Changing Education: Women as Radicals and Conservators

Changing Education: Women as Radicals and Conservators

Changing Education: Women as Radicals and Conservators

Changing Education: Women as Radicals and Conservators

Excerpt

Lois Gibbs, a resident of the Love Canal area near Niagara Falls, New York, had a high school education. A shy woman, unaccustomed to public speaking, she did not feel prepared to become a community leader. But when she discovered that her son was one of many ill children at the 99th Street Elementary School which sat on top of Love Canal, she educated her community and state officials about the need for change.

The Hooker Chemical Company had dumped toxic wastes into the canal for years, 22,000 tons' worth, then filled in the land. 'The school and houses were later constructed on and around the site. Because of the actions of Gibbs and other community activists, a state commission appointed by the governor of New York finally admitted the high level of health-related dangers and agreed to buy out the houses of families living along the canal proper. Yet Lois Gibbs knew that the pattern of illness in the neighborhood was not directly correlated with how close a family lived to the canal. She realized that toxin-related effects also clustered around old drainage areas and ditches radiating out from the canal. She educated state officials to see it her way, forcing them to change their compensation policy.

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