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The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

EDUCATION - The Encyclopedia of Cleveland History

EDUCATION. The early history of education in Cleveland paralleled developments in Ohio and America, since education was a state initiative and local efforts reflected those of the state. The immigration of the 1830s and 1840s aroused feelings of nationalism and patriotism. The Catholic population grew rapidly and provided for a separate system of education during the 19th century. Many reform movements sprang up, focusing on such causes as ABOLITIONISM, women's rights, temperance, prison reform, and education. Education provided the unifying, homogenizing element needed in the society to deal with this diversity. Reformers such as Horace Mann in Massachusetts, Henry Barnard in Connecticut, and Samuel Lewis in Ohio led a simultaneous movement to establish a common school--not a school only for the common man, but a school for all, publicly supported and controlled, to train people for citizenship and economic power and to provide suitable moral training. The first state education act was passed in 1821 (though there are records of schools as early as 1803); it provided for control and support of common schools in the state. The language of the law was permissive, not mandatory. In 1825 a second law became more specific, providing for taxation for the use of schools, a Board of County Examiners, and the employment of only certificated persons as teachers. In 1837 the state passed a law establishing the position of state superintendent, to which Samuel Lewis was appointed. In 1853 a stronger law provided an augmented school fund, established a state education office, and strengthened local control. School enrollments began to increase, from a total of 456,191 in 1854 to 817,490 in 1895. The length of the school year also increased.

The first school reported in Cleveland was opened in 1817 and charged tuition. The CLEVELAND ACADEMY, built upon subscription, followed in 1821. When Cleveland was chartered in 1836, the first school supported by public money was opened. Two sections of the law related to schools allowed taxation for their support and gave the council the authority to fix the school year and appoint a board of managers to administer the schools. These schools were to serve only white children at the elementary level. The first school for Negroes was opened in 1832 by JOHN MALVIN† and was supported by subscription. The Board of Education built its first 2 schoolhouses in 1839-40. The first high school, CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL, was opened in 1845, with ANDREW FREESE† as principal. Superintendence of the schools began in 1841, and some of the notables included Freese, HARVEY RICE†, Luther M. Oviatt, Rev. ANSON SMYTHE†, and ANDREW J. RICKOFF†. The Board of Education was appointed by the council at first, but by 1859 it was elected, becoming fully autonomous in 1865 to levy and expend its , own funds. Following the act of 1853, there were attempts to unify schools. A system of grades and classification of pupils was instituted, including a graded course of study, the adoption of methods of promotion, and the use of suitable graded textbooks. Students were often tested monthly, and records of their progress were kept. Even then many educators questioned this practice and whether it allowed for the individuality of the child. In 1877 the school board established a school for disruptive students. At this same time, the state passed a law compelling parents to send children ages 8-14 to school a minimum of 12 weeks a year.

At the turn of the 20th century, as the city grew and became more industrialized, the bureaucratic ethic and cult of efficiency prevailed and influenced school practice. The schools used a pediocentric approach to students. An interest in education as a science was precipitated by the work of G. Stanley Hall, Edward L. Thorndike, and Sigmund Freud on a national level. The fledgling science of psychology provided an understanding of child growth and development. John Dewey and his colleagues at Columbia Univ. wrote of the needs of individual students and the importance of experience as it relates to education. It was within this context of ferment that the education system in Cleveland grew. A program in manual training for high school students began in response to many of these events, and also to a growing pressure from the business community for more practical programs. This program later moved to CENTRAL HIGH SCHOOL and the Manual Training School in 1893. In 1887 a course in cooking was added, a first in the country. By 1909 the first technical and commercial high schools were established. The school system met the needs of many of the immigrants by providing a place where they could learn English and civics. The board hired its first truant officer to enforce the compulsory attendance law of 1889. After passage of a state law mandating the education of disabled persons, the board opened Cleveland Day School for the deaf, and provided for the gifted by establishing the major work classes in 1922.

Further response to outside forces moved education beyond the traditional classroom. The schools offered children's concerts in cooperation with the CLEVELAND ORCHESTRA beginning in 1921 and used RADIO (WBOE) as a means of instruction in 1931. By 1947 all grades in public, parochial, and private schools used this service. As a result of the strong influence of the field of child psychology, Louis H. Jones, superintendent, established 6 kindergartens from 1896-97. Prior to this time, the YWCA had founded the CLEVELAND DAY NURSERY AND FREE KINDERGARTEN ASSN., INC. in 1882, with a free kindergarten in 1886. By 1903 the schools started vacation schools and playgrounds to keep children off the streets and involved in physical activity. , They also opened a gardening program for both normal and problem children and added medical services to the system in 1908. By 1918 the schools enrolled over 100,000 students in their many specialized schools and programs to provide an education best suited to each child. Citizenship training was studied by the Cleveland Chamber of Commerce in 1935, which recommended that public education be involved in training citizens about economic conditions. As a result, teachers toured industrial plants and attended lectures to see the application of business to their own classrooms.

