Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spurned Witness's Question: "What about the Children?'

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

Spurned Witness's Question: "What about the Children?'

Article excerpt

Lorraine Sloan was sworn in and all ready to testify Tuesday in a federal hearing on whether the St. Louis desegregation case should continue.

She wanted to say that her 15-year-old son, Alpha, has benefited tremendously as a transfer student who attends Lindbergh High School. She wanted to talk about her fear as a black city resident that her 7-year-old son, Gerald, won't get the same opportunity if the transfer program ends.

Sloan was about to testify when Missouri Assistant Attorney General John Munich objected, saying her testimony had "very, very little relevance." U.S. District Judge George F. Gunn Jr., who is hearing the case, agreed.

Although Gunn told Sloan he was sure she would testify convincingly, Gunn said that for every parent like Sloan who's had a wonderful experience with the transfer program, there's another who can cite a bad experience.

"I know as a fact it goes both ways," Gunn said.

Sloan was called to the stand by Dianne Piche, an attorney representing the NAACP. Piche then asked Gunn if she could question Sloan about her options for her children's schooling if the transfer program ends. Gunn indicated that wouldn't be necessary.

"I perfectly well know what the choices are," Gunn said. Sloan then left the witness stand.

Outside the courtroom, Sloan was upset. She said she had attended the hearing for the last several days and had heard a lot of testimony from experts about money, charts and statistics.

"These are my children and other people's children we're talking about," she said. "All they're interested in is dollars and cents. What about the children?"

Sloan said she wanted to tell the judge that her son Alpha takes part in an international baccalaureate program at Lindbergh that allows him to take up to 33 college credit hours as a high schooler. Her younger son, Gerald - a second-grader at Kennerly Elementary in the Lindbergh district - has never experienced anything but a multicultural environment, she said.

Sloan said she would have to move out of her city neighborhood to St. Louis County because she couldn't afford a private school and she wouldn't send her children to a city public school. …

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