Joan Schine’s Legacy

Joan Schine — the former Board of Education chairman who died Saturday at 87 — is being lauded for her strong commitment to Westport, and education in all forms, during a lifetime of service.‘s James Lomuscio wrote a fond remembrance, citing her courageous stand in 1970 in favor of Project Concern.  That program — proposed here in 1970 — allowed 25 Bridgeport students to be bused to Westport, from elementary through high school. 

Outraged opponents threatened a recall drive, which ultimately failed.  The  Board of Ed — with the backing of Schine and prominent Republican Allen Raymond, and buoyed by the support of well-respected citizens like Lou Nistico — voted 3-2 in favor of Project Concern.

It lasted for a decade, and brought dozens of Bridgeport youngsters here to study and socialize.  It is fondly recalled today, by schoolchildren from both towns who are now well-established adults.

Joan Schine’s legacy has lasted far longer than Project Concern’s decade.  The values established by that program — and fought for so fervently by her — have underpinned much of Westport’s educational philosophy in the years since.

We have mostly — though not always supported — those values with Board of Ed votes, and with tax dollars.  But they’re still there.  We still believe that education is vital; that we must involve ourselves with surrounding communities, and that our students must be part of something larger than themselves.

I’m not sure what kind of school system Westport would have today had Joan Schine not prevailed in that decisive 1970 vote.

And I’m even less sure what kind of town this would be.

42 responses to “Joan Schine’s Legacy

  1. This is a touchy subject since any criticism will result in one being called a racist, which isn’t true. As I read of Joan Schine’s ‘legacy’ I read how her supporters used the same baseless accusations against her critics as they do today of anyone who criticizes President Obama’s policies – ‘You’re a racist!’

    You must remember there is a reason why no one wants to go to to school in Bridgeport. How many of you open minded liberals would send your children to attend school in Bridgeport? So for the same reason why would you bus those same children into your child’s class?

    Busing also contributed to the early decline of the inner city. Families with school age children moved out to the suburbs to avoid busing their children. The ones who didn’t move out sent their children to private and parochial schools, which then left the inner city schools much more segregated – unintended consequences. Again, I’m not saying it’s right or wrong, it’s just a fact.

    If it was so wonderful, why isn’t anyone calling for it today? I know we have some type of program for children of Bridgeport, but know very little about it or how the children are selected.

    Busing was based on the color of ones skin. Which is one of the reason it was abandoned in the late ’90s due to court challenges.

  2. I’ve been highly critical of President Obama… I’ve never been accused of racism for it.

    I think when people verbalize legitimate criticism it’s just that– legitimate. For example, I fault Obama for failing to show leadership in the health care reform debate– leading to a watered down version of HCR instead of the single payer system that we need. I fault Obama for continuing senseless wars overseas instead of cutting the military budget to bring down government overspending. Again, no accusations of racism.

    However when your criticisms of Obama are based on the fantasy that he wasn’t born in the United States, or that his political views are based in African anti-colonialism, I have to wonder what is truly behind the critique which is so easily disproven…

    That having been said, I graduated Staples with the last class to include students from Project Concern in 1992. There were definitely students who took advantage of the opportunities offered by Westport schools that weren’t offered in Bridgeport. There were also some who were (I’m guessing) so disadvantaged by a negative home environment that the opportunity was wasted. Either way, Staples students leave the nest and eventually have to deal with the real world which includes all colors and stripes.

    I attended the University of Texas at Austin, which this year proudly announced that it admitted and enrolled more minority than white students for the first time. To be honest, when I moved to Austin for college in 1992, it was an eye-opening experience as I had to overcome some of my own biases growing up in Fairfield County to succeed in a far more diverse environment. Attending Staples, where diversity was limited to the 12-15 students remaining in the Project Concern program (and few others of historically disadvantaged minority backgrounds) did not prepare me for that…

    I’ll never begrudge Staples for the education and opportunities I had there. However, it’s not the real world and Project Concern brought a little of the real world in to a very sheltered environment.

  3. A well intentioned effort perhaps, but doomed to failure. Improving failing schools by using as models successful schools would be a better use of time and resources.
    “Other reasons for ignoring or downplaying successful black schools include the fact that there is no political mileage or financial benefits to be gotten from focussing on such schools despite how much of an educational gold mine their experience might be. Put bluntly, failure attracts more money than success. Politically failure becomes a reason to demand more money, smaller classes, and more trendy courses and programs….Politicians who want to look compassionate and concerned know that voting money for such projects accomplishes that purpose for them and voting against such programs risks charges of mean-spiritedness, if not implications or racism.”

