that integration of teachers would meet with considerably greater community opposition than did the desegregation of pupils.20

The facts of a recent case dramatically affirm the observation that Negro teachers, fearing loss of position, face desegregation reluctantly and even tend to obstruct it. In conjunction with a suit seeking the admission of four Negro children to a white elementary school in Okmulgee County, Okla., an injunction was sought to restrain the Negro principal from influencing Negro children to remain in his Negro elementary school. The court held him to be fully protected by his fundamental right to free speech.21


Opinions differ regarding the relative teaching abilities and qualifications of Negro and white teachers.

It is the opinion of Dr. Hansen, the School Superintendent of Washington, D.C., that there is no difference in the qualifications of white and Negro teachers. Washington now uses a standard examination to assure a basic level of qualification for its teachers.22

On the other hand, the Superintendent of Schools in Louisville, Ky., has expressed the view that the white teacher in the Louisville system is generally more competent than the Negro teacher.23

The teachers of Atlanta, Ga., were tested in the school year 1955–56 by the Educational Testing Service by means of the National Teacher Examinations. White teachers showed better average performance in all divisions of the test, though there was considerable overlap in the distribution of the scores. Thus,"... when Negro and white teachers at the same grade level or teaching the same subject are compared, about 60 percent of the scores made by white teachers are matched by a corresponding percent of Negro teachers' scores. Conversely, 40 percent of the high scores made by white teachers tend to be unmatched by a corresponding proportion of Negro teachers' scores, while 40 percent of the low scores of the Negro teachers are in excess of the corresponding percents of low scores by white teachers.” 24

The Leavenworth, Kans., Superintendent has expressed the opinion that his Negro teachers are a good average and will compare favorably and equally in preparation and efficiency. All were trained in Kansas schools. 25

20 Id. at 154–55.

21 Jefferson v. McCart, civ. No. 4532, E.D. Okla., Oct. 10, 1958, 3 Race Rel. L. Rep. 1154 (1958); S.S.N., Nov. 1958, p. 9.

22 Nashville conference, p. 60. 23 Id. at 156.

24 Learning and Teaching in Atlanta Public Schools, 1955-1956, Educational Testing Service, Part I, p. 38.

25 Nashville Conference, p. 26, 27.



In areas of the United States where desegregation by law has long been practiced, the minority group teacher still finds the stigma of discrimination affecting his employment, his economic status, and his self-respect.252

Although 19 26 of 33 Northern and Western States have enacted fair employment practices acts that protect the minority teacher, discriminatory practices are still discovered.

Problems of discrimination in States as far north as New Jersey reveal themselves in recent Federal litigation 27 and in proceedings before State agencies against discrimination.28

Fair employment acts may not necessarily afford full protection against discrimination, as is indicated by the fact that Michigan has had a reservoir of minority group teachers qualified but unemployed. One of the reasons for this, according to the Michigan Advisory Committee of the Commission on Civil Rights, is a fear on the part of many school boards that the hiring of non-white teachers may have public repercussions. Only recently, Grand Rapids assigned a Negro teacher to a white school for the first time in its history.

The Pennsylvania State Advisory Committee reported that although there were 500 school districts with Negro students, only 56 of them employed any Negro teachers.

The New England States have had few problems with non-white teachers. Like non-white citizens in other walks of life, they are very few in number. Where non-white teachers have been hired to teach predominantly white classes, they seem to have worked out

very well.

The mid-Western and far-Western States also have few problems in regard to the employment of non-white teachers. Most of these States have a low percentage of non-white residents.

The Commission has received conflicting reports from at least one mid-Western State. The Director of the Omaha Human Relations Board, in answering a Commission questionnaire, said that in Omaha qualified Negro teachers are not employed and white teachers without degrees are employed, owing to the use of a quota hiring system. In answering the same type of questionnaire, the State Commissioner of Education stated that Nebraska had no problem in these areas and that there was no real cause for prejudice in the State.

2a See Hearings on Pending Civil Rights Bills Before a Subcommittee on Constitutional Rights of the Senate Committee on the Judiciary, 86th Cong., 1st Sess., 1959, p. 113 (remarks of the Hon. Sam J. Ervin, Jr., Senator from North Carolina).

2 Alaska, Arizona, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Illinois, Iindiana, Kansas, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Washington, Wisconsin.

27 Baron v. O'Sullivan, 258 F 2d 336 (3rd Cir. 1958). * Trenton Evening Times, 18 March 1959.

The Ctah Advisory Committee reported to this Commission that "some inconsistent discrimination" existed in the hiring of Negro teachers, but that Mexican-American teachers were hired equally with Anglo-Americans.

A Denver, Colo., report stated that in 1955, “teachers of Negro and Spanish-American identity have been limited largely to positions in their areas of concentration."2 However, in 1957, a Denver public school official took issue with this and stated that Denver public schools were employing personnel without discrimination.30

That the problem of discrimination in the hiring of teachers is serious cannot be questioned. However, reports indicate that progress is being made. Special efforts are being exerted in communities and States with large minority concentrations. Most Advisory Committees reporting to the Commission on this type of discrimination emphasized the need for more time and for achieving community enlightenment in terms of acceptance of non-white teachers on a basis of ability.


