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April 1, 2003
Vol. 60
No. 7

ASCD Community in Action

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A Look Back at the 1950s: Civil Rights and ASCD

To celebrate the 60th anniversary of ASCD, each issue of Educational Leadership in 2003 will reach back in time to look at what was happening during selected times in the history of ASCD.

The United States Moves Toward School Integration

The late 1950s and early 1960s saw the growth of the modern civil rights movement in the United States. In May 1954, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled unanimously in Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka that racial segregation in public schools violated the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The Court's 1955 follow-up ruling gave federal district courts broad authority to impose remedies for segregation and ordered local school authorities to implement desegregation with “all deliberate speed” (Brown v. Board of Education, 347 U.S. 483 [1954]; Brown v. Board of Education, 349 U.S. 294 [1955]).

ASCD and Educational Leadership

Long before the 1954 Supreme Court decision, ASCD had taken an active position in support of human and civil rights. ASCD passed resolutions against racism in 1947, 1948, 1950, and 1954. Following Brown v. Board of Education, ASCD regularly adopted resolutions supporting desegregation, including its 1955 statement thatThe decision of May 17, 1954, by the Supreme Court of the United States regarding the illegality of the principle of segregated schools was right and just. We pledge our efforts to develop respect for and implementation of the decision.
The November 1954 issue of Educational Leadership centered on the theme “Let's Face Issues of Discrimination.” In an introductory editorial, ASCD president Prudence Bostwick asserted thatWe in ASCD are especially responsible for encouraging the readiness of this country to rid itself of the outward and visible signs of segregation and discrimination. (p. 68)
Bostwick cautioned, however, that the physical desegregation mandated by law would not solve the deeper problems of intolerance. Education leaders were also responsible for developing environments that met the emotional needs of students and promoted healthy human relations and acceptance of others.
In another article, “As Segregation Ends,” A.G. Richardson chronicled the responses of 15 southern states to the Brown v. Board of Education decision. A few states, such as Maryland, Kentucky, and West Virginia, were moving quickly to implement the Court's ruling. Others were waiting for further developments or making more tentative plans for gradual school integration. Officials in several states (Georgia, South Carolina, and Mississippi) had called for “massive resistance,” vowing to abandon the public school system rather than mix white and black students. Richardson, an associate supervisor of Elementary and Secondary Education for the Virginia Department of Education, wrote that these statesare trying to find ways of evading the ruling of the highest court in our land in spite of the fact that the rest of the world is looking to America for leadership in the implementation of democracy. Those who would circumvent this decision have lost sight of the fact that it is difficult to get people to respect our ideal of freedom unless we make free all who live in our land. (p. 77)
Sixty years later, as researchers point to a disturbing trend toward resegregation in U.S. public schools, we can gain inspiration from the hard-fought gains of the 1950s civil rights movement and the active role ASCD members played in moving the United States through those turbulent times. ASCD's active leadership continues to be vital in supporting human rights and equal opportunity for all students. Happy anniversary, ASCD!
—Information compiled by Deborah Perkins-Gough, Senior Associate Editor, Educational Leadership, and David Snyder, ASCD Reference Librarian

ASCD Resources for “The First Years of School”

  • Sornson, B. (2001). Preventing Early Learning Failure. Price: $19.95 (member); $23.95 (nonmember). Stock No. 101003.Porro, B. (2002). Teaching Conflict Resolution with the Rainbow Kids Program. Price: $20.95 (member); $24.95 (nonmember). Stock No. 101247.
  • The Lesson Collection: Primary Grades. (1999–2002). Price: $395.00 (member); $475.00 (nonmember). Stock No. 402062.
  • The Brain and Early Childhood (with a Facilitator's Guide). (2000). Price: $326.00 (member); $396.00 (nonmember). Stock No. 400054.
  • How the Young Brain Learns. (2000). Price: $29.00 (member); $35.00 (nonmember). Stock No. 200292.
  • Early Childhood Mathematics. Price: $89.95. Visit PD Online under Online Services at <LINK URL="http://shop.ascd.org">shop.ascd.org</LINK>.
  • Early Childhood Education. Contact Teri Lawrence, Connecticut State Department of Education, 25 Industrial Park Rd., Middletown, CT 06457; (860) 236-1661; <LINK URL="mailto:teri.lawrence@po.state.ct.us">teri.lawrence@po.state.ct.us</LINK>
  • Early Childhood Reading. Contact Arthur Stellar (<LINK URL="mailto:astellar@highschope.org">astellar@highschope.org</LINK>) or Andrea DeBruin-Parecki (<LINK URL="mailto:adebruin@highscope.org">adebruin@highscope.org</LINK>), High/Scope Educational Research Foundation, 600 N. River St., Ypsilanti, MI 48198; (734) 485-2000; fax: (734) 485-0704.

Providing Sustained Professional Development

The John Edward Porter Professional Development Center, a joint venture between ASCD and the North Central Regional Educational Laboratory, is dedicated to improving student learning by helping educators meet state standards and new federal requirements. The Porter Center offers research-based, hands-on professional development services that can meet schools' specific needs. The Center is conducting several pilots but is available to work with any district or school prepared to engage in sustained activities for improved student achievement.
For more information, contact Agnes Crawford at acrawfor@ascd.org or Claudette Rasmussen at claudette.rasmussen@ncrel.org.

Responding to Members' Interests

Each year, ASCD asks randomly selected members about their professional interests and membership experience. ASCD carefully reviews their responses to adjust membership offerings and develop new products, programs, and services that meet members' concerns. Past survey results have inspired such offerings as institutional memberships and the ASCD Web site.
The 2002 survey results showed once again how much members value ASCD. Two-thirds of the respondents rated the overall value of their ASCD membership as very high. Survey respondents said that they renew their membership each year primarily because they want to receive ASCD publications and stay current on up-to-date information relevant to their profession. They also stated that their membership has had an above-average impact on their job effectiveness.
When asked, most survey respondents indicated a very strong interest in receiving information on recent research in education. In response, ASCD has developed a new online publication, ResearchBrief. Updated every two weeks, ResearchBrief provides summaries of high-quality research on topics of special concern to practitioners and policymakers. ASCD appreciates the valuable feedback that its members provide and will continue to respond to members' needs. ResearchBrief is available atwww.ascd.org/direct/researchbrief.html.
End Notes

1 Van Til, W. (1986). ASCD and social forces. In W. Van Til (Ed.), ASCD in retrospect (pp. 43–51). Alexandria, VA: ASCD.

This article was published anonymously, or the author name was removed in the process of digital storage.

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