By Jane Feehan
Though public schools in the U.S. were ordered to desegregate in 1954 (Brown v. Board of Education), they remained segregated for decades in schools across the nation and in Broward County.
So when Broward County announced its “White-Negro teacher exchange program” was a success in March, 1966, it made news.
The pilot exchange program was conducted for a week, with no major problems reported William Drainer, Broward County elementary education supervisor. White teachers were sent to teach black students, black teachers taught in white schools. Sixteen elementary schools participated in the program. Teachers, parents, and students favorably evaluated the exchange afterward, leading to plans for a second exchange weeks later at 16 different schools.
“A good teacher is a good teacher no matter where he teaches,” said Drainer. A teacher is a teacher.
Apparently the program did little to abate resistance to desegregation by parents and some county politicians. In August of 1966, Broward County did not (at first) sign federal guidelines for desegregation, jeopardizing $4.5 million in federal funds. A confrontation among different stakeholders brought the county back to the drawing board.
By 1970 there were four public school systems in the South that refused to bus students to desegregate: Dade and Broward counties in Florida and two counties in North Carolina. Miami-based attorney Ellis Rubin, on behalf of United Stand for America, Inc., filed a petition against busing in the court. The group, which was also headed by Rubin, contended that a recently adopted state law prohibited expenditures of state or county funds for desegregation purposes. Based on that reasoning, a judge granted temporary injunction to prevent busing. Eventually, Broward County received a $1.7 million federal grant to help pay for the school buses but lost that temporarily for noncompliance to federal requirements.
William Drainer, acting superintendent of Broward Schools in 1970, fully endorsed the transfer of 500 teachers and 3,000 students. Though his pilot program four years prior underscored a teacher was a teacher it did not take into account politicians. The busing controversy was not resolved until the early 1970s. Today, many desegregated schools in Broward and Miami-Dade are once again minority schools.
Copyright © 2014. All rights reserved. Jane Feehan.
Fort Lauderdale News, March 17, 1966
Palm Beach Post, Jul 16, 1966
Palm Beach Post, Jul 23, 1966
St. Petersburg Times, Jul 24, 1966
Daytona Beach Morning Journal, Dec. 22, 1969
Palm Beach Post, Aug. 26, 1970
Tags: African American history, Boward County history,Boward County in the 1960s, Boward County in the 1970s,