1. The effect of school desegregation upon Negro teachers varies according to community conditions and with the type of desegregation plan adopted. In small rural communities where Negro schools are absorbed into the existing white schools, the Negro teacher has faced possible loss of employment. However, in large cities with heavy concentrations of Negro population, the Negro teacher not only usually finds employment but may become increasingly useful as integration of teaching staffs proceeds. Southern traditions and customs can, of course, alter this prospect.

2. In refusing to hire Negro teachers, school officials may be exercising racial discrimination or they may be acting on an honest appraisal of qualifications. The greatest detachment is needed in order to evaluate ability impartially amid strong community sentiment.

3. Discrimination against the minority group teacher is not restricted to one section of the nation. It exists in varying degrees in many sections, despite fair employment acts. The evidence indicates that some communities in the North and West are not yet willing to accept the concept of equal opportunity in teaching.

29 Denver Commission on Human Relations, Denver Inventory of Human Relations, Education Section, Denver, 1955, p. 213.

20 Id., Fourth Annual Report, Denver, 1957, p. 8.


In July 1955, a university seminar on intergroup relations for Kentucky educators and school board members facing desegregation considered the principal fears with which the white and Negro races viewed the problem of desegregation."

The white people were said chiefly to be afraid (1) that their children might be taught by Negro teachers; (2) that school associations would result in undesirable social relationships attributable to the low standards of health, morals, and behavior of the Negro; and (3) that educational standards would suffer as a result of the substantially lower scholastic achievement of Negro pupils.

The main apprehensions of Negroes were said to be (1) that desegregation would be planned in the usual pattern of white supremacy, with the Negro being told what to do; (2) that white leaders would not work with the Negro leaders recognized as such by the rank and file, but only with the political leaders with whom they were accustomed to work; and (3) that Negro teachers would lose their jobs. The fear that Negro children would be abused by white teachers and pupils was not reported to be a primary fear of the Negro.

These principal fears of both races suggest the following problems:

(1) Can the constitutional requirement of racial nondiscrimination in school admission policies be met without lessening the quality in the educational program?

(2) What are the effects, good and bad, upon children immediately involved and upon society as a whole, of the admission of Negroes to white schools ?

(3) Is the adjustment to a nondiscriminatory system eased by democratic participation of all segments of the population, including Negroes, in the planning and execution of a desegregation program?

The Commission's public education study, as stated previously, is predicated upon the assumption that the American system of public education should be preserved unimpaired during the process of adjustment. First consideration will, therefore, be given to the question of how desegregation has affected educational standards and achievement.

MUST QUALITY SUFFER? Effect on scholastic achievement and standards

From their beginnings, public educational systems have been forced to adjust and reorganize to absorb new groups of children that were

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handicapped as compared with those whom the school already served. For example, there were the successive minority immigrant groups of various nationality, particularly in the period from 1900 to 1930, and the lower economic group that continued in school after States adopted compulsory attendance laws. A similar problem arose in many parts of the country when rural school children were brought into consolidated schools with children who had had superior educational opportunity in urban schools. Dr. John H. Fischer, Superintendent of the Schools of Baltimore, says:

The problem of educating all of the children of all the people is not new. We [American educators] have been working at it for more than a century. Each time the doors of the schools have been opened without reservation to a larger group, the argument has been heard anew that this will ruin the schools and society as well. But somehow both continue to survive as some of us believe, all the better for what has occurred.”

A San Antonio elementary teacher put it differently, “The process of enrolling in the same public school, children of different backgrounds has been going on in America since 1776. At least, the Negro student can speak English." 3

It appears indisputable that large numbers of Negro pupils test lower in scholastic achievement and intelligence than white pupils do. It also appears to be established that as a total group there is no scientific evidence to prove the inherent superiority or inferiority of either the white or the Negro race. Exactly what intelligence tests measure is less clear. Some educators believe that such tests measure a child's absorption of middle-class white culture; others, verbal competence. One distinguished scholar claims that both achievement tests and intelligence tests mainly measure academic attainment, and that academic attainment represents relationships between a pupil's endowment and his past home and community conditions."

What these tests actually measure is of no importance here unless the results prove that the large number of Negro children with low scores are incapable of profiting by a better education, and that their admission to white schools would pull down the educational level and, eventually, the standards of those schools. The record to date, where such information is available, does not support either of these suppositions.

The records of big cities with large percentages of Negro pupils that have desegregated their dual school systems at all grade levels, establish the fact that the presence of large numbers of Negroes in formerly

2 John H. Fischer, "The New Task of Desegregation,” The Nation's Schools, Sept. 1955, pp. 43, 45.

Herbert Wey and John Corey, Action Patterns in School Desegregation, Bloomington, Ind., 1959, p. 212.

· Fischer, op. cit, supra note 2.
SA. D. Albriyht, “What Are Standards," S.S.N., June 1958, p. 1.

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