Letizia and Nick Muro’s first daughter, Josie, was born in Agropoli in 1909. Five more children were born in America in the period 1913 to 1920. Of the six children five received a public school education and graduated from 8th grade.
This week we focused on the topic of education as covered by newspapers in Pittsburgh, Philadelphia and several smaller towns during the period 1912-1920. We still cannot locate digitized versions of The Wilmerding Times at the Library of Congress or elsewhere. However, the search results we have give us a good overview of the influences that were at work in shaping the education a child received at school and through community activities and campaigns.
1912: Are the Public Schools a Failure?
Close-up of the news article from The Citizen, Oct. 16, 1912.
In the October 16th, 1912 edition of The Citizen, A.R. Winship, Editor of the Journal of Education, analyzes the misinformation and faulty statistics used in an article featured in the August 1912 issue of The Ladies Home Journal.
The Journal’s article claimed that the public schools are a great failure and that very few children graduate and go on to high school. Even fewer graduate high school and attend college. Private schools were praised as the one place where students made progress towards graduation and entry to college. According to the Journal’s writer most children want to leave the public schools at 14 years of age because the education they received was unsatisfying.
Mr. Winship disagreed stating that,
“In 1911 the public high schools graduated 50,000 who were prepared for college and the private schools 8,000. Really there seem to be a few parents who are not supporting private schools in the preparation of children for college. So long as the public schools provide for free for six times as many as go to private schools for college preparation, there is no cause for alarm.”
1915: Plea for Girls to receive a worthwhile education
“Plea for Girls by Ida Tarbell” as the heading appeared in the Harrisburg Telegraph.
The Harrisburg Telegraph’s December 29, 1915 edition reported that author Ida Tarbell spoke at the 66th annual Convention of the Pennsylvania State Educational Association on December 28, 1915. The title of her address was “Give the Girl a Chance.” High school girls, Miss Tarbell stated, were ill prepared for the responsibilities of life and the running of a household. She thought that a girl who was already working in a factory had more life experience and a practical outlook that would make her a better wife than the girl who graduated high school. She did not state it outright but her comments point to the lack of serious attention given to teaching girls the value of money and the virtues of using it prudently.