Education and the American Dream

They broadcast eight programs on KOPN Radio to examine these issues from a public policy and humanistic standpoint. The programs began with a taped segment of topic-related music, prose, on-the-street interviews, and a longer interview with an expert in the field. They concluded with a live panel discussion between academic humanists, government officials, local business people, and concerned community members.

Funding from the Missouri Humanities Council (at the time, Missouri Committee for the Humanities) also sponsored the production of a booklet containing a bibliography, basic ideas, and partial transcripts from each radio program. Whether or not these programs had any impact on Columbia, MO by 2000 was never really determined. However, the programs brought together community members to discuss how the humanities relate to our lives both today and in the future.

These lectures focused on the distorted and denied history of African Americans in the realm of education and the ‘American Dream’ narrative. One keynote speaker discussed the inadequacy of IQ tests in measuring the ability of minority children. Due to culturally-biased questions, African American students continue to score lower than White students on standardized assessments.

The second keynote speaker discussed how textbooks continually misinterpret the Black experience in American historical truth. They falsify the history or omit it completely. In every period of American history, African Americans have played a significant role in the shaping of culture. However, textbooks often paint them as barbaric, stateless, and irrelevant to the American narrative. This lecture series gave voice to the history of a minority population, which is an important aspect of work in the humanities.