Educating Harlem
A Century of Schooling and Resistance in a Black Community

Chapter 2. “A Serious Pedagogical Situation”: Diverging School Reform Priorities in Depression Era Harlem

by Thomas Harbison

Chapter 2 Map

Map design by Rachael Dottle and customized for chapter by Rachel Klepper. Map research by Rachel Klepper. Map layers from: Department of Information Technology and Telecommunications, Department of Urban Planning, City of New York; Atlas of the city of New York, borough of Manhattan. From actual surveys and official plans / by George W. and Walter S. Bromley New York Public Library Map Warper; Manhattan Land book of the City of New York. Desk and Library ed. [1956]; New York Public Library Map Warper; and State of New Jersey GIS. Point locations from: School Directories, New York City Board of Education, New York Amsterdam News via ProQuest Historical Newspapers, and multiple archival sources cited in relevant chapters.

Whenever the public school system embarks on a program or uses procedures which provide different levels of education for different social, economic or racial groups, it then becomes a force in solidifying undemocratic class cleavages, obstructs mobility, and blocks the use of human intellectual resources. — Kenneth Clark, April 19541

By 1954, many parents and local leaders had reached the same conclusion as Kenneth Clark, who presented the argument quoted above to an audience at his Northside Center for Child Development in Harlem. No matter what the intentions of educators and others who advocated for them, differentiated educational services and the curriculum for Harlem’s predominantly Black student population had become yet another form of discrimination and injustice. Most school administrators vehemently disagreed with Clark’s accusation, arguing that these programs were necessary to level the playing field for students. Harlem schools continued to divert resources to “specialized” remedial social, vocational, and academic training programs; the more robust and humane educational program at Gertrude Ayer’s Public School (PS) 24, as discussed in chapter 1, was the exception rather than the rule.

The school curriculum had divided Harlem parents, local leaders, and school administrators since the Great Migration. The priorities and reform strategies favored by many parents, community leaders, and a faction of teachers diverged drastically from those valued by school administrators. The divergence was sharpest during the Depression Era, when parents and other community representatives such as civic leaders and activist teachers questioned the fairness and equity of their schools and found new outlets to express their discontent with educational practices that sanctioned lower expectations for Harlem students. They rejected customized, so-called individualized curriculum, making a strong case that when crudely applied this approach amounted to discriminatory group categorization. In response, administrators dug in their heels and intensified a long-standing remedial curricular focus that they said best served students by compensating for what they perceived to be a lack of educational experiences in their students’ homes and communities. This major divide between parents and administrators in the 1930s and later differed from the pattern of the 1910s and early 1920s, when discussion of school goals and priorities was dominated by elites who generally supported school policy and agreed with school officials that specialized forms of schooling best served African American students, especially the large number who had arrived from the South.2

Many Black southerners and Afro-Caribbean immigrants came to Harlem aspiring to more and better schooling for themselves or their children. Yet they were met by educational practices and ideas that stymied these aspirations. At least by the time of the Great Depression, if not before, parents and community leaders pushed to make Harlem schools places that held high expectations for all students and helped them be met. These struggles reveal the dualities of the Black families’ experiences in the Great Migration and pre–World War II northern cities. They achieved more unfettered access to schooling than in the Jim Crow South, but battled deeply rooted racist ideas about Black children and their futures and the educational practices they spawned. They manifest an early version of an ongoing struggle in African American experiences of schooling.

The Great Migration

Between World War I and 1930, thousands of African American families from the U.S. South and Afro-Caribbean families from the West Indies arrived in Central Harlem and dramatically changed the student population.3 Between 1910 and 1930, New York City’s Black population more than tripled, rising from 91,000 to 327,000.4 From 1920 to 1930, over 115,000 white Harlemites left the area and nearly 90,000 African Americans and Afro-Caribbean immigrants arrived.5

PS 89, an elementary school located at 135th Street and Lenox Avenue, sat at the heart of Harlem’s earliest Black settlement and felt the effects of early twentieth-century demographic change before any other. Even before the Great Migration accelerated the formation of a Black “city within a city” in Harlem during and after World War I, the movement uptown of Black New Yorkers from the Tenderloin district and the flight of white residents to outer boroughs transformed the blocks immediately surrounding PS 89.6 By 1916, 84 percent of the school’s students were Black and this number increased to 93 percent by 1921. Principal Jacob Ross and his administrative staff placed overage children—most of them students whose families had recently arrived from the U.S. South and the West Indies—in smaller classes (twenty-five or fewer, compared to the district average of more than forty) and opened “adjustment classes” for students whom educators judged to be farthest behind.7

New York City superintendents and principals in place during the late 1910s and 1920s, responding to the arrival to their schools of migrants from the South and immigrants from the West Indies, built upon a long-standing tradition of promoting specialized forms of education for migrant and immigrant groups in New York City. Since the late 1890s, administrators had pioneered the use of character education, vocational training, and the delivery of social services in the school. They sought to customize the curriculum to meet the perceived needs of their students, most of them European immigrants. As they determined that the classical school curriculum of the nineteenth century, designed to meet the academic needs of a select group of students, would not suffice for their diverse, large group of students, they offered one variation of the ongoing struggle in education over whether schools would replicate class and racial hierarchies in their curricula or seek to challenge them.8

One of the earliest administrators to apply this philosophy of customized curriculum to school policy targeting African American students in New York City was William L. Bulkley. Bulkley began his career in New York City public schools as a teacher in 1899 after migrating from South Carolina where he had been born into slavery. Soon after, he took over as principal of the predominantly Black school in the Tenderloin district.9 As a close follower of Booker T. Washington, Bulkley emphasized manual training to prepare Black students for the relatively lower-status vocations open to them at the time in a segregated labor market. At the same time, he asserted that students from Black families living in poor conditions needed extra health services and recreational spaces and that his school was in the best position to provide these. In collaboration with local churches and other welfare organizations, Bulkley converted his school into a community center that offered vocational classes, basic health care, recreational facilities, and child care to neighborhood residents of all ages.10

Other principals in Harlem, such as Jacob Ross, began to track students into tiered levels of classes based on intelligence testing during the late 1910s and early 1920s. This fit a national trend that favored the application to schools of supposed scientific techniques developed by psychologists.11 Using a few different types of tests derived from the Stanford-Binet (popularized during World War I as a tool for sorting army recruits), New York City school administrators teamed up with psychologists from the Education Clinic at the City College of New York and other New York universities to develop a series of cutoffs that determined minimum scores necessary for the placement of students in various academic and vocational courses, and classified students as “accelerated,” “normal,” or “retarded.”12

Although they continued many educational practices that limited options for Harlem students, the public schools of Harlem during the late 1910s and 1920s offered a relative improvement in terms of material resources as compared to the vast inequalities in education spending for Black and white students in the formally segregated systems of the Jim Crow South.13 Public leaders in the African American community of Harlem, disproportionately male and middle- to upper-class, expressed a great deal of optimism in the schools. In addition to generally validating the motives and efficacy of the administration, they gave specific support to various forms of remedial education, including character education, industrial training, and the expansion of social services. Black newspaper editors and National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) leaders, among the strongest public voices in the Harlem Black community at the time, tended to support these approaches as they fit them into a larger strategy of racial uplift. They shared with school administrators an understanding that schools should focus on teaching middle-class cultural and social values to working-class African Americans.

