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					                                Classroom Strategy/Elementary
A Famous Kansas Child                                                        by Carol Roach


Learner Results

   Students will read about a Kansas child          activities for student participation; 2)
   involved in a famous United States Supreme       students receive photocopies of the story to
   Court case. They will think critically to        read themselves, but questions and activities
   form opinions about equality, segregation,       are not included in the photocopies. Teacher
   and integration. Students will distinguish       chooses those questions/activities students
   between fact and opinion.                        should address; or 3) students receive
                                                    photocopies of story and
   Also includes: reading, research,                questions/activities, thus participating in all
   vocabulary, reporting, drawing, map skills,      suggestions given.
   role-playing, writing; authority, property,
   freedom, diversity.                              A resource person can use this lesson by
                                                    reading the story to the children, interrupting
   Materials Needed                                 the text with the discussion questions at the
                                                    end of each chapter. The teacher can use the
   One teacher copy or student photocopies of       other suggestions as follow-up activities. If
   A Famous Kansas Child (4 chapters);              time does not allow covering the whole
   drawing supplies; research materials;            story in one day, the teacher could do the
   photocopies of Which Is It?                      first chapter (or two chapters) and activities
                                                    in advance, then the resource person can
   Procedures                                       finish the story with the children and explain
                                                    the Supreme Court process and its decision.
   This lesson can be used by the classroom
   teacher alone, or by a teacher and resource      In either case, it should be pointed out to the
   person working together. A story has been        children that the Supreme Court’s decision
   written on the elementary level about Linda      affected not just the students in Topeka,
   Brown and the Supreme Court case of              Kansas, but in all of the United States.
   Brown v. Board of Education. The story is
   divided into four short “chapters,” with         Present any necessary vocabulary words to
   questions or activities provided at the end of   the students before reading each chapter.
   each.                                            Suggested vocabulary words include:

   If used by the teacher alone, all of the story   Chapter 1 – Oliver, Leola, troupers,
   may be covered in one day, or it may be                      welders, solemn, pastor
   broken by chapters into several days’            Chapter 2 – Monroe, weathervane,
   lessons. The story can be read to the                        sculpture, Sumner
   children by the teacher, or it can be            Chapter 3 – podium, situation,
   duplicated and used in place of a reading                    organization, Advancement,
   assignment from the basal text. Any of the                   segregation/segregated,
   questions or activities can be used to                       testified, integration
   stimulate discussion and critical thinking.      Chapter 4 – Amendment, guaranteed,
                                                                previous, criticized
   The teacher might choose one of three ways
   to use these materials: 1) the teacher reads
   the story to the students and may choose
   only some or all of the questions and
A Famous Child                                    laugh and feel happy. Friday nights were
                                                  special times, and Linda’s favorite. The
This is a true story about a little girl in       family would pop popcorn and then Mr. And
Topeka, Kansas, who didn’t really know that       Mrs. Brown would tell wonderful stories
anything special was happening in her life.       about when they were children.
And yet her name became known by people
all over the United Stated. Her name, and         Each night Mr. Brown would listen to the
facts about her life, introduced one of the       girls’ bedtime prayers. On Sundays, the
most important cases ever to be decided by        family went to Sunday school and church.
the Supreme Court.                                Mr. Brown gave much of his Sunday time,
                                                  and any other time he could, to work at the
CHAPTER 1                                         church as an assistant pastor. The church
                                                  was an important part of life for everyone in
Linda Carol Brown was seven years old.            the Brown family.
She lived with her father, Oliver, and her
mother, Leola, and two younger sisters in a
poor neighborhood in Topeka, Kansas. It           1. In what ways was Linda’s life the same
was a very noisy neighborhood, because it            as yours?
was right next to a switching yard for trains.    2. In what ways was it different?
Linda and her sisters didn’t mind the noise.      3. Draw a picture to illustrate one part of
They liked making up games about the                 this story.
trains, and they made friends with many of
the trainmen who ran the switches. Some of        CHAPTER 2
these friends gave them candy. One man
played a teasing game with them. Every            Linda went to Monroe School, which was a
time he saw the three girls, he would wave        mile away from where she lived. Getting to
and yell, “Hi boys!” The girls would laugh        school was not easy. She had to leave home
and call back, “Hi Mary!” The man was so          by 7:40 each morning to walk to a bus stop
jolly, he reminded Linda of Santa Claus.          that was six blocks away. She started off by
                                                  walking between the train tracks that went
The girls also liked being near the railroad      through the switching yard. Even though
yard because when the big fair came to            this was dangerous, it was easier than trying
town, the show cars were brought up on the        to walk outside the tracks, because the street
siding, and the children who lived nearby         was crowded with warehouses and there
would be the first to see them and the first to   were no sidewalks. The bus was supposed
know the fair was in town. There were             to arrive by 8:00. Sometimes it did.
bright silver flatcars and troupers’ quarters,    Sometimes it was late. When it was late,
and the red and yellow cars that held the         Linda would have to stand and wait – often
animals.                                          in freezing cold weather, or rain, or snow.
                                                  When the bus was on time, she could get
When Linda was inside her home, life was          right on, but then she would arrive at school
much quieter. Her father worked at a              a half-hour before it opened, so she still
different kind of railroad job, about a half      would have to stand outside and wait. That
mile away. He was a welder who repaired           was the only bus that could take her to
boxcars. He was very tired when he                school, so there was no way that Linda
returned home at night and often took a little    could make the trip without having to stand
nap as soon as he arrived. When he woke,          out in the weather at one place or the other.
everyone would come quietly to the dinner
table and remain solemn until grace was           When Linda was ready to start third grade,
said. Then Mr. Brown would joke with his          her father surprised her by saying he was
family during dinner and everyone would           going to walk her to her first day of school.
Then he surprised her even more by taking a      stand up on the podium. As she stood there
different route. They went the opposite          a voice asked loudly, “Why should this child
direction from the trains for about three        be forced to travel so far to school each
blocks, then turned onto a pleasant tree-lined   day?”
street with small, neat houses. After
walking three more blocks, they came to a        Linda didn’t hear very much about the
school. It was lighter and prettier than         school situation after that. But the rest of
Monroe School, with a little tower on one        the country did. There was an organization
end that was topped by a fancy weather           called the N-Double-A-C-P, which stood
vane. On the other end was a big wall            for: The National Association for the
sculpture of a cheerful sun beaming down         Advancement of Colored People. With the
on children who were running, jumping            help of the NAACP, Oliver Brown sued the
rope, rolling a hoop, and flying a kite.         Topeka Board of Education. According to
                                                 the law, it was okay for the black and white
Linda wasn’t sure why they had come to this      children to be sent to separate schools, as
school, and she could tell her father was        long as those schools were considered to be
uneasy as he took her hand and walked up         equal. The school authorities said the
the front steps. Once inside, they were          schools were equal. Although Sumner
directed to the principal’s office. Linda was    School was a little newer and prettier,
told to wait outside the door while her father   Monroe School had a larger playground and
went in to talk to the principal. He was only    fewer cracks in the walls. Both schools had
there a few minutes, then he came out and        good teachers (all white teachers at Sumner;
took her hand again. As they walked home,        all black teachers at Monroe). The teachers
Linda could tell that her father was very        all had about the same size classes, and were
upset. Even though Sumner School was so          paid the same amount of money. Although
much closer to their home than Monroe            most of the black children lived farther away
School, the principal said Linda could not go    from their schools than the white children
to school there. Sumner School was for           did, buses were provided for them. There
white children only. Linda Brown was             were no buses for any of the white children.
black.                                           The school authorities said the people were
                                                 used to things being this way, and not