Although the public school reforms of the Progressive Era, geared to the needs of the industrial commercial life of the times, were apparently beneficial to society and children, these efforts often were developed to limit the emerging political threat of the immigrants and the poor. These efforts continued, even though there were those such as Prof. Wm. Bagley of the Univ. of Illinois who warned early on of the social stratification created by separate vocational schools, and others who cautioned against the undue expansion of the public schools into areas that should be served by other institutions in society. Investigations of the schools were also part of the efficiency cult, with commissions studying student dropouts and new facilities. In 1905 SAMUEL ORTH†, head of the school board, appointed an education study commission. Its report recommended a differentiation in the functions of the high schools and the establishment of separate commercial high schools. A much more significant study followed between 1915-16. The Ayres School Survey, sponsored by the CLEVELAND FOUNDATION, criticized the school system as inefficient and unprogressive and recommended a more centralized administration. In response, new superintendent FRANK E. SPAULDING† developed new junior high and vocational programs and instituted a department of mental testing and a double-shift plan to relieve overcrowding and differentiation among students. Many felt an educational revival had occurred, though others argued that these new systems only served better those they had always served well.

Following World War II, the launching of Sputnik affected the curriculum of the schools, emphasizing a turn to the study of languages and the hard sciences. Neoprogressivism then followed, where schools were asked to stop demanding the right answers from students, to stop being repressive, and to move to a reemphasis on the child as reflected in the informal classroom movement. This period was also one of growth, with many buildings being added to school districts, notably those in Cleveland led by Superintendent Paul Briggs, who was appointed in 1964. Focus was also placed on the inequitable features of American education and the racial caste system the schools had maintained. Opportunity for education was to be made available to all youngsters, without regard to race, creed, national origin,, sex, or family background. The nation had been alerted, and it was necessary to act once again through the schools, even if that action took the form of court cases. Such was the situation in the Cleveland schools. The Cleveland School Desegregation Case (Reed v. Rhodes) was filed in the U.S. District Court on 12 Dec. 1973. The trial began before Chief Judge FRANK J. BATTISTI† on 24 Nov. 1975 and concluded on 19 Mar. 1976. An opinion was issued in which state and local defendants were held liable for policies that intentionally created and/or maintained a segregated system. In Dec. 1976, the court issued guidelines for desegregation planning, to begin by 8 Sept. 1977. The state and local boards appealed the case to the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals. Judge Battisti felt that the Cleveland school officials were resisting the court order, and several desegregation plans were mandated, rejected, and resubmitted. By Dec. 1977, the court ordered the establishment of a Dept. of Desegregation Implementation responsible only to the court; it was terminated in 1982. In May 1978, the court established an office of school monitoring and community relations to monitor the schools, an unprecedented action. In June 1978, a final desegregation plan necessitated the closing of 36 schools and the transportation of students. By 23 Aug. 1979, the 6th Circuit Court affirmed the district court's decision of the board's liability and the remedy, which included educational remedies such as special reading programs. Desegregation began and often met with resistance, but busing was implemented peacefully, and it appeared that the educational aspects of the remedial order were positive. The system continued under the court order, facing many challenges with a record number of superintendents by 1995 when Judge Robt. B. Krupansky ordered the state to take over management of the district.

Paralleling the events in public education were strong private, parochial, and alternative school initiatives. These movements evolved out of political idealism and the goals of parents who wanted more control over the governance of schooling for their children. Early 19th-century reformers saw the common school as a vehicle to mix nationality, socioeconomic, and immigrant groups. Their vision often did not coincide with the wishes of their constituency. Cleveland's Catholic population followed the prescriptions of the bishops, who began as early as 1825 to question public education, which they deemed to be Protestant-oriented. By 1884 the 3rd Plenary Council of Baltimore required schools for Catholic children to be built next to each church. The first Catholic school in Cleveland opened in 1848, and by 1884 there were 123 PAROCHIAL EDUCATION (CATHOLIC) with 26,000 children enrolled. By 1909 several significant schools were added by Bp. JOHN P. FARRELLY†, including CATHEDRAL LATIN SCHOOL. Catholic education was organized under the Diocese of Cleveland; the, first superintendent of schools was Rev. Wm. A. Kane, appointed in 1913, and the first school board was appointed by Bp. JOSEPH SCHREMBS† in 1922. Other religious groups followed. The first Lutheran school was established in 1848; by 1943 there were 16 more. Other nationality and religious groups also ran schools, often meeting after the public school day had finished or as Sunday schools.

PRIVATE SCHOOLS were an important part of Cleveland's educational history, evolving from the academic movement of the 20th century. A Mission School for poor children became the Ragged School in 1853 and then the CLEVELAND INDUSTRIAL SCHOOL, from which the CHILDREN'S AID SOCIETY developed in 1858. One of the early private independent schools, UNIVERSITY SCHOOL, was started by Newton M. Anderson in 1890, as a result of a perceived overcrowding in public schools and a desire for new trends in education. LAUREL SCHOOL began as Wade Park School for Girls in 1896, and HATHAWAY BROWN was founded in 1886, its forerunner being MISS MITTLEBERGER'S SCHOOL. HAWKEN SCHOOL was founded in 1915. Reflecting the 1960s political milieu, parents started the alternative-schools movement. These ALTERNATIVE SCHOOLS ranged from the URBAN COMMUNITY SCHOOL, founded in 1968, which was neoprogressivist in philosophy and served a multicultural population, to the Cleveland Urban Learning Community (CULC), a school without walls whose classes occurred in the community, that appealed to nontraditional students. In addition, many public schools developed alternative programs on the model of a school within a school. These programs emphasized individualized approaches geared in nontraditional delivery formats. The alternative-schools movement was supported mainly through foundation funds which provided for initial costs; however the schools could not be sustained on this basis and began to experience financial difficulties, forcing several to close. Some, though, continued by garnering ongoing support or by affiliating with established institutions.

