Harry Study Brings Progressive Education to Springfield
Pipkin Junior High School classes were meeting in the Senior High School with each school having half day sessions. When the board first met with the new superintendent, their main concern was finishing Pipkin. They discussed bond issues, building levies and other plans and expenditures. At last on August 17, the board adopted Study's suggestion to submit a $150,000 bond issue for the completion of Pipkin and for other needed school improvements.
The new superintendent mapped out an aggressive campaign to develop sentiment for the bonds. Knowing the hostile mood of the people, two women board members, Mrs. Harry Bissett and Mrs. Nora Miller, took leading parts. The bonds carried, 3020-781!
Pipkin opened in September, 1925, and citizens passing by on Boonville Avenue beamed with pride. Also that year, the schools agreed that "visual education courses were here to stay as they give satisfactory results."
An extraordinary event occurred during 1925 that gained the city and its schools publicity throughout the country. Students planned, built, and governed a "Tiny Town" at Grant Beach Park. The project included a large model of a city which was presided over by elected student officials. A delegation even went to Washington to try and convince President Calvin Coolidge to come for the event.
The progressive superintendent's next goal was to attack the problem of teachers' salaries. Dean M. G. Neale, survey expert in education from Missouri University, came to make a study of the city's resources and the teaching situation. He submitted a salary schedule which established a minimum salary with periodical increases for duration of service and a premium on advanced training. Springfield Public Schools was on the way to becoming more progressive and modern when the School board improved teachers' salaries! An interesting fact is the survey expert's failure to recommend an equal grade level pay for teachers. Instead he endorsed the practice that put elementary teachers on the lowest pay scale with high school teachers at the top. It took progressive educators several more years to correct this inequity. Springfield Public Schools asked 270 teachers and principals, five supervisors, four secretaries and one superintendent to sign a contract in 1925. Salaries ranged from $700 for some elementary classroom teachers to $3500 for the high school principal. The medium salary in the grades was $1123, in the junior high schools $1300, and in Senior High School, $1600. The teaching staff also included general, intermediate, primary, art, elementary school music, manual arts and domestic arts supervisors, some of whom taught part-time.
One of the bitterest battles for election to the Board of Education occurred in 1923. J. W. Fuson and Frank H. Carr defeated George R. Prescott and W. F. Hagebusch in a heated battle. The controversy centered around administrators and administrative matters. When the Board reorganized, Mrs. J. B. McBride, the first woman to serve on the board, also became the first woman to be elected president.
Mores were changing in the late 1930s and the Board of Education attempted to change with them. The board agreed not to bar from school students who are married. It indicated, however, that it would watch the students carefully and would not tolerate inappropriate action. "If married students make love and 'carry on' against orders of the principal, then the school authorities have the right to send them home permanently."
Bissett School on West Division Street Road was a three-room, fieldstone building on completion in 1925. That same year the public schools annexed Sunshine School at the corner of Sunshine "Drive" and Campbell Avenue. The original 1864 building was later replaced with a new structure at Sunshine Street and Jefferson Avenue. The public schools also annexed the old four room (with basement) Gulf School at Olive Street and Warren Avenue. In 1926, a four room addition at Gulf added much needed school space for that part of the city.
No matter the number of school buildings annexed and expanded, the school enrollment was out of bounds. The brittle old walls of schools already antiquated, could stretch no more. Children crowded into basement rooms and anterooms. Shortened sessions made more class space available. Crowding was miserable, and the long condemned firetrap buildings caused citizens to speak out. They pointed to the schools' unsanitary conditions and the need for extensive and drastic repairs. Even then, they would never be modern, adequate and acceptable! There was considerable feeling about spending money to repair old buildings that would never be satisfactory, especially as new and bigger buildings better filled the need. The time was ripe to start over again.
Led by the superintendent, the biggest building program in the schools' history slowly but inevitability began. A preliminary survey of building, financial and population conditions appeared in newspaper headlines. George Melcher, assistant superintendent of the Kansas City, Missouri, public schools, came to inspect Springfield's schools and to interpret the results. With his assistance, the surveyors compiled statistics, drew maps, and presented their recommendations to the board.