    “Despite many pious expressions of goodwill and hope for improvements in the education of minority students, few are prepared to do what it takes, including taking on entrenched vested interests in the schools of education, the teachers’ unions, and state, local, and national educational bureaucracies. Even fewer are prepared to challenge black students to work harder and abandon the counterproductive notion that seeking education is ‘acting white.'”

    Thomas Sowell; “Black Rednecks and White Liberals”.

  4. “I’ve been highly critical of President Obama… I’ve never been accused of racism for it. ”

    If you are so far removed from reality and you are completely ignorant of anyone being called a racist who criticizes Obama’s policies, then sir, anything I may say will not matter and will fall on deaf ears.

    Although, I see you managed to work in, “…wasn’t born in the United States, or that his political views are based in African anti-colonialism” when no one, certainly not me, suggested anything of the kind.

    You are being disingenuous and avoiding the issue, while implying critics are racist, therefore making my point!

    • I would have to say that it is far more ignorant to dismiss racism as at least partially causal as to some of the ridiculous criticism that has been levied against the president.

      To suggest that no one has discussed the president’s country of origin when both Newt Gingrich and Forbes magazine had stated within the last week that Obama’s views are based on African anti-colonialism is truly disingenuous.

      John, I can debate/discuss without attacking you personally. I can take issue with your ideas without attacking your person. Why can’t you? Nowhere did I suggest that you were personally racist. I merely pointed out that racism does exist in some of the criticism of Obama.

      I am trying to delineate between valid critique (which can come from either side of the aisle) and the false critique based on imaginary myth propagated by the tea party and birthers (with media complicity) which, I believe, to be strongly rooted in racism.

      If you feel like I intimated that you are personally a racist, I apologize. That was not my intent. I wouldn’t know you if I fell over you, and certainly have no evidence to assume that you personally hold racist views.

      • Mark,
        I think something may have gotten lost in translation, but thanks for trying to clarify, and no you didn’t intimidate me.

        As for the ‘birthers’ and the Tea Party well, I hate to break this one to you, but the whole thing was started by the left. That’s right, they were hardcore Hillary Clinton fans and even some of her campaign people floated the idea and innuendo first during the primaries to overtake Obama.

        Don’t believe the media hype, which is only trying to discredit the Tea Party movement. Which by the way is having the reverse affect.

      • The Dude Abides

        Mark: Hook ’em Horns. We Longhorns tell it like it is and actually have lived among the races instead of preaching about it from afar. And while I respect Mr. Raho’s views, he does tend to personalize everything. It is the way of the Rovian Right.

        • Unlike Obama who singles out more people by name who disagrees with him or criticizes his policies.

          And I don’t personalize everything, I only do it in return. As far as Mark’s comment above I did take his comment, “…when your criticisms of Obama are based on the fantasy…” to mean me personally at first, but after I read them again, realized perhaps he wasn’t speaking directly to me. In which case I thanked him for clarifying. No harm no foul.

          However, I have been called many things right here on this very blog, such as ‘teabagger’, ‘wacko’, right-wing, ‘extremist’ and many other names. I don’t recall anyone sticking up for me and calling out the offender. Nor would I expect it, I’m a big boy and so is everyone who puts their opinions and comments out there for public display.
          And for the record I don’t believe I have ever used such low tactics, that’s not my style, I prefer to debate the issue and find the truth. That doesn’t mean I won’t use humor or sarcasm to make my point or even generalize. I admit I enjoy a lively debate and opposing view points and sometimes it’s fun see people get a little more than worked up.

          I have often thought it would be fun, or at least very interesting, if some of us met in person over coffee and continued solving the world’s problems in person.
          How about it Dude?

          • The Dude Abides

            Mr. Raho: I have never used such names for you, John. We did have a rocky start with the “Tea Bagger” and “Douche Bag” exchange but I was wrong and correct many now when the term is used. I don’t drink coffee but aside from this blog, I partake in many serious discussions at the Men’s Health Club steam at the YMCA. They can be very enlightening. Billy Mitchell and I were going at pretty good today. Everyone is welcome.

  5. The above comment is directed at Mark Lassoff.

  6. The Dude Abides

    One of the only things that I favored about President Bush’s (’41) policies was that he advocated the voucher system whereby a student from Bridgeport could take his/her tax allotted education money and go to Staples or whatever school he wished. I applaud Mrs. Schine’s visionary crusade for Project Concern for it is my belief, as is my fellow Longhorn Mark Lassoff, that such programs bring a diversity to schools that is needed for both the majority as well as the minority. The real world is not 93% white like Staples and the sooner our Westport kids realize that, the better. Our own ABC House is a great example of how well this can work for all those involved. As to our current President, I think he is the next Abe Lincoln. Wow, he ends one war, gets us out of economic collapse, passes health reform, initiates regulatory legislation against Wall Street, taxes decrease and the stock market has gone up. Yeah, yeah, unemployment is at 10% but might be 25% without his administration. And yet still, nearly 25% of Americans believe he is Muslim and question his birthplace. If that ain’t racist, I am not sure what is??

