has not gone anywhere, but that is my opinion.
OW: Well, I disagree, you can say it is not gone.
BI: Discipline is. still there, we are working on it, not maybe the kind of
discipline that you may remember, but it is still discipline in the
schools, there is no question about it. We will come back.to that a
little later on, But let us reflect on the early days.
JM: [Joe Mager, speaker in audience, Hare Krishna Farm Representative] My
name is Joe Mager, and actually I: have not met too many people in this
community, but r am the Presi'dent of the Hare Kri'shna farm here in Alachua.
It seems that the topic here has been the overriding concept of discipline.
-that seems to be the problem Miss Jones was also speaking about.
Everyone seems to have brought out this point, about discipline. Well, I
feel a little nervous, I guess I need to relax. The overriding problem
of discipline according to-our understanding of religious philosophy and
also any religion actually, is the center of one's life in God, then
automatically ones' moral behavior: then discipline.is automatically
taken care of. So to reflect on that in terms of the modern conception
of separation of church and state, which of course, we feel is a great
If two gentlemen are actually religious minded, God-conscious
individuals, and they perform some business activity together, they are
more capable and the relationship is going to be more cordial, more
understanding of each other, less to take advantage of one another. That
*8 to understand the real value of life is to love God. So in all of our
activities, political, social, educational- whatever they may be-- if
that understanding is there, if God-consciousness is there in the
individual, then discipline i's actually no problem at all. When you take
that away, the children think God is only in the church, and here at
school, practically speaking, he is not watching me or he is not so
much present, so I can get away with more. My instincts may dictate me
to act in a certain way which I would not under a different situation,
different atmosphere. So the separation of church and state I think) is
a big mistake.
TC: Thank you very much for that well-taken point.
BI: In 1969-1970, the new school was built and then the old 1934 building
and the 1917 building were razed. The building that houses the Davis-
Lowe kindergarten was a cafeteria that was built back in 1950. I believe
the first year .we used it was 1956 and we used it for a cafeteria until
about 1974. Then we completed the new school, a kitchen was built, and we
reverted that into a kindergarten.
MS: [MarianIStrappi'ere, speaker in audience, retired schoolteacher] I wanted
to ask a question. I am wondering what affect do you think that
integration has on the educational status of this community? I would
like the pros and cons of it.
TC: Perhaps we could start with Leoris Richardson. The best we can do is
get through with all of our panelists, and then let us open it up and
address all those various questions.
LR: [Leoris. Richardson, panelist, SFCC Department of Community Education]
I guess reflecting back on our early education, r could say that I grew
up ln a one-room school. My first grade teacher is right here in this
room, Mrs. Welch.. At that time we were taught the value of the total
person, and the teachers were interested in the total person.
We were taught the value of self-development, moral values, and the
value of going to school and receiving an education. Dr. Cherry said
at that time that our parents were supposed to teach us values at home.
We were supposed to develop ourselves totally. We had to walk to
school. We were country kids. Sometimes Mr. Welch had an old jalopy
with which he would pick us up.
When we would get to school, we were taught everything from science
to math to recreation. Out on the basketball court, they taught us the
skills of basketball. The white kids would pass us and sometimes they
would spit out the windows. But that did not stop us from getting an
education. I think today we have to have that instilled within. We
felt that we were separate but equal and we thought that we were as good
as anyone else. I think Mr. Welch entered the service as I entered
third grade. I came to Alachua County Training School. At that time we
were going through different instructors. At that time we were told
what to wear, when to wear it, what to look like as a student. We
could not put on anything we were told not to, and they told you how to
fix your hair.
We went to Mrs. Strappiere's. We developed a feeling for other
students. We had everything that kids have today, but we took it at a
different way. I guess you would consider us poor. We did not feel that
we were poor. We did not have everything in classrooms that you have
today, but still we were committed to do good. We had chemistry. We did
not have a chemistry lab. And some of us went off to college and
majored in biological science. Did you believe that without a chemistry
background, how in the world you could major in it, but we were dedicated
and we felt that we could do it. We did not have the pianos and organs A '
-that- Miss Welch taught us music notes. We had to sing acapella. By that
perhaps most of us cannot play piano, but we know how to play notes. We
We have all of the values that were instilled. We did not feel
that when we went off to a college or a university that we were being
intimidated by the kids that came from the large schools, whether they
were white or black. And we did compete with them. And we got
scholarships. So I felt that as we have said, that it had a lot to do
with the teachers. I do not know if Mr. Irby does it now, and I have
hardly met Mr. Stechmiller as yet, but at that time, once a week we would
LR: have what we would call chapel. The principal would get in there and he
would talk to us. There is nothing wrong with talking to children, and I
think that.this is where we miss alot. We are so caught up in everything
and kids go everywhere they want. The guidance counselor guides them in
a different manner than what we were guided'into. We were told that she
said we would hate a strict'curri'culum and I think that would-help some -
of us not because the kids- will pick out all the easy courses, but
because some of the kids really do not know what they need, and so they
need counseling in that area.