The project belonged to the city. The board meant to make it an all-city project with public support and help from enlisted citizens. To begin, 64 business, professional and civic city leaders were chosen to make a building survey and help identify the city school system's needs. The committee of 64 went to work and made many reports to the board. There were long and endless discussions, extensive differences, and unsettled arguments. On May 10, 1926, Superintendent Study gave a list of estimated costs to the board. The board pondered the figure but postponed action. The pro and con arguments continued for months, a year and then into the summer of 1927.
While the discussions continued, the public school enrollment increased. School patrons whose children were in the risky and unsafe buildings called for new buildings or for immediate improvements on the old ones. They further suggested, and the board complied, to employ Kansas City architect, Charles A. Smith, to make a complete survey of the school buildings.
After the survey, Smith recommended a bond issue of $1,747,500 for new buildings, additions, alterations and repairs on old buildings and equipment. Smith reported that seven schools (Bailey, Berry, Campbell, Phelps, Rogers, Waddill and Weaver) should be condemned. Another 14 were listed as unfit. He said that 58 percent of Springfield school buildings were "fire menaces."
As the board discussed a bond election, the Chamber of Commerce asked for another survey. The Chamber agreed to pay $2,000 for a comprehensive professional survey by Dean M. G. Neale from Missouri University. Neale, a nationally recognized authority in the field of school surveys, had a well known reputation throughout the state. Neale's thorough conclusion gave confidence to the board, the Chamber of Commerce, and Springfield's citizenry. Using Neale's survey as a basis, the board submitted a bond issue of $1,500.000 to the voters. Its intent was to build a completely new school system for the city.
The city was full of voters who were not yet convinced. Board members, the superintendent, teachers, the PTA, civic groups, and the newspapers put on an intense promotion campaign. The enthusiasm was great, but there were many doubters and skeptics who denounced the enormous expenditure and predicted the worst.
Things were not well with the schools, according to an editorial in the The Leader in October of 1927. The writer complained about inadequate schools with insufficient and often poor quality buildings, gymnasium facilities next to nothing; no playground director; only one school nurse for 11,000 pupils; a per pupil expenditure of only $56; no kindergarten; inadequate music and art facilities; and only two elementary school supervisors.
While the schools waited for election day, classes continued in a new innovative manner. The daily paper told of a survey in the public schools that concluded children who study music make much better grades than others. Parents argued about the survey's conclusion.
In 1930 a Senior High School instructor in the languages added Spanish courses "caused by the movies" or at least by the interest of students in Latin American movies. The paper reported that "high-powered teachers were to broadcast to thousands of pupils in the future is the prediction made at an educators' meeting." That year pupils began to study music and history by radio.
Changes in school organization were being made during this period of time. At the high school level, homerooms were being emphasized as one class where a student could feel perfectly at home and become better acquainted with fellow students and teachers.
At the junior highs, purposeful guidance was being proposed.
"We are offering broadening and finding courses which have for their real aim the reducing of individual inefficiency to a minimum." Teachers were encouraged to connect instruction with real life. Curriculum changes included development of a health program with help from the American Child Health Association. The work includes training in health habits and the correlation of health instruction with other subjects. Temperance education is included in the program. Another new course was entitled Living Within the Home. The homecraft course was a one-period, one-unit course and included a study of the theory of home management and the development of an intelligent appreciation of home values and home living. Efforts were made to serve the needs of all students. At Pipkin, for instance, a part-time school was in operation. The school was for those students who couldn't attend full-time because they had jobs to support their families or come from broken homes...60 students in all. High school students met all day Monday and every other afternoon except Saturday and Sunday. Elementary students met at various hours during the week.
The margin was 6,099-1655 when the levy finally passed in 1929. Springfield was to have a modern, new physical plant for its school system! The nine new buildings were to be located throughout the city to satisfy everyone who voted for them. The buildings included a new Negro school, a high school gymnasium, and seven new grade schools. The new grade schools were Phelps, Bailey, Bowerman, Campbell, Weaver, Sunshine and Ed. V. Williams. The six additions were at Pepperdine, Rountree, Doling, Gulf, Robberson and York.
