…all groups suffered after Democratic Redeemers launched their determined attack on the reforms in public education that had occurred during Reconstruction. … It was a humiliating and sad spectacle for an urban system once ranked among the nation’s best.

Problems began soon after a new twenty-member board took office on April 4, 1877, and moved quickly to elect Thomas J. Semmes as president and to restore William O. Rogers to his former position as superintendent of the New Orleans public schools. (82, 83) …

Only a major commitment by the federal government could have sustained the Reconstruction school system in the face of the massive white hostility and violence that reigned in Louisiana. Within two months of their appointment in April 1877, the new school board members sought to codify the sentiments of the white community for a racially segregated school system. A three-member committee led by Archibald Mitchell, [sic] outlined the rationale for such a system. Defying reality, they insisted that “personal observation and universal testimony concur to establish the fact that public education has greatly deteriorated since colored and white children were admitted indiscriminately onto the same schools.” 2 (85)…

…Mitchell’s committee also called for the end of all secondary education; members considered high schools a waste of public funds (86).

Deteriorating financial support from the state legislature and the city council created further havoc. …

It was more than the state’s declining economy that created the fiscal crisis. The planters and merchants who dominated state politics after 1877 wanted to keep taxes in the city and the state extremely low. In New Orleans, they were joined by urban politicians who traded low assessments for the votes of small property owners. Many in the city’s large Catholic and Lutheran population, moreover, tolerated the sorry state of public schools because they were sending their children to the sixty or so parochial schools that had been established by the end of the 1870s. 10

The aftermath of Reconstruction revealed that Louisiana had generated little support for public education among its native white citizenry (91).


DeVore, Donald, and Joseph Logsdon. Crescent City Schools: Public Education in New Orleans 1841-1991. Lafayette, LA: U. of Southwestern Louisiana Press, 1991.

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2 Responses to Roots

  1. E.J. says:

    I love history!! Gee, do you think we should look at things in context more often? lol

  2. G Bitch says:

    Yeah, LA is still not over Reconstruction. That’s why I live in NO, USA, rather than NO, LA.

    When I read that, I was like—DAMN!

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