But I think. the principals should talk. to the students and let them
know what they are going to face out there. Again I think there i's a
parent-student-teacher relationship. There is nothing wrong with knowing
the parents of the students and going to talk with them. Usually we have
teachers that live out of town and they come in and they teach the kid
and they go back home and they do not get to know them. Years ago the
teacher did not mind taking you home or telling the parents that this
kid needs help. And the parents would listen because they felt that the
teacher knew all about it. But now the parents feel they know a little
more about the curriculum then the teacher. And so I think that if you
work with them and with the students, the educational system could sort
of get back where it was in one sense.
TC: We have all heard where we were ten, twenty, and thirty years ago, and
where we are at now. Where should we be going in the next five to ten
years in education here in our little part of Florida? Where should we
be going in education, and how is it going to affect our children and
TS: I think there have been some changes. I think one of the primary concerns
when I was growing up was that discipline started at home. The teacher's
primary responsibility was to teach. Teachers spend a great deal of their
time disciplining now, and I think that is wrong. I think it is right
that they do it, because it needs to be done. You cannot have a good
educational system unless you have their attention, but the amount of
time that is spent by school personnel could be used more constructively
in another area. So I think more responsibility has to fall on the
shoulder of the parents.
I think more control needs to go back to the classroom teacher. The
authority of the classroom teacher has deteriorated in the last ten to
fifteen years. When you went to school, when I went to school, that
teacher was the authority figure. And if you needed to be disciplined as
Mr. rrby did, you got it, and you remembered it. It served the purpose.
Today, the classroom teacher has to send the pupil to the office if they
want discipline. Some teachers are threatened by that, they see their
power of authority as having been eroded. That it has to be iven to
someone else. I realize at times it might have been abused, but I think
that what has happened is that a child in the classroom feels that they
can tell the classroom teacher, "I am not going to do it," and they
TS: may get away with it. And I am one-hundred percent opposed to that.
They are going to do what that classroom teacher wants them to do
because I expect that classroom teacher to be the primary control in the
school. If it is passed on to an administrator, or Mr. Irby or myself,
or Mr. Joyner, we cannot do it all. It is physically impossible. I think
the young people have to e involved, they have to enjoy what they are
doing, but they are there for a purpose, and we all have to work together.
I am very concerned about the relationship between the school, the parent,
and the teacher, because I think there have been some changes in the last
ten to fifteen years.
AB: Mr. Williams?
OW: Our educational system today is too cluttered with extracurricular courses.
So the kids are not being taught the basics. You know, ping pong,
croquette, this sort of thing. My feeling is that we have a two-hour
physical education requirement right now, required by state law. We have
computers at Santa Fe right now-.
DM: IDebbie McGill, panelist, high school student] Everything right now is
starting to go toward computers. This year I am having the opportunity to
work in computers. I am going to be able to use that later in life. Home
Economics and courses that teach you basic stuff that you might need to
know for the future. And there is a lot of farm land around here and they
have Farmers of America. They are still requiring you to have English
classes, Social Studies, and all that. They are not taking all that away.
In fact they are stressing more of it. r found out this year that two
years ago you could graduate with twenty credits. Now I have to graduate
Each year I am required to pass all six of my classes. They are
requiring me to take English for four years, math for three years, science
for three years, and you still have social studies. They are not taking
anything away. You are still required to get an education, and they are
emphasizing more on it.
You have to have your basic English, your ninth grade, your tenth
grade, eleventh grade English, and the same with math. You have to have
algebra courses. This is the stuff you are going to need to graduate.
Now, if they choose to take extracurricular things, it is because they
have the other needed courses you have to have credit for. So I think they
are good as far as what you might go into as a vocational class. And even
if you take them, you still are taking those social studies, English, math
classes, and so on, because they are requirements.
BH: [Blanche Hill, speaker in audience, high school teacher] I would like to
make a comment on the statement Miss Jones made when she spoke. I think
perhaps there were reasons Miss Jones did not feel the pressure of
discipline problems. This is my personal opinion, I have no facts on this.
I feel that the most of us who are here probably came from the same kind
of background with that kind of parent who did at home what you do not
BH: have to do at school. I got more Bible from my mother along with getting
whippings than I got anyplace else. Spare the rod and spoil the child,
then I got a whipping. So I got more background i'n Bible and everything
else from my mother. I do not remember my father. And with this kind
of push, you are going to be a certain kind of person. I think what Mi'ss
Jones did not see is that the persons who could not stand pressure at
school, could not stand it at home, and so the the school took over the
role of dishing out punishment. You got paddled. You did not get to sit
down and read a book, you got paddled. YQu got carried home to your
parents, and when you could not fall into line, you had more dropouts.
