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The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and…
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The Forbidden Schoolhouse: The True and Dramatic Story of Prudence…

by Suzanne Jurmain

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Interesting read about a woman in Connecticut in the early 1830s who initially ran an elite school for girls, then decided to turn it into a school for black girls. Many in the town vehemently objected and tried to create laws to make the school illegal. The school's plight became a statewide, national, and even international lightning rod. The school was able to survive for a few years before she had to abandon it because it became too dangerous. ( )
  creynolds | Feb 24, 2014 |
First of all, I think it was a wise choice of the author to begin with an explanation of her decision to include racist terms in this book for historical accuracy. This is a great true story of a young woman's decision to teach African American girls during the time of slavery. The author does a great job of speaking in easy to understand language and introducing important historical context and facts. The tone is appropriately dry and fact-oriented. It's a thrilling, important story from our history. The story teaches an important lesson about bravery and sacrifice. I also love how the author includes an epilogue that connects Prudence's fight with the later fight for civil rights and the struggle for equal education today. I think this book doesn't have all the answers, but it will inspire readers to learn more. ( )
  BrittaSorensen | Dec 6, 2013 |
At least 3-1/2 stars anyway. It does what it sets out to do. It holds interest at least past the resolution of the main conflict. It paints the picture pretty well. Maybe I'm giving it the benefit of a little indecision by rounding up but it's close and it's an important subject that's not typically taught, unless things have change a lot and I don't expect that's the case. ( )
  Yona | May 2, 2013 |
Richie’s Picks: THE FORBIDDEN SCHOOLHOUSE: THE TRUE AND DRAMATIC STORY OF PRUDENCE CRANDALL AND HER STUDENTS by Suzanne Jurmain, Houghton Mifflin, 2005, 160p., ISBN: 978-0-618-47302-1

“There were now enough students to make a real class. Prudence lectured. The girls concentrated on their reading and arithmetic. In the classroom it was calm and quiet. But if the girls stepped outside the front gate, boys tailed after them blowing horns, beating drums, and shouting insults. Someone smeared dung on the school steps and door handles, and the doors and windows were pelted by volleys of rotten eggs. Most of the shopkeepers stuck by their agreement and would not sell Prudence supplies. The milk peddler refused to deliver fresh milk, and a local newspaper accused Prudence of trying to ‘break down the barriers which God has placed between blacks and whites.’
“The troubles came so thick and fast, it was hard to count them all. Opening the school had been a hundred times harder than Prudence had imagined. Of course, she’d known that some people would object to black students. She’d expected some protests, but as she explained to the Reverend Jocelyn shortly after the school opened, ‘The thought of such opposition as has been raised in the minds of the people of Canterbury…never once entered into my mind.’ She had never imagined ‘that Christians would act so unwisely and conduct [themselves]…so outrageously.’ Nothing had prepared her for this ‘present scene of adversity.’ But she’d made up her mind. She wasn’t going to give up. ‘I trust God will help me keep this resolution,’ she wrote.”

In 1834, Prudence Crandall opened a school for young black women in Canterbury Connecticut. Her neighbors did everything under the sun to prevent Prudence from operating that school – and they eventually succeeded in literally destroying it.

One thing I really love about THE FORBIDDEN SCHOOLHOUSE – why I was so moved by it and why I want so much to get kids to read it -- is how there is such immediacy to the story. In reading THE FORBIDDEN SCHOOLHOUSE, it is so easy to imagine oneself as a citizen in the town of Canterbury, Connecticut and to wonder whether, if one was in that situation, whether one would have the combination of faith, stubbornness, and heart to stand up for what is right, to walk the walk, to support Prudence Crandall and her right to establish a school for young women of color in the community.

It is easy to agree with a crowd, no matter how evil and wrong-headed they may be, but it takes something far more to swim against the tide. Would I be one to swim against that tide and face threats of violence and ostracism with equanimity and perseverance, or would I let the bullies win? Would I open my mouth and say no, or would I play it safe and just tell myself that it doesn’t involve me, that I don’t need to get involved, that I should just thank God that I am not one of those (current) victims of prejudice and bullying

Prudence Crandall saw these young women as students hungering for knowledge and Prudence Crandall walked the walk. All that her neighbors could see was the color of her students’ skin. When Prudence opened her school in 1834, she was ahead of her time. She is a hero who, I am sure, far too few know of. But we all know about this sort of prejudice, this sort of ignorance and wrong-headedness, for this is a mindset that we still see everywhere today whether it be in the hallways of schools or in the speeches of politicians who appeal to the base xenophobic instincts of the ignorant to gain power and exclude those who look, or talk, or think differently.

Standing up for what is right in the face of ignorance and convention, standing up for those who are not being treated fairly, is an issue that never goes away. And that is why this well-written story of Prudence Crandall and her school will never become irrelevant.

Richie Partington, MLIS
Richie's Picks http://richiespicks.com
BudNotBuddy@aol.com
Moderator http://groups.yahoo.com/group/middle_school_lit/ http://slisweb.sjsu.edu/people/faculty/partingtonr/partingtonr.php ( )
  richiespicks | Sep 2, 2012 |
Suzanne Jurmain has written a well research account of Prudence Crandall's struggle to teach African American girls. Jurmain's writing is so easy to read and yet manages to grab the reader quickly. I found it hard to put this book down while reading.

I had heard of Crandall before in Education courses, but hers was a story I feel was skipped over in middle and high school social studies. This story, though, clearly shows the way people in the United States felt about slavery before the Civil War. It is more complicated than North vs. South. Many people who lived in the same Northern town as Crandall were racist. This narrative would enrich any unit that details the United States up until the Civil War. It would also obviously fit nicely in any unit on women's history. ( )
  Kathdavis54 | Nov 28, 2011 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0618473025, Hardcover)

They threw rocks and rotten eggs at the school windows. Villagers refused to sell Miss Crandall groceries or let her students attend the town church. Mysteriously, her schoolhouse was set on fire—by whom and how remains a mystery. The town authorities dragged her to jail and put her on trial for breaking the law.

Her crime? Trying to teach African American girls geography, history, reading, philosophy, and chemistry. Trying to open and maintain one of the first African American schools in America.

Exciting and eye-opening, this account of the heroine of Canterbury, Connecticut, and her elegant white schoolhouse at the center of town will give readers a glimpse of what it is like to try to change the world when few agree with you.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:41:30 -0400)

They threw rocks and rotten eggs at the school windows. Villagers refused to sell Miss Crandall groceries or let her students attend the town church. Mysteriously, her schoolhouse was set on fire-by whom and how remains a mystery. The town authorities dragged her to jail and put her on trial for breaking the law. Her crime? Trying to teach African American girls geography, history, reading, philosophy, and chemistry. Trying to open and maintain one of the first African American schools in America. Exciting and eye-opening, this account of the heroine of Canterbury, Connecticut, and her elegant white schoolhouse at the center of town will give readers a glimpse of what it is like to try to change the world when few agree with you.… (more)

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