Opinion - Graham


Plaintiff stresses that the junior high school is conducted under a departmentalized plan. Under this system teachers are assigned to teach courses in one or two branches in which they have had special training. Thus, in the 7B grade at Boswell junior high school the students are taught nine subjects by nine different teachers. In the Buchanan school, where the 6A, 7B and 7A grades are all in one room, the one teacher teaches twenty-eight different subjects, ten of these subjects are 7B courses. In Buchanan school, in the room in which the 7B grade is located, it is necessary for two of the classes in that room to study while the other class is reciting in the same room. In Boswell the class periods are approximately fifty-two minutes long and are divided into a study period and recitation period; there is no other class in the room during the class period. It is true there is a domestic-science teacher and a manual-training teacher at Buchanan school to whom the pupils go at stated times for instruction, but this does not change the general system employed in the school.

There are other facilities and advantages afforded the students at Boswell junior high school which are lacking in Buchanan school. Because of the departmental organization, a student who fails in only one subject is required to take only that subject over. In Buchanan school he would be required to take the entire year's work over. Boswell junior high school has a standard high-school gymnasium with adequate shower bath rooms. The junior high school takes part in a city-wide junior high-school athletic league, has an athletic coach and an assistant coach. It is true as pointed out by defendants that the coaches also teach other subjects in the junior high school. In Boswell students had the opportunity of playing in a school orchestra and receiving instruction in instrumental music. In Buchanan there is no opportunity for instruction in instrumental music. Defendants point out that it is necessary for a student in Boswell to own his own instrument and to have acquired sufficient ability to warrant his receiving this instruction before it is accorded to him. Obviously in any school not all the students would be capable or desirous of playing in an orchestra. The system of grading differs in the two schools. In the junior high school, pupils are graded according to the manner in which they measure up to a standard of excellence for all students. In the grade school, students are graded under a system in, which they receive a grade of "satisfactory," "unsatisfactory," and "not passing," based upon a supposed estimate of their personal effort and capacity. In the Boswell school there is an auditorium, while in Buchanan there is none. It is true that there are two rooms in the Buchanan school which can be thrown together and used for school assemblies and functions and that a movable stage is made available to the school by calling the Board of Education when it is desired.

The defendants argue that all of the matters above noted result only from the fact that the Boswell junior high school is a bigger school than Buchanan school; that it can be argued that the departmental system of teaching is no better than the so-called grades-chool system, that the graduates from Buchanan school show no inferiority in ability and education when they enter the ninth grade in Boswell; that many of the facilities found in the junior high school are simply extracurricular activities and do not constitute discrimination.

The court has reached the conclusion that the position of defendants is untenable. It appears clear that the educational facilities offered at Boswell junior high school do not differ from those at Buchanan school except in size and capacity of the building and equipment, which might well be found where one school has a considerably larger student body than the other. It is apparent that a different system of teaching is employed in the two schools. Common observation as well as the evidence in this case shows that the junior high-school method of departmentalization is considered to be an advanced and improved method of education. No one instructor can be as proficient in teaching all courses of study as he is in the particular branches in which he has special interest and training.

The departmental system has been in use in senior high schools and colleges for many years. The idea of the junior high school has been to apply this method of teaching to the 7th and 8th grades as well as to the higher grades.

It will not do to say to one American citizen, you may not have the benefits of an improved method of education because of your race, when at the same time other citizens in the same school district are being accorded those benefits.

The defendants cite the case of Reynolds v. Board of Education, 66 Kan. 672, 72 Pac. 274. The rules of law set out in that case are sound and are applied in this case. In that case complaint was made because the white children were furnished a larger schoolhouse than the colored children. But the white children were more numerous than the colored children and there was nothing in the Reynolds case to show that the methods of education differed in the two schools nor that the smaller schoolhouse did not furnish just as adequate educational facilities of the same character to the smaller group of pupils as were furnished to the larger group of pupils by the larger schoolhouse. It was held that Reynolds could legally be denied admission to the larger school.

In Williams v. Parsons, 79 Kan. 202, 99 Pac. 216, the court held that colored children could not be excluded from a school near their place of residence and compelled to attend a colored school which was placed near numerous railroad tracks and where it would be necessary for the children to cross many of these busy railroad tracks on their way to and from school.