Serendip is an independent site partnering with faculty at multiple colleges and universities around the world. Happy exploring!

You are here

Education Identity

access20's picture

In 1967, I entered the Colonial School District, a public education system in Montgomery County Pennsylvania.  I lived in Conshohocken, which at the time was the low-income region of the district.  In my elementary school, I knew I had less than most of my classmates; yet overall, it really didn’t matter.  The possession of material items was the exception and not the rule.  In fact, the few girls who always wore a new and pretty dress where the minority (in my school district, girls had to wear dresses every day as a part of the school dress code).  Overall, as a white girl who lived in the suburbs, my access to education was unimpeded and my understanding of my poverty level obscure. 

 I have no memory of a single ‘black’ student in the building.  Up until this point, I was unaware people with different skin colors even existed.  My parents did not have the resources to take their children out of the neighborhood, so obviously my understanding of different races and ethnic origins were unfamiliar to me.  Please also keep in mind that our tiny black-and-white television set did not give justifiable credence to these differences.

 Until Brown v.  The Board of Education, when school desegregation became a societal threat for many.

 My elementary school was in consideration to collaborate with an all ‘black’ school to be one of the first to bus students from each district into the other school district.  I still have strong memories of utter fear at the thought of riding a bus for up to an hour away from my home.  Parents and teachers from both school districts had concerns with busing as well.  One point of concern was how would low-income parents, many of which do not own cars, retrieve their children at school, especially in cases of emergency?  I am certain the ‘grown-ups’ had other points of concern, yet this issue directly addressed my fears. 

 If I knew more details on why busing did not materialize, I would share them.  I only remember that the ‘black’ children and their parents, and the ‘white’ children and their parents did believe that school busing was the right policy to change education inequities.

 I believe that a part of my childhood identity as being low-income started with this experience, and then was exemplified when my elementary school merged with other elementary schools.  On a continuum, two Junior High Schools (also known as Middle School) merged into one Senior High School and it was at this time that I knew what my economic ‘place’, in that time, was to be.


bicostudent2016's picture

I like how you brought up how your socioeconomic status prevented you from experiencing diversity because I had never thought of that before.