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Southern school news. (Nashville, Tenn.) 1954-1965, September 03, 1954, Image 4

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PAGE 4 —Sept. 3, 1954 — SOUTHERN SCHOOL NEWS District of Columbia Southern School News Southern School News is the official publication of the South ern Education Reporting Service, an objective, fact-finding agency established by southern newspaper editors and educators with the aim of providing accurate, unbiased information to school administrators, public officials and interested lay citizens on developments in education arising from the U. S. Supreme Court opinion of May 17, 1954 declaring segregation in the pub lic schools unconstitutional. OFFICERS Virginius Dabney Chairman Thomas R. Waring Vice-Chairman C. A. McKnight Executive Director BOARD OF DIRECTORS Frank Ahlgren, Editor, Memphis Commercial Appeal, Memphis, Tenn. Gordon Blackwell, Director, Institute for Research in Social Science, University of N. C. Harvie Branscomb, Chancellor, Van derbilt University, Nashville, Tenn. Virginius Dabney, Editor, Richmond Times-Dispatch, Richmond, Va. Coleman A. Harwell, Editor, Nash ville Tennessean, Nashville, Tenn. Henry H. Hill, President, George Peabody College, Nashville, Tenn. Charles S. Johnson, President, Fisk University, Nashville, Tenn. C. A. McKnight, Editor (On Leave) Charlotte News, Charlotte, N. C. Charles Moss, Executive Editor, Nashville Banner, Nashville, Tenn. Thomas R. Waring, Editor, Charles ton News & Courier, Charleston, S. C. Henry I. Willett, Superintendent of Schools, Richmond, Va. P. B. Young Sr., Editor, Norfolk Journal & Guide, Norfolk, Va. CORRESPONDENTS ALABAMA William H. McDonald, Editorial Writer, Montgomery Advertiser ARKANSAS Thomas D. Davis, Asst. City Editor, Arkansas Gazette DELAWARE William P. Frank, Staff Writer, Wilmington News DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA Jeanne Rogers, Education Writer, Washington Post & Times Herald FLORIDA Bert Collier, Staff Writer, Miami Herald GEORGIA Joseph B. Parham, Editor, The Macon News KENTUCKY Weldon James, Editorial Writer, Louisville Courier-Journal LOUISIANA Mario Fellom, Political Reporter, New Orleans Item MARYLAND Edgar L. Jones, Editorial Writer, Baltimore Evening Sun MISSISSIPPI Kenneth Toler, Mississippi Bureau, Memphis Commercial-Appeal MISSOURI Robert Lasch, Editorial Writer, St. Louis Post-Dispatch NORTH CAROLINA Jay Jenkins, Staff Writer, Raleigh News & Observer OKLAHOMA Mary Goddard, Staff Writer, Ok lahoma City Oklahoman-Times SOUTH CAROLINA W. D. Workman Jr., Special Cor respondent, Columbia, S. C. TENNESSEE James Elliott, Staff Writer, Nash ville Banner Wallace Westfeldt, Staff Writer, Nashville Tennessean TEXAS Richard M. Morehead, Austin Bu reau, Dallas News VIRGINIA Overton Jones, Editorial Writer, Richmond Times-Dispatch WEST VIRGINIA Frank A. Knight, Editor, Charles ton Gazette MAIL ADDRESS P. O. Box 6156, Acklen Station, Nashville 5, Tenn. WASHINGTON, D.C. TJEFORE the turn of 1953, the Dis trict of Columbia Board of Edu cation began to concern itself with the possibility that the Supreme Court might rule against segregated schools. Community organizations were asked to suggest “best ways” of in tegrating the 165 schools should the court so order. The response was heavy, thoughtful and varied. School Superintendent Hobart M. Coming publicly stated “we will be prepared.” Corning and his staff worked overtime drafting plans for the posible transition from a dual to single school system. The teachers’ in-service training program was de voted to seminars and formal lec tures by experts on human relations. A teaching handbook was published on the subject. District school policy is set by a nine-member school board appointed by District Court judges. The auton omy of the board is limited only by financial dependency on the District Commissioners and Congress. The network of schools prior to last June was divided by race into two divisions. These separate wings were administered by twin sets of teachers, principals and other officers. EQUALIZATION PROBLEM As administrators studied methods of integrating students and staff should the need arise, the school board was enmeshed in pending problems of equalizing existing fa cilities. An increasing Negro enroll ment was coupled with a declining white registration. This situation began in 1950 when, for the first time, the number of Ne gro pupils jumped to 51 per cent of the total enrollment of more than 96,000 youngsters. This enrollment trend is continuing due to population shifts which spotlight an exodus of white families with school-age chil dren into nearby Maryland and Vir ginia suburbs and an influx of Negro families into Washington. According to 1950 census figures, Negroes comprised nearly 35 per cent of the 800,000 District population. Unofficial projections now place the white-Negro ratio at 60-40. In 1952, there were 54,716 Negro pupils or 54.3 per cent of the total en rollment of 100.800. In addition, 18,- 928 students attended Catholic, pa rochial and private District schools. A majority of these students were white, although Catholic parochial and the private Episcopal schools be gan accepting Negroes in 1952. The per capita income for Wash ington in 1950 was $1,948, according to Commerce Department figures. In this year, public school operating ex penditures were $22,698,000. Current expenditure per white pupil is $273.21 and per Negro pupil, $212.02. By May 1954, District government statistics recorded the Negro enroll ment at 57.2 per cent of the total of 101,000 students. This percentage is expected to reach 60 this fall, based