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Southern school news. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1954-1965, September 03, 1954, Image 2

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PAGE 2 —Sept. 3, 1954 — SOUTHERN SCHOOL NEWS Alabama RECENT CHANGES IN THE SOUTH'S POPULATION P*r Ctnf /ncreoj* Of Dtcrooit, 1940-1950 -5 5 TOTAL POPULATION South Rest of U.S. Natural Increase Net Migration South Rest of U.S. South —6.8 m 12.7 ~| 15.1 19.5 Reit of U.S. WHITE POPULATION South Rett of U.S. NEGRO POPULATION South Rett of U.S. URBAN POPULATION South Rett of U.S. ]»-4 16.5 ] 13.4 1.5 56.6 39.1 Reprinted From “The Negro And The Schools.” MONTGOMERY, Ala. 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 attend. 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 journment. Except for this one bill, public planning in Alabama in recent years has been aimed at the old “separate but equal” doctrine. SCHOOL SETUP 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 textbooks. 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. LOCAL AUTHORITY 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 same period. 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. OFFICIAL ACTIONS The only official actions in Ala bama since the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision on May 17 were these: 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 schools.” Arkansas 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 1950. 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 cational opportunities. 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 tion, said: 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 said: Arkansas will obey the law. It always has. He said he would appoint an ad visory committee, as yet unnamed, which would “not approach the problem with the idea of being out laws.” INTEGRATION PROTESTED 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. FAYETTEVILLE ACTION 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 SERS: 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 mander. CHERRY’S STATEMENT 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 to integrate. 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 election.