Interview with Rhody McCoy
QUESTION 11
LOUIS MASSIAH:

Could you talk more about the role of parents and the community in Ocean Hill-Brownsville, and what sort of activities were they carrying out, and were there any unusual community characters now in the schools that normally would not have been in the schools before?

RHODY McCOY:

That's, that's a big question. Yes, ah, the, the excitement and the fun and the joy began to blossom when you talk about the parents being involved. What, what did they do? Well first the parents went to schools. Ah, they, they set a tone so you didn't have any such thing as disruptive children, OK. Um, we put up libraries, ah, started libraries--





LOUIS MASSIAH:

OK, once again, what was the role of the parents with this new experiment? What was the role in the school, what were some of the activities, and did you see people from the community in the schools who you wouldn't normally see before?

RHODY McCOY:

The, ah, the parents when they manned the classrooms during the strike, ah, their eyes opened, their hearts opened, and they began to understand, ah, or believe, or break that myth that there was something mystical about teaching, and that they were qualified, because you had many of these parents who were either high school graduates or college personnel, like Miss Hanson. She went to college, she and, and some of her friends. So you had professional people who were single parents or who were parents in the community who now came into the classrooms to begin teaching wanted to begin to be actively involved in this process. Now that's one level of parents. The governing board members would assemble and I would have to present to them every single program that I wanted to put into the school, give a rationale for, for it, talk about its cost, its, and the personnel involved, what they anticipated of it. It was unbelievable because in my teaching career I had never run into such a situation. I walk into the classroom, I taught what I ple- pleased, etc. Here I have to answer to the community folk What else did they do? They, ah, began to operate the libraries because we didn't have librarians. So we set up libraries and they operated libraries. Then about six or seven of them became involved with, ah, Teacher's College, professors. Ah, Dennis Littky, in particular, was a graduate student. And they designed a test, a reading test, if you will. These are parents, that at one point the board admitted that their test was better. In addition to that they administered the test. They wrote the results on a piece of paper and they wrote the remedies, the solutions, to the problems identified by the test and sent them to the parents with their name on 'em, and did the follow-up. These are parents of a very poor, downtrodden, maligned community. Community folk, other than those who were in the schools. Ah, you heard me talk earlier about Paul Chandler--

LOUIS MASSIAH:

Just say, don't refer back just say Paul Chandler.

RHODY McCOY:

Paul Chandler, a community, a young man in the community, a student, ah, along with eight or ten other community folk would patrol our community every day. They'd pick up all of the young people who were late coming to school or trying to play the hook, and kept the drugs out, and came into the schools and talked to their youngsters about staying in school, the value of education, and set some role models for 'em, and brought role models in--like Eubie Blake and others. Ah, everybody in that community began to play a role in the schools. The school became the focal point of the community.