The Black press generally came out in favor of character education in Harlem schools. In the mid-1920s, the New York Age (founded in the 1880s) backed administrators’ claims that “the building of character is one of the essential aims of education” and reinforced their plea for parent cooperation to buttress in-school moral training.14 The Amsterdam News, founded in 1909 as a rival to the Age, joined the Age in regularly urging parents to support the goals of the public school, including character education.15 They also gave support to administrators’ implementation of vocational curricula, even with an emphasis on lower-skilled work. As were the ideas of Booker T. Washington, or the pioneers of industrial education before him, ideas about character and labor were often intertwined. The experience of work was believed to refine students’ character, and students’ character would help prepare them to accept the confined work opportunities available to them due to racism.16 The New York Age promoted vocational curricula in Harlem the most consistently, maintaining this position long after T. Thomas Fortune—a follower of Washington—sold the paper in 1907. During the 1920s, the paper’s editorials applauded vocational guidance’s effectiveness in matching the “mental capacity and adaptability of the pupil” with “channels that will qualify him for a gainful occupation.”17 For Washington and the many advocates of “uplift suasion” who followed him, vocational education and respectability-minded character education worked to reinforce one another.18

Both the Amsterdam News and New York Age regularly published editorials complimenting the general fairness and wisdom of prevailing school policies. Often, they explicitly noted the leadership’s lack of racial discrimination or favoritism.19 They spoke highly of Superintendent William O’Shea (who served from 1924 to 1934) and his predecessors, characterizing them as “men of executive ability and courage” who avoided racial or ethnic bias in their work.20

In taking this approach, they aligned closely with the racial uplift philosophy championed by the National Urban League (NUL), an organization established in 1910 to address the needs of African American migrants to northern cities and guided by sociological theories favoring assimilation and self-help strategies. NUL leaders encouraged migration, breaking with Washington’s position, but perceived migrants as maladjusted to their new environment and identified vocational and moral training as the path to respectability for them.21 In their support of an industrial education model, the NUL and leaders such as Bulkley (who played an essential role in founding the organization), were taking sides in a national debate about the goals of education for improving the position of African Americans. That debate grew out of the disagreement between Booker T. Washington and W. E. B. Du Bois, who approached the education of Black students through different strategies. Their disagreement escalated with Du Bois’s public criticism of Washington’s emphasis on manual labor in favor of a continued classical curriculum to educate transformational leaders in the African American community.22

Other Harlem residents who interacted with schools as parents or children may well have had different stories to tell, which—unless gathered into organized protest movements—were less likely to be captured by newspapers or archives. As Shannon King’s study of early Harlem activism shows, working-class residents organized to contest injustice in housing, policing, and work; education may have been an area that, at that moment, drew less activism.23 Though elites predominate in the historical record of the 1910s and 1920s, many more voices soon made themselves heard.

The Great Depression

Harlem’s elite spoke less supportively of their schools during the late 1920s and 1930s as the economic situation and physical school conditions worsened and new protest movements emerged.24 The Great Depression hit Harlem extremely hard and relatively early. The New York Urban League noted unusual increases in unemployment as early as the fall of 1927.25 A steep economic downturn was already under way by 1928 and federal and state relief did not bring major benefits until 1936.26 Median family income in Harlem dropped steadily after 1929, falling 44 percent by 1932, and by 1933 more than 40 percent of Black families there relied on government relief.27 The unemployment rate in Harlem quadrupled during 1930 alone, with Black New Yorkers losing their jobs at three to four times the rate of white citizens.28 Most Black residents of Harlem who remained employed at this time worked in low-skilled service jobs in the domestic and service sectors.29

School conditions, already problematic during the 1920s due to overcrowding and overdue maintenance, continued to deteriorate during the 1930s. During the Depression, many Harlem families relied on public schools as a source of benefits such as free lunches, basic health care, and job training.30 Educational levels among Black students in Harlem rose throughout the 1930s, as did attendance rates, which equaled those among white children by the end of the decade.31 Yet, during this time of increasing dependence on the schools, massive budget cuts led to a freeze on all new building and hiring. This disproportionately affected Harlem, by then one of the most densely populated areas of the city and an area where expansion of school facilities had already fallen behind the rapid population growth during the 1920s.32

By the 1930s, due to the combination of racial discrimination in the housing market that restricted Black residents to Harlem, white departures from the neighborhood, and school zoning policies that either respected residential segregation or amplified it, Harlem schools had few white students in attendance.33 In 1920, two elementary schools were over 90 percent Black.34 By the early 1930s, thirteen of the fourteen public schools in Central Harlem (between St. Nicholas Avenue on the west and Fifth Avenue on the east) had almost no white students. One of these schools contained 92 percent Black students, and the remaining twelve schools had Black enrollment of 97 percent or higher. This pattern paralleled the trend in other large northern urban school systems such as Chicago, Boston, and Cleveland.35

During the early years of the Great Depression, groups of publishers and journalists in the Black press reported on these shortcomings, which helped raise doubts about the fairness of the system. Together with groups of teachers, parents, and church leaders from Harlem, they began to question school officials’ approach. They began to combine efforts to advocate more equitable education for their children. These women and men, most of whom lived in Harlem as well as some who taught there, closely connected what they identified as limited educational opportunities in schools with restricted opportunities in housing and labor markets. Education became an area that came under fire from radical political movements taking shape in Harlem, as activists turned away from the gradualist strategies favored by the “old guard” at the head of the NUL and the NAACP.36

