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"History of Eau Claire County Wisconsin, 1914, Past and Present"
Chapter 25 - The Public Schools of Eau Claire
by W. H. Schulz
1906 to 1914
(-As transcribed from pages 417 - 428)
W. H. Schulz was elected city superintendent of schools during the July meeting of 1906. M. S. Frawley continued as principal of the high school until the end of the school year for 1912-1913. His record has perhaps not been equaled by any other high school principal in the state of Wisconsin for length of service in the same capacity. He had been high school principal for over thirty years and has had the good fortune to see the consolidation of the high schools into one Central High school, and then to see the development of the Central High school until it reached an enrollment of nearly 700 students. The standing of the high school has always been good. It was always accredited to the University of Wisconsin, and has remained a member of the North Central Association continuously from the time that it was first admitted to that membership.
In 1907 a new building was built in the First ward. This building was a decided improvement over the older type of building in many respects. Light regulation was better; furnaces in the heating plant are arranged in a battery. It has a fan system and heat regulation. In sanitary provisions it is entirely modern. Since the erection of this school building the heating and ventilation in all the school buildings has been improved and modern heat regulation and ventilation have been put into the Third, Seventh No. 2 and Eight ward buildings. All the buildings are now supplied with either gas or electricity for lighting purposes. The buildings within recent years have been thoroughly renovated so that they may be considered modern in nearly every respect. The walls are tinted according to the most approved method. They are kept thoroughly clean and sanitary at all times. A great deal has been added in the way of equipment, so that the facilities for teaching have been vastly improved. The free text book system is continued and the supply is liberal and books are always kept in good condition. To bring about these improvements has entailed a great deal of expense, but there is no doubt that it is a good investment. School exhibits are now an annual feature. At these exhibits school work in drawing, arithmetic, writing, manual training and domestic science is shown to the public. There is always a program rendered by the pupils. These exhibits have always been very popular, as is evidenced by the large attendance that they always bring forth. Quite an elaborate course of study for the grades and in manual training and domestic science was worked out by the superintendent and printed by the Board of Education in 1909. This book contained about 250 closely printed pages. It has been given credit of being the most elaborate course of study for the grades of any school system in the state. The results which have followed have been exceedingly gratifying. All the work in all the branches is outlined on the basis of the divisions of the grades for semesters. This makes it very convenient for reference. The new high school courses which were adopted about the same time were a general course with a great many different electives, and a commercial course with a great many different electives. These courses have not been changed for quite a number of years, because the flexibility and the opportunity for election of subjects made them on the whole very satisfactory. The choice of subjects made by the students indicates strongly the trend towards those things in courses of study which are more practical and have a value which can be used in the practical affairs of life as soon as the student leaves school. With the adoption of the new course of study for the grades was brought about a more definite system of grading. This gave freedom to the movement of the stream of progress through the grades from the primary to the grammar grades which was rather unexpected so that now the enrollment in the upper grades is nearly as strong as in the lower grades. It has also demonstrated that boys will stay in school as well as girls if the opportunities of progress are such as appeal to the boy.
Special teachers and supervisors are not maintained in the following departments:
In a small way home school gardens were established in 1907. Their number gradually increased. In 1913 there were nearly a thousand of them in the city. The interest and the progress in this line of work has been astounding. The benefits derived are undoubtedly of very great value. Many of the pupils have won prizes at fairs with their garden products. Marketing associations are being organized and undoubtedly in the course of time will develop the business side of the home gardens.
In 1912 a new school building was erected in the Ninth ward. This is a beautiful structure, two stories and a basement. Dr. Wiley, after his inspection, pronounced it the most up-to-date building in the country in every aspect. He said that he found more of the modern improvements incorporated in it than in any other building he had ever examined and also some features that he had never seen in any other schoolhouse. It has a system of light regulation that has not been equaled in any other place. It has a large auditorium for civic social center purposes which is used quite extensively. The school grounds are arranged for playground purposes and are being improved according to the most modern plans and methods of landscape gardening.