With all the new buildings, it was necessary to redistrict the schools. This resulted in Rogers and Waddill schools being closed. The Hedges home north of Senior High School became an administration building. Other buildings received repairs needed to conform to the high modern standard which Springfield set for its schools.
Springfield's nine member school board conscientiously undertook the task of spending $1,500,000 to provide the city with another 10 or 15 years worth of schools. Every contract and purchase of material met the standard set by the board. They visited the buildings under construction; they met for countless, long meetings to take personal care of the endless details. They did their job so well that during the entire three years of the building program no one heard any criticism. Instead the board was praised for their inflexible integrity and militant efficiency. That was an unusual thing for Springfield's skeptics and doubters who usually found something to criticize. That did not happen during the construction years.
The eight all new schools opened in the fall of 1931. A curriculum addition was "Teaching The Fine Art of Living." One of Superintendent Study's projects, this course dealt with "how to stay married and live within your income." Superintendent Study said this was as important as reading and writing.
One impressive and much discussed new school was Lincoln, located at Central Street and Sherman Avenue, on the original home property of Jonathan Fairbanks. Lincoln's curriculum included the traditional studies plus manual and household training, music, art, athletics, forensics, and citizenship. A well-stocked library matched any in the city, while the auditorium provided space for school affairs and served as a community center as well. Principal Adolphus R. Houston, insisted Springfield's Negro children take advantage of the school's cultural activities. He put sports second to the arts, but there were many intramural games in the wonderful new all-purpose room. The new Lincoln School had a full core of qualified teachers to support the principal.
Adah Fulbright, the senior faculty member in 1931, graduated in Lincoln's fourth class in 1891. Her influence on the lives of hundreds of Springfield citizens after 40 years continued in the new building.
Adolphus R. Houston, principal of the new Lincoln School, made it a center for culture and activities. Truly, Lincoln School provided a modern education for Springfield's Negro children in the decades following 1931.
Another of the new eight schools, a new Phelps School, was typical of the others. The two-story, eleven-room tan brick building had attractive classrooms with movable desks and chairs, a ten-foot high glazed-tile brick gymnasium-auditorium with a well-equipped stage in one end and the school cafeteria in the other. Terrazo-floored halls and battleship linoleum classroom floors made Phelps the pride of the city. The principal's office, a hospitable and pleasant place, was across from the comfortable teachers' lounge. A well-equipped health clinic was a wonder to parents who remembered the crowded rooms and unsanitary conditions in the old schools. An electric clock in the main office rang the bells; a thermostat controlled the heating plant. "Lovely decorative tile fountains in the halls provided bubbling drinking water."
Things turned around in 1929, when new buildings were opened and the newspaper was very positive as demonstrated by this quote from a Leader article:
"For years, education here has been dressed in buildings designed for a day when education meant learning the three R's..a dress long since outgrown in most awkward fashion. The new system will be designed to fit a much larger ideal&emdash;designed as dresses and houses should be for the efficiency, for comfort, and for beauty. Inevitably, the effect on the children of the city will be as great as a thousand times as that of a new dress on its wearer. For the new buildings will be built not merely to house unwilling boys and girls while they learn readin', 'ritin' and 'rithmetic but will be built instead, for the development of 'healthy minds in healthy bodies,' of fine characters and of citizens intelligent and civic conscious. For today, it is not enough that pupils should learn to read and write and figure&emdash;educators have learned that it is equally important with this learning, that it be done without eye strain, or nervous fatigue."
It was just a hundred years since Uncle Joe Rountree gathered the neighborhood children from the Kickapoo Prairie in the little log cabin on a hillside overlooking the Jordan Creek and taught reading, spelling and figuring to them. Springfield was "brand new" then. Since then there had been a Civil War, a new Central School at Jefferson and Olive and a splendid new high school on Central Street. Several neighborhood schools for the younger children, both black and white, were now found in all parts of the city. Eight all new impressive grade schools and two newly occupied and one unfinished junior high school in the north, south and middle of town made Springfield's schools as modern as any in the nation. What would Uncle Joe Rountree have thought if he could have seen the schools in Springfield in 1931?