The fact that both of those organizations, the two largest civil rights organizations in both New York City and the nation, often overlooked educational inequality in Harlem schools during the early 1930s created a vacuum into which teacher, parent, and citizen groups moved to air major grievances about the schools and to propose reforms that would more fairly serve the children of Harlem. They moved into the public sphere, which had been expanded in Harlem during the 1920s with the founding of weekly publications far left of the previously dominant New York Age, and growing Black trade unionism led by men such as A. Philip Randolph and Frank Crosswaith.37

Reports conducted during the 1930s, some government sponsored, some initiated by citizen groups, teachers, and other activists, revealed the extent of subpar conditions and unfair curricular tracking in Harlem schools. These studies fueled protests and further dampened community confidence in the schools. In 1930 alone, investigative reports on poor conditions in Harlem schools were released by the Better Schools Club, started by a group of six Harlem mothers; the New York City Teachers Union, the largest teachers union in the city at the time; and the Joint Committee on Education, an umbrella of civic groups such as the Junior League and the League of Women Voters. Between 1932 and 1934, parents, teachers, church leaders, and various social welfare agencies serving the community, collaborated in a Harlem Parent-Teachers’ Committee to gather data on unequal conditions and to protest publicly.38

In the following two years, protest coalesced and intensified around two prominent government reports that put the situation in Harlem public schools under the microscope for wide audiences to see and led community activists and school administrators to stake out very different positions. The first came from a Harlem assistant superintendent, Oswald Schlockow. Schlockow was born in Germany in 1874, came to New York City at the age of eight, and attended New York City public schools through his undergraduate degree at City College of New York. As a graduate student at New York University, he took a special interest in techniques of school management and discipline, including methods for maintaining order by instilling “morality” among “incorrigible truants in the schools.” He put his theories into practice as a teacher at PS 22 in Manhattan, as the principal of PS 50 and PS 109 in Brooklyn and, most productively, as the assistant superintendent in Harlem beginning in 1928.39 Schlockow concluded that Harlem’s “special educational, social, ethical, academic and vocational needs” must be met with customized school programming. Between 1932 and 1934, Schlockow made character education and vocational programming his top goal in his districts (10 and 12), which covered much of Central Harlem.40 He described his agenda as favoring “character first,” a phrase that he argued should “be inscribed over the portals of every school in these districts” since he deemed it a “pole star of vision” for Harlem students.41

Alongside character education, Schlockow increased vocational training programs in his Harlem districts. Schlockow teamed up with assistant superintendent Robert Frost, his counterpart responsible for Districts 13 and 14 (covering the remainder of Central Harlem), to increase the number of vocational courses in their schools. They also adjusted the academic curriculum by dropping some of the advanced classes and adding “visual instruction,” which incorporated slides and other visual aides in lieu of complex texts.42 Schlockow and Frost justified such changes as steps to accommodate “children with borderline mentalities,” more likely in their districts because of “the unique make-up of the population.” Yet, Schlockow and Frost failed to maintain even the illusion that the sorting into diverse curricular tracks would take place on an individualized basis, assigning vast groups of students to lower tracks based on their racial and socioeconomic characteristics and keeping students in these tracks for years on end, without opportunities to move as their achievement improved.43

Although he was not alone in promoting these approaches, Schlockow was extremely outspoken in his call for major curricular adjustments based on the socioeconomic, racial, and ethnic characteristics of students at any given school. In his 1933–1934 report, subsequently called “the Schlockow report” in the New York media, he called on the schools to formulate individualized plans of “academic studies, manual training, and socialized techniques of work” to best suit the specific ethnic, racial, and socioeconomic makeup of their districts.44 In his report, he detailed the poverty and limited prior schooling prevalent among Black students in his districts, particularly those whose families had migrated to New York City from the South. He correlated these factors with poor school performance and claimed the “maelstrom of economic and social distress,” presented a “serious pedagogical situation.”45

Schlockow attempted to lay the groundwork for his programs and ward off opposition from Harlem families, whom he anticipated would become offended by his program’s implicit blame on their communities for school failure. Before the report’s release, he contacted Harlem church and civic organization leaders and asked for their support.46 Nevertheless, his reforms were met with major opposition, much of it quite hostile.

The Amsterdam News voiced the sharpest criticism. By the late 1920s, its editors had already begun to raise doubts about customized programming for Harlem schools. Immediately after Schlockow’s press release, the newspaper aired its concerns about the report. The Schlockow report “augur[ed] an official move to shunt Negro pupils into certain avenues of employment deemed ‘best’ for them because of racial restrictions and prejudices,” the editors wrote.47

Criticisms of the Schlockow report resonated in Black communities beyond Harlem, primarily because of the work of the African American journalist and author George Schuyler. A nationally recognized social commentator, Schuyler decided to make an example of the Schlockow report in his regular newspaper column for the Pittsburgh Courier, which by this time was circulated to nearly 200,000 readers and reprinted in a dozen cities.48 The Amsterdam News republished Schuyler’s columns as well as letters that he composed to the editor. Schuyler focused closely on Harlem schools because in his judgment, “New York City is the spearhead of the Negro’s fight for full American citizenship with all of the rights, duties and privileges that go with it,” and he used his attacks on Schlockow to open up a broader attack on school segregation in the urban North.49

Schuyler argued that Schlockow’s plan represented “a quiet conspiracy . . . to segregate the Negro educationally.”50 The report, he argued, signaled the “opening gun in the threatening campaign for a lower industrial curriculum for Negro children.”51 The special curriculum for Black children could trap them permanently in the “laborer-domestic stratum.”52 Schuyler criticized school authorities in Harlem for concentrating Black students in a single district with gerrymandered boundaries and then overdosing them with industrial education. Schuyler was accusing New York school administration of more than just benign neglect. He argued that Schlockow’s approach to reform was deeply racist, noting, “Now [Schlockow] is the man (and one of the exploited Jews!) who presides over the destinies of most of Harlem’s school children. The education given the white children of New York is, according to this man, unsuited to colored children.” Schuyler referred to Schlockow, along with Jacob Ross, by this time the principal of Junior High School 136 and a collaborator with Schlockow on his proposed curricular reforms, as “a menace to the colored people.”53

Schuyler was by no means the first to argue against racial segregation in New York City schools. Yet his accusation of malicious intent on the part of the administration broke new ground. Schuyler’s powerful response and that of the African American community in Harlem gave added impetus to the debate and represented a more confrontational tone than that of earlier discussions of Harlem schools.

