Atlanta Public Schools Timeline


1867--Storrs and Summerhill Grammar Schools established by Freedmen's Bureau.

1869--Dr. Daniel O'Keefe, Father of Atlanta Public School Education, presents a resolution to the City Council requesting establishment of an Atlanta public school system. A Board of Education is appointed by the Council.

1870--lst Public School Act in Georgia--it provides for separate black and white schools.

1871--Bernard Mallon appointed first superintendent of APS and will also serve as principal (teacher) of Girls High School.

1872--APS formed despite fierce opposition from much of the city's elite who already send their children to private schools. Seven schools in operation, initial enrollment is 2,842, including Boys' High School (4 teachers and 98 students) and Girls High School (2 teachers and 153 students). Boys' High School teachers average $1,650/year, Girls High School teachers $1,026/year (see inflation calculator to see what these numbers really mean.) APS assumes responsibility for two black grammar schools operated jointly by the Freedmen's Bureau and the American Missionary Assn. Boys High and Girls High are established for white students. ABE members appointed by Atlanta city council. Atlanta's population is about 30,000.

1879--Major William F. Slaton appointed APS Superintendent.

1891--First night school in operation; white primary ends power of black vote.

1893--The NEA's Committee of Ten on Secondary Studies recommends that high school curricula be standardized and that modern languages and modern scientific subjects be given parity with the classics. It urges university admission requirements be revised and updated.

1895--Enrollment in the Atlanta schools stands at 14,648 and had increased fivefold during the previous fifteen years.

1896--New Boys High building opens, at corner of Gilmer and Courtland. Eventually, because of fire, it would be moved to present day Grady High site. A department plan of teaching is adopted at Boys High.

1897--In Atlanta the city council revamps the school board replacing an 18 member board comprised of the city's elite with a seven man board appointed by the council. Ex-officio members include the mayor and school committee chair of the council. The city council controls school spending by requiring that all specific expenditures be approved by the council. Atlanta's system consisted of 23 schools and 211 teachers.

1898--Atlanta's teachers take a 7.5% pay cut. A year earlier they had taken a 9% pay cut. Teacher salaries would remain extremely low for decades. Most teachers were women and paid less than city policemen and firemen.

1899--John Dewey's The School and Society is published. It is based on three lectures he gave to parents at the Laboratory School in Chicago. He proposed changes in the curriculum due to industrialization and urbanization; recommended new relationships between teachers and pupils; that teachers take into account the natural tendencies of children and employ active styles of learning; that schools work in harmony with the family and social institutions to encourage learning by students. Schools were to be part of embryonic community life, reflecting the realities of larger society and permeated with the spirit of art, history, and science.

1903--Atlanta school board president pleads with the city council to provide more funding for city schools concluding: Atlanta's prosperity in the future, as in the past, depends on the efficiency and adequacy of its Public Schools, and GOOD SCHOOLS COST MONEY. The Atlanta system was seriously underfunded compared to other cities (outside the south) and sometimes ran out of money and therefore unable to pay its teachers at the end of the fiscal year. Technical courses adopted at Boys High--the beginning of technical education in the APS.

1905--Atlanta teachers organize a union--the Atlanta Public Schools Teachers Association (APSTA)-- that in the next year wins a salary schedule for teachers. First year wages: teacher at Boys High-$1300, Girls High-$700, white grammar school-$400, black grammar school-$300. New York banker Frank Vanderlip noting the economic threat of Germany urges schools to adopt the German model of industrial education.

9/22/06--White residents riot, inflamed by false newspaper reports of black assaults on white women. A mob of ten thousand roam the streets of downtown Atlanta killing at least twenty-five black citizens, and injuring scores of others. After one white is killed hundreds of Blacks are arrested and marched through the streets. Tensions remain high for years afterward.

1907--William F. Slaton retires after 28 years as Atlanta Superintendent. His son, William M. Slaton, succeeds him and serves for 8 years. His brother serves as governor 1911-15. Slaton (the new supt.), aligned with the conservative faction of the Democratic Party, eventually loses his job because of conflicts with the board president, who was aligned with the reform faction of the party. The labels are misleading because reformers sought to control school spending while Slaton attempted to expand the system and maintain a relatively decentralized bureaucracy. William Bagley's popular teachers text, Classroom Management, articulates doctrines of classroom control and rigid routine, and is reprinted thirty times in the next twenty years. Bagley sees schools as preparing students for the assembly line and other similar work experiences.

1909--Ella Flagg Young, as one of the few female superintendents in the nation (Chicago), would become a leading advocate of the professionalization of teaching. Young's supporters include Margaret Haley, a militant union leader who challenged the old guard of the NEA. Leonard Ayres publishes Laggards in the Schools which charges that public schools were grossly inefficient in educating and graduating students. Ellwood Cubberley's Changing Conception of Education is is also published and his ideas are somewhat different than Dewey's. Cubberley's influence on school administration is extensive and long lasting. He describes schools as factories and children as raw material to be shaped for the needs of society. He urges schools to downplay democratic rhetoric and adapt schools to the various social classes. Tech High opens its doors.

1910--English-Commercial High opens its doors.

1911--Frederick Taylor's scientific management theories begin to be felt in American schools. Educational administrators attempt to use time and motion studies, standardization, task assignments, and planning to improve educational efficiency. Popular magazines and journals attack schools with articles such as: Our Medieval High Schools, Is Our Public School System an Utter Failure, and Is the Public School a Failure? It Is: The Most Momentous in Our American Life Today.

1912--George Strayer establishes a summer training session at Teachers College, Columbia University. He trained scores, perhaps hundreds, of superintendents over the years and conducts surveys of many systems, including Atlanta. His advice on how to deal with 'disloyal' subordinates: "Give em the ax." First special education classes for deaf students.

1913--White teacher salary-$85/mo., Black teacher salary-$55/mo. Edward Thorndike's Educational Psychology is published. Thorndike advocates extensive tests and measurements in schools to assign students to their proper courses.

