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Southern Schools and Education

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Throughout history the South seems to have always been at an educational disadvantage. Some of these shortcomings are due to lifestyle elements out of the states' control; like a highly dispersed living style that made establishing a school district vastly complicating. Yet other contributions to these disadvantages were of personal choice. The lack of an organized, formal education in the South was highly the result of sexism, racism, and a lack of seeing education as a valuable and essential contribution to life.

The Southern states did not concern themselves with education firstly because it was viewed as a private matter, set aside for those who could afford it. This outlook created a defined gap between the classes for you either had the money for school or you did not; there was no in-between or "middle class" (Cheek 1). Schooling was also not attainable for distinct groups of individuals, such as women and slaves. Women were viewed as baby-makers whose only tasks were to keep house, raise the children, and tend to their husbands (Davis). Slaves, on the other hand, were outlawed an education as a means of keeping them from learning about equality in other parts of the United States, and to assure the absence of rebellions. In fact, "Southern colonies began passing laws to make it a crime to teach slaves to read and write" (Cheek 2).

These measures continued as the norm because the Southern children were brought up learning that this way of life was correct and amiable. From an early age, these children were taught "that mankind was divided naturally by race" and that "each race [had] certain physical and mental characteristics which had remained fundamentally unchanged throughout history" (Cheek 2). These children were also brought up to believe in the white supremacy. Early on they learned that slaves and first people were inferior to people of white decent (Michael). There was an outlined "racial hierarchy" that placed the white race at the top and the black race at the very bottom. In this hierarchy, the white race is further defined "as the 'normal' or 'typical' race", thus labeling all others abnormal or atypical. The Southerners also believed that most of the other states took this supremacy for granted and felt it was up to them to fulfill "the task of 'civilizing and enlightening the world'." As a means of fulfilling this duty, slavery was warranted reasonable because "the black man was incapable of improvement" and was therefore fortunate for being able to assist the higher race. For reasons such as these, it is no wonder the children of the South did not view those of different races as ill-treated nor slavery as unjustifiable. It was a misconception bred into their daily life from day one (Cheek 2).

Has the South come a ways since the days of slavery? Some would argue yes, others no. In some regards, slavery is no longer practiced, and people of all races and sexes are allowed to attend school; viewing the South as advancing on the educational fairness scale. Yet, when dissecting the South more fully one



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