The Springfield Plan in retrospect
By: Daniel Joseph Bresnahan
Published: 1971
Uploaded: 10/19/2006
Uploaded by: Pocket Masters
Pockets: Gottesman Libraries Archive, Historical Dissertations
Tags: Massachusetts, Prejudices, public schools, Springfield

06 no.pdf
Daniel Joseph Bresnahan
The purpose of this study is to objectively investigate the origins and development of the Springfield Plan to the point where officials of the Springfield Public School System ceased a conscious effort to promote the program; draw conclusions from the collected data as to the sources and mechanics of the Plan; the reasons for and effects of publicity on the development of the program; the causes of the demise of the endeavor as a consciously promoted program; and to detect vestiges of the Plan in the educational practices of the Springfield Public Schools.
In order to collect information for the investigation, the author first critically examined germane primary sources including minutes and regulations of the School Committee; school bulletins and reports; curriculum guides and units; personnel policies; student produced materials; accounts in periodicals; a radio dramatization; films; reports of religious and racial organizations; government documents; and observations with eighty interviewees. The writer consulted pertinent secondary sources and examined the historical context of the Plan. This data was organized and studied, and historical conclusions were developed and presented in narrative form.
The Springfield Plan was an aggregate of many multifaceted and evolutionary educational endeavors which affected changes in practically every aspect of the school system. Many of the endeavors grew out of school officialsÆ responses to economic conditions; educational trends, and minority group pressures. Many facets of the Plan were introduced prior to the application of the name and independent of a specific, all encompassing plan of action. However, inasmuch as the philosophy of John Granrud, the Superintendent of Schools, was reflected in both the innovative process and the design of individual endeavors, a coalescence of basic principles was apparent.
During the late thirties and early forties broad modifications were made in personnel policies and practices, school facilities, services, and community - school relations. GranrudÆs agreement with a proposal of the National Conference of Christians and Jews led to the introduction of an organized program in intergroup education. Although a coordinating committee was established, decentralized planning became a characteristic of the innovative process with experimentation taking place within individual buildings.
The attitudinal climate accompanying World War II facilitated the expansion of these endeavors, and considerable attention was attracted to the programs under the name Springfield Plan. Publicity concerning the Plan reached its peak in the mid-forties with more critical accounts appearing thereafter.
As the war came to a close, local groupsÆ opposition to certain aspects of the Plan, the absence of broadly based staff commitment, and the loss of GranrudÆs leadership contributed to the endeavorÆs demise. By the close of the forties an overall effort to promote the program had ceased. Particular innovations became permanent features of the operational pattern of the school system, and innovations undertaken during the sixties resembled programs associated with the Plan.
The history of the Springfield Plan also indicates that local leadership is vital in generating and maintaining innovations in intergroup education. Regardless of the apparent acceptability of an objective, community and staff commitment may only be realized after a considerable length of time, can best be achieved through involvement, and must be continuously reinforced. An educational leader may foster involvement through delegation of authority with accountability, a decentralized innovative process, the direction of credit for innovations to subordinates, and personal activity in the program. Above all, a means must be found for perpetuating an innovation after the departure of the leader under whom it was generated and maintained.

Sponsor: William P. Anderson
Dissertation Committee: Julius R. George
Degree: Ed.D., Teachers College, Columbia University