1914--Celeste Parrish completes the first comprehensive survey of the Atlanta schools. She describes overcrowded classrooms, outdated and ineffective teaching methods, inadequate and sometimes non-existent teaching materials, antiquated teacher training, and insufficient funding for schools. Many of her recommendations for change are eventually adopted. Grammar school grades reduced from eight to seven. Carnegie unit system introduced in high schools. First primary supervisor appointed, Miss Laura Smith.

1915--Scott Nearing's Who's Who on Our Boards of Education is published. He researches board composition and finds that over half of their members are businessmen. He concludes: A new term must be coined to suggest the idea of an educational system owned and largely supported by the people but dominated by the business world--plutocratized education. In the same year radical educators establish the Modern School to implement Deweyan ideas (and perhaps to avoid business contamination of education.) First summer school held.

1916--John Dewey's Democracy and Education is published. Dewey describes schools as the pre-eminent lever of reform for a democratic society. Written as a textbook for teachers, Dewey explained that democracy was more than a political system but a form of social life and that education should nurture the individual's social, intellectual, and aesthetic growth. The result would be a process of social renewal and regeneration. First classes established for mentally retarded. Bureau of Education Research and Vocational Guidance created.

1917--Great Atlanta fire in May would reduce attendance by 2/3. Free textbook law in Georgia is passed and requires school systems to provide textbooks, at no charge, to students. German language training would be banned in the schools and a major conflict would develop between Boys High principal and board president over a teacher who was considered pro-German and anti-Wilson. Eventually, the principal, the president, and the superintendent resign. The controversy clears the way for future reforms. Walter White organizes Atlanta NAACP. It's first victory is lobbying the APS to not eliminating the 7th grade for black students as previously planned. First compulsory education law becomes effective. First federal funds for vocational education become available through the Smith-Hughes Act. First naturalization classes for foreign students.

1918--The NEA's Cardinal Principles recommends major changes in the curriculum of high schools. The academic core should be made less substantial to allow for expanded differentiation of curricula and more flexibility in academic requirements. It called for improved teaching methods, use of guidance and counseling, and increased testing. Seven objectives that all students should be taught were: health, command of fundamental processes, worthy home membership, citizenship, ethical character, vocation, and worthy use of leisure. Henry Herbert Goddard's Human Efficiency and Levels of Intelligence argues that the "top 4%" should rule the other 96%. The masses reluctance to see the wisdom of this arrangement was rooted in everything from labor troubles to the rise of the Bolsheviks. Earlier Goddard had introduced and translated Alfred Binet's theories and intelligence tests from France to the American educational community. City charter changed to establish Board of Election elections for the first time. ROTC programs begin in the high schools. William F. Dykes appointed Superintendent.

1919--ABE candidates would run from one of five wards and serve five year terms. School board members would also, for the first time, have sole responsibility on fiscal expenditures. APSTA, the white teachers union in Atlanta, affiliates with the American Federation of Teachers (and therefore join organized labor, the AFL) and becomes Local 89, led by Miss Allie Mann, of Girls High School. First vocational education classes for black students. First night classes for illiterates.

1920--A compulsory attendance law is passed in Georgia that requires all youth aged 8-14 to attend school for six months. It contributes to increased overcrowding in the schools, particularly in the black schools which are already on double shifts.

1921--In Atlanta female teachers win equalized salaries. The city's contribution to its schools is increased to 26% of the budget, a bond election passes that will lead to construction of the first black high school, and a new superintendent is appointed, Dr. Willis Sutton, principal of Tech High, who will serve for the next 23 years and bring about many reforms to the system. First black supervisor appointed, Miss M. Agnes Jones. APS teachers gain tenure protections.

1922--K-6-3-3 plan adopted by the ABE following recommendations outlined in Strayer-Engelhardt survey. The Strayer-Engelhardt report described a system in dire need of improvement, particularly with its many dilapidated school buildings. Also, a shocking number of students were failing, or falling behind each year. A department of visual instruction is created. First free textbooks authorized for grades 1 and 2. W.W. Gaines of the ABE explains the reasons for naming the new schools of Atlanta.

1923--The ABE establishes an attendance department, with five officers. Kindergartens are established at over 30 schools. The ABE owes a local bank $334,536 that was used to meet its payroll for the last two months of the year. First female assistant superintendent, Miss Mary Postell. First junior high schools started.

1/6/24--Boys High School, at Courtland and Gilmer Streets, (one of ten sites during its history) is destroyed by a fire. In September it is eventually moved to its final site, at 929 Parkway Drive, and shares the campus with Tech High School.

9/24--Booker T. Washington High School, the first black high school, opens its doors under the leadership of C.L. Harper, with an enrollment of 1,947. Overcrowded classrooms would be a problem from the very beginning and only worsen over time.

1924--The Georgia State Department of Education institutes a uniform system of teacher certification. The ABE would now (attempt to) employ only state certified teachers.

1925--William H. Kilpatrick's Foundations of Method : Informal Talks on Teaching is published. Kilpatrick, originally from Georgia, is best known as the developer of the "project method" of teaching. A new curriculum is adopted for the high schools: Boys High graduates would need 14 units to graduate and choose between three programs of study--general, academic, and scientific.

1926--Radio assumes growing importance as an instructional tool with the first citywide school of the air, with a radio receiver in every school.

1927--Black night schools reduced from eight to four as an economy move.

1929--APSTA issues a resolution defending the present system of education in Atlanta.

1930--Atlanta hosts National Education Association. Dr. Willis Sutton elected President.

1932--Teachers vote to take a 16% salary cut rather than have kindergartens and visual instruction abolished. George S. Counts, professor at Columbia Teachers College, publishes Dare the School Build a New Social Order?, a pamphlet that argues that teachers and schools should lead American society to make needed reforms.

1933--Willard Waller's The Sociology of Teaching describes the world of teachers as it existed in the early 1930's. Trapped in a depressing and often isolating experience, teachers alternate between roles of dominance in the classroom and subordination elsewhere. Teachers are described as inflexible, reserved, and demonstrating an artificial sense of dignity to mask their low social status. Rather than attempting to change the system, as Counts hoped, many simply escaped when given the opportunity. Dan C. Lortie's School Teacher: A Sociological Study would revisit these themes forty years later.

