Grades K-6: Fairness & Equal Treatment
A Famous Kansas Child
Linda went to Monroe School, which was a mile away from where she lived. Getting to school was not easy. She had to leave home by 7:40 each morning to walk to a bus stop that was six blocks away. She started off by walking between the train tracks that went through the switching yard. Even though this was dangerous, it was easier than trying to walk outside the tracks, because the street was crowded with warehouses and there were no sidewalks. The bus was supposed to arrive by 8:00. Sometimes it did. Sometimes it was late. When it was late, Linda would have to stand and wait – often in freezing cold weather, or rain, or snow. When the bus was on time, she could get right on, but then she would arrive at school a half-hour before it opened, so she still would have to stand outside and wait. That was the only bus that could take her to school, so there was no way that Linda could make the trip without having to stand out in the weather at one place or the other.
When Linda was ready to start third grade, her father surprised her by saying he was going to walk her to her first day of school. Then he surprised her even more by taking a different route. They went the opposite direction from the trains for about three blocks, then turned onto a pleasant tree-lined street with small, neat houses. After walking three more blocks, they came to a school. It was lighter and prettier than Monroe School, with a little tower on one end that was topped by a fancy weather vane. On the other end was a big wall sculpture of a cheerful sun beaming down on children who were running, jumping rope, rolling a hoop, and flying a kite.
Linda wasn’t sure why they had come to this school, and she could tell her father was uneasy as he took her hand and walked up the front steps. Once inside, they were directed to the principal’s office. Linda was told to wait outside the door while her father went in to talk to the principal. He was only there a few minutes, then he came out and took her hand again. As they walked home, Linda could tell that her father was very upset. Even though Sumner School was so much closer to their home than Monroe School, the principal said Linda could not go to school there. Sumner School was for white children only. Linda Brown was black.
- How do you think Linda felt? Why?
- How do you think Mr. Brown felt? Why?
- What would you do if you were Linda?
- Draw a map to represent Linda's house, the route to Monroe School, and the route to Sumner School.