This text is an opinion written by Harry Hammer, the trial judge of Sheff v. O’Neill. In his opinion, Judge Hammer utilizes the facts of the case, testimonies, and the history of Connecticut in order to back the decision of the case. The opinion begins by providing a brief summary of the case, concluding that the outcome of the case was not in favor of the plaintiffs, but rather for the defendants; namely due to the fact that the findings discovered by the courts procedures were not in “support of the citizens’ request for desegregation of a metropolitan area school system” (LEXIS, 249).
This opinion backs the findings of the court, stating that the plans outlined and suggested by the plaintiffs “are ineffective methods of achieving integration, weather they are mandated by racial imbalance laws or by court order (NEXIS, 249, 158). Furthermore, Hammer offered his own opinion, that the only way to achieve the integration the plaintiff’s were seeking is by creating affordable housing in the suburbs so that “inner city ghettos” are broken up. Furthermore, Hammer argues that the city should work on making city schools more attractive for suburban families.
Hammer’s opinion and Eaton’s book, “The Children in Room E4,” circle around the same topic: an injustice in “the system.” However, the “systems” within which Hammer and Eaton seek a problem differ. Hammer argues that the issues of racially segregated schools lie within the educational system, and the re-drawing of city boundaries to compensate for the injustice would be irrational. Therefore, though Hammer notes the injustices the “system” has “indirectly” created, he points the blame mainly at the education system as well as the development of the inner city ghettos. In contrast, Eaton points to another system. She states, “The problem was then, and remained, the system – the separate, unequal, overwhelmed, isolated system. The system itself” (Eaton, 245). The system in which Eaton refers to is greater than just the educational system or the drawing of city-lines and limits; Eaton believes that the system that is failing is society. Society and the injustices and inequalities which plague individuals of low-economic backgrounds have created and perpetuated a vicious cycle wherein urban schools now pay the price.
Questions to consider:
Who is Harry Hammer? What personal ties may he have to Hartford or the community? To the urban community? To the suburban community?
What are some of the ways in which the socio-economic barriers of the urban poor directly affect students’ abilities to succeed in school? What resources do the parents of these students have in order to help their children succeed, in comparison to parents in the suburbs?
Hammer’s opinion states,
“The problems of the Hartford schools are compounded by the fact that minorities in the inner cities are disproportionately poor and the real correlation with academic achievement is socioeconomic class rather than race, and being poor in and of itself is a significant problem in the schools. (PX 494, pp. 11-12)” (NEXIS, 249, 93).
Is this true? Does race play any role in this correlation?
Sheff v. O’Neill, 1995 Conn. LEXIS 249 (Conn. June 27 1995).
Eaton, Susan E. The Children in Room E4: American Education on Trial. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin of Chapel Hill, 2007. Print.