1934--The Board of Regents of the University System of Georgia eliminates foreign language requirements for college admission. Student membership in fraternities and sororities forbidden by the ABE. APSTA issues a resolution demanding a restoration of salaries for teachers.

1935--Cafeterias begin to be placed into the white schools.

1936--City funds exhausted, employees "paid" in scrip which Rich's cashed for teachers. The Progressive Education Association holds its national meeting in Atlanta. The leadership of the Atlanta Veterans of Foreign Wars chapter request the ABE to investigate the PEA because of its alleged communistic doctrines. Also that year two elementary students were suspended by Supt. Sutton for refusing to salute the flag.

1938--William C. Bagley's "An Essentialists Platform for the Advancement of Education" attacks progressive education and its theorists, and argues for a common core of ideas, understandings, and ideals in public schools. John Dewey's Experience and Education criticizes child-centered progressives for not paying enough attention to the world that children face outside of school.

1940--First driver training inaugurated. Citywide bond vote defeated because of black opposition (only $100,000 of $1.8 million was to benefit black students.) White per pupil expenditures--$95.20, Black--$30.55. White elementary ratio:31-1, Black elementary ratio: 38-1.

1941--Four black ministers' associations (led by Martin Luther King, Sr.) petition ABE for equal black and white salaries.

1942--William Reaves files a salary equalization suit on behalf of black teachers. Wilford Aikin's The Story of the Eight Year Study is published. The Eight Year Study, an effort conceived by child centered progressives of the 1930's, becomes a landmark to revise the secondary school curriculum to meet the needs of a changing society. Students from experimental schools (with their "core curriculum") were found to enjoy similar success in colleges as those from traditional schools.

1943--Samuel L. Davis files federal suit against Ed S. Cook, president of ABE. Per pupil costs costs: white-$119.61 /black-$44.11

1944--Superintendent Willis Sutton retires from the APS. Miss Ira Jarrell, APSTA head for the last eight years (and vice-president of the Atlanta Federation of Trades) and principal of W.F. Slaton School, replaces him. She is the first, and until 1998, only female superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools. New teachers are paid $118/month. Plan implemented to equalize salaries between blacks and whites.

1945--General Assembly repeals poll tax. New Georgia Constitution approved. Like previous constitutions, segregated schools required by law. Miss Ira Jarrell reports on Atlanta's postwar schools. H.O. Smith, Principal of Boys High School, says he does not approve of any underground movement that is critical of Tech High.

1946--Supreme Court rules in Chapman v King that GA white primary is illegal. NAACP and Urban League form Atlanta All-Citizens Registration Comm. and registers 18,000 new voters. The ABE votes to adopt a K-7-5-V program to replace the K-6-3-3 system in effect since 1923. All elementary schools would have kindergartens through the 7th grade, and five year comprehensive community co-educational high schools would replace the existing junior and senior high schools.

1947--The Five Year Community High Schools of Atlanta: A Report to the Board of Education and Superintendent of Schools is released and outlines educational goals relating to effective citizenship, vocational efficiency, teaching the three R's, right living, responsibility, and reverence for God's miraculous world. Boys High & Tech High become Henry W. Grady High School, a community, co-educational high school. There is significant unhappiness about this action by faculty, parents, students, and alumni of both Boys High and Tech High. All high school students would enjoy a single common program. Electives would increase as a student progressed with 2/3 of the 12th grade consisting of electives. Art and music were required in 8th and 9th grades, boys were required to take industrial arts while girls were required to take homemaking. Only English and social studies were required the entire five years of study. Dr. M.D. Collins, state superintendent of schools, makes a plea for a closer relationship between the home and the school.

1948--Miss Ira Jarrell, APS Superintendent, says children are smarter than ever. WABE-FM began operations with a grant from the Rich Foundation of $100,000., and receivers are placed in the system's classrooms. Meanwhile, Black parents petition ABE for equal consideration for their children in the APS. White per pupil expenditures-$139.73, Black-$59.86. Kindergartens added to black schools. Miss Ira Jarrell, Superintendent, explains Atlanta's schools are teaching the three R's.

1949--A.T. Walden and John Wesley Dobbs form Atlanta Negro Voters League.

9/19/50--
Aaron v. Cook, APS desegregation suit, filed by NAACP (Robert L. Carter & Thurgood Marshall) and A.T.Walden arguing that black schools (14 elementary and 2 secondary--317 teachers) are unequal, violating the 14th Amendment Rights of 20,000 Black students. (dismissed 5/16/56). The Atlanta Constitution described it ("an unfortunate court action") as the first time the South's traditional school segregation laws had been attacked in a major city. The Atlanta Journal maintained that "the School Board had clean hands." Gov. Herman Talmadge and ABE Chairman Ed S. Cook's response to the legal action. AFT charters all-black Atlanta teachers union, Local 1062.

1951--General Assembly passes 3% sales tax to support Minimum Foundation Program for Education--to increase teacher salaries, reduce black-white inequities, and upgrade black schools.

1952--Plan of Improvement implemented. 39 schools, 600 teachers, and 17,221 students brought into APS from Fulton Co. schools.

11/53--Dr. Rufus Clement (President-Atlanta Univ.) elected to ABE. 1st Black elected to citywide office since Reconstruction.

1953--Gen. Assembly creates Commission on Education to study racial issues relating to state policies with the goal of maintaining school segregation. Arthur Bestor's Educational Wastelands: The Retreat From Learning in Our Public Schools attacks public education for its supposed uses of progressive theories of education which he maintains had lowered educational standards for most students. APS opens the first elementary school planetarium in the USA.

1/54--The American Association of School Administrators warns the threat of communism is total and that the American curriculum should be broadened to teach citizenship more effectively.

2/54--ABE passes resolution to prepare for Brown decision. Dorothy Floyd, President of the Atlanta Public School Teachers Association, offers to resign because of rumors that she was anti-administration. "I have always been strongly behind Miss Jarrell." William Early, President of the National Education Association, predicts in a speech in Warrenton that public education will collapse before 1960 due to high teacher attrition rates and public apathy. Dr. Benjamin E. Mays says in a speech at the Hungry Club in Atlanta that a ban on segregation will not result in revolution in the Deep South.

