The modernization of Texas public schools: World War II and the Gilmer-Aikin laws



Journal Title

Journal ISSN

Volume Title


Texas Tech University


World War II focused people's attention on preserving Democracy, building a stronger military, and opposing radicalism. Public education presented a conduit to accomplish these goals. The war also created a stronger federal presence and infrastructure within the states, including better transportation and communication, which made educational changes possible.

After the war, Texas took part in a national effort to reorganize its public school system to meet what reformers perceived to be the needs of the nation, which included greater efficiency, a reduction in segregation, increased standardization and professionalism of teachers. Rural schools were especially targeted as isolated, inefficient, and ineffective.

Texas' Fifty-First Legislature passed the Gilmer-Aikin laws in 1949 to meet these goals. The dissertation will explain how the Gilmer-Aikin laws evolved from concerns educators, reformers, politicians and the public had about the Texas public school system after World War II. It will also explore the changes in national expectations for public schools, and the changes in racial attitudes after the war. The study will also address other changes urged by Texas educators, reformers, and politicians throughout the state's history



Public schools -- Texas, World War, 1939-1945 -- Texas -- Education and the war, Educational law and legislation -- Texas, Educational change -- Texas