(Lori Bernard, chairman of the St. Croix County Republican Party, had a letter printed in the New Richmond News and Hudson Star-Observer this past week. Bernard's letter discussed the one-room school setting in which her Grandmother taught. She suggests we consider returning to this concept.
My Grandmother also taught in a one-room school. She started the wood stove in the morning, walked through snow drifts to get to school and had to give up teaching when she got married. As my Grandmother, who was born in a log cabin and knew how to keep the wolves away from the door with a shotgun at the age of 10, like to say, "You can have the good old days. They weren't so good. I'll take an electric oven and refrigerator over a wood stove and an icebox any day."
I did some genealogical research and found out the my ancestors in northern Europe were farmers 12,000 years ago. Even farther back, 15,000 years ago my ancestors where hunters and gatherers. According to family lore, my farmer ancestors apparently longed for the return of the days of hunting and gathering. Apparently, that good-old-days conservative attitude has been around for awhile.)
Below is Bernard's letter to the editor.
Recently I learned that my grandmother taught grades one through six in a one-room schoolhouse. The one-room schoolhouse had no dedicated library, no gymnasium, no athletic field, no auditorium with state-of-the-art acoustics, no air conditioning and certainly no indoor swimming pool. Yet some evidence suggests that children educated in one-room schoolhouses received a more rigorous education than that received in our public schools today. For some proof, check out the following link to an eighth-grade test from 1895 at www.digitalhistory.uh.edu/quizzes/8thgrade_test.cfm.
Interestingly, when education is discussed today it seems that no hallway is wide enough, no gymnasium is large enough, no school has enough surrounding acreage, no athletic facility is ever all that we would like it to be. We see coverage of the sports teams and school plays and musicals, but rarely do we hear discussions about the real state of education or gratitude for the educational opportunity with which our kids are presented.
Instead we see bumper stickers to “Support Hudson Schools.” We have seen teachers and parents literally parade through our town pleading for “more support” for our schools and our high school students with picket signs outside a school board meeting demanding a new high school because, according to them, “1700 is a crowd.” It is as though without more “support” (i.e., money and facilities), our children cannot possibly learn. The argument is hollow at best, but I believe it is also a harmful message for our kids.
Read complete letter.
The link to the test mentioned in the letter is found at the Digital History site.
Of course, one-room schools were generally located in the countryside. Towns like Hudson and New Richmond had a larger grade school with multiple grades located in town. The high school was even larger and was attended by the students in the one-room schools and town elementary school. Often times, most country kids who did go on to high school roomed in town during the week. They weren't busing them halfway across the county back them. Besides, for most country kids, 8th grade was the end of the formal education line.
Concerning the 8th grade test, there seems to be some question as to whether or not it was given to 8th graders or seniors in high school. I scored about a B on the test. I found things that I probably haven't seen since Mrs. Widvey's English class at HHS. But of course, we can't go back to 1920 and give them a test from 2006. I'm sure the results would be similar. In 1973, I could do all kinds of math on a slide rule. We weren't allowed to use calculators because they were expense and some of the teachers thought they were a fad. I have a slide rule in my desk at work and haven't got a clue as how to use it. I'm keeping in there in case there's a total meltdown in the computer system, the power goes out and we run out of things to talk about at the water cooler.
With this kind of thinking publicly being advocated from the top of the local Republican Party, can you imagine what they are saying behind closed doors?
Any thoughts or comments...