We cannot verify your location
Browse Book and Journal Content on Project MUSE

To Get a Better School System

One Hundred Years of Education Reform in Texas

By Gene B. Preuss

Publication Year: 2009

In 1949, as postwar Texas was steadily becoming more urban and calls for education reform were gathering strength throughout the state and nation, State Representative Claud Gilmer and State Senator A. M. Aikin Jr. sponsored a bill designed to increase salaries for Texas schoolteachers. Also tied to the bill, however, were provisions related to sweeping changes in school funding and access to education for minorities.   In To Get a Better School System, Gene B. Preuss examines not only the public policy wrangling and historical context leading up to and surrounding the Gilmer-Aikin legislation, but also places the discussion in the milieu of the national movement for school reform.  

Published by: Texas A&M University Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

pdf iconDownload PDF (315.6 KB)
pp. iii-v

Table of Contents

pdf iconDownload PDF (253.1 KB)
pp. vii

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (249.4 KB)
pp. ix-x

When historians write about reform movements, the resulting works are often administrative studies evaluating the way a bureaucracy forms and operates. Policy studies, comparing and contrasting the differences between the expectations the reformers promised and those that actually resulted either because of limits owing to racism or economic opportunism, are another popular approach.

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (473.8 KB)
pp. xi

Sir Isaac Newton once wrote, “If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.” Although I certainly would never compare myself with a genius such as Newton, I certainly believe that our successes are dependent upon the assistance of others. This study began as a dissertation under the direction of Alwyn Barr at Texas Tech University; he along with Paul Carlson, Donald Walker, Otto Nelson, and Jorge Iber were true teachers,...

read more


pdf iconDownload PDF (262.2 KB)
pp. 1-6

In January 1946, the Texas State Teachers Association (TSTA) newsletter, the Texas Outlook, mourned the death of Annie Webb Blanton, who had passed away October 2, 1945.¹ Blanton served as the TSTA’s first woman president in 1916, and the first woman to be state superintendent of public instruction from 1919 to 1923. While she was state superintendent, she led a public school reform movement known...

read more

Chapter 1: Retreat and Recovery in Texas Schools, 1850–1900

pdf iconDownload PDF (1.3 MB)
pp. 7-18

The idea of free public education was gaining popularity in the early 1820s when American and European settlers came to Mexican Texas to take advantage of the liberal immigration policies provided by the new government of the Republic of Mexico. When Stephen F. Austin built his colony in southeast Texas, he vigorously supported the establishment of a system of public education in his colonial...

read more

Chapter 2: Progressive Reform in Texas Schools

pdf iconDownload PDF (743.3 KB)
pp. 19-37

In the early 1900s, even in the tiny Fisher County community of Hobbs in West Texas, residents could boast, “Times were progressive.” After a period of drought, migration into the Hobbs area increased. Established and new residents sought to increase the capacity of small rural schools by consolidation. One resident remembered: J. W. Hale, the county superintendent, envisioned a school in the rural area like the city school.

read more

Chapter 3: Minorities in Texas Schools, 1920–1949

pdf iconDownload PDF (629.4 KB)
pp. 38-57

Although Progressive educational reformers worked to improve public school conditions across the state by focusing their energies on the outdated rural one- room schools, they often overlooked the conditions Texas minorities faced in classrooms. Ironically, most minority children in the state attended rural schools, African American children in East Texas and Mexican and Mexican American...

read more

Chapter 4: World War II and Texas Rural Schools

pdf iconDownload PDF (1020.3 KB)
pp. 58-76

The Depression and World War II had a tremendous effect on U.S. society. The massive government effort to build a successful war machine to supply the Allies and the United States’ own defense effort effectively ended the Depression. The military buildup included more than military contracts and a recruitment campaign—the United States also needed to create a military infrastructure to support...

read more

Chapter 5: The Gilmer-Aikin Laws

pdf iconDownload PDF (696.8 KB)
pp. 77-93

Former Speaker of the Texas House of Representatives Claud Gilmer remembered the limitations of his high school education. He came from a family of Methodist ministers, “I had an uncle who was a Methodist minister [and] I had a grandfather that was a presiding elder, Methodist presiding elder.” His mother wanted him to follow their example: “So when I finished high school up here in Rocksprings,...

read more

Chapter 6: Epilogue

pdf iconDownload PDF (348.2 KB)
pp. 94-104

Although opponents of the Gilmer-Aikin legislation worried that the bill would erode democracy, increase spending, and destroy the rural community, the new program garnered praise from all areas. For school districts in poor areas, Gilmer-Aikin meant more funds to improve local schools. Irvin Wilson, superintendent of schools in Hallsville, in Harrison County, Texas, wrote to Senator Aikin about the need for funding...


pdf iconDownload PDF (372.6 KB)
pp. 105-118


pdf iconDownload PDF (348.7 KB)
pp. 119-127


pdf iconDownload PDF (263.6 KB)
pp. 129-134

E-ISBN-13: 9781603443746
E-ISBN-10: 1603443746
Print-ISBN-13: 9781603441117
Print-ISBN-10: 1603441115

Page Count: 152
Illustrations: 8 b&w photos.
Publication Year: 2009