So, what was left, what Miss Jones probably had expierence with, was
those persons who stood the test. Therefore you did not see as many
discipline problems, because they dropped out and were in the streets.
That is my personal concept of the statement she made.
MJ: May I correct that. 1 do not think I said I did not have any discipline
problems. I know because I had them, but I could handle them. When r
was a child, if a teacher even thought that I was misbehaving, she would
tell my mother, and we were disciplined at home, because I was always
told that charity'begins at home..
I say "Amen" to everything everybody is saying. It is beautiful, and
I wish everybody would say it to every parent. I come back to one thing
Mr. Irby mentioned. Seventeen students skipped school and went out to
Burnett's Lake. They got tore up when they got to school, and they got
tore up when they got home. Today, they have a thing called, "Senior
Skip Day." r have never understood it, and it makes no sense. We do not
promote it. The most appalling thing is that the parents will write a
note and lie that you went to the dentist.
And it i:s amazing to me as an educator that while we are concerned
about our children getting an education, we will lie about it and send
them to the beach on a day called "Senior Skip Day." That is. the
difference in education today. So discipline has to begin in the home,
and if the parent does not reinforce what we try to do in the school, if
they always want to challenge what the educator is trying to do in the
classroom, I guarantee that we are not going to make the accomplishment
that we all want to see done. It is amazing to me that when you paddle
a child, or you take the disciplinary actiQon which is necessary at the
school, they want to come up there and bring the lawyer. That is the
difference between today and fifteen years ago.
AB: It almost seems at times that the schools are under a-siege. I mean
they are having to fight the parents as well as the children.
BJ: Our schools are going to be pretty much what the parents of the community
demand and expect and are willing to work for. Willing to elect good
school board members, and support them and see that they provide the
leadership that is needed in a program. This concern that has been
expressed tonight about watered-down curriculum. You know we have gone
through thi's in the 1950s, 1960s, and 1970s, and it came about for a
number of reasons. Now there is a move back towards strengthening
BJ: academics in the high schools, in the elementary schools, and so on. We
have Mr. Joyner with us. Mike, you may want to comment on the Raise Bill.
I think these parents whdomay not be familiar with it mighthbe interested
in it. Because there i's a very definite move back.
MJ: Debbie, as a sophomore, you have done a beautiful job explaining some of
this. You know the changes today. We are going to go for twenty-four
required credits for graduation, and with only a six-period day, you can
see that the students cannot fail a course during the year. And if they
do, they are going to have to come to summer school and pick up that
extra credit. St i's going to be four years of English and three years of
math and three years of science and three years of social studies. There
is going to be a course called "Life Management Skills." They are going
to talk about those things you you are going to have to do to get along
In addition to that you are not going to be able to take four and
five courses in elective areas and be able to get credit for those courses.
As for remedial courses, if you are reading five or six grade levels
below your current grade level, you are not going to be able to count that
class toward an Englirsh'credit. We used'torbe able to'do'that'in the past.
I think we went astray there, for awhile. I think the pendulum is
starting to swing back. Although some people are complaining about maybe
it is too strict, I think in the future we will look upon this as the day
we turned and looked at education in a very positive manner. I think the
state is taking the leadership now. I think it is going to require the
parents now to push your children to take the required subjects.
I have known Leoris Richardson for a number of years and she made an
excellent comment. She said that guidance counselors have got to provide
leadership for students to take those extra courses while they are in high
school. I would like to say that parents have got to provide leadership
also. We register in the spring of the year and when your child brings
home their registration form and they have got home economics, physical
education, agriculture, and there is nothing in there to deal with
academics. As a parent you have got to take the leadership to tell your
child you are going to get your schedule changed. You are going to take
some math and some science and some social studies.
I think the parents have got to become involved. I am going to preach
one more thing. I am not under fire as last year. Every year we have an
open house and I ask all the parents to come out. I want to get parents
involved when they get to that level. I do not know whether kids become
more rebellious and parents do not seem to be able to control them or
whatever, but they need to become involved all the way through the entire
twelve years of their public school education.
AB: Okay Mr. Joyner, let us hear from some of these parents now.
UN: There are a couple of things I want to be.sure to get into the record.
I grew up in Gainesville, and as far as I.knew, all of these outlying
towns in.the county were:"Ki'cksville."' I can say that because I moved
to Alachua by choice. r fave been here about sixteen years but I want
to get it in the record that there was a state-wi:de teacher's strike
here, in about 1968.
To the best of my knowledge, there was not a class that did not
operate in this town, in the three schools. people came out of the
woodwork, they came off the farms, I do not know where they came from
because I did not know any of them. But they were qualified to go in
and keep the schools running, and I think everybody needs to know this.
AB: I think there is a real kind of grass-roots'level involvement of
education in this community. Let us hear from the parents now.
UN: I have had kids go through high school, and I have another one coming.
