PAGE 2 —Sept. 3, 1954 — SOUTHERN SCHOOL NEWS
RECENT CHANGES IN THE SOUTH'S POPULATION
P*r Ctnf /ncreoj* Of Dtcrooit, 1940-1950
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Reprinted From “The Negro And The Schools.”
N the early sessions of the 1953 Ala
bama Legislature, Rep. Sam Engel -
hardt of Macon County introduced a
bill providing for “the establishment,
operation, financing and regulation of
free private schools.”
Except for informally discussed
plans, this was the only move made
in Alabama in anticipation of the Su
preme Court’s decision outlawing
segregation in public schools.
The Engelhardt proposal was ac
tually two bills: one proposing the
necessary amendments to the state
constitution; the other authorizing
“ten or more patrons of any public
elementary or secondary school in
this state’” to incorporate a “free pri
vate school for the education of their
children.” The latter bill would em
power the corporation of each such
school to buy and rent real estate,
build and administer schools, etc., as
well as to decide what pupils should
The Engelhardt bill would divide
all school funds into “allotments,” or
per-pupil shares in such funds. Par
ents or guardians of pupils accepted
for enrollment would assign the al
lotments to their respective schools.
The proposal received little sup
port in the 1953 Legislature. It was
still bottled up in committee at ad
Except for this one bill, public
planning in Alabama in recent years
has been aimed at the old “separate
but equal” doctrine.
The division of authority in Ala
bama public schools is somewhat
complex. In general, local boards of
education and local superintendents
run their schools with but a mini
mum of control from the state level.
R. S. White, administrative assist
ant to State Superintendent W. J.
Terry, recently estimated that county
boards exercise 90 per cent of the au
thority in Alabama public education.
The State Board of Education is
composed of the governor, the state
superintendent of education, and one
member from each congressional
district appointed by the governor and
confirmed by the Senate for terms of
six years. The state board exercises
general supervision over the state’s
public schools, advising and consult
ing with county and city boards, su
perintendents, teachers, etc. The state
board is responsible for adopting
construction standards, methods of
grading, courses of study, approving
The state superintendent of educa
tion, who is elected, is granted a
“referee” role under Alabama law.
According to the code, his duties are
to explain the true intent and mean
ing of school laws and of the rules
and regulations of the state board
of education, and to rule on disputes
and controversies within the school
system. He has the authority to file
charges of immorality, misconduct in
office, insubordination, incompetency,
wilful neglect of duty, to initiate re
moval of appointed personnel in the
system. The superintendent executes
the policies of the board, prepares
and submits the budget, recommends
improvements in the state system,
submits proposed school legislation.
County boards of education are
elected. The county board controls
and supervises schools in its area,
hires teachers, appoints principals
and clerical assistants, purchases and
leases real estate and builds schools.
County superintendents are both
elected and appointed in Alabama,
depending on the county. Forty-four
counties elect superintendents; 23
appoint them. In either case, the
county superintendent is cast in the
role of chief executive and secretary
of the county board. In addition,
there are 44 city superintendents of
education in the state.
In 1950 the per capita income in
Alabama was $847; the total income
of the state was $2,581,000,000. Of
this, 79 million dollars, or 3.1%, was
spent on schools.
The school population in 1952 in
eluded 383,679 whites and 203,716 Ne
groes. Negroes thus comprised 34.7%
of the school population. The totals
represent a 3.7% increase in enroll
ments of white children since 1940; a
3.6% increase in Negro pupils in the
In 1952, expenditures per pupil on
white and Negro children compared
this way: in metropolitan districts,
$147.20 per white pupil to $105.40 per
Negro; in rural districts, $122.14 per
white pupil to $96.41 per Negro.
The only official actions in Ala
bama since the announcement of the
Supreme Court’s decision on May 17
May 21—Alabama solicitors, called
into session by Atty. Gen. Si Garrett,
met in Montgomery, ostensibly to
discuss the Supreme Court’s ruling.
The conference was closed and plans
formulated, if any, were not revealed.
July 9—The State Board of Educa
tion said, in a formal resolution:
The ruling of the Supreme Court... on
the so-caled 'segregation’ cases has raised
considerable doubt and many questions in
the minds of the county boards of educa
tion, school boards of trustees, school ad
ministrators, faculty members, and the
general public as to the policy to be fol
lowed by them in the school year of 1954-
55 . . .
Section 256 of the Constitution of the
State of Alabama is in part as follows:
Separate schools shall be provided for
white and colored children, and no child
of either race shall be permitted to at
tend a school of the other race. . . .