Six months later, a very different type of event led to investigative journalism that triggered further cycles of protest and disagreement over school reform priorities. On March 19, 1935, a floorwalker at E. H. Kress and Company five- and ten-cent store on 125th Street spotted a teenage boy shoplifting a penknife. The guard hailed a manager, and together they apprehended the youth, Lino Rivera, and summoned the police. In an effort to defuse the situation and disperse the growing crowd of bystanders in front of the store, the manager and the patrolman who arrived on the scene took the Puerto Rican Harlem resident through the basement and released him through a rear exit.54

Word spread among shoppers that a young Black boy had been badly beaten by the police. An ambulance arrived to treat minor injuries suffered by the store workers during the initial scuffle while apprehending the suspect, but the crowd assumed that it had come for the boy. When the ambulance left empty and a hearse coincidentally pulled up to a building close to the store, some accused the police of murder and the gathering sidewalk crowd grew angrier. 55 A heavy object was hurled through the front window of the store and chaos escalated.56

When night fell, crowds broke into other stores along 125th Street, mostly white-owned and many such as Kress having reputations for refusing to hire Black employees. Disorder spread outward to Seventh and Lenox Avenues, where participants smashed over three hundred storefront windows and looted merchandise.57 The Harlem Merchants Association wired Governor Herbert Lehman requesting military assistance. The following day, patrols by over five hundred police armed with riot guns brought the situation to a close. Ultimately, five deaths and over $500,000 of property damage were reported.58

As the author Alain Locke vividly recalled a year later, likening the riot to “a revealing flash of lightning,” the event suddenly drew public attention across the city to the social and economic problems wracking Harlem.59 When Mayor Fiorello LaGuardia appointed an investigative team to document the underlying problems that caused the riot, he set in motion a series of studies aimed to ensure that this moment would not soon be forgotten.

Mayor LaGuardia created the commission three days after the riot by appointing a biracial, predominantly liberal group to determine the social and economic problems underlying the outbreak and recommend government solutions.60 He did so in consultation with leaders of church, labor, and racial uplift organizations. He appointed a Subcommittee on Education alongside seven other committees focusing on areas including employment, relief, housing, law enforcement, and hospitals.61 He chose Oswald Garrison Villard, former editor of the Nation, to chair the education subcommittee. The rest of the group consisted of Countée Cullen, a poet and teacher, whose views on education are explored in chapter 1 of this volume; John W. Robinson, a Black minister; and William R. McCann, a white Catholic priest.62

Villard’s group held weeks of formal hearings, questioning administrators, teachers, and parents about the state of the public schools serving Harlem’s children.63 These sessions revealed a significant rift between administrators’ understandings of Harlem schools and those of parents and teachers. Dozens of parent and teacher interviewees spoke—often in private for fear of retaliation by the school system—of the dilapidated state of school buildings and crowding of forty or fifty students per class, even after the scheduling of multiple shifts that disguised deeper overcrowding problems and shortened students’ time in class.64 Mrs. Eddie Aspinall, the executive secretary of the Central Committee of the Harlem Parents Associations, stated: “In this critical period . . . the Board of Education, instead of expanding the school facilities to meet the situation, has instituted a false ‘economy’ program in education” in which “more children are jammed into the classroom.”65 Parents questioned the implementation of vocational education and the commitment of principals and teachers to high-quality education for their children.66 Mrs. W. J. Burroughs, speaking on behalf of the Harlem Teachers Association, the Students Association, and the League of Struggle for Negro Rights, criticized not only “scandalous conditions” in the physical plant but also a “frequent lack of sympathy” from teachers and principals as well as a “lifeless curriculum,” highlighting how some teachers’ perspectives differed sharply from those of school administrators.67

As valuable as they were for revealing contradicting views on the goals and realities of Harlem’s schools, the hearings were only a part of the overall investigation into the school situation. Under Villard’s chairmanship, the education subcommittee worked with the Howard University sociologist E. Franklin Frazier’s research team to pull together more data and draw more sweeping conclusions than any prior study of Harlem’s schools. They combed through data on the budget, age of facilities, safety ratings, staff-hiring patterns, racial demographics, and curriculum design. Frazier’s team studied individual schools as well as out-of-school factors such as unhealthy living conditions that worsened student health and created obstacles to learning. The team drew information from interviews with principals, site visits, and various school records.68

In late August, the Subcommittee on Education submitted a highly detailed report to LaGuardia’s full commission.69 The group concluded that Harlem schools were a significant part of the problems plaguing the community and it especially criticized the physical condition of Harlem schools. “One can almost trace the limits of the Negro community through the character of the school buildings,” the subcommittee wrote. The report documented segregation of students into low-skilled vocational classes and a watering down of academic courses, and it accused the school system of inequitable resource allocation, teacher hiring, and racially biased treatment of Black teachers, students, and parents by administrators.70 A full chapter of the final report from LaGuardia’s commission was devoted to education and recreation.

Upon receipt of the final version of the report, controversial enough that it was left unsigned by three commission members, Mayor LaGuardia withheld his official endorsement and decided to hold it for internal use only.71 The overall conclusion that the incident at Kress department store was a “spark that set aflame the smoldering resentments of the people of Harlem against racial discrimination and poverty in the midst of plenty” was in line with the mayor’s statements during the creation of the commission.72 Yet, the specific accusations of discrimination by various city departments, including the school system, represented a potential political liability.

In the winter and spring of 1936, NAACP officials, groups of publishers and journalists in the Black press, and other leaders in the Harlem community urged the mayor to release the report, but he declined. Only if certain “objectionable” passages were omitted or rewritten would LaGuardia consider sharing the report more widely. However, although the mayor resisted, a copy of the report was leaked to the Amsterdam News, and on July 18, 1936, the paper published the entire 35,000-word report, and newspapers across the city immediately picked up the story.73

Release of the report fueled several Harlem-based movements to study and change the state of schools. The work of LaGuardia’s riot commission and its research team put into the public record hard evidence that validated the dissent from various groups in the early 1930s and exposed the problem to a much larger audience. The riot report, combined with follow-up studies conducted by teachers, social scientists, Harlem-based civic groups, and state agencies, provided a large body of data to support arguments about discriminatory practices in the schools that had previously just been suspicions. The more evidence of inequities in Harlem schools became available, the more closely researchers and activists examined the schools and found new venues to call for change.