Nearly all the school buildings in the city are supplied with pianos and all of them are supplied with Victrolas so that the pupils may listen to the best music of the world. This feature is proving very satisfactory. The school buildings are used for other purposes besides the ordinary school purposes. Many of the buildings are used by the Civic Social Center movement which is proving quite successful, especially in the Second, Sixth, Ninth and Tenth wards.
The Board of Education has generally been a strong body. In recent years this has been especially true. Some of the ablest citizens in the community are giving their time to the service of the schools in their home city. Since the division of the commission form of government, the mayor or some other member of the council is also a member of the Board of Education. Special arrangement exists for cooperation between the schools and the public library. This makes the public library a more valuable factor in the school work of the city. The public library has built up a picture collection which is constantly used in the city schools.
Much is being done by the teachers to improve themselves in their work. There are regular and special teachers' meetings of various kinds which always bring out a full attendance. Much good work is done in these meetings; especially is this true of the special meetings along special lines for grade teachers. Much advancement has been made in recent years in looking after the health of the child both in the schoolroom and on the playground. Playground supervision and playground instruction are making rapid advancements and are now required of teachers as a part of their function and duty to be regularly and systematically performed.
In order to interest children in developing habits of industry and thrift, provisions have been made for savings accounts for them in the banks. There is no doubt that this will result in much good in the course of time.
The Board of Education of the city of Eau Claire for the first year of 1913-14 consisted of the following members:
First ward, Emmet HoranAnd for the city at large, Mayor John B. Fleming. Charles H. Henry was president, E. S. Hayes, vice-president, and Emma Schroeder, secretary. During the year Adolph Mellsness was elected to fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Mr. Farr, and J. E. Barron was elected in place of J. M. Charles. L. A. BuDahn was elected in place of V. V. Mason. At the annual meeting Dr. E. S. Hayes was elected president, and Albert Nelson, vice-president.
Prof. F. M. Jack was elected principal of the high school He began his services with the opening of the school year. Mr. Jack had acquired considerable eminence in his profession before he came into the employment of the Board of Education. He had been science teacher in the Milwaukee high schools, principal of several high schools, city superintendent of schools at Sparta, state inspector of high schools and institute conductor of the River Falls Normal School, in all of which positions he had met with marked success.
During this year the training in physical culture was placed in the hands of a physical director. Mr. W. S. Hansen was elected director. His work has been very successful. For the year 1914-15 Miss Gertrude Krug has been employed as assistant.
During this school year the registration and attendance was as follows:
Practically 100 more pupils would probably have been in attendance in the grades if it were not for the existence of the industrial school. They are in the industrial school because the industrial school with its equipment and course of study is better able to serve them and their peculiar needs.
The total number of days attendance was: In the grades, 428,208 days; high school, 111,936 days; deaf school, 5,395 days; total, 545,539 days.
In these figures there is to be found a slight increase over last year. The total enrollment for last year was 3,369, and the total number of days attendance, 523,682. In punctuality and attendance our school system has always had a good ranking, and it is gratifying to notice that it is still improving in that direction. There has been little to interfere with regular attendance during the year. The health of the school children has been remarkably good. The number of cases of contagious diseases has been very few. Only a small number of pupils withdrew from school during the year to go to work. There seems to be a slow but steady increase in the number of pupils who stay in the elementary schools until they have completed all the work of the grades. Not all of the pupils who complete the work in the grades enter the high school, but the number is very large, being over 90 per cent. This is a much high per cent than in most other cities.
New courses of study for the high school were adopted and approved by the state superintendent of public instruction. These consist of a general course, a vocational commercial course, a vocational manual arts course and a vocational special course. This will afford a much greater and better opportunity for choice of studies to the students attending this high school. The provisions for those students who do not expect to enter a higher institution of learning are exceptionally fine, and I trust that during the next four or five years a great improvement will take place in better adjustment to the actual needs of the students attending our public school. We must remember that a very large percentage never receive any higher education than that which they receive in the high school, therefore, the studies and lines of work pursued should be as practical as possible. Taking all things into consideration, the outlook for progress in this school is exceptionally good.
