Domestic Issues of the 1970s

Topics: Energy development, Unemployment, Inflation Pages: 11 (3717 words) Published: October 2, 2005
The 1970s were a time of confusion and revolution in the United States. Integration finally prevailed in the public school system, with the major incident being in Little Rock, Arkansas. The United States went through an extreme energy crisis in the 1970s. Both Welfare and Social Security went through drastic reform policies throughout the decade. In addition, the U.S. economy fluctuated throughout the decade creating both good and bad times for many, as inflation rates hit an all-time high. The 1970s was an extremely influential decade in America's history, and one that helped to shape following decades. The 1970s were a time of new advancements and turmoil in the world of education. One of the most influential progressions in education was the further implementation of desegregation in schools. In Prince George's County, Maryland, on the eastern border of Washington, DC, school desegregation, which in theory should have been an easy task, took twenty years for the county school board to devise a plan that met federal court and Department of Health, Education and Welfare standards. The process was overtly complicated by racist attitudes throughout the county, segregated housing patterns and the "white flight" trend, in which white persons left predominately black areas for more affluent suburbs. The history of the Prince George's scandal goes back to the Brown v. Board of Education of 1954 court ruling in which the theory of "separate but equal facilities" did not apply to public education. However, in compliance with an 1872 Maryland law which required separate education for blacks and whites, the entire school system for the county was segregated—students, buses and even teachers. After the Brown v. Board of Education of 1954 case, the Maryland school board required all superintendents to submit an "effective date" in which the desegregation would occur. William Schmidt, superintendent of the Prince George's County school board, stated that the school system would operate the same for the next school year as the present year. This same statement was repeated through the 1964-65 school year, when a "freedom of choice" plan was put into effect, in which the student, with parental demands and board approval, could choose which school they would attend. The Prince George's County school system operated this way until the Department of Health, Education and Welfare demanded immediate desegregation between 1965 and 1971. If the system did not desegregate, they risked losing federal funding for the district. During the late 1960s and early 1970s, Prince George's County continued to struggle to meet the Department of Health, Education and Welfare's guidelines. In 1971, Prince George's County lost its battle with the Department of Health, Education and Welfare, when the Department initiated noncompliance proceeding against the school system and found it to be noncompliant. Also in 1971, a group of black parents, led by Sylvester Vaughns, decided to sue the Prince George's County school board for not complying with the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Judge Frank Kaufmann found the school system guilty of illegally segregating blacks and ordered the county to devise a new busing plan to achieve racial balance. The plan had to be in effect by 29 January 1973. The plan, surprisingly, went extremely smoothly, with many schools welcoming the new students. Newsweek reported, "youngsters arriving at the Seat Pleasant Elementary School were draped with Hawaiian leis, while new arrivals at Greendale Elementary were handed pencils embossed ‘Welcome to Greendale Schools.'" Of course, with something this drastic, there is bound to be protests, but it was not as bad as expected. The Prince George's County district has stayed desegregated since 1973 at Department of Health, Education and Welfare standards. Although most desegregation scandals took place in the South, the North had its own issues to work out in desegregation. During the early 1970s,...
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