. . . This particular constitutional pro
vision has never been stricken by any
court in the land. . . . The public school
system of Alabama is administered under
the State Constitution and the statutes
passed by the Alabama Legislature. . . .
The public schools in Alabama will op
erate for the 1954-55 school year under
Section 256 of the State Constitution on
the same basis that they operated for the
school year of 1953-54. . . . No changes in
this announced policy shall be made in
any public school system in this state
during the school year 1954-55, irrespec
tive of any action by any court in any
case in which a unit of the public school
system of Alabama is not a party. . . .
Gov. Gordon Parsons has indicated
he will take no official action, such as
possibly calling a special session of
the legislature, until the Supreme
Court hands down its final decree.
Dr. Austin Meadows, state super-
intendent-nominate, pledged during
his run-off campaign late in May (af
ter the court’s ruling) to “find a legal
way to maintain segregation in our
LITTLE ROCK, Ark.
A RKANSAS’ efforts to anticipate
the May 17 Supreme Court rul
ing were confined to a program for
equalizing school facilities—a pro
gram recommended by the State
Education Department and adopted
with varying degrees of intensity by
local school districts.
In Arkansas, the legal basis for
separate schools is statutory rather
than constitutional. The Arkansas
Constitution of 1874 provided for free
public schools and vested in the
General Assembly the power to des
ignate supervisory officers. The leg
islature vested the management of
local schools in independent school
districts and by statute required the
board of directors of each district “to
establish separate schools for white
and colored persons.”
The State Board of Education
serves in an advisory capacity to lo
cal school districts. The board has
nine members, appointed by the gov
ernor, confirmed by the Senate and
serving staggered nine-year terms.
The State Educational Commissioner,
the chief state school officer, is select
ed by the board.
The board distributes state aid
funds provided by the legislature to
supplement property tax levies by
the local districts. Local district bond
issues and loans must be approved by
the state board. The board has a com
parative accrediting system which
has no bearing on the amount of state
aid to each district.
HEAVY SCHOOL SPENDING
In 1950, Arkansas, with a per capita
income of $821, spent $54,400,000 on
schools, or 3.4 per cent of its income.
In 1952, average daily attendance
was 268,235 white pupils and 82,617
Negro, or 23.5 per cent Negro. The
per cent change from 1940 was minus
5.6 per cent for whites and minus
7.2 per cent for Negroes.
Current expenditures (excluding
transportation costs) per pupil in
1940 were $30.10 for whites and
$13.01 for Negroes. In 1952, the figures
had risen to $102.05 for whites and
$67.75 for Negroes. In 1940 the per
pupil expenditure for Negroes was 43
per cent of the per pupil expenditure
for whites. In 1952, the figure was
66 per cent.
The Negro population is concen
trated in the southeast half of the
state. Fifteen of 75 counties have no
Negro students in public schools.
Benton County has one Negro ele
mentary student being tutored in the
home of a Negro teacher. Twenty-
two other counties have Negro school
enrollments of less than 10 per cent.
In the remaining 37 counties, the Ne
gro student population ranges from
11 to 60.5 per cent of the total.
Arkansas has 423 school districts.
Of these, 184 have no Negro students,
228 have both races and 11 have only
Negroes. There are 1,450 white
schools and 634 Negro schools.
Since June, 1947, through a volun
tary ruling by the University of Ar
kansas Board of Trustees, qualified
Negro applicants have been eligible
for admission to courses not offered
by the state-supported Negro college
at Pine Bluff. Under this ruling, Ne
gro students have attended graduate
and professional school without inci
dent. The University of Arkansas
Graduate Center at Little Rock has
been non-segregated since it was es
tablished on a permanent basis in
When the Supreme Court made its
May 17 ruling, no Arkansas suits
seeking an end of segregation were
pending in federal courts. However,
petitions were on file with several
school boards charging that Negro
children were not getting equal edu
The end of segregation in Arkan
sas’ public schools will cost the tax
payers 21 million dollars if they want
to maintain the level of education
now afforded in white schools. The
State Education Department had es
timated that amount was needed to
equalize facilities and on May 17, Ed
McCuistion, the Department’s direc
tor of the Division of Negro Educa
The end of segregation will not change
the cost picture. The facilities still will
have to be provided and the cost will be
just the same.
The Legislative Council, the in
terim body of the state legislature,
has assigned to its Education Com
mittee the problem of determining
what legislation and how much mon
ey will be needed as a result of the
Supreme Court decision. The legis
lature will meet in January, 1955.