A group of teachers from the Teachers Union took the lead in building a protest movement based on the report findings. Since its founding in 1916 as the first teachers union in New York City, a number of members within the Teachers Union pushed an agenda reaching far beyond bread-and-butter issues.74 In the closing months of 1935, a cadre of those teachers established a Harlem Committee to coordinate a community-wide effort to confront the problems identified by the report of LaGuardia’s riot commission.75 As one of its first actions this group drafted a petition to the Board of Education directing its attention to a list of problems overlapping closely with those discussed in the LaGuardia report.76 To bolster its cause, the Harlem Committee circulated reprinted copies of the commission report.

The goals outlined in the petition were quickly and emphatically endorsed by the union’s leadership, as well as religious and political leaders such as the Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Jr. of Abyssinian Baptist Church and community leaders who had served on LaGuardia’s commission, such as Countee Cullen.77 The teachers on the Harlem Committee reached out to other local organizations to create a broad coalition for addressing school problems. In the spring of 1936, they pulled together a wide range of parent, religious, and civic organizations to form the Provisional Committee for Better Schools in Harlem, soon after renamed the Permanent Committee for Better Schools in Harlem. They called for new and improved school facilities in Harlem.78

School administrators, on the other hand, retrenched in response to the riot and criticism that emerged in its aftermath. During LaGuardia’s riot commission investigation, administrators consistently focused their testimony before the Subcommittee on Education on inadequacies in the homes of Harlem children. They claimed this necessitated the widespread application of specialized curricula. Jacob Ross blamed single-parent homes for “deterioration in morals” among his 2,200 students.79 James Marshall, the president of the Board of Education, readily admitted the inadequacy of Harlem’s school facilities while adamantly denying discriminatory practices, pinning the underperformance of Black students on “deficiencies in training which result from broken homes, poverty, a vicious environment, retardation, and ill health.”80 Gertrude Ayer, New York’s first African American woman elementary school principal who was pioneering community-based education at PS 24, as described in chapter 1 of this volume, argued that Harlem students’ problems originated outside of the school and should thus be addressed there.

During the riot commission hearings, principals spent a great deal of time trying to justify vocational training for Harlem students. Julius Gluck, the principal of PS 89, highlighted the demand for proper equipment and teaching staff to give students failing the academic curriculum greater opportunity. “Manual training work must be extended to a great degree,” he argued, “if we are to fit the children of this neighborhood for a good, profitable life after their education is completed.” In his argument in favor of a broadened vocational curriculum, Gluck blamed a historical overemphasis on intellectual training for students’ inability to advance through the grades at a proper pace, resulting in overage students that caused social problems in classrooms.81 Principals of vocational high schools, such as Charles J. Pickett, the head of the New York Industrial High School, advocated for the special importance of manual training during the Depression Era when a higher number of students than normal were in school against their wishes and had no desire for an academic curriculum.82 (Even advocates for vocational education felt the effects of underinvestment in Harlem schools, with programs lacking mere basic supplies for vocational training, as discussed in chapter 3 of this volume.)

In the same interviews, administrators continued to call for more social services in their schools, justifying the addition of mental health and social work professionals to their staffs with the goal of achieving proper psychological “adjustment” of their students. This represented a turn that was to sharpen during the upcoming war years, when principals and superintendents would be joined by teachers in an effort to infuse the curriculum with mental health services. Notably, these social services would operate alongside curricula dominated by vocational and character education, rather than the academic curriculum many Harlem residents sought.

In the heart of the Great Depression, Harlem parents, community members, and some teachers fought their version of what was then a decades-old struggle, which would prove to be enduring. They sought not only decent resources and facilities for their children, but a curriculum that reflected their aspirations rather than the constrained and oppressive employment environment they faced.

School policy makers persisted during and beyond World War II in their focus on adjusting children in an effort to counteract adverse environmental factors. During the 1940s, with a second wave of migration from the South that exceeded the first, superintendents and principals implemented a wide array of curricular initiatives that they billed as anti-juvenile-delinquency measures, continuing their strategy of expanding the school curriculum to compensate for perceived student deficits with remedial academic courses and social services. The Board of Superintendents and Board of Education began to target Harlem for special programming more aggressively than they had in the past and launched experimental programs designed to infuse “difficult schools” with social services and remedial academic programming.

The radical dissent from the Harlem community during the mid-1930s was not maintained in force during the 1940s, although this does not mean that the administration had won back support. As in most of the country, the war diverted energy and momentum from activist efforts of only a few years previously. Community spokespersons did continue to contest compensatory curricular approaches in the 1940s, expanding on public expressions of frustration first aired during the 1930s.83

The women and men who questioned and opposed practices in Harlem schools during the 1930s had framed the schools’ mission in terms of absolute equality. They presented evidence undermining the legitimacy of so-called individualized education that in turn propelled subsequent protest. They demanded that students in their Harlem schools receive the very same paths of study, in the same quality facilities, and by the same quality teachers as the best public schools in the city. Their forceful articulation of frustrations with substandard schooling had set off a cycle by which expressions of distrust put the fairness and eventually the motivations behind school policies under close public scrutiny. Educational policies may have appeared superficially race-neutral to some, but Harlem parents and their allies in the community clearly showed that these policies were leading to a rigidly stratified system that cheated African American students of opportunity.

Meanwhile, many administrators continued to define the schools’ mission as meeting what they perceived to be students’ special needs, foreshadowing the use of “culturally deprived” and “disadvantaged” as terms to describe students during the 1950s and 1960s.84 In the absence of a truly individualized custom curriculum, which was made less likely given limited resources, educators opted for a school program tailored to meet the needs of the groups as they identified them. This fraught approach risked creating a self-fulfilling cycle of low expectations built on racial and cultural stereotyping.85

By the end of the 1930s, these two understandings of educational approaches and priorities had grown irreconcilably far apart and trust between administrators and community members had greatly diminished, leaving little room for collaborative reform efforts at a time when such cooperation was essential to meet the needs of students. The tacit support from elite community spokespeople of the 1910s and early 1920s had dwindled and been surpassed by a wider cross-section of community members who both found and created public outlets for protest. Those voices of protest threw into question everything from school policies to the philosophies of racial uplift that undergirded them, foreshadowing debates that endured for years to come.

