Edwina Gantz’s and Education Reform in Cincinnati
Posted On: 02/26/2018 - 12:14pm, Posted By: Christine Engels, Archives Manager, Manuscripts Department
Edwina Bookwalter Gantz (1915-1988) grew up in Springfield, Ohio and attended Antioch College in Yellow Springs, Ohio. She graduated in 1936 with degree in Economics and began her career with the Cincinnati Public Schools as a vocational counselor. Gantz spent her entire life and energy on advocating for education for low income and disenfranchised people. She was a board member of several charitable organizations, including the Seven Hills Neighborhood Houses where she headed their Education Committee for years. She was president of the Ohio District YWCA and was active on both the national and local levels. Gantz was also involved in many philanthropic and education-based organizations, including the Woman's City Club and the University of Cincinnati's Community Services Department. She believed in finding new ways to reach people with alternatives to traditional higher education like the University Without Walls which she supported through her work with the Union for Experimenting College and Universities.
Summary of Findings: Race and Education Survey done by the Ohio Civil Rights Commission.
The Edwina B. Gantz Papers (Mss 1082) document her efforts to help create a level playing field for students of all ages and economic backgrounds. Gantz collected some rather important pieces of Cincinnati history related to attempts to desegregate and achieve educational equality in the city’s schools. All of the images here regarding school desegregation are from box seven in her collection.
Cincinnati had two major court cases regarding desegregation. The 1963 lawsuit, Deal v. Cincinnati School Board, was in regard to perceived intentional segregation in city schools. A judge found in the favor of the school board. The case was essentially continued in 1975 in what became known as the Bronson case. By that time several studies had documented inequality and lack of access to a good education for many students in the Cincinnati region. Further complicating the issue was the fact that many people were leaving the Cincinnati basin and moving to suburban school districts. This along with the closure of several schools changed the demographics of Cincinnati Public Schools. Unlike many other cities Cincinnati ended up with a voluntary consent agreement rather than a federal mandate to provide the same quality of education to all of its students. The Bronson case settlement wasn’t fully finished until final review in 1994 and its implementation focused on magnet schools and creating standards and benchmarks for achieving diversification within schools.
Paper on the Bronson case.
Gantz's notes on school desegregation in Dayton and Columbus and Cincinnati from November 1978.
Edwina Gantz was involved with many social justice causes but her collection shows that she saw education as being vital to achieving real equality across all economic classes and races.
Bronson v. Board of Education of the City School District of Cincinnati, 573 F. Supp. 767, 773-74 (S.D.Ohio 1983)
Erkins, E. K. (2002). A case study of desegregation in Cincinnati Public Schools: 1974 to 1994 (Unpublished master's thesis).
Leigh, P. R. (2005). Fly in the ointment school segregation and desegregation in the Ohio Valley. New York: Lang.