The Western Reserve area can also claim credit for efforts in TEACHER EDUCATION with the organization of the Ohio State Teachers Assn. and the NORTH EASTERN OHIO EDUCATION ASSN. (1869). The CLEVELAND TEACHERS' UNION, an affiliate of the American Fed. of Teachers, was founded in 1933. Some of the early academies, such as Wadsworth, were institutions similar to high schools and prepared students for higher education and/or teaching. This area became known as a source of teachers for the state. In 1839 the Western Reserve Teachers Seminary opened at Kirtland, founded only 2 years after the first normal school in the U.S. Superintendent, Andrew Rickoff inaugurated a week-long teacher-training institute in 1869 and a normal school in 1876 at Eagle Elementary School. He also proposed a merit pay system. Subsequently, the Cleveland School of Education, Western Reserve Univ., and the Board of Education offered courses for teacher in-service training. In 1928 the university established a School of Education, a merger of the Cleveland Kindergarten-Primary Training School, a private school founded in 1894, and the Senior Teachers College. Secondary teachers were prepared at WRU. Later, in 1945, the university established a division of education, responsible for providing the professional education courses required for state certification, and a graduate program, which was discontinued in the 1970s.

The first CLEVELAND UNIVERSITY had a brief rise in 1851 and a rapid decline in 1853. Cleveland had already established its first medical school in 1845 when 6 doctors seceded from Willoughby Medical College and reorganized in Cleveland as the medical school of Hudson's Western Reserve College. Other institutions established were the Western Reserve College of Homeopathic Medicine in 1850, lasting for several decades, and a School of Commerce, also in the 1850s. In 1880 Case School of Applied Science was founded to offer an engineering curriculum, the first west of the Alleghenies. Western Reserve College, originally founded in Hudson, OH, moved to Cleveland. AMASA STONE† provided for endowment and buildings for the move, stipulating that the college be renamed for his son, Adelbert, and located close to Case School. In 1888 the trustees created a separate women's college, eventually named Flora Stone Mather College. It was the first coordinate college in the country. At the end of the 19th century, WRU added a graduate school, law school, nursing and dental schools, school of library science, and school of applied social sciences. CASE WESTERN RESERVE UNIVERSITY resulted as a merger of the two institutions in 1967. BALDWIN-WALLACE COLLEGE in BEREA was founded by Methodists in the mid-1850s. These private colleges were primarily Protestant-oriented. The growing number of Catholic immigrants at the end of the 19th century sought another environment. St. Ignatius College was established by the Jesuits on the near west side of Cleveland in 1886. It was later renamed JOHN CARROLL UNIVERSITY and moved to UNIVERSITY HEIGHTS in the 1920s. The first chartered women's college in Ohio was founded by Ursuline sisters in 1871. The Sisters of Notre Dame established an academy in downtown Cleveland in the 1870s, and later NOTRE DAME ACADEMY. The YMCA sponsored evening college-level classes for working students. By 1923 they added day classes and a cooperative plan whereby students held jobs related to their business courses and engineers pursued courses, at Fenn College. In the 1920s, Cleveland College of WRU was established in downtown Cleveland to serve the needs of the employed population. DYKE COLLEGE resulted in 1942 from a merger of one of the nation's oldest private commercial schools, Spencerian, with Dyke School of Commerce, dating from 1894.

Colleges did not grow in any major way until the sudden increase in the number of young people of college age in the 1960s. Formerly the emphasis had been on private colleges, but after World War II, there was a steady increase in the percentage of students attending public institutions. The CLEVELAND COMMISSION ON HIGHER EDUCATION, a coalition of college presidents and business interests, completed a study in the 1950s recommending that some type of public higher education be offered in Cleveland. In 1958 the Ohio Commission on Education beyond the High School was established, making recommendations for the founding of 2-year colleges or technical institutes financed by the state, local funds, and student fees. That led to the founding of CUYAHOGA COMMUNITY COLLEGE in 1963, and later to its 3 campuses. In 1964 CLEVELAND STATE UNIVERSITY was established to provide a public university education in the downtown Cleveland area. It included the old FENN COLLEGE, a law school, and science and health structures, among others. Higher education has experienced significant growth, but as it moves toward the end of the century, it will increasingly deal with the effects of a declining traditional student population and institute programs to attract nontraditional student groups, such as older students.

Sally H. Wertheim

John Carroll Univ.

Last Modified: 13 Mar 2002 04:33:08 PM

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