"New and entirely modern" described Springfield's system of public school buildings in 1931. The completion of the "biggest building program in the schools' history" came after a five-year struggle. The program, an all-city effort, was unusually successful. When school opened in August, Springfield, Missouri's, schools were among the best in the state. As the new decade opened so did many new schools. Dedicated in 1931 were Bowerman, Campbell, Phelps, Weaver, Bailey, and Lincoln schools and a new gymnasium at senior high school. Before the decade was over a classroom addition and large new auditorium would be added to the high school and an athletic field constructed.
Not only were the buildings up-to-date, so were the curriculum and status of the teachers. Superintendent Study and the Board of Education had upgraded teacher's salaries with periodic increases since 1925.
Finances worsened in 1931, however, when the state reduced property valuation. Teachers had to take a 10 percent pay cut as part of a plan to reduce budget expenditures by $133,000 for a balanced budget. In addition, 21 teachers were dropped and principals assigned to teach.
More restrictions were placed on teachers as well. The employment form in 1932 notified applicants they would not be hired if they were not proficient in directing one or more extracurricular activities.
Almost all of the 1931 teaching staff were graduates of Springfield schools. Many of their teachers were also "products" of Old Central, Phelps, and others. Hiring local school teachers for Springfield schools was an accepted and expected pattern through the years. As far back as 1890, Springfieldians expressed some special merit in teachers being born and raised in their home town. "It is a characteristic that has endured, and recently (late 1930s) restated by the board that home-town girls be given preference."
As the tenured 30, 40, and 50 year teachers retired, young teachers applied for their jobs. The young students trained at State Normal School (later State Teachers College) knew the latest methods in teacher's education. New and progressive courses routinely appeared in Springfield's classrooms as a result of the local Teacher's College. One course in 1934 introduced a new non-reading curriculum for first graders. Children identified with reading problems or "junior primaries" were in the class. The program kept them in the first grade for three semesters but gave them one semester of everything but reading. This reading innovation was Springfield Public School's first experiment with Progressive Education.
In the ensuing ten years, Progressive Education became a vital part of the curriculum. Harry Study was a strong supporter of Progressive Education. He said the outstanding thing about Progressive Education was the particular emphasis on the teacher knowing each child. This meant making the subject matter subordinate to a study of the child, and his setting in the home and in the community. It does not lessen the importance of subject matter, Study said. It only means that it is to be learned as it is needed, instead of according to some arbitrary schedule and is to be subordinated to child development.
A second strong component of Progressive Education was the emphasis on educating parents and getting them involved in their child's education.
The severe Depression reached a peak in Springfield in the mid-1930s. When transients, mostly jobless men, became a problem in 1934 the public schools added adult education classes for them at Ritter's Mill. President Roosevelt's programs, the National Housing Administration (NHA) and the Springfield Better Housing Committee became a part of student class work. Students made model houses and older students studied housing construction methods.
The Federal Emergency Relief Administration started a nursery school during the depression at Bailey School for children two to four years of age. A similar program was offered for Negroes at a nearby church.
Always innovative, Superintendent Study proposed a course in how to get a job. It was a special training for boys who have jobs and are going to school at the same time. Elementary Archaeology as a course resulted after a curriculum survey in 1935.
Senior High School used Long Park (the city hall parking lot) for outdoor physical education classes. That spring, the board approved the provision of classrooms for kindergartens sponsored by PTA.
City-wide seventh grade pupils performed a novel and progressive experiment by giving written opinions of their instructors. Although this experiment revealed true feelings and offered suggestions, it was a one-time project.
As car accidents increased with the number of cars, Springfield educators backed a move for a "save-a-life" class.
Home economics teacher Miss Lucy Low taught a beginners class in "maid's" duties with a list of ten commandments.
It was very evident that education was changing. Alice Pittman, elementary supervisor, put it this way: "No longer can we assume that the school can equip the child with skills and information to last throughout his life nor give him advance solutions for the problems he will meet as an adult. The most valuable equipment which childhood education can give is the ability to continue learning."
The schools were also paying more attention to the needs of special children. The board agreed in 1936 to apply to the WPA...at the urging of the Kiwanis Club...for a school for crippled children. That school became a continuing project for the local service club in a cooperative working relationship with the district.