    • Dude: You can’t pretend to be libertarian in any respect and that you support Obama as well. You can’s upport vouchers and then say you support Obama. He is in the pocket of the NEA. American schools are failing because no one is willing to challenge the status quo. BTW Lincoln’s election precipitated a civil war and Lincoln himself was assassinated. Lincoln did accept the principles of the Founding, Obama doesn’t.

      • The Dude Abides

        Jeffxs: I don’t pretend to be anything (i.e Libertarian) and I have openly criticized the President about our reentry into Afganistan. I also realize the lack of consistency with vouchers and Mr. Obama’s policies. Also, the inconsistencies with my own beliefs that may not be a perfect fit for any one party or label. But recently I had the revelation that things in this country could be a whole bunch worse if it was not for the aggressiveness of our current President. It has been a tough road and you know what, we are at least talking about some important things now. John Raho wants to have coffee? That in itself, indicates that we are getting beyond the blue-red polarization of the Bush years and actually beginning to THINK about important things. I am well aware of Lincoln’s fate as well as the fact that Obama has received more death threats in less than two years than any other sitting President in their entire tenure. I disagree on the Obama principles differing from those of the framers of our Constitution.

        • Well you can overlook many more deficiencies than I can. I see 9.6% unemployment, a $1.7 trillion deficit, two wars, and the slowest recovery since the Depression. The Founders were liberals. Obama is not. BTW as someone who was at ground zero for the so called “meltdown” of the financial system, Bush and Obama only made it worse.

          • The Dude Abides

            So TARP & the Stimulus were bad ideas?? We should have let the investment banks, AIG and then the auto companies crumble?? Then we would be looking at 25% unemployment. I don’t like the terms “liberal” or “conservative.” They have no meaning. I do concur that Obama is being more of a concilatory centrist that I would have imagined or hoped. I certainly don’t see anyone on the GOP side that could even comes close to “Ears” at this juncture. McCain would have been lost. And if Palin wins in 2012, I am moving to Bermuda.

  7. Dude: TARP was totally unnecessary, and the “stimulus” did not create one new job. Government spending cannot create new jobs, the spending is paid for by taking money and jobs from the private sector; net no new jobs are created. Remember the promise that if Obama got his $800 billion pork barrel, unemployment would not go over 8%? BTW Summers is leaving. The only marginally competent economist left. I guess he was tired of losing out to Rahm.

    • The Dude Abides

      Under your”Monday morning quarterbacking” (and actually my personal
      feelings) the banks, AIG and auto industry should have been
      allowed to fail. Unemployment would be well over 20% and private
      equity investment would still be going to China. I don’t see that as a pleasant environment. FDR created jobs via the government and it can be done again. Put one trillion in infrastructure rebuilding and see jobs return. Maybe not white collar, sit-behind-the desk, lob out jobs but work nevertheless. I remember the promise, not enough they now say. Never did care for Summers during his tenure with Bubba or at Harvard where he teed off every female math major.

      • Your grasp of history is flawed. FDR created 20% unemployment in 1938 and no new jobs, a fact to which Morgenthau testified. The New Deal prolonged the Depression by about 5 years. Infrastructure spending will not create one new job. Where do you suppose that $1 trillon will come from, the toothfairy? The government does not invest, it spends. The bailout was unnecessary. The banks would have reorganized at much lower prices. The auto industry has been going out of business for 40 years. Summers was the most competent economist on Obama’s staff. Private investment will seeks its highest return. Raising taxes on capital will not help keep it here. Raising the cost of labor will not help create jobs or keep them here. If you want more jobs and more capital investment, Obama is doing exactly the wrong things, and he knows it, but he doesn’t want Summers reminding him of that fact.

        • The Dude Abides

          Jeffxs: We must be reading different history books for the WPA and CCC definitely created jobs. Our central disagreement centers around government spending. Look what the millions we spent on returning GI’s from World War II for education accomplished: Its return was seven (7) fold in increased income taxes. What if the government invested heavily in a cure for Alzheimer’s Disease and such was successful? Countless savings from Medicare expenditures. At this junture in our ecomomic time, I don’t think President Obama can sit around waiting for private equity investment to come back to America. I am sure you will have a rebuttal but did you hear Chairman Allison’s take on the success of TARP today? I wish it hadn’t been necessary but such is the world of the fat cats.

