Standardization, Segregation, and Professionalization in Virginia Public Schools, 1898-1917

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Virginia Tech


This thesis focuses on three groups of people: Virginia superintendents, leaders of Virginia Normal and Industrial Institute and Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute, and teachers of Virginia public schools. On their own terms, each of these groups represents a different facet of state level policies of standardization and segregation.

The annual and biennial reports published by the office of the Virginia superintendent of public instruction during the early twentieth century constitute the basis of analysis for this thesis. The first chapter of this thesis analyzes introductory letters from the superintendent of public instruction. Within these letters, the superintendent wrote often about public school facility renovations and improvements. The second chapter uncovers how leaders of black institutions of higher education represented their institutions to the superintendent by documenting the success of their graduates and the disciplinary atmosphere of their campuses. Chapter three explores standardization and professionalization measures that the superintendents recommended for Virginia teachers. This thesis adds to our understanding of education in the early twentieth century by looking at every day, bureaucratic decisions in relation to concepts of standardization and race in Virginia. In all, this thesis uncovers three standards of education that developed during the early twentieth century. Putting these three chapters together reveals a complex story about standardization and segregation, a story that, I argue, uncovers how race and power were embedded within everyday decisions and actions at the state level.



Standardization, Education, Race, Superintendent, Virginia