on an anticipated enrollment of nearly 107,000 students. RESIDENTIAL PATTERN Negro residences in Washington are not restricted by unofficial real estate covenants. Thus, the city has a checkerboard neighborhood com position. This fact, in turn, has re sulted in some white schools oper ating at half of capacity while some Negro schools were overcrowded to the point of using corridors and shower rooms for classes. One day after the Supreme Court ban against racially segregated schools, the District decided not to wait for fall rearguments on the method and timing of integration. The District Corporation Counsel told Corning and the school board that October hearings before the court would be “moot.” The munici pal attorney said the court decision voids all statutes requiring separate schools by race. School segregation in Washington stemmed from appro priation acts in which Congress through the years had classified cer tain school jobs by races. For example, there was to be one assistant superintendent in charge of Negro high schools and another in charge of white schools. There were to be two Boards of Teacher Exam iners. Before the counsel’s opinion, Com ing issued a statement saying he would have to put off school integra tion until the court finalized the de cree concerning the District suit. After a meeting with the Commis sioners, Corning changed his mind. At this meeting, Commissioner Sam uel Spencer disclosed that President Eisenhower had expressed hope the District would become a “model” for the nation in school integration. FIVE-POINT POLICY Five days later, the school board in special session wrote its own five- point antidiscrimination policy to govern District schools. This declara tion asked the “aid, cooperation and good will” of Washington citizens and the “help of the Almighty” in carrying out the following pledges: 1. All appointments, changed as signments, promotions and annual ratings of educational and other em ployees will be based on merit and not on race or color. 2. Pupils will not be favored or discriminated against because of race or color. 3. School boundaries, when reor ganized, will be honored with few exceptions, but no exceptions will be made for reasons of race. 4. After June 17, records of pupils and school personnel will be kept without reference to race. 5. The physical school plant will be utilized fully without regard to race. The school board further directed Coming to bring in a blueprint for school integration. He was given less than a week. At this time, the scanty beginning of school integration stood at six system-wide school posts, all held by white officials. Everywhere else, the parallel pattern of jobs pre vailed. There were 57,716 Negro stu dents and 1,895 Negro teachers and 43,100 white students and their 1,693 teachers. On May 25, Corning submitted genera] plans calling for a Septem ber 1954 start on integration which would be completed by fall of 1955. The school board asked for more de tail. TIMETABLE ADOPTED One month later, Coming present ed a step-by-step timetable which put deadlines on every phase of in tegration. The board adopted the plan by a 7 to 1 vote. Opposing it was Mrs. Margaret Just Butcher, one of three Negro board members, who de manded “full scale” integration by school opening of 1954. Mrs. Butcher said the Coming plan was a “grad ual” approach to integration. Corning told the board that “arti ficial and immediate reassignments of large numbers of pupils, teachers and officers would be disruptive and will be avoided.” He added that in his professional opinion, complete “desegregation” of all the schools by September would be impossible. Under Coming’s plan, approxi mately 29,800 students this fall will attend mixed classes in all levels of the school system. The faculty also will be integrated to some degree. Teams of Negro and white school offi cials this summer appointed new teachers from a single eligibility list, which for the first time did not desig nate the race of the job candidates. Most of the big steps of integration would be taken by February of 1955. A key point in the District integra tion plan was the rezoning of all pub lic schools. These new boundaries were published in map form July 1. However, they do not apply to all students this coming term. The new zones must be obeyed this September by all students new to the school system, including kindergar teners, elementary, junior and senior high school students. Thus, most Dis trict schools will be slightly inte grated this fall. The redrawn bound aries this September will not affect pupils previously enrolled in the school system—with the following two exceptions: 1. Approximately 1,500 Negro stu dents will be transferred out of 12 overcrowded school into 14 other buildings which previously had an exclusively white enrollment. A similar transfer of 800 Negro students into three formerly white junior highs will be made. Coming has termed the overcrowded schools in volved “emergency areas.” In addition, 460 Negro students will be transferred out of an antiquated technical high school into one for merly attended by white students only. Funds have been requested to revamp the latter building so it can serve as a city-wide technical school. 