When kids hit about twelve, they do not want you to show up at the
school, you embarrass them. About what you are saying about parents not
being involved in the school, about what year does it start? Does the
school board have any statistics?
JB: [Judi Baker, speaker in audience, parent] I have been involved with
schools in Alachua for about eight years. There:were several others
newcomers besides me that kind of got invloved in the community and made
some changes and got several thousand dollars that year for textbooks,
schools painted, floors being tiled, and that sort of thing. But I
thought my children's education was important so I worked with the
teachers. I was not real happy with the discipline at the school, but I
thought it was important to stay invloved. To belong to the school
advisory councils, just to work with the principals, teachers, whatever.
I go to the meetings, and I see there is a handful of parents in
this town, these are the same parents you see at elementary school, you
see them at Mebane, and you see them at Santa Fe, they must all follow
each other up there. I am about a border-line burnout. But where are
the parents? What year does a parent all of a sudden become involved?
Can you pinpoint why you think parents may not be involved? Is it
because of economics and there are more than two parents working?
BJ: I was just thinking- this is sort of like a PTA meeting. And some of
our parent education groups that we have at the school from time to time.
people we get to those education programs are not the ones that really
need to be there. See, they are already concerned parents, they are
caring parents. They are the supportive parents. Just like we have got
a handful tonight, We are very thankful for you and for that group, and
for its support. Now the others is a high percentage and it is also a
high percentage in Gainesville, because we get more people out to our
PTA meetings here than they do in Gainesville. I talk to all these
principles and it is a big concern. So it is not just an Alachua
BJ: problem. When did it begin, I really do not know. We did have more
support back'in the early years, back i-n let us say.the 1940s and 1950s.
I think a lot has: to do with the times. You know that we are in a
different world than we were in back in 1940, 1950. We have got the
television and its influence. Many parents now, they would go to meetings
before, but they not going to miss certain television programs. You have
got cars. You do not see just one car now in the driveway, you see three.
Every child has one. If you do not give a child a car by his
sixteenth birthday, he leaves home. When he is sixteen, you have got a
problem on your hands. They can go to so many more places, there is so
much to go for, and they do. More than there-was twenty or thirty years
ago. Drugs, you know, there are just so many, and other influencing
factors that I think parents are beginning to see that it is time we did
begin to give more support and begin to get some limits on our children.
Now that i's what we have at our school, and parents do not set limits.
A child reflects h.is home. We can tell exactly the kind of home a child
comes from. If he talks back to you as a teacher, he talks back to his
OW: Somewhere down the line, someone is remiss in his or her responsibilities.
Now I am putting this' back to the parents, because this is the first
institution that a child becomes involved in. So somewhere down the line,
the parents in this community need to go back as a result of our dialogue
tonight, and come up with priorities that will make the educational system
in Alachua the best that it can be.
When I came up in South Florida, for example, I had to be home at ten.
And this was on a Saturday. Not leave from where I was at ten-- I had to
turn the doorknob at my home by ten. And I knew this, because I knew what
my parents would do if I were not there.
JH: [Joyce Horsley, speaker in audience, wife of Church of Christ Minister]
I think that we should have an excitement for learning as much as an
excitement for sports. When a child sees that you are out there really
cheering for him, they will play football with every bit of energy. If
you act excited in what they are learning, in their school, they will
share with you as soon as they come home. Our son is an eleventh grader
and as soon as he comes home he wants to tell me all of the Spansih words
that he has learned. And, "Mom, look at what I worked today on the
computer," and he wants to share and many hours are spent at the kitchen
table with his daddy and him going over things and there is an excitement.
You can be just as excited for your child to learn as on the football
field, but it has got to be the parents, they have got to take the time to
listen. Sometimes it is boring. Sometimes he tells me all this stuff in
chemistry and it is way over my head and I will say, "'Is that right!" I
do not understand it. I am ashamed the kid knows more than me, but he is
so excited about learning he cannot wait until he gets in that door.
When you cease to be excited about that child, that child no longer will
JH: share with you. He will stop at that point right there and he will also
stop the excitement of learning. And I think that is maybe where we
have got to start.
LR: One of the things, I think that happens, is that parents have gotten
away from wanting to be parents, they want to children along with their
children. They want to be on sort of the same level with the children.
When we came on, we said we were parents, and God would not give
children children. So we are all supposed to be head of the house. I
think Blanche and I were in our first year of college and we were still
in our parents' home. So when we would come home on weekends we had to
hurry in because we knew we had to go to church on Sunday morning. It
made no difference how old we were, we knew the values. I think this is
what is happening now. The parents are on the level with the children.
And our children say they enjoy their parents being that way, being
so anxious about looking young and being young until be begin to act
young and forget about who we are. We are supposed to be really training
our children, not get to the school and say, "Oh, the teacher should make
our children, take the moron and make a genius out of them." Because we
know the teacher cannot do it all.
So we are busy keeping ourself trim, watching our diets, going out
with them on the same basis as the children, we are not parents anymore.
