Goodenough Gismo

  • Gismo39
    This is the classic children's book, Goodenough Gismo, by Richmond I. Kelsey, published in 1948. Nearly unavailable in libraries and the collector's market, it is posted here with love as an "orphan work" so that it may be seen and appreciated -- and perhaps even republished, as it deserves to be. After you read this book, it won't surprise you to learn that Richmond Irwin Kelsey (1905-1987) was an accomplished artist, or that as Dick Kelsey, he was one of the great Disney art directors, breaking your heart with "Pinocchio," "Dumbo," and "Bambi."

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Thanks for plugging today's Times article. I have long been a fan of the Raleigh schools. The newsletter you mention includes a long article about Raleigh. I have led delegations from Denver to Raleigh over the past few years to show off the wonderful job Raleigh has done with economic integration. I have an enormous amount of respect for the people there. It's a homegrown bunch that has kept its collective shoulder to the wheel for a long, long time. Raleigh is proof that you don't have to import hotshots from elsewhere if you create the right mix locally.

Enrique Cardova

Kudos to the Raleigh school for raising black performance, but was it due to putting black kids next to some white people, so called "economic integration"? Doubtful. The original NY Times article points to other factors. Was it "economic integration" or the push by school administrators to raise performance on standardized tests? In fact the school actually got serious about performance, specifically targeting those who lag behind, and even giving teachers cash bonuses when their students did well.

Someone is quoted as saying that poor (mostly black) kids did better when surrounded by middle class peers who have higher dreams and expectations. But is that true? Little convincing evidence is presented. Historical examples suggest otherwise. For example in parts of New York during the 1940s, schools with mostly poor and working class black kids maintained parity with surrounding white schools. Sometimes the black kids performed a little lower, sometimes a little higher, but never miles behind the way some are today. (Sowell 1994 "Inside American Education"). The common denominator there was a focus on actual education not trendy fads, or whether enough white people were around to provide "balance".

And why is it that some black parents complain that mostly black kids have to bear the burden of long bus trips, some up to an hour each morning? Isn't this a variant of the ineffectual and discredited "busing" strategy for racial "balance" and improved school performance that produced neither balance or performance? The Times article mentions near the end that the issue is "contentious" in the community, but does not elaborate. Naturally the school district has every incentive to show that its busing plans are working, but is it really "economic integration" leading to the improved results, or is it that the schools are finally getting down to hard-nosed bidniss with black kids?


Enrique --

I really don't think the point is that black kids be surrounded by white people. The point is that poor kids be surrounded by middle-class people. Now on the one hand that might breed resentment and despair, a sense that so much more is possible for the others. But on the other hand, it surrounds you with a majority culture of motivation and possibility that can be contagious. As vitally important as good teachers are, note that in my personal story (hopelessly outdated as it may be, coming from the unawakened '50s), it was kids-to-kids that made the difference.


P.S. I quite agree that the "busing" aspect of it is problematic. Until housing is economically integrated, schools can only be made so artificially. I'm trying to get my brother Alan involved in this discussion, as he knows a lot more about the pros and cons of it than I do.


Ally's right. Raleigh should be used as an example in many areas - not just education. Where else do you see upper middle class families clamoring to move out of the suburbs and closer to downtown? I went to grad school there & still work for a triangle-based company. And I'd move back in a hearbeat if my family weren't here in this small town where we have few educational options for our children. In Raleigh the open enrollment options are endless: charter schools, magnet schools, etc. And the kids - or at least ones I've met - are bright. And independent. But I don't know if integration at the personal level - of the kind you and your friends accomplished - is occuring or not. That seems less likely ... but more critical in the long run.

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