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The Strike That Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis

4.4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0300109405
ISBN-10: 0300109407
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Editorial Reviews

Review

"There are no faultless heroes or thoroughly evil villains here-only human beings struggling to make sense of their world." -- Choice --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From the Back Cover

"Podair's telling of the racially polarizing Ocean Hill-Brownsville crisis is outstanding: clearly written, deeply researched, and admirably balanced." -- James T. Patterson, Brown University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Yale University Press (December 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0300109407
  • ISBN-13: 978-0300109405
  • Product Dimensions: 6.4 x 0.5 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #692,957 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
The review below shows the passion this episode created and can still evoke. To argue that Nauman wasn't "fired" is rather disingenuous. The letter he received stated "The Governing Board of the Ocean Hill Brownsville Demonstration School District has voted to end your employment in the schools of this district." Sounds like a pink slip to me.

More importantly, as the reviewer below notes, is that "community control" was seen as as the last-ditch solution to the persistent problems faced by African-Americans in the school system. They were (and are) getting third-rate educations. The argument was (and is): why? "Cultural" reasons? Racism? If the African-American community ran its own schools, the argument went, black children would learn better. For various reasons, many of them political, it didn't turn out that way. The most important result was to divide the city by race--especially the Jews from the blacks.

One of the key points made by this book is that the Ocean Hill-Brownsville strike had the effect of making New York Jews "white" in the sense that they joined with their Italian and Irish outer-borough neighbors against the blacks. This seismic shift has largely remained intact.

You can easily get by with reading only chapters 1-3, 5-6.

Read this book if you have an interest in New York City history, politics of the "white backlash", and/or the rise of conservatism in the 1970s.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
As a former teacher, now retired and a parent of small children who could not attend school during that time, I was on the picket line with the UFT(United Federation of Teachers) during the strike. Having disclosed that I can say that the author did an outstanding job of researching and reporting what led up to the strike and how things changed. The teachers were wholeheartedly against the strike in Ocean Hill Brownsville and against Community Control. Teachers and principals were thrown out if they weren't black. There was a lot of prejudice. The author carefully explained who the players were; the mayor , community control advocates, school superintendents and supervisors. I recognized and remembered all those names. Those teachers and parents and supervisors who lived during that time will appreciate this book. Those who are too young to have experienced it or didn't live in New York City can learn a lot of history from it.
Lorraine Fox
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By A. DSOUZA on November 11, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
what a great read! you really feel like you are in it. among it. with it. strong research. tells all sides and you get a feel for the events that led up to the ocean hill-brownsville strike. I still go back to it for a quick history of NYC schools ref.
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Format: Hardcover
Fred Nauman and the other teachers were NOT fired by the Oceanhill-Browsville local school district. They were dismissed from that district and reassigned to the Board of Education's main office. From there, they would have been reassigned to another local district, with no loss of pay or seniority.

However, Albert Shanker and the American Federation of Teachers used this as an excuse to strike the entire district. Their goal was to cripple NYC's attempt to give local communities some control over their schools. The strike was totally devoid of any progressive content that unionists and their supporters could be proud of. It was a racist strike, aimed at African-Americans in Oceanhill, Puerto Ricans in East Harlem, and a multicultured district on Manhattan's Lower East Side.

Shanker, it might be remembered, was cited in Woody Allen's movie, "Sleeper." The hero awoke to a world that had, at one time, been laid waste by nuclear weapons. When asked how the war started he was told, "It all started when a man named Albert Shanker got The Bomb."

I was a student teacher in Oceanhill in 1969, the spring following the strike. I was also a member of the AFT for the five years I taught public school. This was a period just after the civil rights struggle had passed its peak. Community control was an effort to counteract the historical racial inequities that plague public school in this country.

Readers who want a feel for a successful desegregation fight should try Davidson Douglas, Reading, Writing and Race: The Desegregation of the Charlotte (NC) Schools. I taught kindergarten there for two years during the height of the bussing controversy. See also The Battle of Boston, by Jon Hillson.
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