During the past eight years our special aim has been to improve the quality of work done in our schools. Many changes and improvements have been made in courses of study, the selection of better books, the providing of suitable and necessary apparatus. Plans for the stimulation and encouragement of greater educational interest have been worked out. Undoubtedly one of the most important things in an educational system is to have in the schools the right spirit, a spirit of industry, interest and enjoyment. I believe we have made some very marked gains in that direction. I think this is especially evidenced by the decrease in the number of cases of punishment and of difficulties of every kind between teachers and pupils and teachers and parents. A great deal of school work has been introduced which has practical value. The standard of qualifications for promotion has been increased. The standard of qualifications for the new teachers employed by the Board of Education has been increased. The Board of Education has made an astoundingly large number of improvements in the school buildings. Practically all of the ward schools have been put into a good state of repair. Many improvements have been made in the heating systems and in the lighting of the school buildings, the cleaning of the school buildings and in many other features of sanitation. Practically over one-half of the basement of the high school building has been rebuilt. Two modern, well-equipped ward school buildings have been erected. One of these undoubtedly one of the most complete and perfect to be found anywhere in our country. We have to this effect the testimony of two good authorities of national reputation, namely, Dr. Wiley and George Bruce.
It is sometimes a good thing to make a little review of what has been accomplished in a definite period of time. This may be a source of disappointment or a source of encouragement. I feel no hesitancy whatever in saying that the Board of Education and its administrative officers may well feel proud of what has been accomplished in these years. It is this type of constant effort and seeking to attain higher levels and still greater achievement that produces the most lasting results in real progress.
Following a looking backward naturally comes a looking forward. This looking forward should not be with a desire to look merely for something new or for things startling and faddish, but the looking forward should be with a view of finding for the future a place for those things which were found wanting in the past and which are an educational necessity which the past has been unable to produce.
With the social and industrial changes which have been taking place in recent years has come the breaking down of an element of training and investigation on the part of the home which in reality amounted to a considerable measure of vocational guidance. The entire removal of the industries from the home to separate workshops and factories has led to a lessening of consideration on the part of school children for an interest in these industries until the time has arrived when a choice must be made, and then the youth is not prepared as well as he should be because of a lack of previous instruction. It seems to me that one of the best ways of approaching the subject of vocational guidance is to give the pupils in the grades and in the high school ample opportunity to obtain definite knowledge of the industrial, commercial and professional life of the community in which they live. This should include a reasonably clear presentation of the preparation required to enter each one of the common vocations. The first course in vocational guidance should be very simple and elementary. The second course should be much more thorough and advanced with a view of allowing a pupil an opportunity to specialize in his investigation whenever he comes to the conclusion that he has practically made a choice. Rightly handled, this may be made a means of affording specific training for a more efficient citizenship. In order, however, to carry out a plan of this kind, it will be necessary for the industrial institutions of the city to cooperate with the schools in helping the pupils to such information as might be desirable and also for opportunities of investigation. Perhaps the Civic and Commerce Association would be willing to create a department which is specially designed to cooperate with the schools in promoting this special training in vocational guidance.
Efforts have been made for many years to vitalize the elementary and secondary courses of study and it is true much has already been accomplished, but a great deal more improvement is necessary. There is not much use at this step in our advancement to push vocational courses any farther unless the schools can secure the cooperation of industrial, business and professional organizations to aid in the necessary work which must be done in vocational guidance. Vocational guidance must, to a large extent, precede the work in the vocational courses. We now have manual training and domestic science in the grades, shaping itself over into prevocational work. So is the work in drawing, and even to some extent in music. The time must come when some greater opportunity is offered by the schools for elementary work in horticulture and in agriculture. For, after all, over nine-tenths of the people are going to be interested in either producing form the soil or manufacturing. In the schools of northern Europe a large amount of this practical work is being offered and is closely linked to the back work which they have pursued in the grades and some of the special secondary schools.