Vocational agriculture was a new course in the fall of 1939.
The purpose of the popular Industrial Arts Program was to show that "vocational training should instill tool confidence more than to teach trades." Teaching trades had its rewards when Superintendent Study took a photo display of Springfield student's craft work to a World Conference on Education for Democracy in New York City.
Not everyone was pleased with the new curriculum. A group called the Society of Friends of the Constitution attacked manual arts in 1932 because it is "destroying the economic independence of industrial workers in the community."
The problems in society cropped up in the schools during the depression era with several incidents cited as indications of degrading morals in young people. First, in late 1934, eight students at senior high admitted smoking marijuana, "the dangerous Mexican weed." Action was taken to keep peddlers off the high school campus. No action was taken against the boys, however, because at the time, there was no federal law prohibiting the sale, possession, or use of the drug.
The next spring, a local minister charged that high school girls were cutting classes to "loaf in beer joints." Dan Hull, principal at the time, said the problem was not as bad as alleged. He said: "I think generally people of all ages, are smoking more, drinking more, and are more lax in sex matters than they were 30 years ago."
War was the major talk as the 1940 decade dawned. With the war in Europe on everyone's mind, Springfield schools looked to the daily newspaper for classroom material. Newspapers in the high school classroom became a teaching tool and in some cases substituted for geography during World War II.
School enrollment in January, 1940 showed 2,531 students enrolled at Senior High School. Enrollment continued to grow in the next year as the community grew, in part due to the O'Reilly Army Hospital, a feature in Springfield during the war.
At the same time, the number of teachers was down with men going into the army or government defense work. In May, 80 men enrolled in a special class to prepare for airplane factory jobs. The number seeking enrollment was double the available space. In the same mood, the board agreed, over strong objections by some citizens, to apply for an ROTC high school unit. Another war-time course was to prepare young men in areas of national emergency. Classes to train workers for national defense were on the list of courses in 1940.
The local newspaper reported among the war news in 1941 that Secondary Supervisor D. C. Rucker evaluated Progressive Education "as doing a good job."
Workers Progress Administration (WPA), an organization started during the Depression, organized courses in the public schools that fall. The public selected the subjects from a long list.
Adult WPA Education, especially the free classes, proved to be popular in Springfield during the ensuing war. Several school principals enrolled in the program. The government gave the schools a machine shop in 1942 for the adult classes.
The big education news in December, 1941, was Progressive Education. As schools began that fall headlines across the 48 states announced "New York Schools go Progressive!" Columbia University led the way. Springfield's public schools jumped on the bandwagon. Following the trend, sophomores at Senior High School subscribed to a "Progressive" pilot project to "teach senior high students to understand what they learn." The purpose of the new plan was to "teach high school students the things they need to know in a way that they can understand, and to make their knowledge useful to them." The project also stressed "before a teacher can know what a pupil needs, what he can understand, and what will be useful to him she has to know the pupil." The newspaper article stated that students work in small groups. This single innovative theory of moving from the fastened down, row-by-row seats was one of the positive things of Progressive Education.
Veteran's Day on November 11, 1941, caused celebrations and assemblies in the public schools. A drive for students and teachers to buy defense stamps "went over big" and aroused patriotic sentiment.
On the last day of November, a new "modern" report card went home to the parents. "Satisfactory" and "Unsatisfactory" with written comments replaced the old letters E, S, M, D, and F on the grade cards. Pro and con debates ran throughout the city. A few parents did not like the new progressive grade card and told the school administration.
The grade cards became less an issue several weeks later when, on December 7, 1941, the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor and America was drawn into World War II. Things would not return to normal for the next half-decade.
The war years caused many changes in the Springfield Public Schools from the activities conducted to the entire educational philosophy.
The war became a constant topic of discussion in all school classes. Special instructional programs were developed to meet the nation's needs during this crucial time. Math became a very important subject because of the war.
For the next half decade, many courses were developed to prepare students for defense work, such as a popular course in aviation. Special courses were also held to train adults in the new skills needed to supply the forces on the front. Even women were trained in some of the industrial arts that were limited to men before the war. War training was also provided for Negroes.