                                                 everyone wanted change. They said the
1. How do you think Linda felt? Why?             children should continue to be segregated, or
2. How do you think Mr. Brown felt?              separated.
   Why?
3. What would you do if you were Linda?          The people who testified in court on behalf
4. Draw a map to represent Linda’s house,        of Linda (and others like her) said that these
   the route to Monroe School, and the           facts did not make the schools equal. The
   route to Sumner School.                       very fact that the children were separated
                                                 made the schools unequal. The people said
CHAPTER 3                                        that the separation could make the children
                                                 think they were different from one another,
Linda went back to Monroe School. One            instead of teaching them that they could
night, not long after school had started for     learn from each other. It meant that as
the year, her father took her to a meeting       adults, they would not work as well together
that was held at a church – a different          or get along in our world because they had
church than the one they usually attended.       not been taught to be together as children.
There were lots of grown-ups at the meeting,     They said the children should not be
and Linda didn’t understand what they were       separated and should go to the schools
talking about. But after a while, she was        closest to them.
called to the front of the room and asked to
                                                 which may have been decided correctly in
                                                 their time – were no longer correct in the
1. You be the judge. If you had to decide        1950s. It said that separate was not equal,
   whether to keep the children in separate      and that children of all races should be
   schools or let them attend the school         allowed to go to school together, in the
   closest to their homes, which would you       schools in their neighborhoods.
   decide? Why?
2. Role-play the situation. Ask two              Linda Brown never testified in court. But
   students to pretend to be parents who         her father did, and so did many other people
   still want segregation (white students        who had not even met her. Even though
   and black students separated). Ask two        they were criticized by others, they worked
   other students to pretend to be parents       hard for what they believed. Brown v.
   who want integration (both races              Board of Education is still one of the most
   attending the same schools). What             famous cases in American history.
   would these parents say? How could
   each try to convince the others to change     1. Below are the names of some of the
   their minds?                                     other famous people who participated in
                                                    this case. Choose one name and read
CHAPTER 4                                           about that person. Share what you learn
                                                    with your classmates.
The court decided that the schools should           Thurgood Marshall        John W. Davis
continue to be segregated. Three judges had         Earl Warren
listened to the presentations. Although not      2. Write a paragraph about something you
all of them felt that this was the right thing      have learned from another student in
to do, they felt they had no choice. Other          your class. Write a second paragraph
cases that had been decided by the Supreme          about something you have helped
Court all supported the idea that separate-         another student learn.
but-equal was okay, and this case seemed to      3. Read a book and write a report about
fit the separate-but-equal guidelines.              another famous American who has
                                                    helped our country live up to the words,
The lawyers for the NAACP, Mr. Brown,               “All men are created equal.”
and people in the other states with similar
cases all decided to take this case to the
Supreme Court. They said this case was           Additional Follow-up Activity
different. The other cases were about            Fact and Opinion: Which Is It?
transportation or students in college – not
elementary school students. They said that       This is an optional follow-up activity that
the Fourteenth Amendment to the                  not only helps students learn to distinguish
Constitution guaranteed everyone equal           between fact and opinion but can also
protection under the law, and that these         stimulate further discussion about the Brown
elementary school students were not being        case. Ask students to define the words fact
protected equally. The case was called           and opinion. Give the following examples
Brown v. Board of Education, (“v.” stands        for students to distinguish as fact or opinion.
for versus, which means against) and was
argued before the Supreme Court in 1953. It      1. We study more than one subject each
was almost a year later – May 17, 1954 –            day. (fact)
when the justices made a decision.               2. Math is a more difficult subject than
                                                    English. (opinion)
It was one of the most important decisions       3. Reading is the most important subject
made in the history of the United States,           we study. (opinion)
because it said that the previous cases –
When satisfied that students understand the
difference between the two terms, have them      Carol Roach is the author of the
distinguish fact from opinion in the             LIFE/LIBERTY/LAW curriculum series.
statements below. The statements can be          As president of the Curriculum Leadership
duplicated, or the teacher can read them         Institute (Emporia, KS), Carol writes and
aloud.                                           edits publications on current education
                                                 practices, and serves as a consultant to
Write F in the blank if the statement is a       school districts, consortia, education service
fact. Write O in the blank if the statement is   agencies, and state departments of
an opinion.                                      education nationwide. This article is
                                                 adapted by permission from the magazine
____ 1. Linda Brown lived near the               Update on Law-Related Education (Winter
         railroad switchyard.                    1990). Portions of the strategy’s narrative
____ 2. Living near a switchyard is fun.         were adapted from Simple Justice: The
____ 3. The Browns were happier than             History of Brown v. Board of Education and
        most families.                           Black America’s Struggle for Equality, by
____ 4. Even if the bus had always been on       Richard Kluger (Alfred A. Knopf, New York)
        time, Linda’s trip to
        school would still have been
        difficult.
____ 5. Sumner School was closer to
        Linda’s house than Monroe
        School.
____ 6. The principal at Sumner School
        was a very mean person.
____ 7. Sumner School was a better
        school than Monroe School.
____ 8. Children can learn more if they
        go to an integrated school.
____ 9. The Fourteenth Amendment to the
        Constitution guarantees equal
        protection to all citizens.
___ 10. Brown v. Board of Education was
        an important Supreme Court case
        because it ended segregation in our
         schools.

Answers for Which Is It? are:

1.   F           6.   O
2.   O           7.   O
3.   O           8.   O
4.   F           9.   F
5.   F          10.   F

				
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