2. A select number of Negro stu dents now traveling “excessive dis tance” to schools will attend a white school nearer their home this fall. Coming said this will affect about 100 pupils who will enter 18 build ings. EVENING SCHOOLS Also in September, the evening schools will open on an integrated basis for an anticipated enrollment of 8,600 adults. The two teachers’ col leges, operated by the public school system, will open on an integrated basis. Courses will be offered in both plants until an existing high school can be converted to a city-wide college. School officials plan to conduct in ter-high athletic competition on a city-wide basis wherever possible this year. Some varsity football game contracts were made on a racial ba sis as long as a year ago. High school cadet competition will be conducted on a city-wide basis this year. Another important point in Com ing’s plan gives old students the “op tion” of remaining in their present schools or moving into the building in their new zone when the latter be comes effective. Several board members objected to the “option plan” because old stu dents could remain where they are only if priority students living with in the new boundaries did not crowd them out. Walter N. Tobriner, board member, said the resulting “bump ing of students” will create “com munity ill will.” Between October 1 and 15, 1954, school officers and teachers will ex plain the working of this option sys tem to parents. Then, student choices will be tabulated and throughout the year Coming will make the neces sary student shifts. This will mean more and more boundaries going into operation through the school year. LATER STEPS By mid-term, or February 1955, all junior high graduates would be assigned to senior highs according to the new boundaries. By September 1955 all vestiges of school segregation in Washington will have been erased. Although not voting against the Corning plan, Robert R. Faulkner, board member, submitted an integra tion plan of his own which was ta bled. Faulkner proposed the estab lishment of three sets of schools in areas where the Negro and white population is about equal. One would be exclusively white, one exclusive ly Negro, and the third would have a mixed faculty and integrated classes. Shortly after Coming announced his integration plans, the District Congress of Parents and Teachers re moved all racial bars to membership in its 64 Parent-Teacher Associa tions, which represented schools at tended by white students. The Con gress has more than 26,000 members. Congress officials also approved the Coming plan. In a statement, they said: “It calls for solid plan ning on all levels and careful admin istrative decision. It also calls for the assumption by us all of the respon sibility for support of the superin tendent and the Board of Education; for good will in meeting changing conditions and for the determination to keep pressures and tensions away from all the children who are at the center of the transition.” The statement continued: “As parents whose good will and coopera tion will be helpful in carrying out the school board’s decisions, we strongly urge that the welfare of the children for whom the schools exist, continue to be the dominant consid eration.” At present, Negro P-TAs in 67 schools are organized under another parent group, the Washington Con gress of Parents and Teachers, which has a membership of nearly 18,000 persons. The Washington Con gress has no racial restrictions to membership. The former system of segregated schools, however, has precluded white membership in this group. No move has been made to merge the two Congresses. INJUNCTION PLANNED On another front, the District Fed eration of Citizens Associations has hired an attorney who is preparing to enjoin the Board of Education for its decision to integrate schools be fore the Supreme Court determines how and when it should be done. The Federation bylaws restrict from membership organizations which in clude Negroes. The Citizens Associa tions originated years ago as voteless District residents organized to seek such things as additional street lights, playgrounds and other benefits for residents of individual neighbor hoods. Federation officials stated the or ganization is not “anti-Negro” but added Washington citizenry is aroused because Coming had ignored the court request for rearguments in the segregation cases. “Not only has our Board of Education ignored the court opinion—but it has defied it,” one official declared. He added the Federation will “go to court and compel these people to obey the Su preme Court and its rule6.” The Federation has said it will take steps to “protect the rights” of both white and Negro children forced to attend schools where they are “psy chologically unwilling” to go because they will be in the minority race. Another large organization, the District branch of the National Asso ciation for the Advancement of Col ored People, has promised to use all its resources to “protect the rights” of District children who are refused admittance next fall to the schools nearest their home because of race. The NAACP, which repeatedly has labeled Coming’s plan as one of “gradual desegration,” declared that “refusal to admit any school appli cant because of race will be consid ered a violation of law.” Wesley S. Williams, Negro school board member, also has disclosed that some Negro parents plan to send their children to the closest school next Septmeber—whether or not new geographic boundaries are in effect- One such parent who notified the school board that this is his intent was Scovel Richardson, an Eisen hower appointee to the Federal Pa - role Board. SUITS THREATENED At the time Williams made his dis closure he told Coming, “If you don’t let people like Richardson pul their kids in the nearest schools you’ll have a flood of suits this fall. Coming said he believed parents would obey school rules. On August 9, the Board of Educa tion sent the Commissioners a rec ord-breaking $36,500,000 budget re quest for fiscal year 1956, an increase See DISTRICT on Page 16