          • No dude they did not create jobs, they moved jobs from the private sector to the public sector, but net no new jobs were produced. Think; how did FDR pay for those make work jobs? The government does not invest, it spends. Where would Obama raise the money he wants to spend? In the private sector? The government produces no wealth, it takes it from the private sector by force. With respect to government sponsored reasearch, as Larry Kramer has pointed out on more than one occasion, if the Federal Government were not in charge of AIDS research, we’d have a cure by now. Government stands in the way of progress, it does not aid progress. Bureaucrats do not recognize progress, moreover they are threatened by it. The government creates economic crises and then exploits them to expand its control. You fall for it.

  8. This discussion seems to have hopped the track and is no longer a discussion of the legacy of Joan Schine.

    • Depends on how you interpret legacy. It seems that the primary focus of Dan’s comment were Project Concern, and public schools. The first matter certainly opens wide broader social and economic issues. Questions of the effectiveness and appropriateness of the program given the broader context seem to be related to the issue of legacy.

    • The Dude Abides

      It is certainly is and a discussion she would have loved and been very much involved. She had a passion for the inclusion of race in any dialogue and especially education but certainly not limited to such.

  9. John Raho, Mark Lassoff said he hope you didn’t think he had “intimated” something, and you read it as “intimidated”. You guys write too fast and hit below the belt and call names (no, not all of you), and the result is that other readers don’t see an intelligent discussion here. You all have some good ideas, but they certainly don’t come through logically. Non sequitors all over the place!

    • My bad. Yes I read it too fast and incorrectly.
      As for writing too fast (and reading too fast), yes I’m guilty. Name calling – not guilt.

      In my defense, please keep in mind I am very busy (trying to) work from home and I have a 21 month old little boy to entertain and who teaches me something new every day all before my other two arrive home.
      So all this banter, exchange of ideas and trying to find truth is just minor distractions to a beautiful life.

      So no, not every comment will be well written or eloquent or researched with footnotes, but it will make some think, show a different perspective and perhaps question their beliefs.

      If you don’t like my opinions or view point, and I’m sure there are many who don’t, then skip over me. However, and this may surprise you, but I do have many people approach me and say how much they appreciate what I said or how glad they were that I brought that up, and even, ‘I don’t always agree with you, but I always read you’.

      Hey what can I say, ‘there’s no accounting for taste’.

  10. And I forgot to say that I was incredulous that someone could intimate that because a student came from Bridgeport that of course they weren’t as smart as a Westporter. Are you kidding? The teaching may not be as good in Bridgeport (lower pay, less support from parents perhaps) but there are terrific kids there imprisoned in a school where they are not allowed to grow their minds. THAT was the idea behind Joan Schine’s Project Concern idea. And anything that Allen Raymond and Lou Nistico supported was a good idea.

    • If they are terrific kids, why not try and fix their schools as Tom Sowell suggests? The bring them to Westport approach abandons too many kids in failing schools.

    • The Dude Abides

      Actually I have had a Director of the ABC House suggest to me that the morals of the inner city children are better than those of kids here Westport.
      So Bravo for sticking up for those kids in Bridgeport. This blog goes every which way and attracts many, diverts many. To control it, as you suggest, defeats its purpose and I believe, its design.

  11. The Dude Abides

    Jeffxs: Wait a second. The federal government collects income taxes and then spends it on certain mandates created by Congress. Not only do they employ approximately one (1) million employees but the funds go to agencies and projects that do employ millions of others. In that sense, they are like any other corporation. But under your theory, they don’t do anything but spend needlessly and therefore, you are advocating the bare minimalization of government except possibly for defense??? While the WPA (or similar FDR projects or now Stimulus projects) may not create net jobs as you put it, they do put people to work that would otherwise be ignored by the private sector. Do you honestly believe if you cut taxes severely and relied on the private sector for recovery now that we would see a great resurgence of our economy. I think you would see more of what happened: a disparity of CEO’s versus the average worker and the rich getting richer with jobs being outsourced to the lowest bidder.

    • The taxes the government collect reduce private sector activity by a greater degree than they stimulate public sector activity. Taxes and government spending are a dead weight loss on economic activity. FDR did not creat jobs via the New Deal, FDR did manage to increase the percentage of overall taxes paid by poor people while reducing the percentage paid by “rich” people, and at the same time keep unemployment arounf 20%. Do you think that raising taxes on capital, and increasing labor costs will keep jobs in the US? Obama’s policies are not going to create the rapid real growth we need to lower unemployment.