So when we have the children, we just put every responsibility on the
school. No home, no church, just the school, and the poor teacher
BI: Here is Mr. Parker.
LP: [Liz Parker, Ph.D., school counselor] I am afraid of those people who
are not showing up at the PTA meetings, whose children are not making it.
This is why I feel in the schools you do have to have somebody who is
going to try to pick up some of those children and move them on. I feel
that we do not want to penalize the competent parents, but at the same
time they are going to suffer a lot because let us face i:t, as teachers
and members of society, we want to move people who are ready to go on.
But I do feel we are leaving a lot of people totally behind, who do not
have the potential to go on.
And it bothers me a whole lot because I feel that at Alachua Elementary
we do a whole lot to try and get parents in. We go and get them.
Something interesting happened with one lady who did not come in after two
or three years. I thought, we had done everything we could. What would
happen Mrs. So and So if I come by and pick you.up to bring you to school?
I offered her no room out not to come to school.
Bring the babies too, I will keep them in the office. This lady felt
that she had to dress up, she had on large errings, a hat, big purse, and
later o I found out she had not come to the school before. She felt that
she could not speak properly. She felt that she would be looked down upon.
LP: I wonder how many more are out there. I wanted to say that a lot of
parents do not feel secure today, even with their own children. They
just cannot handle the responsibility of children. I feel that teachers
also have to feel secure, You have to feel secure with your community
and your principals have to feel secure. And I think that is what has
happened even in terms of integration.
I was at an all-black school. And the question came to us, who was
going to go over to the white school? And I raised my hand, and people
looked at me like who do you think you are? Going over there. So I
finally got my little pink slip of paper to say I would go. I went
because I felt I was qualified and I had demonstrated my competency at
that other school. Now this is what all people have to fear when you
work with children.
In Hillsborough County, we had a lot of fine principals resign. They
could not see themselves in a role of being over white children. We lost
a lot of teachers during the teachers strike. My principal showed up, the
band teacher showed up, one other teacher showed up, and r showed up. We
had about 800 children. It was a field day for them, but boy did we
control them. A few parents showed up. Some do not want to see teachers
strike. We got a lot of nasty calls that night. I will admit I went to
work. I did something in violation. I was supposed to strike. But I had
to make a decision and I thought about the children that day.
I think the building and everything else would have been destroyed.
The kids would really have just taken over. people within themselves
have to feel secure, with whatever they are doing. And if you lack that
security, whether it is a parent, teacher, or principal, then you are
going to encounter problems. You have got to have a good self concept
about life. And that goes for black children, and white children as well.
And black teachers teachers white children and so on.
I was a classroom teacher. My children did not have a choice.
Every day there was something personal said between us. Some kind of
little encounter, because I told them ahead of time, "If you do not talk
to me at some point during the day about what you learned in school,
then you were not even there." You had to do something during the day.
So I would say, So I would say, if you did not give me something back,
you were not present. I am not saying that as teachers we have to go
back to that, we have just got to feel that it is okay to teach and
teach with authority.
MH: [Margaret Harri's, speaker in audience, middle school teacher] I believe
I understand Dr. Cherry to say that when she got a little tired of being
secretary every year. Could this be another one of those subtle
differences i'n education from then and what it is now? Were you secretary
every year because males were being made president and vice-president
positions-- has that changed now?
SC: Not really. I think I was secretary because every one felt that I had
pretty handwriting. No, it would not be because of the male role.
I think we had about two females at A.L. Mebane that made president. I
SC: think it was Janet Green and Shirley Hathcock who made president of the
student body., so it was not a male thing.
MK: When I went to high school, at that time all the girls had to take home
economics. All the boys took ninth grade general science. To this day,
my husband knows some scientific things that I have never been exposed
BI: What did you learn in school?
FC: [unidentified child] My ABC's.
BI: Did you learn to share with others? Did you learn your colors?
FC::: Yes. sir. I learned my numbers.
BI: How old are you?
FC; Four years old.
DM-. Can I say something about her? This is the girl I babysit for. She is
four years old. She can write her name, she knows her numbers, she
knows her phone number, she can count up to about fifty now, she can
write her name, her middle name, her last name, and her address. That is
because her Sesame Street program comes on every day. Her mom, she just
continually works with her, and when she goes to kindergarten, she does
not have anything to learn because of her mom.
TWi [Thelma Welch, speaker from audience, retired middle school music teacher]
I want to say, I do not know if this comes in with what you are talking
about. I know it does in a way, community relationships with the school.
I think this is important, too. Now the reason why I said this is I was
at the old ACT school and I taught in the grades as well as I had service
in the community. I remember there was such a fine relationship between
that school and the Alachua High School, Miss Tyner was the music teacher
there. We would exchange programs every year.
