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Alabama - Tuskegee: Norward Roussell Interviewee [Part 1]
Dent, Thomas C.
Tom Dent interviews Norwood Roussell over the phone to Tuskegee, Alabama. Dent asks if Roussell believes there is a way of creating a public school system that benefits both Whites and Blacks. Roussell answers with an emphatic yes, but states that it takes recognition that both races have talents. They discuss the differences between the United States public system and public school systems in Europe where students are required to attend for more days. Roussell says current students are learning computers skills, something they are not tested on yet is invaluable and was not available when Roussell was in school. Roussell states that he believes multi-lingual and multi-cultural lessons should become a basic part of the curriculum. He states that the history books are becoming more accurate. He also says student should practice independent research skills and learn how to cooperate with others in the classroom. He says the curriculum must keep course with the times. His curriculum, for example, does not have enough math or writing training and also lacks an understanding of media, its uses and effects on society. Roussell states we now need to go beyond basic literacy and see how it applies to the world around students. It is the difference between being functional in society and being dysfunctional. He believes American children should learn at a least two languages or risk being left behind. Roussell states that economics are still a huge limiting factor in a child's ability to learn and succeed in school. He states the schools system in Alabama could be improved on, though the Head Start program has been helpful. Dent asks if there is a coordinated effort to improve the public school system and Roussell states that there is but it is not very effective because the group is too small to pull a lot of political weight. Roussell states one big issue with desegregation is that the financial backing was pulled out of the public schools. Similarly, the expectations of the average public school student were lowered and de-segregation was not expected to work. Statistically, there should be more Black students who are identified as gifted. They discuss the particulars of de-segregation in Tuskegee which included special academies created for White students upon de-segregation that were more expensive then the public schools. Roussell discusses an equity suite raised in Alabama which raised the issue of unequal monetary distribution in public and private schools. Roussell states that the basis of the matter is a belief that minorities have little to add to the country as a whole. Dent asks if Black groups could supplement the education of Black students the way Jewish organizations do during Sunday Schools. Roussell believes this a good idea because it will help Black students to value and understand their heritage.
A marching band can be heard in the background on Thomas Dent's side from the surrounding Treme neighborhood.
Tulane University Digital Library
Box 154, Item 13, Side 1, Tom Dent collection, Amistad Research Center at Tulane University, New Orleans, Louisiana
Physical rights are retained by the Amistad Research Center. Copyright is retained in accordance with U.S. copyright laws.