Separate and Unequal: Public School Campaigns and Racism in the Southern Seaboard States, 1901-1915

By Louis R. Harlan | Go to book overview

CHAPTER VII
Georgia: Public Schools and the
Urban-Rural Conflict

GEORGIA had the simplest system of educational finance on the Southern seaboard. The state government was the sole means of public support of the schools, except for independent districts in cities and in four urban counties. Distributed to counties on the basis of population of school age, this state fund would seem on the face of it to be the ideal method of providing equal educational opportunity, for whites at least, throughout the state. Wealthy counties would share their substance with poorer counties far more than in states like South Carolina, where county taxes furnished the bulk of the school fund, or North Carolina and Virginia, where local taxation was emphasized. But actually the independent districts outside of the state system contained much of the state's taxable property, which was separately taxed to provide far superior schools for the cities. And the black counties received large amounts from the state school fund for Negro children and spent this to give their white children superior schools.

Georgia's experience accentuates the fact that simply enlarging the unit of taxation was not a solution of the inequities of Southern school finance, even for whites. There are many indications that school officials were aware of the relation of Negro children on the school census to the amount they received for white schools. Movements for local taxation stemmed from the high country where Negroes were few, while the staunchest defenders of state appropriations were from the coastal plain and lower Piedmont where Negroes were thickly settled. "I am not opposed to local

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