5/17/54--
Brown decision. State Attorney General Eugene Cook issues a statement saying the ruling doesn't apply to Georgia.

5/21/54--NAACP holds meeting in Atlanta and issues The Atlanta Declaration calling for school boards to implement Brown.

11/2/54--Georgia Constitutional Amendment is approved by voters: Governor is given power to close any desegregated school and provides for government subsidies to students who attend private schools.

12/54--States Rights Council, a coalition of white supremacy groups, is organized in Augusta.

1/55--Marvin Griffin, "a roving ambassador of turmoil" becomes Governor and pledges financial support to school systems facing desegregation efforts.

5/55--The Supreme Court issues a follow-up ruling to the Brown decision, expecting a "prompt and reasonable" start to be made toward complying with its order. Two Federal judges are given responsibility towards deciding when and how segregation would be ended in Atlanta: Frank Hooper and William Sloan. Judge Hooper, a graduate of Boys High School, Georgia Tech and the Atlanta Law School had been practicing law since 1916, was elected to two terms to the General Assembly, served as an assistant city attorney and Superior Court judge, and had been been appointed to the federal judiciary in 1949. Hooper would be the presiding judge for the Atlanta school desegregation case, and like future Superintendent John Letson, would be attacked by critics on both sides of the issue. Dr. Rufus Clement and attorney Austin T. Walden respond to the Supreme Court's order.

06/13/55--The ABE receives from Mr. Charles L. Harper, President of the Atlanta Chapter of the NAACP, a petition from nine Black parents requesting the APS to comply with the Brown decision. A special committee is formed to study the request.

7/11/55--State Board of Education issues resolution to revoke forever licenses of any teacher who supports integration (there were about 8,000 black teachers in Georgia.) GEA supports resolution. Rescinded one month later. Attorney General Eugene Cook demands that NAACP members be terminated as teachers. A petition is filed by Dr. C. Clayton Powell and eleven APS parents for early action to end segregation in the Atlanta schools.

9/1/55--Miss Jarrell reports that 1,297 students are being educated at churches, 427 at libraries, and 528 at auditoriums due to a chronic shortage of classrooms. The Atlanta Constitution predicts an optimistic future for Negro students.

9/12/55--A 4th petition is filed by the Atlanta NAACP to the ABE urging compliance with the Brown v. Board Supreme Court decision.

9/18/55--The Atlanta School Study Council reports that Atlanta spends only $175/yr per student ("far below the national average"), as compared to Phoenix, AZ which spends $359/yr.

9/23/55--Gov. Griffin and two hundred leading state political leaders sponsor massive resistance meeting at Biltmore Hotel declaring defiance and a willingness to defend the Georgia way of life, i.e. segregation and white supremacy.

12/12/55--The Ivey Report, a comprehensive study of the APS from the Atlanta School Study Council (led by Dr. John E. Ivey, Jr. Director of the Southern Regional Education Board), recommends administrative reorganization and curriculum improvements, and increasing school expenditures $100/year per student. Recommendations included expanding special education programs for handicapped students, providing teachers with more instructional materials, developing a more aggressive recruiting program to attract the best possible teachers, increasing teacher salaries by $60/month (new teachers in the APS make $2,928/year in 1955) , reducing the elementary teacher-pupil ratio to 30-1, systematizing a continuing program of instructional evaluation, and adopting an experimental approach to instructional problems.

12/13/55--Dr. John L. Buford, President of the National Education Assn., tells 2,000 Atlanta teachers they should lead "a return to a wholesome respect for authority" and "If I have a child a little afraid for him to be courteously respectful I'll have him a little afraid."

1956--Six bills passed by General Assembly to provide for private schools and closing integrated public schools. New flag is approved and resolution declaring Brown null and void passes Senate 30-0, House 178-1. The Southern Manifesto attacks the Supreme Court and the Brown decision. APS divided into six areas, each with an area superintendent. Dr. H.A. Bowen named first black area superintendent. Roger Derthick appointed principal of Grady High School by Superintendent Ira Jarrell.

12/56--The Atlanta Public School Teachers Assn, Local 89, led by Roger Derthick, principal of Grady High School, withdraws from the American Federation of Teachers rather than integrating its membership.

1/57--ABE gains power to levy taxes for education purposes because of change in city charter (fiscal independence.) Attorney General Cook requests General Assembly to designate
NAACP as a subversive organization.

2/57--Judge Hooper dismisses Horace Ward (a black applicant) suit against UGA on a technicality.

8/57--Findley Report issued admitting a wide gap in achievement between black and white students reflecting wide historical disparities between black and white schools' expenditures.

11/57--Mayor William Hartsfield reelected with black electoral support despite receiving minority of white vote. Atlanta's tradition of civic boosterism and good public relations were key elements of his administration: "the city too busy to hate."

1957--Gen. Assembly passes resolutions questioning legality of 14th and 15th Amendments and calling for impeachment of Supreme Court justices. WETV signs on the air with a grant from the Ford Foundation. For a number of years the ABE would be the only school board with its own TV station.

1/11/58--
Calhoun v. Latimer filed in federal court by ten APS parents (with assistance from Thurgood Marshall and Constance Baker Motley of the NAACP Legal Defense Fund, and E.E. Moore, Jr. of Atlanta) charging that the system has failed to follow U.S. Supreme Court instructions to desegregate the schools. A.C. Latimer, president of the Atlanta Board of Education, comments on the suit. Future Governor Vandiver and Mayor Hartsfield respond to the suit. ABE maintains that the Brown decision did not require race mixing, that it did not discriminate against blacks, and that plaintiffs had failed to seek administrative remedies. State Attorney General Eugene Cook weighs in against the suit. Pro-segregation forces will respond by organizing MASE, GUTS, and Separate Schools, Inc.

3/58--The APS asks for a dismissal of the case and provides two major legal arguments opposing the Calhoun suit.

11/11/58--Mayor Hartsfield proposes a citywide referendum to let voters decide whether the Atlanta Public Schools should be closed or sold to avoid complying with a possible federal court order to desegregate ("We all deplore the Supreme Court decision... " and he pledged that the city government would work "to keep our Atlanta schools from total destruction.")