Previous: Chapter 1 Next: Chapter 3

  1. This quote is taken from a reprinted version of the speech in Kenneth B. Clark, “Segregated Schools in New York City,” Journal of Educational Sociology 36, no. 6 (February 1963): 250. Clark delivered the speech to conference attendees at the “Children Apart” conference, hosted at the Northside Center for Child Development in April 1954. ↩︎

  2. This chapter builds on a body of historical literature that details social protest movements targeting inequality in New York City schools. Clarence Taylor, in Knocking At Our Own Door: Milton A. Galamison and the Struggle for School Integration in New York City (New York: Columbia University Press, 1997), illuminates the process by which Galamison and other civil rights activists organized during the 1950s and 1960s and exerted major pressure on the Board of Education in favor of school integration. Adina Back’s dissertation, “Up South in New York: The 1950s School Desegregation Struggles” (PhD diss., New York University, 1997), examines roots of this 1960s protest in the preceding decade. Daniel Perlstein’s Justice, Justice: School Politics and the Eclipse of Liberalism (New York: Peter Lang, 2004) and Jerald Podair’s The Strike that Changed New York: Blacks, Whites, and the Ocean Hill-Brownsville Crisis (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 2002) analyze the events and politics of the Ocean Hill-Brownsville teacher strike of 1968, and more broadly show how the community steered social protest away from desegregation efforts and toward community control in the face of the school administration’s resistance to desegregation. These important works answer critical historical questions about the civil rights struggles for improved schools in New York City. Yet they focus on the political complexities of desegregation efforts after Brown. This chapter examines some of the longer roots of community frustrations with the school administration. ↩︎

  3. This section draws on general studies of the Great Migration, such as Isabel Wilkerson, The Warmth of Other Suns: The Epic Story of America’s Great Migration (New York: Random House, 2010); and Ira Katznelson, Black Men, White Cities: Race, Politics, and Migration in the United States, 1900–1930, and Britain, 1948–68 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1973). It is also informed by publications detailing and analyzing demographic, social, political, and cultural changes in New York City during the 1910s and 1920s, including Shannon King, Whose Harlem Is This, Anyway? Community Politics and Grassroots Activism During the New Negro Era (New York: New York University Press, 2015); Gilbert Osofsky, Harlem: The Making of a Ghetto: Negro New York, 1890–1930, 2nd ed. (Chicago: Ivan R. Dee, 1996); Kevin McGruder, Race and Real Estate: Conflict and Cooperation in Harlem, 1890–1920 (New York: Columbia University Press, 2017); and Irma Watkins-Owens, Blood Relations: Caribbean Immigrants and the Harlem Community, 1900–1930 (Bloomington, Ind.: Indiana University Press, 1996). ↩︎

  4. Touré F. Reed, Not Alms but Opportunity: The Urban League and the Politics of Racial Uplift, 1910–1950 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 2008), 27. ↩︎

  5. Osofsky, Harlem, 130. ↩︎

  6. The Tenderloin ran mainly along Sixth Avenue, bounded by Fifth Avenue to the east and Eighth Avenue to the west, and by the period discussed here stretched from 23rd Street up to 57th Street. Timothy J. Gilfoyle, City of Eros: New York City, Prostitution, and the Commercialization of Sex, 1790-1920 (New York: W.W. Norton, 1992), 203. ↩︎

  7. George Edmund Haynes, “Report: Impressions from a Preliminary Study of Negroes of Harlem,” 1921, George Edmund Haynes Papers, box 1, folder 1, Schomburg Center for Research in Black Culture, New York Public Library (hereafter Schomburg); and Meyer Weinberg, A Chance to Learn: The History of Race and Education in the United States (New York: Cambridge University Press, 1977), 72. ↩︎

  8. Lawrence Cremin, The Transformation of the School: Progressivism in American Education, 1876–1957 (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 1961), viii–ix; “Chronological Review of Some of the Measures Taken to Effect Better Adjustment of School and Child,” n.d., series 164, box 1, folder 1, Board of Education of the City of New York Collection (hereafter BOE). For other iterations of these debates, see W. E. B. Du Bois, Souls of Black Folk: Essays and Sketches (Chicago: A. C. McClurg, 1903), chap. 3, “Of Mr. Booker T. Washington and Others,” 41–59; and Jean Anyon, “Social Class and School Knowledge,” Curriculum Inquiry 11, no. 2 (1911): 3–42. ↩︎

  9. Claude Mangum, “Afro-American Thought on the New York City Public School System, 1905–1954: An Analysis of New York City Afro-American Newspaper Editorials” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1976), 71; “Rebellion of Teachers,” New York Age, July 8, 1909; Osofsky, Harlem, 20, 64; and Nancy J. Weiss, The National Urban League, 1910–1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1974), 21–22. ↩︎

  10. Mangum, “Afro-American Thought,” 71; Carleton Mabee, Black Education in New York State: From Colonial to Modern Times (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1979), 116; and Seth M. Scheiner, Negro Mecca: A History of the Negro in New York City, 1865–1920 (New York: New York University Press, 1965), 164. ↩︎

  11. Cremin, Transformation of the School, viii. ↩︎

  12. Haynes, “Report”; Michael W. Homel, Down from Equality: Black Chicagoans and the Public Schools, 1920–41 (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1984), 116; Josephine Chase, New York at School: A Description of the Activities and Administration of the Public Schools of the City of New York (New York: Public Education Association of the City of New York, 1927), 14; “Vocational Guidance,” New York Age, October 23, 1920; and Weinberg, Chance to Learn, 72. ↩︎

  13. James Anderson, The Education of Blacks in the South, 1865–1930 (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1988). ↩︎

  14. “Lessons of School Week,” New York Age, November 28, 1925; and “Aims of Education,” New York Age, July 3, 1926. ↩︎

  15. “Getting the Children of Harlem Back to Public and High Schools,” New York Age, September 5, 1923; “Keep Children in School,” New York Age, June 14, 1924; “School a Necessity,” New York Age, December 27, 1924; “Getting an Education,” New York Age, August 30, 1924; “School Children’s Needs,” New York Age, December 25, 1920; and “When Schools Reopen,” New York Age, September 8, 1928. ↩︎

  16. Anderson, Education of Blacks, chap. 2. ↩︎

  17. Editorial, New York Age, January 11, 1917. ↩︎

  18. Ibram Kendi, Stamped from the Beginning: The Definitive History of Racist Ideas in America (New York: Nation Books, 2016), 125, 505. ↩︎

  19. “School Administration,” New York Age, October 9, 1926; “Making Schools Attractive,” New York Age, June 1, 1929; “Important School Questions,” New York Age, March 12, 1924; “Popular School Appointment,” New York Age, November 27, 1926; “A Progressive School Head,” New York Age, April 18, 1925; “More School Accommodations”; “Two Public Appointees,” Crisis, March 1917, 231; and Editorial, New York Age, January 11, 1917. ↩︎

