Gray Commission Report on Public Education

  • Date: November 11, 1955
  • Creator: Gray Commission
  • Archive: Senate Document No. 1, Extra Session 1955, House and Senate Documents, 1955, Commonwealth of Virginia, Richmond, Virginia

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The Commission on Public Education, chaired by state senator Garland Gray, issued its final report on November 11, 1955. Governor Thomas B. Stanley appointed the Commission on August 30, 1954 and charged it with examining the effect of the Brown v. Board decision and making recommendations for the state concerning the decision. The Commission held public hearings where blacks and whites spoke, but the Commission was all-white, all male, and all legislators, many of whom represented Southside Virginia counties. The Commission's report proceeded from the belief of its members that the Brown decision was bad law and wrongheaded social policy. The Gray Commission wanted to give local school boards "wide discretion" to deal with desegregation, but it was more than willing to tolerate the closing of local public schools and foresaw a move toward private academies. The Gray Commission's emphasis on local handling of desegregation orders from federal courts should not be mistaken for a willingness to accept "token integration." Instead, the Commission clearly saw the localities as the government closest to the people and, therefore, in a position to accomplish what the state might not--avoiding what it consistently called "enforced integration." The Commission repeatedly implied and made provision for a future in which some localities closed their public schools systems and used tuition grants to allow parents to send their children to private schools