Alabama in the Twentieth Century

By Wayne Flynt | Go to book overview

5
Teaching the People
Education

Tired little feet swinging from high hard benches; children huddled about smokey
wood stoves trying their best to keep warm; in many instances thirsty, for there is
no adequate water supply; impaired eyes due to poor lighting; utter barrenness of
room due to lack of proper desks and other equipment; this is the picture of the
average rural school in Alabama. …

The people … want better schools and they will show that … by giving an
overwhelming majority to the educational bond issue. …

The prominent leaders in the opposition are highly educated and highly paid
corporation lawyers or those who, for a fee, are willing to take a position hostile to
progress in this state. …

Has any one of these opponents ever shown any great desire to protect the
pocketbook of the farmer? No! All they want is money and more of it to hoard and
spend on improving their mines and sweatshops, so that your son and daughter who
has not had the educational advantages necessary for a high salaried position may
wear their lives away at a pittance, so that the treasuries of those men may at all
times be filled to over flowing.

Yes, verily, the love of money is the root of all evil.

—Thomas M. Owen Jr., Florence Times-News, January 2, 1928

Being a teacher in Alabama never has been an easy job. Some education problems were rooted deep in the state's frontier past: resistance to taxes; belief in Jacksonian egalitarianism rather than educational elitism; resistance to new ideas. Other problems emerged from the 1901 constitution: limits on property taxes, which forced the state to rely on unpredictable and

-220-

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Alabama in the Twentieth Century
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents vii
  • Illustrations ix
  • Preface xi
  • Introduction xv
  • Part One - Alabama's Political Economy 1
  • 1: In the Beginning the 1901 Constitution 3
  • 2: Every Man for Himself Politics, Alabama Style 29
  • 3: Selling Alabama the Economy 107
  • Part Two - Alabama's Society 173
  • 4: Life from the Bottom Up Society 175
  • 5: Teaching the People Education 220
  • 6: On and off the Pedestal Women 251
  • 7: Counting Behind White Folks African Americans 317
  • 8: Fighting Mad Alabamians at War 373
  • 9: Beyond the Game the Social Significance of Sports 407
  • Part Three - Alabama's Culture 441
  • 10: What Would Jesus Do? Religion 443
  • 11: Plain and Fancy Folk and Elite Culture 485
  • Notes 533
  • Selected Bibliography 545
  • Index 579
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