Some stats on the decline of one-teacher schools

 

 

One of the most iconic images of historic American education is that of the country schoolhouse. A one-room fixture, it represented education and it represented communities.

One-room schools are rare these days. Florida closed its last one, Duette Elementary, in 2016. Minnesota still has one, Angle Inlet, located in a section of the state only accessible by roads in Canada.

Georgia, generally being easily accessible and communities located close enough to towns of some size, began weeding theirs out as soon as possible. By 1960, they were all but extinct.

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Brewton school saga, Part III: Albatross

Dr. B.D. Perry school opened in 1958 in Laurens County, six years after Laurens County’s school building program began. It opened two years after black students in eastern Laurens County were denied use of Brewton School.

Brewton School had been a white school building, but Laurens officials with state approval planned on remodeling it and enlarging it for use by black students. Brewton’s white students were going to be abandoning the building for the new East Laurens High, an all-grades building that opened in April 1956.

Despite Brewton’s updates being 90 percent complete, builders were forced to stop. Part of one wing was being built on private property. Local Brewtonians, who admitted they did not want black students in that school, now had their wish.

Continue reading “Brewton school saga, Part III: Albatross”

Brewton school saga, Part II: Opposition

When East Laurens opened in April 1956, all school children from Brewton, plus all the high school students from Condor and Wilkes moved into the new building. Wilkes’ high school had combined with Brewton at the start of the 1955-56 school year, a consolidation known as Brewton-Wilkes High.

Laurens County was still in the middle of a building program and black schools were being erected at Dudley (Millville) and a few miles south of Dublin (Mary Fleming). With Brewton now vacated, work could also finish on the building there, which was being renovated and remodeled for a third all-grades black school.

The location of another white high school in the Rentz area had been debated some time, with one court case decided and its appeal hanging in the balance.

Rentz, however, was joined by a newer and bigger problem in Laurens County: Brewton.

Continue reading “Brewton school saga, Part II: Opposition”

Brewton School saga , Part I: Brewton and her school

The Minimum Foundation Program and the State School Building Authority are frequently referenced in this blog.

The combination of the two programs were among the biggest influences in education, along with, but not limited to, free textbooks, the Quality Basic Education Act and the train of technology in its various forms.

Georgia’s plans in the 1950s to streamline its education, to get the most bang for its bucks, changed the fabric of schools, especially at the high school level.

Whereas states like Texas are seemingly content to maintain tiny high schools – Dave Campbell’s Texas Football was able to rattle off 10 high schools in 2016 with enrollments of 35 or less playing high school football at some level  – Georgia frowned upon that. In 1953, Tift County’s Omega High lost its accreditation from the state because it had fewer than 60 students in its top four grades. Public high schools in Georgia have only gotten bigger since.

In the 1950s, schools consolidated at a rapid pace, into existing buildings that had enough room; into existing buildings with additions; or into completely new buildings because of a much larger student load and/or the inadequacy of the already existing buildings.

The Brewton School saga involved the third of these types of building projects. The State Board of Education and the Laurens County Board of Education decided to consolidate Brewton’s students into the new East Laurens school building.

But Brewton had a decent school building and no one wanted to see it go to waste. Officials planned on solving more consolidation with it, namely the consolidation of a section of Laurens County’s black students.

This plan went haywire.

Continue reading “Brewton School saga , Part I: Brewton and her school”

12th grade blues

For nearly all of us out there in America, a high school diploma requires graduation from 12th grade.

Twelve grades seems like an arbitrary number.

Into the 1940s, all it took were 11 grades of hassle to earn the tassel. Then Georgia decided to transition.

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When supporting integration could get educators fired

The 1950s were a time of upheaval in Georgia.

At the beginning of the decade, community schools were widespread, though there was little money and little to offer students beyond the school being local. Consolidations came to improve standards and with them, plenty of protests about the schools leaving the communities.

By the middle of the decade, many of these debates had subsided, with only a few major ones – Tennille’s objection of losing their high school to Sandersville and Oglethorpe versus Montezuma, for example – still on the table.

But there were other crises.

In 1954, Brown versus Board of Education of Topeka, Kansas, was decided. Effectively considered the end of separate but equal racial policies, the battle was just beginning.

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The new schools Terrell County did not welcome

When the Minimum Foundation Program was ratified in 1951, most Georgia school systems were thrilled.

State-provided money to bring local schools to modern condition. Many systems immediately pursued the funds, eagerly conducting surveys to determine the needs and problems of their schools.

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