Then there was a designated time, and Mi'ss Tyner would bring her
chorus over to our school, and have a program, and there was a time in the
community, when my chorus sang down here at the woman's club, and they
sang at the Baptist Church. I had a quartet. We just do not have such
things like that. Maybe I am too old-fashioned. Now when they integrated
at Mebane, I was teaching there and I had the music program, and I was
very disillusioned, and I guess that when you have something on your chest
you want to get it off. I think this is the time to get it off.
I had been teaching music there, and when they integrated, the high
school went to Santa Fe, there were some brand new choir robes which had
been purchased the year before integration, and I was going to use these
robes with the chorus at Mebane, the seventh and eighth-grade, chorus, and
TW: when I gave each of these robes out, their parents sent me a note that the
children could not wear them, and that hurts me.
TC: Why not?
TW: Well, they had been worn by:the black chorus children, and I had a lot of
whites in the choir. Those robes rotted because I could not use them.
And I wonder i:f the parents would have thought about what they were doing,
when they told these kids they could not wear these robes because they
had been worn by, lack high school children. I would have had them
cleaned so they could have worn them. They stayed there until some of
them rotted. A choir in Mount Nebo heard about them about four years
later, and asked to purchase some of them.
In those days if someone was having a program, or they wanted a
quartet to sing on a program at the church or some other place, they
would do this, but after integration those things stopped. I was
sponsoring a program at my church, and I called the music teacher up at
Santa Fe, and asked if I could get a trio or someone for a program. I
never heard from them anymore. They never did answer.
But it seems to me like community relationships could be built where
parents, after school hours, could go into a club or something like that
and run a program. I guess I feel like that because I was music-oriented,
and I liked to work with the community because we did a lot of that before
integration, working in a community. W'e got a chance to talk to the
parents when we had them in those kinds of programs. We would take groups
down and do those kinds of things, and I do not know if that would help
with relationships if those things were done again more than they are now.
The only time that you see extracurricular things now is when they have
football, and the band plays, and then at commencement time the chorus
sings, but otherwise, so far as I know, they do not have any of that, and
they do not go into the community.
TC: I have a tendency to believe the schools are kind of that one vehicle in
the community that can tend to build a bridge between the various diverse
segments of the community. I have seen it happen in other communities,
and I have seen a little bit of it happen here over the last couple of
years. The schools really are the one thing that both the white kids and
the black kids attend. There is just no doubt about it. I think that we
are all going to find that in the next five or ten years, that as we get
a little more experience, get a little more knowledge, the schools are
probably going to be. the best vehicle to bridge the gap between various
segments of our community.
AB: I think we have been identifying some values in the community, and that is
what these forums are all about. We have been identifying the value that
we all share as parents, that we have to take part in the education of our
children. r also think that we have identified that Alachua is a diverse
community, and there are people who do not feel comfortable in coming to
the schools right now. There are people who we have heard might not feel
they know how to act in the school, because they have come from a
different one, or have not been in one. We have heard from school
AB: administrators and teachers.and so forth, trying to reach out to the
parents, and we have heard from parents trying to reach back to the
school., It seems that it's something like:dancing with a tiger, you do
not know how-it starts. You do not quite know how to invite the other
person into the relationship, I also think we have heard some solutions.
We have pinpointed a couple of things that were done in the past that
could be. reinstated. Perhaps- a little more movement between the
different schools, some visiting as Mrs. Welch was just pointing out
might do a little bit to give the community a feeling that it is in
charge of the schools:, It might give parents some reason to go out and
watch wgat is happening.
DG: [Diane Green, nursing instructor from UF, speaker in audience] I am a
nursing instructor at the University of Florida. We have been here for
two years, and largely we have been in home health care, but we work with
a lot of community organizations, and with the schools. My students have
made observations, and I have made observations at the schools, and we
have really been concerned about what is happening with integration. In
the elementary school there seems to be a very warm relationship among the
children. We see black children and white children playing together on
the playground. In the lunchroom they are talking and laughing together,
and sit at the same table. Rut when you go to Mebane, you can feel the
racial hostility, and the families that we work with report a lot of that
hostility at Mebane, and r am concerned about what the schools are doing
to enhance integration,
TS: Not just at Mebane, I can assure you.
MS: How do you think education has helped the educational status of the schools
in this area? How do you think it affects them? I would like to hear
your closing comments, please.
SC: In a way, I think integration has helped on one end, and on another end,
it has not. That is just my opinion, my experience, and what I have seen,
and what I have observed. I have had nineteen years in the classroom
teaching. My first integrated teaching experience came when I was
teaching at Lincoln High School, and they phased it out. I was one of the
ones who was chosen to go to Gai:nesvimlle High School. I got a chance to
see what was happening on the other side of the fence, because I had been
in a segregated situation wherein we were told: "You are going to get a
better education when you get together because white teachers really
know how to teach us and blah, blah, blah."
