Interview with Dolores Torres

OK. Mrs. Torres, I want you to talk a little bit about your children and the school system. How did you know the schools weren't working back in 1967?


Well, I had three children in the district, at the time, this was in District 23, School District 23, and they all were attending PS144. I also had a niece at the time, that I was raising, she was also attending. Well, what happened was they told us the kids would have to go on double shifts. I had two going in the morning, and two going in the afternoon, the school was overcrowded to an extreme, whereas their wasn't much learning, wasn't much education going on. All right so we started going to PTA meetings, and meeting with other parents to decide what to do about this. And at the time, we lived on Parkway East between Howard and Ralph. PS144 was a block and a half away on Howard PS191 was underutilized, that was a block and a half past Ralph Avenue, which was out of our school district. We wrote numerous letters, we spoke to numerous parents, we spoke to teachers, to principals to find out what we could do to remedy this situation. Well we finally decided to organize, and we parents went down to 110 Livingston Street. They gave us three minutes to speak, which we felt was inadequate, we couldn't seem to get our point across. And we were totally ignored or told to take it to our local school board. At the time we had an organization that was called CUSA, it was Christians United for Social Action, and we dealt with problems in the community: with housing, with welfare, with the schools, with drug addiction. Anything that pertained to the community, any problem that was there. And more and more people were coming in and complaining not only about this, what was going on in 144, what was going on in other schools in the district. And we decided to go into a local school board, and present our case to them. We went into the local school board that represented, supposed to represent, our district. We found not one person on that board lived in our district. Most of that people on that board were White, we were a district of mostly Hispanic and Black families. The ones that did have children in public schools went to public schools in good neighborhoods. We were a poor neighborhood. We found a lot of the teachers were in agreement that we needed to do something to get the kids switched over to 191 because the teachers were having it hard also. As a result of this part time school, they, a lot of the children, had to go to summer school, to try and make up. Which they did thankfully, we continued to go down to 110 Livingston Street, to the Board of Education, present our case, and they kept telling us to go to the local school board, and these people, we felt, did not represent us. They had no children in the schools in our district, we felt they weren't paying any attention to us because we were the ignorant people, these were the educated people, these were the people with all kinds of degrees, and we felt that they didn't care about us and or our children.