Updated Project Proposal

Doing my interview with Barbra Watson helped be get a better idea of what I want to focus on for my project. I realized my plan of investigating the differences between schools would not work, as Williamsburg’s schools are not differentiated by race class or ability level. With this new direction,  I want to get answers as to why and how certain students are educated differently within an individual school. I want to know how students with habitual discipline problems walk the halls with a class of national merit scholars. It seems that to some degree, the WJCC school system is forsaking those students it deems unfit for further educational endeavors after high school. Primarily, I want to know more about the kinds of efforts made by WJCC to reach out to students who’s parents are not able to be as involved with their children’s educations as they would like. Also, an explanation of what factors specific to Williamsburg explain the disparity seen between black students and white students in regards to test performance would be particularly useful in my project. Scholarship specifically relating to Williamsburg’s educational history has been difficult to come by. I have however found the WJCC website to be a great resource, as well as a box of records on Bruton Heights School at the Swem Special Collections that I am currently making my way though. Thus far the sources I have gathered have all had a shared  idea that minority students statistically perform worse than their white counterparts because they are poorer on an indidividual basis. School funding it seems has little to do with student achievement. James Ryan’s 2010 book illustrates this point as he investigate the profound diferences between two Richmond, VA high schools which are merely five miles away but a world apart in their educational profiles.

Ryan, J. E. (2010). Five Miles Away a World Apart. New York: Oxford University Press.

Also, many of the disparities we observe between minority and white students are a reflection of segregationist policies which where present in throughout much of the nation’s history, and specifically in Williamsburg until the 1960’s. Williamsburg presents a prime example of such a legacy as homes and inns adjacent to the college present an upperclass vision of suburban, whereas communities often hidden from tourist view consist primarily of minority and poor residents.

The Geography of Opportunity: Race and Housing Choice inMetropolitan America. Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution

1 Response to “Updated Project Proposal”


  1. 1 sgglos March 15, 2011 at 11:12 am

    I like that you are keeping geography in mind as you consider these issues. The Ryan book looks like a terrific resource! What about your progress toward doing some oral histories?

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The Williamsburg Documentary Project (WDP) strives to collect and preserve the rich past of Williamsburg, Virginia. By conducting oral history interviews, building physical and digital archives, and creating online exhibits, the WDP interprets Williamsburg’s recent past. The WDP works towards developing a better understanding of Williamsburg by bringing together individuals, local groups, Colonial Williamsburg, and the College of William & Mary.

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