So when I got a chance to see what was happening on the other side,
it was a different story. I know what happened to me as a black
instructor leaving a predominately black setting and going into a white
setting. I heard my mother, my father, and my grandmother and my
grandaddy talk about how whites felt about blacks, but I never experienced
it. I never will forget the day I first stepped on GHS's campus. Now I
do not know how many of you have felt the hostility of racism and
prejudice, but you could have cut it out, and sliced it and stacked it up
SC: I told the students when we.left Lincoln High,:School, "Do not expect
people to lay out the red carpeting for you. Do not expect a welcome
committee. Do not expectthat because it will not be there. You have
got to find the strength to rise above that, to keep a level head, to
focus on your teachers.
I think of integration in terms of the black ki'd, because I am
black. If you think I am prejudiced, I am. We came up in a prejudiced
society. I came up tn a segregated or separate society. So I am very
concerned about my kind right now because right now my kind is getting
the shaft, and I am goinng to put a pin in that right now, because I am
going to jump to another point,
r have taught at Santa Fe Community College now for about twelve or
or thirteen years. Recently I have just accepted a new position as
Director ofr Minority Affairs at Santa Fe, and one our responsibilities
is to increase the black enrollment in terms of faculty, and in terms
of students. But the task is to upgrade skills, not only for the minority
students, but for the white students as well. As I taught the last
thirteen years, I saw white, black, Jew and Gentile come in my classroom
that did not know how to spell, did not know how to write. Now I am
going back to the other point.
When integration came about, the emphasis was off teaching skills.
you had to maintain discipline. When a teacher is responsible for
maintaining discipline, to keep the whites from getting with the blacks,
whatever the reasons are, and God knows some of you know what they are,
education deteriorates. So our kids suffered, because they didn't have
teachers like Ms. Jones, Miss Burgess, Ms. Strappiere, and Mrs. Welch.
Mr. Welch would say, "We are now going to be on you, because one thing
I know about black kids, they need discipline. They need structure, and
they need someone to say, 'I am interested in you and I want you to
learn.'" They will not learn anything when they experience an instructor
that does not respect them as a human being, and as a person, and does not
expect them to learn anything, because you know about self-fulfilling
If you do not expect a child to learn, he will not, and he can
sense that you have no respect for him, and if he has no respect, he
will act out. So when he acts out, what do some of our white, middle-
class instructors do? They call the law. They say they lack social
adjustment, they drop out and go to jail, they do many things. Now this
is the truth. Now some of you may feel my attitude is hostile, angry,
and bitter. I am, because I am concerned about the students, and I have
a responsibility to upgrade students at Santa Fe Community College in
terms of competing because we are hooked on by the Gordon Rule. You are
all hooked on with the Raise Bill. But we work with the Gordon Rule,
and the Gordon Rule says you must teach so many contract hours in English
class in terms of writing. We have got to start producing people out
there who can function. I have had occasion to work in the personnel
office at Santa Fe, and different people walk in off the street and
SC: applying for such jobs as teaching assistants in the learning labs, and
in the math labs. Some of them have master's degrees coming from white
institutions and cannot spell, and talking about teaching somebody
English. So integration has hurt a whole lot of people, not only blacks.
Black, white., Jew and Gentile, simply because-of our attitude about
people getting together whoi arre socially different, based on the content
of their color in their skin.
We have cheated in many ways because of integration, because of
attitude, the mentality of people, the mentality of our parents, the
mentality of our white administrators, whether it be in the public
school system or whether it be in colleges or whether it be in
universities. We have been cheated Because of those old values that
have been totally ingrained. They do not know how to put them aside for
the good of the order, because of theirr own selfish reasons or whatever
We have lost a whole generation of people. So now what do the state
legislators say when they woke up one morning and some of their kids were
not reading? We are going to put it back in the schools, we are going to
put it back in the colleges, we are going to put it back in the institutions.
They are being tested. When they come in at Santa Fe with the ACT, they are
being tested before they leave with the CLAST. When they get to the
university they are being tested again, because they are trying to upgrade
skills. But, when it comes to how integration has helped, well I do not use
my words like I use them on my side of town. r mean they have sharpened
me on my deliverance. I sound more white now on the telephone than what I
used to. You cannot tell who is white or black anymore when you talk to
them anymore, so therefore I have been polished a little bit. I am going
to tell you something else that integration has taught me.
It taught me how to play the game. I learned I could be my black
self. Because people could not understand my behavior, I was misinterpreted.
My intensity was viewed as anger, hostility and aggression. Such emotions as
caring and concern and feeling strong and speaking out. So integration
taught me cultural differences that I was not even aware of because I had
stayed on one side of town so long. Integration taught me how to be more
white so that I could be more accepted, and not be criticized and viewed as
being militant and strong and such a strong black woman. I am not that
strong. My mama just taught me how to speak.up for myself.