On May 18, Gov. Francis Cherry
Arkansas will obey the law. It always
He said he would appoint an ad
visory committee, as yet unnamed,
which would “not approach the
problem with the idea of being out
On May 21, the school board at
Sheridan, faced with Negro protests
against unequal facilities, voted 5-0
to integrate 21 Negro students in
September with about 600 whites in
the upper six grades. There were im
mediate protests from white patrons.
On May 22, the board voted 5-0. to
rescind the May 21 action.
At a protest meeting on June 1 at
tended by about 300 patrons of the
Sheridan School District, a commit
tee was instructed to circulate peti
tions asking for the resignation of the
board. On June 7, Russell Hendon
resigned from the board. His reasons
were not announced.
On July 28, A. R. McKenzie, Sheri
dan school superintendent, told the
SERS that in September, 11 of the 21
Negro students would be eligible for
transportation daily to a high school
27 miles distant in an adjoining coun
ty. He estimated that tuition and
transportation would cost $4,000 a
year in addition to an initial outlay
of $4,000 for a bus. The remaining 10
students—those in the seventh and
eighth grades—would continue in the
Sheridan Negro school under the
same two Negro teachers who taught
Grade 1 through 12 last year.
On May 22, the Fayetteville School
Bard announced it had voted on May
21 to integrate nine Negro students
in September with about 500 whites
in the high school—primarily for
financial reasons. The decision was
accepted with almost no protest.
In the past, the Fayetteville District
has sent its Negro high school stu
dents to Fort Smith (60 miles distant)
and Hot Springs (150 miles distant).
Tuition, partial living expenses and
bus fare for nine students last year
totaled about $5,000.
On July 28, Wayne White, Fayette
ville school superintendent, told
Not more than four patrons who have
talked to me are bitter against the de
cision to integrate. Some others have
said they did not like it but that it was
inevitable. There has been no organized
protest action and no written communi
cations of protest.
White said the board had received
about 40 letters—all favorable except
one protest from an out-of-state
resident. White said the decision to
integrate was received quietly pri
marily because: (1) Fayetteville
residents have become accustomed to
Negroes attending graduate-level
classes at the University of Arkansas,
and (2) Fayetteville has a small
Negro population. (1.8 per cent of
the school population is Negro.)
On May 21, the board of the Little
Rock School District, with the largest
student population of any district in
the state, announced that it would
continue the present dual system
pending further rulings of the Su
preme Court but that “it is our re
sponsibility to comply with federal
constitutional requirements and we
intend to do so when the Supreme
Court outlines the method to be fol
lowed.” During the interim period,
the board said, it will develop new
school attendance areas on a non-
segregated basis. Superintendent of
Schools Virgil T. Blossom, supervis
ing the attendance area studies, said
no attempt would be made to gerry
On June 15, Gov. Cherry said in a
statement endorsed by the State
Board of Education:
Our present state law provides for seg
regation in the public schools and any
decision for integration of the races is
premature, as the Supreme Court in its
opinion stated that further arguments
would be heard and a decree entered.
Also on June 15, the State Board
of Education approved a change in
its policy of accrediting schools, which
it hopes will speed up the equaliza
tion of Negro and white schools. Be
ginning July 1, the State Education
Department will rate schools on a
district-wide basis rather than on a
separate school basis.
On June 19, the inactive Arkansas
Division of the Southern Regional
Council, an interracial group, was
reorganized at Little Rock. O. C.
Smith of Little Rock, a Negro, was
named temporary chairman.
Representatives of the State Educa
tion Department have been meeting
with white and Negro community
leaders in school planning sessions.
The emphasis at these interracial
meetings is on plans to equalize
school facilities rather than on plans
In a policy speech on July 2, Educa
tion Commissioner Ford told the
Little Rock Rotary Club:
We will continue to have segregation
unless and until the people at the local
level are willing to accept integration. In
my opinion, integration will come in some
communities within a relatively short pe
riod of time. In others it will perhaps be
many years. It is apparent that there can
be no general statewide pattern of inte
gration in our public schools.
On July 22, about 275 Negro
churchmen and lay leaders met at
Little Rock and voted for financial
support of NAACP work and for
“immediate implementation of the
spirit . . . and meaning of the (Su
preme Court) decision.”
In Arkansas Democratic primary
election campaigns this summer, seg
regation did not become an issue and
most candidates avoided the subject-
One candidate for governor, Orval E-
Faubus, said early in his campaign
that “desegregation is the No. 1
issue” and that it was a decision to
be met at the local level. The Arkan
sas Gazette objected editorially to the
injection of racial questions into the
campaign and the candidate made no
further statements on the subject.
In the August 10 run-off, Faubus
defeated Cherry for the Democratie
nomination, usually equivalent