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ERIC Number: EJ981344
Record Type: Journal
Publication Date: 2012-Feb
Pages: 38
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
ISSN: ISSN-0018-2680
Rethinking "Turner v. Keefe": The Parallel Mobilization of African-American and White Teachers in Tampa, Florida, 1936-1946
Shircliffe, Barbara J.
History of Education Quarterly, v52 n1 p99-136 Feb 2012
In 1941, members of the local unit of the Florida State Teachers Association (FSTA) met in Tampa to plan a lawsuit against Hillsborough County's school board for paying African-American teachers less than white teachers. Hilda Turner, who taught history and economics at Tampa's historically black high school, agreed to serve as plaintiff; she was the only one to volunteer. Thurgood Marshall chief counsel for the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP)'s Legal Defense Fund (LDF), assisted Samuel McGill, a Jacksonville attorney, in representing Turner, who filed a complaint in federal court that November. In the fall of 1942, responding to Turner's suit, Hillsborough County school board dropped the race-tiered salary schedule and adopted a "rating" scale that based teachers' pay on a number of factors other than training and experience, including "physical, health, personality, and character," "scholarship and attitude," and "instructional skill and performance." The rating committee charged with classifying teachers placed 84 percent of white teachers in the highest pay bracket, and 80 percent of African-American teachers in the lowest pay bracket. As in other Florida cases, Hillsborough County school board offered the new rating scale as evidence that the district no longer discriminated on the basis of race, an assertion Marshall attempted to challenge at trial. However, in 1943, two years after Turner's complaint was originally filed, the federal district judge ruled that the new salary scale was "fair on its face." Historians have interpreted "Turner v. Keefe" as a great loss for African-American teachers in the struggle against racial discrimination in education. In this essay, the author argues that one unexamined consequence of Turner's case was an unanticipated convergence of interests among African-American and white teachers against the rating scale white schoolmen devised as a "political answer" to the salary equalization suits. In this context, Turner's case and perhaps others, if reexamined, also tell a story about conflicts over the modernization of southern education, teacher militancy, and the growing divisions between classroom teachers and state and local educational leadership. Historians have neglected this parallel mobilization of African-American and white teachers. Perhaps this oversight is because historians have been primarily concerned with how the teacher salary cases advanced LDF's litigation campaign. (Contains 1 table and 179 footnotes.)
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Publication Type: Journal Articles; Reports - Descriptive
Education Level: Elementary Secondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: N/A
Authoring Institution: N/A
Identifiers - Location: Florida