1/59--Ernest ("no, not one") Vandiver becomes Governor and vows to maintain segregation. Vandiver had stated in court that a decision in favor of the Calhoun plaintiffs would mean "the end of the public schools" in Atlanta. Judge Boyd Sloan rules in Hunt v. Arnold that Black applicants to the Georgia State College of Business Administration (now Georgia State University) could no longer be denied admission, the first federal court decision against public school segregation in Georgia. The governor responds by suspending registration until the legislature passes a bill prohibiting admission of any students over the age of 25.

3/59--ABE announces the planned retirement of Dr. Ira Jarrell, superintendent since 1944. Jarrell, 62, is described in the Atlanta Constitution as "one of the most politically powerful figures in the city" and "one of the most popular figures in the history of the system with many of the teachers and principals" as well as "one of the school system's most controversial figures." The APS had doubled in size during her four four year terms, to about 115, 000 students, with a budget of $26 million, and she was the only female superintendent of a large metropolitan district. In the 1958 elections five of the winning nine ABE candidates ran on a platform criticizing her domination of the board and their victory ended any possibility of the board rules from being changed to extend her term of service.

6/5/59--Calhoun v. Latimer case finally has its day in court. For the Plaintiffs: E.E. Moore, Jr., Constance Baker Motley, A.T. Walden and Donald L. Hollowell; For the Defendants: Powell, Goldstein, Frazer & Murphy including B.D. Murphy, J.C. Savage and Newell Edenfield. Presiding judges were Frank A. Hooper and Boyd Sloan. Six witnesses testified: Jarvis Barnes, Dr. Rufus Clement, E.S. Cook, Congressman James C. Davis, Ira Jarrell and Louise Simpson. (A 159 page transcript can be found at the Federal Archives at East Point, GA: Civil Case 6298, File 5, Box 55E.) One of the most interesting comments made during the trial came from Mr. Edenfield (future federal judge) who claimed that the policy of segregation as practiced by the APS came about because of actions of the Freedman's Bureau in 1866 and that "everybody has voluntarily abided by it ever since." See page 149. Meanwhile Mr. Murphy maintained, "I say there has been no proof of any discrimination; yes, sir. I say there has been no discrimination [in the APS.] See page 152.

6/16/59--
Judge Frank Hooper rules that the APS is segregated and orders a desegregation plan to be filed within a reasonable time. One defense argument that is particularly interesting is that the system of segregated schools was a choice made by Black students and their families. Senator Richard Russell comments on the case. The Atlanta NAACP's resolution concerning the case.

7/59--Mayor Hartsfield commenting on the possibility of Atlanta's schools being closed to comply with the state's anti-desegregation laws. HOPE--Help Our Public Education--an open schools organization, telegrams the governor urging him to keep the schools open.

12/1/59--ABE plan submitted to District Court--token desegregation with gradualist timeline. Black students would have to submit to intelligence testing and personality interviews ("it was more difficult to be admitted to Yale than to get into a white Atlanta high school.") A.C. Latimer's statement regarding the ABE's desegregation plan. The Atlanta newspapers support the APS plan. HOPE praises the ABE for "courageously shouldering their duties as representatives of the people." Not surprisingly, the plaintiffs, led by NAACP attorneys, were not satisfied with the plan and planned to file their objections with the court.

12/30/59--District Court approves plan pending three minor changes despite objections by plaintiffs, including (as articulated by Mrs. Constance Baker Motley of the NAACP) the inherent delays within the plan and the unconstitutional, vague, and indefinite elements of the plan. Desegregation would be dependent upon the initiative of black families and not APS. Hooper expressed concern that too speedy desegregation would result in violence.

1959--James B. Conant's The American High School Today: A First Report to Interested Citizens is published. Conant, a former president of Harvard, advocates large comprehensive high schools that can offer a diverse curriculum and provide academic rigor. Meanwhile, Merle Curti's Social Ideas of American Educators describes programs such as vocational education and the differentiated curriculum of the comprehensive high school as attempts to create a more docile labor force that would make America more competitive in world markets.

1/18/60--Court approves revised ABE plan--one grade/year desegregation--to begin 9/60.

3/23& 3/30--The Sibley Commission, also known as the General Assembly Committee on Schools, holds its 5th Congressional District hearings at Grady High School. 85 of 114 witnesses voiced support for "local option" rather than allow public schools in Georgia be closed to avoid desegregation. Supporters of open schools include representatives from the Atlanta civil rights community, Chamber of Commerce, HOPE, Fulton Co. Women's Republican Club, DeKalb Co. PTA's, and the Georgia League of Women Voters.

3/29/60--Former mayor Roy LeCraw proposes a plan calling for separate schools for boys and girls. The Atlanta newspapers report that Dr. John W. Letson is the leading candidate to replace Dr. Jarrell. Described as one of the nation's foremost school administrative figures (superintendent of Chattanooga public schools since 1956, replacing Roger Derthick's brother Lawrence who had been appointed U.S. Commissioner of Education) it was reported that a delay in appointing a new Atlanta superintendent because of "the hesitation of some possible candidates to jump into the middle of Atlanta's racial crisis in the schools."

4/24/60--563 Grady High School students sign a petition sent to the Sibley Commission urging that the public schools not be shut down.

5/60--John Letson appointed APS Superintendent--he urged delaying desegregation implementation until public opinion supported it and "like most southerners, I wish it (the integration problem) would go away, but it won't." Black student enrollment is at 46%. The APS budget is $26,000,000 with a total enrollment of 115,000, with 8,000 (black) students on double session. Beginning teachers are paid $303/month. Only 16 academic units and 2 activity units are necessary for a diploma.

5/9/60--Court grants ABE one year delay to implement plan after hearing recommendations of the
Sibley Commission's Report. Sibley, one of Georgia's wealthiest citizens, was paternalistic and condescending towards Blacks, and hostile to desegregation. Ultimately, however, he believed it was inevitable and that the process should be controlled by its opponents rather than by its supporters. Minimal compliance would replace massive resistance. Judge Hooper's Remarks to the Plaintiffs and Defendants.