She would say, "What did I tell you to say? Come back here and
repeat it. Now you tell them what I tell you." You know, some people did
not like that, but she taught me how to fight for me not only with my own
kind. It got me ready for an integrated society, because people will walk
all over you If they sense a weakness in you. So I am very emotional about
this, because I see what i:s happening to our kids. We tested 128 black kids
on the ACT. Twelve of them scored out and went into the mainstream
classes. Fifteen went into the developmental. The other eighty-seven will
be sent out back into the community because they scored ten and below on
the ACT, and they will not make it. Now I remember folks yelling and
SC: and screaming at me in the 1960s when black folks were marching, and a lot
of white folks were saying, "Oh, I thought they were satisfied. I do not
know what is wrong with them.. We thought they loved us, loved how things
were." You were just upset because you had a new nigger on your hands.
But ladies and gentlemen, you are going to have another new nigger on your
hands if you do not teach.them something, and you are talking about black
folks on welfare taking your'tax money. Three hundred of your dollars
going to the federal government to those folks on welfare. If you do not
teach them something, you are going to have some more on welfare. The
thing is, if you are concerned about students, you will do something.
When I got into the classroom in an integrated situation, I did not
see colors. I saw human beings and r saw students, and that is what I
taught. I di'd not have any Gainesville High School problems. I did not
have to send anybody to the dean. I remember one time, I said to one little
boy, I said, "Look here, boy, do not play with me because in this room I
am the HNTC." And he said, "What do you mean by that?" A little black
boy in the back said, "Dr. Cherry means she is the Head Nigger in Charge.
So shut up."
UN: You have dumped a lot on us, and I just want to say this. A lot of fears
come with unknowns. There has been a lot of hurt, but when you know these
things, I think that was a lot of thoughtful opinions you brought out.
This is when we grow. I mean facing up to things, saying yes, there were
a lot of hurts on both sides, and moving on, because someone said, "What
can we do here tonight to move this community, so you have brought out
some things, and the thing i's capitalizing on all thithis. This is my
first time here, so I am taking advantage of it.
MH: I have lived around here all of my life. I have grown up with the colored
folk. We worked together all of my life, and I have got as many colored
friends, I feel, around here as I have white, and I think we have worked
SC: Let me please clarify. When I talk about racism, prejudice, it is one
thing when you integrate individually, and you relate individually one-to-
one. You do not feel it. I am talking about a whole group. When you feel
national racism, national prejudice, the law dictates that certain people
should not be educated, when the laws dictate that we cannot put money in
the schools because of that time. r am talking about the bare facts, folks,
I am talking about the realities. The reason I am so emotional i's because
I see you having a problem in the future of a lot of folks coming out
unskilled and uneducated because of the elitist attitude in education. Now
that i's what we ought to be addressing in terms of what can we do to
educate the people of Alachua County and the City of Alachua, and forget
about those old ways, and keeping folks separate, but bringing folks
together for the good of the order.
EO: [Ethel O'Dea, speaker in the audience, schoolteacher] I would like to point
out one thing. Other problems besides integration were involved in the
196Qs and 1970s. The Vietnam War, the dropout problem with the new
EO: generation, the subculture,development. I' would like to consider this
as a factor also in some of the problems we are having, rather than
integration. Thi's is not the only reason we are seeing lack of parent
involvement. We are seeing what we feel i's lack of the old-fashioned
ways. There were an awful lot of things in the sixties and seventies,
rather than just integration,
TS: Somebody asked me what Mebane is doing about integration. My job does not
deal with integration. -My job is to provide the best possible education
for the boys and girls in this community. And if you are going to
perceive color as a factor, you have got a problem. And when people have
an opportunity to learn, they need to be challenged, and that is our role.
If I get hung up on color, we have got a problem. If we get hung up on
economics, we have got a problem. You need to support us. You need to
support those teachers. When that happened to us fifteen years ago, I was
a teacher at Gainesville High School, and r do not agree with everything
you said. Our role now is to give the best possible education.
UN: I do not think we have addressed the question as to say why there are
differences from Alachua Elementary to Mebane. First of all I think the
people of the community see Mebane as a black school. That has a lot to
do with it.
JM: I would like to make one point here that seems to be a problem, not only
individually here, but collectively nationally and internationally. There
is so much fighting among different races of people. According to the
Bahghavad Gita, or the Bible also, the point is, that regardless if you
have a black body, and someone has a white body, some have a female
body, and others a male body, regarding each and every body, there is a
soul, pure soul, and that is how man is created equal, and that is part
of our Constitution that man is created equal. Not only are we not these
bodies, black, white, or whatever, but we are part and parcel of God. We
are a common product.
DM: All I can say is, speaking for the high school, you are all talking about
students, and they feel this way, and white people feel this way about
black people, and black people feel this way about high school. I do not
think that is the problem. Now I feel, who cares about the color. It is
who they are. We do not care. There are a lot of students like that. We
see many times, you know, before that white person will start, that the
black guy will just play better. He can do it. And the same way in the