We have made a small beginning with home school gardening. This is very valuable but not sufficiently extensive. In these lines of work in the grades and in the high school, the pupils should have an opportunity to demonstrate their mathematics, drawing and science, and to some extent also their bookkeeping. While these applications may not be extensive, they are realistic and, as we have learned by experience, make a decidedly better impression than the mere back work in these same subjects. In order to make our advanced vocational courses in the high school more effective, in the course of time cooperation with institutions outside of the school will be a necessity. With the advanced work in domestic science and manual training should go practical work outside of the school. This may be done during Saturdays and portions of the vacation so that the pupil during the two years that he pursues this advanced work may have more practice than theory. At the beginning of each advanced course there should be a probation period, and if the student finds that it is desirable for him to make a change or if the teacher deems it necessary that he should make a change that a change may be made without any special loss to the student. These courses of work must be well planned; they must have flexibility; they must have records showing efficiency in the production of each one of the projects which have been completed. The efficiency record should be the largest factor in determining when the course is completed.
Vocational guidance and vocational interest must be replanted in the home. It may not be possible to make this application very extensive but a great deal of the work which was once done in the home may be revived by the schools if the schools will make a record of what has been done in the home or outside of school. This record should be one giving recognition to the value of certain things well done. In some places specific school credits are granted. This, it has been found, is not necessary. If proper recognition is given, making it a part of the school record, this, with the value of the things produced, seems to be all the encouragement that is necessary. The following tentative projects are suggested
Not very much can be done in teaching people or instructing them how to become thrifty, yet the instructional side should not be entirely ignored. Someone has said not long ago that the waste of the American people is sufficient to keep the French nation and to provide for their increase in wealth. Another authority made this statement, that the waste of the average American will provide for the sustenance of two of the average population of Germany. Personal thrift seems to have reached its highest advancement in that country, while community thrift and national thrift, from the standpoint of government, seems to have reached its greatest advancement in France. In England we have examples equally striking, but we have examples also that are the very opposite coming undoubtedly form a commonly accepted principle that everyone must find out how to take care of himself. This principle is undoubtedly correct after a certain measure of ability has been developed, but not before. Through the courses in vocational guidance, the vocational courses and records of home school tasks, it will undoubtedly be possible to stimulate a greater interest in matters of thrift. The fundamental appeal, it seems to me, should be toward saving, and as soon as possible establishing a savings account. Provisions to that effect should be made by the Board of Education in making arrangements with the banks of the city. At first this may be a little burden for them to carry, but in the course of time, when this becomes well worked out, the extra effort will be paid for and more than paid for in the final results. When once an average deposit of $15.00 per pupil of those attending school has been secured, it is pretty certain that it may be said that the work is on the safe side and will practically take care of itself for the future. The arrangement for making deposits by the school children and of keeping record should be very simple. I would suggest a credit record on the part of the schools every time that the sum of $5.00 has been exceeded. As much as possible these deposits should come from the earnings of the pupils. Right here there is one danger to avoid. Parents should never pay pupils for attainments in school or attainments in conduct. This appeal is positively wrong. In connection with this saving of money may come the training in the saving of other things: saving of school supplies, saving of home supplies, saving of articles of apparel by better care, saving machinery by better care, saving health by better care, saving life by better care, saving losses to the community by helping to do certain things, making provisions for the future by the way of insurance and investments which are bound to increase in value, abandoning habits which are wasteful, and keeping entirely free from hazardous speculations and gambling. In this as well as in the foregoing projects, the cooperation of the patrons of the school is absolutely necessary. As this work is being unfolded in modern civilization, it becomes more and more apparent that the schools must become organized factors, working with the homes and other institutions already in existence, whose aim is in part at least the same as in the schools themselves.
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