Teachers in the state of Ohio are presently mad as hornets due to Gov. John Kasich's provisions of Senate Bill 5 in the state budget that contains a number of provisions regarding priorities like pay and a merit system for determining pay. Retirement is also a big concern for the educators. Talks of a referendum and gaining signatures have been in place the past several months for repeal of SB5.
Teachers are one of our most valued professionals in Ohio and nationally. They have come a long way. To them, it is no time to reverse all of their gains in pay, retirement and much more.
Shall we drift way, way back to the so-called good old days of early education? Dr. Manning, who settled in Youngstown in 1811, said, "Qualifications for a teacher were few and moderate."
You see, securing teachers was just one of the many problems confronting the early villages of Warren and Youngstown, and all those who really desired an educational facility for their children.
It seems that Youngs-town began with a log school house that was built on the south side of Central Square probably between 1802 and 1805. The first school teacher was Mr. Perley Brush, and some records indicate that his pay was simply $18. I couldn't find out whether that was weekly or monthly. There were probably between 20 and 30 students at Brush's school during the summer months (What! School in summer?) and some 40 students during the winter term. For the early course of instruction, which included reading, writing, arithmetic and spelling, the charge was $1.50 per quarter year. For higher branches of learning, which included grammar and geography, the charge was $2. This curriculum lasted until 1838.
By 1811, there were four school buildings in the township, with the original one still in use. One building was being used as a school house and also served as a church near the residence of Isaac Powers. Another school was located in Cornersburg and another in what was referred to as Parkhurst Mills. The second teacher to arrive in the Youngstown area was James Noyes from Connecticut.
Financing was also a big problem for those very early schools. We found out that the fee charged to those who had children attending school was just a part of their responsibility. The wood supply used to keep schools warm was required of each family proportionately to the number of children attending school from that family. It was the responsibility of the boys in the class to cut firewood and start the fire in the stove. Can you imagine that happening today? The winter term ran through December, January and February, while the summer term extended into July or until harvest time. Sometimes you would find married adults much older than the teacher enrolled in the school during the winter term.
Male teachers in the early 1820s received wages from $10 to $12 a month while females got paid $4 to $5 a month. (Shall we say a real male chauvinistic society existed in those good old days.) We also found out that the furnace hands or laboring men received $10 to $11 dollars a month, while clerks received $13 and what they referred to as "found" simply food and or lodging. "Found" in the case of teachers meant boarding with the various residents who would provide food and shelter for the teacher for a certain period of time.
Equipment in the schools consisted of crude benches with no back rests for seating as students were perched on these high benches and their feet dangled in the air. The children had only their knees upon which to rest their books. A board slanted toward the wall and resting upon a bench with legs later became the desks. They wrote with quill pens that were cut by their teacher. "Dillworth's Spelling Book" and "Webster's American Spelling" book were standard texts. "The English Reader," "The American Preceptor" and the "Colombian Orator," together with the New Testament were used for reading exercises. Popular in the local district was "Pike and Walker's Arithmetic," which gradually gave way to the "Western Calculator" and "Daboll's Arithmetic." Later, "Adams Arithmetic" replaced all these books that were considered inferior.
Those were just a few of the happenings way back then with schools, teaching and education in our local areas. Things have certainly changed for the better, and hopefully, they stay better.