Physical education was emphasized to toughen students for the army and war work.
At one point, the need for fighting men was so great that students were drafted before they could complete their schooling. In this case, they could get high school credit for their basic training and service.
A change in procedure that might have come about anyhow was stimulated by the war mood. In answer to a call by the federal government for year-round school, Superintendent Study announced that the 1942 summer school would run through August. It would give boys and girls a chance to serve their country by preparing for skilled trades.
Students and teachers in the public schools showed their support for the nation's effort in many ways.
Students helped with victory gardens and a community canning project. They also held a salvage drive. Student assistance was also valuable in protecting the home front. In one particular project, the young people held a big defense rally on the square and then went house to house signing people up for home defense.
Teachers were very much involved, also. In 1942, the schools closed early for four days so that teachers could issue sugar ration cards. They later also helped with gasoline ration cards.
The district, as part of its contribution, gave up 20 percent of its typewriters to the armed forces.
In 1944, the district turned the senior high into a camp for 200 men who were getting railroad training from the Frisco Railroad.
Throughout much of the war, the district also provided classes for the men at O'Reilly Army Hospital, a facility that put Springfield on the map.
As the war dragged on, the district lost teachers to both the military and to higher paying defense jobs. At one point, the Board of Education refused to give teachers their jobs back if they left for higher paying defense jobs.
There was no lack of students, however. In 1941, senior high school had an enrollment of 2400. Crowded conditions required carefully planned scheduling.
Within two years, the Board was discussing ways to meet the need for space. First they discussed building two additional high schools. Then there was a suggestion that the district organize around an "8-4" plan rather than the "6-3-3" plan. During this discussion surfaced a suggestion that Pipkin, Jarrett and Reed be turned into four-year high schools and that senior high be turned into a special trades school. Nothing ever came of these plans.
Plans developed in 1944 called for adding gymnasiums and cafeterias to the three junior high schools, building a combination elementary and junior high school near Gulf School, building new Westport and McGregor elementary schools, adding auditoriums at Robberson, Sunshine, and Williams elementary schools; and building additions onto Bissett and York elementary schools. A $1,270,000 bond issue was approved in October of 1945 to accomplish some of these projects.
Not all the proposed work was accomplished, however. In 1947, portable metal buildings were placed at York and Bissett to accommodate overcrowding. The next year school started with an unexpected increase of 430 students. This required that students in grades five and six at Sunshine School be transported to Phelps School.
Voters approved another $1,000,000 bond issue in May of 1948. This time there were no specifics given for how the money would be used.
The new combination elementary and junior high school, the city's first, was named after Harry Study and opened in September of 1949.
A debate occurred during the early 1940's about how young children should start school. In 1946, teachers were complaining to the Board about letting students start school at too early an age. They suggested that parents be educated to see the damaging effects of allowing their children to enroll in school before the age of six. Several years later, the PTA approached the Board about sponsoring kindergartens but was told money was not available for such a project.
The district continued to be aggressive in pursuing educational change. In 1944 it agreed to participate with Columbia University in an educational improvement program.
Superintendent Harry Study continued to spearhead Progressive Education in the district, and in other districts, but disenchantment was growing over the education process espoused by Study. Letters to the editor started appearing in 1943. The disenchantment continued until, in 1947, a group of Sunshine School parents challenged Progressive Education. They formed a committee to study it. The committee said that "pupils don't get good preparation for college; that they lack training fundamentals and are not drilled in them in classes; that they have little homework and that schools seem to be for play; that children have been able to override teachers in such a way as to destroy the value of classes; and that teachers here don't really like the system in operation, but are afraid to say so under threat of being fired."
As the result of that group's opposition, the Board eventually agreed to an evaluation of the school district by an outside agency. Illinois University contracted to do that study in 1947. The university's report was released in June of 1948. According to the newspaper, it "all-out justifies the modern education that has antagonized some people here for so long." The report went much further in its recommendations than the district had already gone.
The newspaper said that it had been Superintendent Study's attitude that, "It is better to have a competent and happy old-fashioned teacher than a nervous, distraught, confused one trying to teach a new method she did not understand." (Other quotes from Study.)
