Reprinted from the first issue of the Southern School News, September 3, 1954:
WITH this first issue of Southern School News, the Southern Education Reporting Service [SERS] undertakes a major new journalistic assignment —to tell the story, factually and objectively, of what happens in education as a result of the Supreme Court’s May 17 opinion that segregation in the public schools is unconstitutional.
Much has been done—and in a short time—to organize the Reporting Service. It was in April that several southern members of the American Society of Newspaper Editors got together at the annual Washington convention to talk over with representatives of the Fund for the Advancement of Education the need for such a reporting service. It was on May 11 that a group of southern newspaper editors and educators met in Nashville and constituted themselves a board of directors for SERS, electing Virginius Dabney, editor of the Richmond Times-Dispatch, as chairman, and Thomas R. Waring, editor of the Charleston News & Courier, as vice chairman.
On June 6, the board held a second meeting in Nashville, elected C. A. McKnight, editor of The Charlotte News, as executive director, laid down broad project directives, and designated the George Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville, to act as fiscal agent for the project.
On July 5, formal application for a grant of $99,200 was made to the Fund for the Advancement of Education. On July 15, the Nashville office of SERS was opened. Since that date:
1. A central headquarters staff has been employed.
2. Top-flight newspapermen and women in the District of Columbia and 17 southern and border states have been appointed SERS correspondents. (Their names appear in the masthead on Page 4). On July 24- 25, the correspondents attended a two-day seminar in Nashville at which the objectives of the Reporting Service were explained.
3. A mailing list of nearly 10,000 names has been built up. It includes governors and members of their executive staffs, chief state school officers, members of state boards of education, local school administrators, university presidents and heads of interested university departments, public libraries, all daily and weekly newspapers in the region with a circulation of 2,000 or more, leading newspapers and magazines in the non-South, radio and television stations, wire services, federal agencies, and hundreds of interested private citizens.
4. SERS has been incorporated under Tennessee law as a general welfare corporation.
5. This first issue has been prepared, printed and distributed.
The initial issue is not a prototype of future editions, insofar as format and content are concerned. At the outset, it seemed desirable—even essential—to go back to May 17, pick up the many loose ends of the public school story, and tie them together in a full and detailed documentary, which would be useful to school administrators, newspaper editors and others as background material for understanding subsequent developments in the several states.
Hence, the reports in this first issue are somewhat long, somewhat weighty. And since SERS is not trying to compete with daily newspapers, but rather to supplement them, these initial reports lag behind the headlines in several cases.
But they are loaded with facts for the thoughtful reader and student. The story revealed by the facts is one of watchful waiting throughout most of the region, with the beginnings of desegregation this month in the states of Missouri, West Virginia, Maryland and Delaware, and the District of Columbia.
Future monthly issues will not only carry along the chronological story, state by state, but will look closely at key communities, give excerpts from significant public addresses, legislative proposals and court decisions, report editorial and other opinion from responsible sources, digest important books, magazine articles and other writing on the subject, and analyze statistical information compiled by state departments of education and other agencies.
This initial issue speaks for itself in answer to the two southern newspapers which have voiced the opinion that SERS was established to encourage integration, and to the eastern Negro newspaper which expressed the fear that SERS was a scheme by “Dixiecrats” to thwart the Supreme Court and preserve segregation.
But it should be stated again—as categorically as possible—that the Southern Education Reporting Service will not be an advocate for or against anything, that it will express no opinions of its own on what is good and bad or wise and unwise, and that it will adhere scrupulously to the accurate and objective reporting of facts as it finds them.
This fundamental policy of the Reporting Service has been emphatically endorsed by the members of the board of directors, whose personal convictions about segregation cover a wide range, by the newspapermen and women who accepted appointment as SERS correspondents, and by officials of the Fund for the Advancement of Education who approved the grant.
The Southern School News was published monthly through June 1965.
After June 1965, SERS published a bi-monthly magazine, Southern Education Report.
This collection is housed online courtesy of the Digital Library of Georgia, Civil Rights Digital Library.
The links below take you directly to each issue. Issues are fairly large, megabyte-wise, so they may take a while to load.
Southern School News
Southern School News – Volume 11, No. 7 – January 1965 – First DOJ suits are filed
SERS also published statistical summaries of segregation-desegregation activities multiple times yearly beginning in April 1957.