By Shruti Bhatt
Dr. Campbell F. Scribner talked to UMD students and faculty on Thursday about his new book on the need for localism in education.
This event was part of UMD Libraries’ series called Speaking of Books…Conversations with Campus Authors. The event’s host was Tahirah Akbar-Williams, the librarian for African American Studies and the College of Education. Akbar-Williams said the series started in 2005 showcasing books written only by faculty members of the College of Arts and Humanities. In 2007, the series expanded to sharing books written by any university faculty.
“This series was started to help showcase and books published by our very own staff members here at UMD,” Akbar-Williams said.
Dr. Scribner, an assistant professor of education at this university, wrote the book “The Fight for Local Control: Schools, Suburbs, and American Democracy” in 2016. The book highlights the lasting effects radical educational policies left after World War II.
When rural communities were in the process of developing stronger schools, suburbanization was happening simultaneously, leading to controversial school districting that created a lot of opposition from white communities and communities of color.
Scribner explained that this opposition led to race-based busing, shown in the case Swann v. Charlotte-Mecklenburg. After the Brown v. Board of Education case, many schools were still segregated. In Charlotte-Mecklenburg, North Carolina, thousands of black students were attending schools that were mostly black. According to Oyez.org, a free law project from the Cornell’s Legal Information Institute, the Supreme Court unanimously decided that “no rigid guidelines could be established concerning the busing of students to particular schools.”
Scribner shared an instance of systemic racism that affected him when he worked in Philadelphia.
“I taught in a well-funded high school in a great community, and my sister taught in a high school one town over, and it was on the verge of shutting down. There were students there who wanted to come to the school I was teaching at but because of an imaginary line, they couldn’t,” he said.
Scribner, who has a doctorate in history and education policy studies, said there are two things that need to be present at all times in a democracy: a community and equity.
“To understand each other, we need to know how we’re all interconnected,” he said, explaining how these two concepts help us understand and appreciate one another.
Scribner’s book is based on communitarianism and the need to give schools control at the local level.
“Local schools do not have a mainstream voice on education policy, which creates a huge issue,” he said.
Junior economics major Morgan Williams is in Scribner’s education policy class and wants to pursue a master’s degree in the field.
“I hope to learn more about his book, segregation in schools and how it has continued from the 1960s,” she said.
Williams said she wants to know why the concept of segregation has continued through today and how to fix that problem.
“I think we need to find ways to improve these issues in the future so that we can have better schools,” Williams said.
Photos by Patrick Bortel