Programs and Procedures of Desegregation Developed by the Board of Education, Montgomery County, Maryland

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1959

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Abstract

The purpose of this study is to identify the programs and procedures developed by the Board of Education and the professional staff of Montgomery County, Maryland, to comply with the Supreme Court rulings declaring unconstitutional the practice of segregated schools. A further purpose is to determine what guideposts were used in dealing with the factors and forces operating to help or hinder such a complex undertaking. The study is a detailed report of the interactions of the laymen and educators to effect this change. It is significant because the program and procedures have been judged successful by County leaders of proponents and opponents of school desegregation. The transition began in September, 1955, and the Board of Education plans for completion in September of 1961. The program enables Negro students to be transferred to schools nearer their homes when adequate classroom space and educational programs are available. A unique procedure provides for Negro students to be transferred to desegregated schools upon recommendation of the Superintendent without a prior request on behalf of the Negro student. The parents of these students were consulted prior to assignment. Students not recommended were permitted to make application on their own initiative. The data of this study reveal: (a) the arguments for and against desegregation as presented in the court cases; (b) procedures used to prepare the educators and laymen for the transition; (c) problems confronted by the Board of Education; (d) surveys and reports on various phases of the program; and (e) an analysis of the factors which contributed to a successful program. Analysis of reports and materials suggest feasible guideposts for an effective program of desegregation. These include: (1) The local board of education is primarily responsible for developing a desegregation program, according to the Supreme Court decisions. (2) Each phase of the desegregation program should be implemented by the local board only after a careful study has been made by the lay and/ or educators. (3) The local board should remain firm in the face of challenges to its decisions, provided, all facts were known at the time the decision was made. (4) The appointment of a professional committee or educator to coordinate the program assists extremists to identify the actual problems confronted in the desegregation process. (5) The local board should inform the laymen and educators as early as possib1e of its programs. (6) The loca1 board provides for a smooth transition when it encourages and facilitates lay and professional preparation. (7) Lay organizations, whether proponents or opponents, assist the local board in complying with the law when they obtain and disseminate accurate information. (8) The role of the educator in the desegregation process should be to assist his board to develop a successful program after the board has decided to proceed. (9) A successful desegregation program necessitates an intensive evaluation of the educational programs and building facilities to determine their adequacy, not for desegregation, but to provide an educational environment conducive to maximum learning for each student. (10) The local board must decide what its policy will be in regard to hiring its employees. The fact that the Board has continued to provide needed classroom facilities and educational programs for students with different learning abilities has led to a constant evaluation of the available educational programs for all students. The study showed that the Board of Education and its professional staff secured the assistance of proponents and opponents of desegregation; this was accomplished by directing their attention toward solving educational problems of the school as opposed to solving the emotional problems of society.

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