7/1/60--John Letson (his motto: "centralize and automate" everything) is now superintendent. Letson had previously served as superintendent of the Chattanooga schools, replacing Lawrence Derthick (U.S. Commissioner of Education), Roger Derthick's brother.

11/60--New legislature elected to (possibly) repeal massive resistance laws.

1960--Jerome Bruner's The Process of Education: A Searching Discussion of School Education Opening New Paths to Teaching and Learning is published. Bruner, a Harvard psychologist, argues that schools needed to take a carefully structured approach to learning and that all students could learn to think like scholars. Implementation of university-based reforms often failed due to reluctance to include school-based personnel in their design.

1/61--UGA riot due to registration of two Black students, Charlayne Hunter and Hamilton Holmes (Holmes v. Danner). 400 faculty members sign resolution deploring violence and calling for action to keep UGA open. The threat of federal troops looms large over the General. Assembly.

1/18/61--Gov. Vandiver addresses General Assembly with 4 point program: white pupil protection, tuition grants, local option, and appeals process. Expresses concern about federal intervention in desegregation process.

1/22/61--Atlanta Chamber of Commerce mobilizes the Georgia business community to persuade the political establishment to keep the public schools open. Open schools represented continued economic growth. Other groups to work for open schools included HOPE, OASIS, and GACHR.

3/7/61--Agreement between black leadership and white business leaders to end SNCC/SCLC protests of white downtown business segregation--businesses promise to desegregation after Sept. 1961. Atlanta's history of negotiated settlements between blacks and whites would play an important role in education as well.

4/1-4/15--Transfer applications taken by APS, 10 of 133 accepted. 38 appealed and were denied. APS attempted to reassure white parents that their children would be safe at school and that its educational mission would continue despite token desegregation.

6/61--Supt. Letson predicts that the Atlanta area will be living with the problems of school integration for the next 100 years. Former Atlanta NAACP chapter president J.H. Calhoun comments regarding school desegregation.

8/61--Greater Atlanta Council on Human Rights holds meetings at Quaker House of black and white students. The APS refused to sponsor these meetings.

8/30/61--
Nine students at four high schools (including Grady, Murphy (now Crim), Northside (now North Atlanta) and Brown) begin token desegregation effort. A public relations success for the city, "Kennedy hails Atlanta's calm." The black community is ignored in the flood of good publicity. See this and this for more Grady info.

9/61--The APS studies a proposal to send children home if a "H-bomb" attack was to occur. Sara Mitchell elected to the ABE. She would find herself repeatedly outvoted--often 8-1 in her first term-- until she resigned in January 1969 on a board dominated by bankers and businessmen. Mitchell would be seen as a troublesome "nitpicker" by the superintendent as she questioned the slow pace of desegregation and the glaring inequalities between black and white schools.

11/61--Ivan Allen, Jr., former Pres. of Chamber of Commerce, elected mayor. Black parents request that ROTC units be placed into their schools (Washington, Price, Turner, Howard, and Harper.) Thirteen white high schools have units while four of the white high schools do not (Dykes, East Atlanta, George and Therrell.) Schools that had units included Bass, Brown, Fulton, Grady, Murphy, North Fulton, Northside, O'Keefe, Roosevelt, Smith, Southwest, Sylvan Hills and West Fulton.

1961--Arthur Trace'sWhat Ivan Knows That Johnny Doesn't is published. He argues that American students are terribly deficient in mathematical, writing, and reading skills compared to Soviet students. James B. Conant's Slums and Suburbs: A Commentary on Schools in Metropolitan Areas recommends that urban high schools make vocational education a priority while suburban high schools develop an enriched academic curriculum to challenge their students. First electronic language laboratories installed in high schools.

9/62--Fifty-three black students at seven schools. APS policy of requiring minimum score on National Teacher Exam goes into effect--high scorers to be given priority.

11/15/62--
Plaintiffs request Judge Hooper to speed up desegregation process. He refuses. NAACP appeals to 5th Circuit.

11/62--Carl Sanders elected Governor, youngest in the USA, on a platform called "a program for progress." He was the first gubernatorial candidate elected in the 20th century by the popular vote and not the county unit vote in the primary.

6/17/63--5th Circuit affirms Hooper's refusal. Judge Bell writes that ABE has acted in good faith. NAACP appeals to Supreme Court.

1963--84,000 APS students, mostly in elementary schools, participate in television instruction.

4/8/64--ABE changes transfer process to make it less restrictive.

5/25/64--
Supreme Court recognizes "commendable" effort of APS to desegregate but orders case returned to District Court for further consideration of plaintiffs claims (see also: Calhoun v. Latimer decision.)

7/2/64--Civil Rights Act passes. Ivan Allen, Jr. is the only prominent southern mayor to support it.

1964--Division of Instruction created. Plan for curriculum development and improvement implemented that would include a Curriculum Council made up of assistant superintendents and teachers. 883 students are enrolled in a television based drivers ed class.

4/1/65--
The NAACP files notice in the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals asking for accelerated integration of the APS. District court orders a speed-up of desegregation process--all grades to be desegregated by 1967-8 using a freedom of choice plan.

6/65--ABE votes to desegregate all grades using freedom of choice in Sept. 1965.

9/65--Token desegregation in grades 1-12 completed.

1965--Congress passes the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (PL 89-10.) The federal government would now attempt, on a wide scale, to meet the needs of educationally deprived children, including Title I programs (which received over 3/4 of the funding.) 527 additional staff positions would be funded in the first year to meet the mandates of Title I, including reading teachers, remedial teachers, librarians, counselors, psychologists, teacher aides, clerical workers, project coordinators, and evaluators. A variety of other title programs would seek to support activities in school systems including cultural and social programs, parental involvement activities, nutrition programs, social and medical services, and supporting innovations in classroom teaching practices. The Atlanta Summit Leadership Conference, a coalition of black organizations, demands reforms in APS structure and policies. The APS has 110,500 students, 6,600 employees, 150 schools, and $46,713,125 budget. New teachers are paid $5,000/year. The APS has the third largest ROTC program in the nation, with 2,500 students at thirteen schools, teaching leadership, character development, and respect for authority under the law.