  20. “School Supervision,” New York Age, May 26, 1928; “New York’s School Head,” New York Age April 19, 1930; “Public School System,” New York Age, May 24, 1930; and “Dr. Maxwell’s Retirement,” New York Age, March 15, 1917. ↩︎

  21. Reed, Not Alms, 5–8. ↩︎

  22. Anderson, Education of Blacks, chaps. 2 and 3; and Michael Rudolph West, The Education of Booker T. Washington: American Democracy and the Idea of Race Relations (New York: Columbia University Press, 2006). ↩︎

  23. King, Whose Harlem Is This?, 16. ↩︎

  24. A body of historical work has explored Depression-Era change in Harlem, including that related to teacher union politics: Clarence Taylor, Reds at the Blackboard: Communism, Civil Rights, and the New York City Teachers Union (New York: Columbia University Press, 2011); parent activism: Sara Asrat, “Harlem Is Not Dixie: The Permanent Committee for Better Schools in Harlem and the Fight for Social Justice in Depression-Era New York” (BA thesis, Princeton University, 2006); teacher activism: Lauri Johnson, “A Generation of Women Activists: African American Female Educators in Harlem, 1930–1950,” Journal of African American History 89, no. 3 (2004): 223–40; and community-wide political change: Cheryl Lynn Greenberg, Or Does It Explode? Black Harlem in the Great Depression (New York: Oxford University Press, 1997); and Mark Naison, Communists in Harlem During the Depression (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1983). ↩︎

  25. Greenberg, Or Does It Explode?, 39. ↩︎

  26. Larry A. Greene, “Harlem in the Great Depression: 1928–1936” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1979), i–viii, 60. ↩︎

  27. Eve Thurston, “Ethiopia Unshackled: A Brief History of the Education of Negro Children in New York City,” Bulletin of the New York Public Library 69, no. 4 (April 1965): 65, 227. ↩︎

  28. Greenberg, Or Does It Explode?, 39, 42. ↩︎

  29. Naison, Communists in Harlem, 32; and Edwin R. Lewinson, Black Politics in New York City (New York: Twayne, 1974), 70. ↩︎

  30. Asrat, “Harlem Is Not Dixie,” 72. ↩︎

  31. This was part of a nationwide phenomenon in which school attendance boomed during the Great Depression as youth faced poor labor opportunities. This was especially true at the high school level in industrial regions. Claudia Golden, “America’s Graduation from High School: The Evolution and Spread of Secondary Schooling in the Twentieth Century,” Journal of Economic History 58, no. 2: 345–74, 347; and Greenberg, Or Does It Explode?, 190. ↩︎

  32. Mabee, Black Education, 249; Asrat, “Harlem Is Not Dixie,” 71; NYC Board of Education, Annual Report, 1933–1934, 62–63; and Thurston, “Ethiopia Unshackled,” 227. ↩︎

  33. Historian David Ment documents the early rise of segregation in New York schools in his comparative study, “Racial Segregation in the Public Schools of New England and New York, 1840–1940” (PhD diss., Columbia University, 1975). His work does not closely examine the opposition to segregation, but rather the formation of the problem of segregation. ↩︎

  34. “More School Accommodations,” New York Age, March 12, 1921; and Weinberg, Chance to Learn, 72. ↩︎

  35. Ment, “Racial Segregation,” 80, 247; and Asrat, “Harlem Is Not Dixie,” 24. ↩︎

  36. Greene, “Harlem in the Great Depression,” v; and King, Whose Harlem Is This?, 16. ↩︎

  37. King, Whose Harlem Is This?, 9, 17. ↩︎

  38. Director of Publicity to Mrs. Rogers H. Bacon, June 3, 1931, part 3, series A, reel 20, NAACP Papers; “Defects Reported in Harlem Schools,” New York Times, June 3, 1931; “Social Clubs and Fraternal News,” New York Age, May 25, 1929; and Thurston, “Ethiopia Unshackled,” 226. ↩︎

  39. Oswald Schlockow, “Geography,” School Work 7, no. 1 (April 1908): 255; “Notes and News,” Journal of Educational Psychology 9, no. 10 (December 1918): 591; Oswald Schlockow, “Discipline: Its Sociological and Pedagogical Implications” (PhD diss., New York University, 1904); and “Dr. Oswald Schlockow,” New York Times, July 7, 1954. ↩︎

  40. NYC Board of Education (NYCBOE), Annual Report, 1933–1934, 47, 51. ↩︎

  41. NYCBOE, Annual Report, 1933–1934, 48–49. ↩︎

  42. NYCBOE, Annual Report, 1932–1933, 364. ↩︎

  43. NYCBOE, Annual Report, 1933–1934, 45, 60. ↩︎

  44. NYCBOE, Annual Report, 1933–1934, 46; and “Would Change Schools Here,” New York Amsterdam News, September 15, 1934. ↩︎

  45. NYCBOE, Annual Report, 1933–1934, 47, 51, 351, 354. ↩︎

  46. “Would Change Schools Here,” New York Amsterdam News, September 15, 1934. ↩︎

  47. “The Schlockow Report,” New York Amsterdam News, September 22, 1934. ↩︎

  48. George S. Schuyler, “Segregated Schools?” New York Amsterdam News, September 29, 1934; “Harlem School Superintendent Charges of Prejudice,” Pittsburgh Courier, November 10, 1934; and Aberjhani West and Sandra L. West, eds., Encyclopedia of the Harlem Renaissance (New York: Facts on File, 2003), 265. ↩︎

  49. George S. Schuyler, “N.Y. School Jim Crow Menace Arouses Parents,” Pittsburgh Courier, December 22, 1934. ↩︎

  50. George S. Schuyler, “Special School Needs,” New York Amsterdam News, October 13, 1934; and Schuyler, “Segregated Schools?,” New York Amsterdam News, September 29, 1934. ↩︎

  51. “Harlem School Superintendent Charges of Prejudice,” Pittsburgh Courier, November 10, 1934. ↩︎