This report, planting the seed for a number of changes, said the schools must explain themselves better to the public and the public should take more interest in the schools. It also suggested more administrators, supervisors and special teachers.
Two forward steps in an improved curriculum occurred in 1948 with the driver education program started. It was also the year the first sex education film was shown and approval given for the first special education classes for the mentally retarded.
In 1949, the guidance and counseling program began as the result of concerns about dropouts and a General Education plan was set up.
It was a time of great change in the relationship between local schools and state government. In 1943 the cost of schools shifted to the state and in 1945 the new Missouri Constitution included a provision for school funding. In implementing the provisions of the new constitution, a citizens' committee finally agreed to a formula for distributing state aid in December of 1947.
School modernization legislation was passed by the state legislature in 1945 and in 1946 the legislature approved a pension plan for teachers.
On the local level, voters appeared to be agreeable to improving teachers' salaries that had been ignored for so long. Superintendent Study was speaking out in the community about the salaries. He told a local group: "The most that a teacher can ever get here if she teaches 40 years or even if she teaches 50 years, is $2,250. But a third-year patrolman gets $2,280...a third-year fireman gets $2,280." He said that salaries here are lower than the average in the whole United States, not only in communities of comparable size.
In 1946 voters approved a 45 cent levy increase for teacher salaries. An 80 cent increase was approved in 1947.
There were other improvements as well. In 1942, the Board of Education agreed, for the first time, to pay married women the same as single women.
Even though there must have been some teacher dissatisfaction with salaries and the instructional program under Superintendent Study, there apparently was not enough for teachers to want to join a militant organization. An attempt by the American Federation of Teachers to organize a unit here failed in 1947.
The National Education Association (NEA) was strong though. Mary Titus, president of the classroom teachers' unit of the NEA said while visiting here that the association was working for a standardization of education requirements among school children. For example, she said, all students in all states would have to meet certain requirements before they could be graduated from high school. Titus added that the association felt that the same qualifications should be required of all teachers in all states.
Teachers during this period received a rather thorough evaluation. Alice Pittman, in reporting on the evaluation process in 1947, said it had a dual purpose. First was elimination of teachers who show no promise. Second was contribution to a teacher's growth by frankly enumerating her weaknesses along with her strong points. Miss Pittman said the evaluations were based on three types of information: the teacher's own self-evaluation, oral statement of the principal, and a report from the teachers' association personnel committee.
When the war ended, the new political climate in this country was obvious. In 1942, a special program in the senior high auditorium honored the Russian Alliance. In 1948, however, poet Langston Hughes was denied an opportunity to speak here because there was evidence he was a Communist. The following year senior high principal C. Benton Manley burned pamphlets sent to the school by the Russian Embassy about how that country was trying to lead the capitalistic world toward peace.
As the new post-war decade started, enrollment growth remained a problem. Voters approved an expansion of the city limits on all sides and it added approximately 300 new students to the district. In response to this, the Board started looking for sites for new schools. Within the next two years they had approved or opened Portland, Bissett, Watkins, and Delaware elementary schools. The board was also searching for property for a new high school.
A stormy annexation debate between Willard and Springfield ended in 1951 when the Ritter School District was annexed to the Springfield district.
A sign of the times came from a survey taken by the Greene County Welfare Commission in 1951. It said that the typical high school senior here is 17, lives in a family-owned six-room house, and has two brothers or sisters living with him. The report said that the income of the family is more than $60 per week and the mother doesn't work outside the home.
A major addition to the district's educational program was that of classes at Westport School in 1951 for the mentally retarded students.
The school district received national publicity during the early 1950's. It was asked by Life magazine to help in publishing a list by which parents can understand and evaluate the kind of school their children were attending.
In 1952, a very significant era ended in Springfield education. Harry Study, with some gentle prodding by the Board of Education, announced that he would retire in July 1 from the post he had held for the past 27 years. A sign of the respect for this long-time, progressive educator was the fact that 2000 people showed up to honor him at his retirement reception.
Mr. Study's brand of Progressive Education was to be retired with him. Springfield was to embark upon one of the most significant periods of growth and development in its history under a former college dean.