1/66--ABE reports that less than 4% of blacks and less than 7% of whites are in integrated schools (more than 10% enrollment of other race.)

7/2/66--Mass rally at West Hunter Baptist Church protesting APS token desegregation and overcrowded black schools.

11/66--Lester Maddox, high school drop-out and Atlanta native elected governor and would lead an anti-transfer protest of white teachers several years later.

1966--The Coleman Report, "Equality of Educational Opportunity", concludes that differences in school resources were only mildly related to differences in educational achievement, and that achievement differences were strongly related to the educational backgrounds and aspirations of a student's peer group. It found that low income students achieved at a higher level when placed in classrooms with higher achieving students from more advantaged backgrounds. Black parents purchase their own buses to transport students to white schools. Parents would also threaten a boycott because of their unhappiness with APS. Instructional Service Center established.

9/11/67--Black parents take complaints to ABE. Sit-ins at Supt. Letson's office protesting double sessions, slow pace of desegregation, and calling for black appointments to high levels of administration.

1967--Jonathan Kozol's Death at an Early Age: The Destruction of the Hearts and Minds of Negro Children attacks the Boston school system and its miseducation of Black students. Herbert Kohl's 36 Children tells a similar story in the New York City Schools. APSTA becomes Atlanta Education Association, a local unit of the (all-white) Georgia Education Assoc. APS opens a center for children with learning problems.

5/27/68--Green decision: Supreme Court rules that if freedom of choice plans don't achieve desegregation then other plans must be implemented.

10/68--Better Schools Atlanta releases report that says black elementary schools have larger classes and fewer textbooks than white schools and that by 8th grade students are four years behind white students. ABE assigns school detectives to investigate Better Schools leaders.

1968--Four quarter year round plan becomes operational.

4/69--Atlanta Community Relations Commission urges ABE to apply for US Office of Education Title IV grant which would provide for technical assistance for desegregation ABE refuses.

10/29/69--
Holmes decision: all deliberate speed no longer applicable, complete desegregation must be implemented at once.

1969--The APS claims a dropout rate of 5%. Curriculum improvements include the introduction of Afro-American studies, experimental pre-kindergarten programs, team teaching, individualized instruction, independent study, and the increased use of educational technology. Dr. John Letson describes instruction in the Atlanta Public Schools.

1/2/70--
Dr. Benjamin Mays attends his first ABE meeting as a Board member and is elected its president. Despite his opposition to busing he would receive the NAACP's highest award, the Spingarn Medal, in 1982.

1/9/70--Three thousand APS students march downtown in protest of court-ordered faculty desegregation while thousands more boycott classes.

1/30/70--District court rules that APS faculty must desegregate to match ratios of system--57% black and 43% white.

2/19/70--District court orders APS to provide free transportation for M-M students.

3/70--
796 teachers (398-black/398-white) are transferred by lottery. Another 800 would be transferred in June. White teachers leave the system in droves, at a 4-1 rate higher than African- American teachers. A bi-racial committee is also organized to advise the ABE on desegregation as required by the court order. A new local of the American Federation of Teachers is charted in Atlanta, Local 1565.

5/70--Georgia Teachers & Education Assn (all-black teachers organization) and Georgia Education Assn (all-white teachers organization) finalize merger, and form GAE, Georgia Assn of Educators. In October Atlanta Education Assn (white) and Gate City Teachers Assn (black) merge to form AAE, Atlanta Assn of Educators.

11/70--Jimmy Carter elected governor and declares that the time for racial discrimination is past.

1970--Charles E. Silberman's Crisis in the Classroom: The Remaking of American Education is a stinging indictment of the pedagogy found in many public schools. He advocates a child-centered pedagogy, including informal classrooms, freedom of movement for students, problem-centered learning, and inquiry-based teaching strategies. Comprehensive instruction program adopted.

4/20/71--
Swann decision: Any technique of student assignment, including busing, must be used to desegregate.

6/10/71--5th Circuit instructs District court to order APS to implement a desegregation plan that is consistent w/ Swann.

7/28/71--
Judge Smith and Judge Henderson rule that APS is unitary and orders case dismissed. NAACP appeals to 5th Circuit and files its own plan, written by Dr. Michael Stolee, of the Univ. of Miami, which would actually desegregate the APS. It would involve busing 30,000 students and provide for black enrollment of 55-87% of all 153 schools. ABE responded that it was too expensive (APS had no buses) and would accelerate white flight.

10/28/71--5th Circuit overrules District Court and orders a reexamination of NAACP plan and orders further consideration of metropolitan aspects of the case.

6/8/72--
Judge Smith and Judge Henderson declare (again) APS unitary and rejects NAACP plan. Case is dismissed. ACLU files metropolitan desegregation case, Armour v Nix, involving nine systems. Margie Pitts Hames, attorney, would represent 24 black parents and would argue that local authorities intentionally segregated students by race. Plaintiffs would cite examples such as Fulton Co. contracting with ABE to send its black students to Howard High and Washington High in Atlanta, and Cobb Co. sending its black students to the Marietta city schools.

9/22/72--District court postpones further action on Armour until after a ruling by Supreme Court on Richmond case.

10/8/72--5th Circuit orders immediate desegregation of APS consistent with the Austin and Corpus Christi cases. Judge Bell warned that uncertainty was harmful to the APS and that it was the responsibility of civic leaders to find a solution to the crisis. ABE appeals to Supreme Court. (106 of 153 schools remain segregated.) Letson maintained that resistance was the will of the people and that few blacks qualified for high admin. positions.

1/4/73--District Court approves request that local and national NAACP & LDF attorneys be certified as joint and several attorneys for the plaintiffs. This decision gives
Lonnie King full legal status in desegregation case.

2/20/73--Plaintiffs, represented primarily by Atlanta NAACP Pres. Lonnie King and Atlanta Urban League Pres. Lyndon Wade, negotiate with ABE's William Van Landingham and Frank Smith, and reach a historic agreement known as
"the Second Atlanta Compromise." The out of court settlement consisted of very limited busing for a voluntary transfer plan, a student assignment plan that set a goal of 30% or more black enrollment at white schools, hiring a black superintendent, and 50% of top administrators to be black.