  12. The Dude Abides

    Okay, I am listening, so what do you advocate to stimulate the economy
    and lower unemployment???????????????????????????????????

    • Remember how successful George Costanza was when he did the opposite of everything he would normally do?
      Well Obama and the democrats right now are George Costanza and they should just do the opposite.

    • The constant threat of raising taxes and changing or increasing regulations increases uncertainty. Heightened uncertainty restrains economic activity. Raising taxes on economic activity reduces economic activity just as raising taxes on any activity reduces that activity ceterus paribus. If the taxes on alchohol consumption are raised, you would expect less alchohol consumption. If the taxes on gasoline consumption or smoking are raised you would expect less of both. When you raise taxes on capital formation, you should expect less as well. Incentives matter. I would institute policies that encourage economic growth rather than policies that stifle that growth. Obama’s efforts to resdistribute wealth and income by using the tax system, reduce incentives to engage in those activities that stimulate economic growth. The departures of Orslag, Summers, and Romer indicate to me that Obama is interested more in redistributing the weath, than stimulating economic growth. Obama is looking for more “yes” men. Summers and Romer knew his policies were not working. It will be interesting to see who replaces them.

      • I should have written “Orszag”

      • You are exactly right Jeffxs.
        That is why the government, whether local or federal, tax something, to discourage its use or give a tax break to increase its use or activity.
        They know this is how it works, so why would they tax businesses or other areas of the economy to discourage and inhibit growth? That Chumley is the question.

      • The Dude Abides

        Interesting. But what is this tax on capital formation? The capital gains tax, even under Warren Buffet’s belief, is far too low. Obama wants to tax those making over $250,000. While it is agreed that those who do have paid more than their fair share in the past but are certainly capable of paying more now. Lord, my father paid 92% under Ike and we got the best road system in the world out of it.
        As to the uncertainity of which direction this administration may go, I am in agreement. They have not “sold” many of their beliefs to Congress let alone the American public. I still have very little idea how this health plan is even going to work.
        In regard to “yes” men, I think that every President wants them around. The ego goes with the job. Jeez, Nancy Reagan got Michael Deaver canned for saving Ronnie’s butt from impeachment. They serve at the pleasure of the President. How about Paul Krueger??????

        • Raising the tax rate on capital gains is a revenue loser. Raising the tax rate on dividends raises the cost of capital. Raising the tax rate on the “rich” and redistributing the wealth reduces the savings rate and increases the cost of capital. Raising the cost of labor, minimum wage healthcare, reduces the demand for labor. (This observation got Romer in trouble and Summers as well.) The top 1% of income earners pay 40% of all Federal income taxes. Each time the tax rate on the top 1% has been cut in the last 45 years, the percentage they pay has gone up. When the tax rate on the top 1% goes up, the percentage they pay goes down. FDR screwed the lower decile of the income distribution by raising tax rates on the “rich” who then paid a lower percentage of all taxes which forced the lower decile to make up the difference. High tax rates and forcible income redistribution do not stimulate economic growth or job formation. JFK said as much; a rising tide lifts all boats.

          • The Dude Abides

            Thank you. Now what is this tax on foreign revenues that the IBM chief is yapping about??? Any income derived from foreign ventures is taxed when it returns to the United States????

          • Dude: He is complaining about a tax on foreign earnings that are not brought back to the states. The tax will make US firms even less competitive with foreign firms and might even cause some firms to move their incorporation oveseas.

  13. The Dude Abides

    Mr. Raho: Rather juvenille response don’t you think??? I did enjoy the episode and I believe George actually got the hot gal too. My question was more directed to Jeffxs who seems to refute any governmental action whatsover. But I think we got in this mess because of the private sector’s greed and stupidity. Thus, the Seinfeld episode when George’s wallet explodes in the middle of the street, backed with nonsensical receipts and credit cards, would seem more appropriate.

    • You made me laugh Dude!
      I just pictured that scene and how it relates to our current national debt!

  14. eulogy for Joan Schine

    You did more than talk. You stood up for what you believed was right.
    You stood up to the threats of those crazed by ignorance, crazed by intolerance, crazed by hatred.
    Many children–white and black–benefitted from your actions.
    Your courage should be a beacon to those who want our nation to be good, righteous, and fair.
    No detractor, no dissimulator, no johnny-come-lately, no revisionist can take away from what you accomplished, because you were all action, and they are all talk.
    I konw you can meet the maker of all of God’s children with an intact soul, and I hope that I can say the same for me at my end.