  52. Schuyler, “N.Y. School Jim Crow Menace”; Schuyler, “Segregated Schools?”; Schuyler, “Special School Needs.” ↩︎

  53. Schuyler, “Segregated Schools?” ↩︎

  54. Robert Fogelson and Richard E. Rubenstein, eds., The Complete Report of Mayor LaGuardia’s Commission on the Harlem Riot of March 19, 1935 (New York: Arno Press, 1969), 7–8; Greenberg, Or Does It Explode?; Lauri Johnson, “We Cannot Avoid Taking Sides,” in Teacher Education with an Attitude: Preparing Teachers to Educate Working-Class Students in Their Collective Self-Interest, ed. Patrick J. Finn and Mary E. Finn (Albany: State University of New York Press, 2007), 221; “Says Economic Conditions in Harlem are Bad,” Atlanta Daily World, March 27, 1935; and Nat Brandt, Harlem at War: The Black Experience in WWII (Syracuse, N.Y.: Syracuse University Press, 1996), 44–45. ↩︎

  55. “Says Economic Conditions in Harlem are Bad,” Atlanta Daily World, March 27, 1935. ↩︎

  56. Brandt, Harlem at War, 44–45; and Fogelson, Complete Report, 7–8. ↩︎

  57. “Harlem Riot Was Very Tough on Window Glass,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 6, 1935. ↩︎

  58. “Police End Harlem Riot; Mayor Starts Inquiry; Dodge Sees a Red Plot,” New York Times, March 21, 1935; Fogelson, Complete Report, 9; Greene, “Harlem in the Great Depression,” 487–500; Johnson, “We Cannot Avoid Taking Sides,” 221; and “One Year Ago,” New York Amsterdam News, March 14, 1936. ↩︎

  59. Alain Locke, “Harlem: Dark Weather-Vane,” Survey Graphic 25, no. 8 (August 1936): 457. ↩︎

  60. “New York Mayor Adopts N.A.A.C.P. Riot Probe Plan,” March 22, 1935, box 131-33, folder 16, E. Franklin Frazier Papers, Moorland-Spingarn Research Center, Howard University, Washington, D.C. (hereafter Frazier Papers); “Police End Harlem Riot; Mayor Starts Inquiry; Dodge Sees a Red Plot,” New York Times, March 21, 1935; “The Harlem Riots,” Washington Post, March 23, 1935; and Greene, “Harlem in the Great Depression,” 483. ↩︎

  61. Fogelson and Rubenstein, Complete Report, 3; and “Harlem Riot Probe May Last Over 2 Months,” Pittsburgh Courier, April 13, 1935. ↩︎

  62. Ment, “Racial Segregation,” 244; and The Mayor’s Commission on Conditions in Harlem, “The Negro in Harlem: A Report on Social and Economic Conditions Responsible for the Outbreak of March 19, 1935,” 1936, box 131-117, folder 2, Frazier Papers. ↩︎

  63. Ment, “Racial Segregation,” 244. ↩︎

  64. Alice Citron [“Teacher #1”], testimony, “1935 Public Hearings: Education”; President of Parents’ Association, P.S. 105, testimony, “1935 Public Hearings: Education,” box 3770, Fiorello LaGuardia Papers, Municipal Archives of the City of New York (hereafter LaGuardia Papers); Alice Citron, “An Answer to John F. Hatchett,” Jewish Currents, September 1968, 12–13; Asrat, “Harlem Is Not Dixie,” 9; and David Ment, “Patterns of Public School Segregation, 1900–1940: A Comparative Study of New York City, New Rochelle, and New Haven,” in Schools in Cities: Consensus and Conflict in American Educational History, ed. Ronald K. Goodenow and Diane Ravitch (New York: Holmes and Meier, 1983), 85. ↩︎

  65. Mrs. Eddie Aspinall, testimony, “1935 Public Hearings: Education,” box 3770, LaGuardia Papers. ↩︎

  66. Betty Hawley, “Public Hearing, New York State Temporary Commission on the Condition of the Urban Colored Population,” typescript, December 13, 1937, Schomburg, 1118–25. ↩︎

  67. W. J. Burroughs, testimony, “1935 Public Hearings: Education,” box 3770, LaGuardia Papers. ↩︎

  68. “Research Project Notebooks, Harlem Survey, Hearings, Vol. II,” box 131-124, folders 1–5, Frazier Papers. ↩︎

  69. “New York School Conditions Attacked,” Atlanta Daily World, August 28, 1935. ↩︎

  70. Ment, “Racial Segregation,” 246, 255; and George Lindsey, testimony, “1935 Public Hearings: Education,” box 3770, LaGuardia Papers. ↩︎

  71. Anthony M. Platt, The Politics of Riot Commissions, 19171970: A Collection of Official Reports and Critical Essays (New York: Macmillan, 1971), 1, 161. ↩︎

  72. Fogelson and Rubenstein, Complete Report, 77. ↩︎

  73. Charles Houston to Fiorello LaGuardia, April 6, 1936, microfilm reel 86, LaGuardia Papers; “Report on Harlem Survey Censored,” Chicago Defender, August 3, 1935; Fogelson and Rubenstein, Complete Report, 7; and “Complete Riot Report Bared,” New York Amsterdam News, July 18, 1936. ↩︎

  74. Taylor, Reds at the Blackboard↩︎

  75. Johnson, “We Cannot Avoid Taking Sides,” 219–21. ↩︎

  76. “Probe Harlem School Discrimination Charge,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 25, 1935; and Asrat, “Harlem Is Not Dixie,” 68. ↩︎

  77. Asrat, “Harlem Is Not Dixie,” 68. ↩︎

  78. “Harlem Pushes Campaign for Better Schools,” Pittsburgh Courier, May 16, 1936, 7; and “Local Group Demands Schools Be Improved,“ New York Amsterdam News, July 4, 1936, 5. ↩︎

  79. “Education Hearing,” April 4, 1935, box 131-124, folder 4, Frazier Papers. ↩︎

  80. “In Reply to Chapter Six,” BOE; and James Marshall to Fiorello LaGuardia, May 5, 1935, LaGuardia Papers. ↩︎

  81. NYCBOE, Annual Report, 1935–1936. ↩︎

  82. Charles J. Pickett, testimony, “1935 Public Hearings: Education,” box 3770, LaGuardia Papers. ↩︎

  83. “The Story of the City-Wide Citizens’ Committee on Harlem,” typescript, May 23, 1943, Schomburg. ↩︎

  84. Sylvia L. M. Martinez and John L. Rury, “From ‘Culturally Deprived’ to ‘At Risk’: The Politics of Popular Expression and Educational Inequality in the United States, 1960–1985,” Teachers College Record 114 (June 2012): 2. ↩︎

  85. For recent work on compensatory education, including this dynamic, see the articles in the special issue of Teachers College Record 114 (June 2012). ↩︎