3/1/73--Meeting in NYC between Atlanta NAACP representatives and national leadership, including Roy Wilkins, to unsuccessfully attempt to persuade local affiliate to repudiate compromise. Wilkins, despite his initial support of the settlement, described it as trading buses for jobs. NAACP leaders feared that it would jeopardize desegregation suits in other cities.

3/6/73--2nd meeting in NYC between Atlanta and national NAACP leadership. Wilkins threatens to suspend Atlanta branch and lift charter. King is later replaced. Julian Bond would eventually serve as chapter president and would call the compromise "a terrible mistake."

4/4/73--
District judges Smith and Henderson approve settlement calling it "fair, adequate and reasonable." APS is declared unitary for third time.

4/17/73--NAACP, LDF, and ACLU appeal to 5th Circuit to oppose settlement. It orders District Court to hold hearings on objections.

Summer 1973--NAACP Vice-Chairman Buell Gallagher, writing in Journal of Negro Education, attacks the settlement as "indefensible and borders on tragedy." Gallagher explains that 43% of American students ride a bus to school (with less than 3% bused for desegregation purposes) and the proposed Atlanta metro plan's longest bus rides would equal the state average.

8/73--Alonzo Crim (Ed.D.-Harvard) hired as first black Superintendent. He says his two pillars of philosophy of education are a participatory system with community involvement and individualized instruction for each child.

11/73--Maynard Jackson, grandson of John Wesley Dobbs, elected first black mayor. New city charter approved by voters which provides for ward elections of six of nine school board members.

1973--Dr. Barbara I. Whitaker chosen as first black female assistant superintendent.

5/1/74--District Court reaffirms plan and declares APS unitary (4th time.)

7/25/74--Supreme Court rules that cross metropolitan busing is not an appropriate remedy to address segregation.

11/74--George Busbee, former member of Sibley Commission, elected governor.

5/75--PAGE, Professional Association of Georgia Educators, is formed by disgruntled members of the DeKalb Assn of Educators. It would maintain that the GAE and the AFT are excessively liberal and pro-union.

10/15/75--AAE organizes an unsuccessful one-day strike that takes 1/3-1/2 of teachers out of classroom for one day on behalf of collective bargaining.

10/23/75--5th Circuit upholds District ruling noting that most schools have met the 30% black enrollment goal and that APS is free of racial discrimination.

11/77--District Court judges O'Kelley, Henderson, and Hill hear Armour case.

3/2/78--District Court dismisses all parties except APS, DeKalb, and Fulton.

9/24/79--District Court issues 33 page order dismissing case saying that existing desegregation plans were adequate. ACLU appeals to 5th Circuit & Supreme Court.

5/12/80--Supreme Court affirms lower court decision of Sept 1979. ( Between 1968 and 1980 APS lost more white students than any city in the country-- Orfield).

1980--City-wide free bus service inaugurated.

1981--Magnet school program adopted.

1983--Paideia concept embraced at Washington High Center for the Humanities. "A Nation at Risk" is released, urging intensive national school reform.

1984--APS claims that 53% of students read above national norms and 60% score above national norms in math. Dr. Crim is credited with managing an urban educational program that "really works." Computer assisted instruction put in all high schools and middle schools, and over 50% of elementary schools.

1985 --General Assembly passes Quality Basic Education Act. Comparison of statewide testing scores reveal that APS students rank at the bottom, below poor rural black county systems. The 1973 settlement failed to raise academic achievement levels (as measured by standardized tests.)

1986--APS' student population is 93% black and 75% qualify for free lunches. Only 3 of 20 high schools have a 10% or higher white enrollment. The 1973 settlement failed to reverse white and middle class flight.

1987--Dr. Crim's "Community of Believers" program, emphasizing high expectations among teachers, parents, and students, maintains that there had been continuous improvement in academic achievement since 1976 (despite low test scores) and thereby validating the 1973 settlement. The
Atlanta Peace Alliance wins a federal court decision allowing for distribution of materials in the schools concerning alternatives to militarism and JROTC goals.

1988--
Dr. Alonzo Crim retires. Dr. Jerome Harris replaces him and vows to raise test scores of APS students.

1990--Dr. Harris pledges "to turn up the heat" on teachers to raise student academic achievement levels. His conflicts with the ABE cost him his job within two years of his hiring.
Dr. Lester Butts, former principal of Douglass High School, replaces Dr. Harris.

1994--Dr. Benjamin Canada is hired as Superintendent of the Atlanta Public Schools.

1998--Dr. Betty Strickland is chosen as interim superintendent to replace Dr. Benjamin Canada.

1999--Dr. Beverly Hall is chosen as superintendent.


Sources Include:

  • From Ivy Street to Kennedy Center: Centennial History of the Atlanta Public School System, Melvin Ecke, 1972
  • The Development of the Public Secondary Schools of Atlanta, Georgia 1845-1937, Henry Reid Hunter, 1937
  • American Education: A History, Wayne Urban and Jennings Wagoner, Jr., 1996
  • America's Teachers: An Introduction to Education, Joseph W. Newman, 1998
  • Consciousness and Activism of Atlanta Teachers: Unionization and Desegregation 1960-1990, Margaret Ann Mauney, 1997 Ph.D. Dissertation
  • Race, Class, and Atlanta Public School Integration, 1954-1991, Wei-ling Gong, 1991 Ph.D. Dissertatiion
  • Restructured Resistance: The Sibley Commission and the Politics of Desegregation in Georgia, Jeff Roche, 1998
  • Black Georgia in the Progressive Era 1900-1920, John Dittmer, 1977
  • The Politics of Race and Schooling: Public Education in Georgia, 1900-1961, Thomas V. O'Brien, 1999

  • Related Links:
  • History of Education Page
  • Index of Southerner Articles
  • Selections from the Orator: 1948, 1958 & 1968
  • The Grady Archive
  • A Brief History of Grady High School
  • Grady Integration Uneventful
  • APS: A Capsule History
  • First African American Honored at Grady as a Legend
  • A Plethora of Social Clubs Created a Circle of Friends

  • Go to Lou Sartor's Page