Selected Moments of the 20th Century

A work in progress edited by Daniel Schugurensky
Department of Adult Education, Community Development and Counselling Psychology,
The Ontario Institute for Studies in Education of the University of Toronto (OISE/UT)

1910s

The Institutionalization of Industrial Education in Black Rural Schools

In pursuit of its goal to develop industrial education in Southern black schools, and to retain blacks as efficient agricultural and domestic workers in rural society, the General Education Board (GEB) initiated and sustained some extraordinarily active and far-reaching programs in the early 1900s. Beginning around 1910, the GEB penetrated the Southern educational structure with three major programs: the establishment of State Supervisors for Negro Rural Schools in all the Southern states; the placing of County Supervising Industrial Teachers (commonly known as the Jeanes Teachers) in hundreds of Southern counties; and the development of county Training Schools, the most important mechanism for translating the GEB's educational concerns into institutional action at the local level. These programs, funded by the GEB, the John F. Slate Fund and the Anna T. Jeanes Fund, significantly determined the forms of education available to Southern blacks during the first half of the 20th century. The programs became the GEB's official policy in 1911 when a "Special Committee on the Education of the Negro" was appointed to devise a plan for the comprehensive development of Southern black education (Maxcy, 1981).

The Historical Implication of Industrial Education in Black Rural School

During the 1910s, industrial education for blacks in Southern States was initiated to keep blacks on farms or to recruit them as industrial workers to boost regional economies. Through the devices of the State Supervisor of Negro Schools, supervising Industrial teachers, and the County Training School, Negro educational reform was translated into efforts to develop an economically efficient and politically stable Southern agricultural economy by training efficient and contented black laborers, while leaving the Southern racial hierarchy intact (Spring, 1990). The different races received different kinds of trade training, geared to maintain the inequalities in the existing occupational structure.

This discriminatory practice has persisted in the United States under the guise of equal educational opportunity. In particular, schools in which minority students are majority in number experience similar situations as those in Southern black schools in 1910s. For instance, contemporary schools in such poor neighborhood districts as South Central and East Los Angeles are poorly financed, poorly equipped, and marginalized in society. In this context, school segregation and unequal treatment between whites and students of color have been practiced, based on geographical borders, in other words, racial distribution of population.

Sources:

Maxcy, Spencer J.(1981). Progressivism and Rural Education in the Deep South, 1900-1950. In Ronald K. Goodenow & Arthur O. White (Eds.). Education and the Rise of the New South (pp.47-71). MA: G.K. Hall and Co.

Spring, Joel (1990). The American School: 1642- 1990 (2nd ed.). NY: Longman.

Prepared by Song-mi Kim (UCLA)

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