Austin High School, Telling Her Story
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This work is an archival study of Austin High School. The purpose of this study was to investigate the major themes that contributed to the transformation of Austin High School beginning in the 1960s. There were four major themes found in this study. The first was the continued failure of desegregation efforts across the city of Chicago Public Schools during the Civil Rights Era. The second theme I discovered was the social, political, and economic disinvestment of the Austin neighborhood once African Americans began to move into this region of the city, block by block. The third theme of this study was an examination of the language and power wielded by those in the Austin neighborhood and by those working for the Chicago Board of Education and city government during Austin’s transition. The fourth and final theme I found was repeated discrimination against African Americans through housing policies and restricted covenants maintained at both the federal and city level. The study is meant to paint a broader picture of why many public schools in cities across the United States are struggling to provide a quality education for young people in society today. The trends I uncovered, while specific to Austin High School in the city of Chicago’s west side, are trends that pervade other major inner city school districts across the United States. I believe that there are critical next steps if we truly want to re-engage with our young people in schools similar to Austin High School. There must be an effort to solidly reinvest, not just financially, but also socially and politically in our neighborhood public schools. I also argue that it is pivotal to provide an avenue where local neighborhood and community members, including students, are able to become involved in the shaping of their public schools. Public schools must remain spaces where any child, regardless of their race or economic status, is able to receive a quality education.