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SCHOOL BOARD ACTS
This bill was reported to the House on March 17, carrying the provision requiring the approval of the commissioners to purchase requisitions of equipment and furniture for the schools. Likewise, there has been a reduction recommended in the amount to be appropriated for school equipment. It is hoped that the school officials will understand the necessity of making reasonable and sensible purchases for the schools. On March 19, two days after this bill was reported, the Board of Education, according to the Washington Star, met and put Mr. Crane, the business manager, in "full, complete, and personal charge of supply purchases for the public schools." The statement then says that Doctor Ballou insisted during the hearings that Mr. Crane had been in charge since his employment; but Mr. Crane testified that he did not know what was being purchased, except in a general way, and never signed the requisitions. Mr. Kramer, assistant superintendent of schools, is then quoted as asserting that the action of the board on March 19 "merely makes a formal statement of what had been the understanding in school administration circles." A patently false statement, as the hearings disclose. The school officials, if they had that "understanding," very effectually denied it before the committee. It is clear that the action taken by the Board of Education on March 19 was not taken in accord with a policy that they had expected to "effect gradually." The obvious attempt to mislead the people of Washington is resented by those who know the facts.
For a number of years there has been a demand in Washington for a change in the method of selection of the Board of Education. The present board-and, accordingly, all employees of the board from the superintendent down-are neither selected by the people of Washington nor by the administrative officials of the District of Columbia government, and are not answerable for their stewardship either to the people or the District government. Either legislation should be had providing for the selection of a Board of Education by the people of Washington or the Board of Education should be abolished and the schools operated as a department of the city government, with the superintendent and other employees answerable to the city commissioners.
Now, regarding the purchases. I admit that probably under ordinary circumstances in your city and in mine the school board and the school authorities should have complete control over the expenditure of school funds, but when you have a set-up such as you have in Washington, where the school board is now answerable or responsible to the people of Washington nor to the city administration, when the employees are answerable only to the school board and when you have a situation revealed such as our hearings this year disclosed, I think some rather drastic steps must be taken.
I want to say I talked to Mr. Simmons about four or five years ago about this very bill. He was probably as bitter an opponent of the bill at that time as anyone I have met in Congress. Since that time, having seen the situation, he has been converted to this idea.
Some of the finest school buildings in the country are using from 800 to 1,000 cubic feet of space per pupil in combination elementary and junior high schools.
Using figures given as capacity of building found in the annual school building report of November 1, 1929, the following Washington schools are using the space per pupil indicated below and maintain for the most part that they are crowded:
I am not criticizing that item of cubic feet, bɩ increases enormously the expenses in the Distric thousand feet is enough space, several hundred cost very quickly.
The per capita cost of education in Washington has doubled during the past 10 years, yet teachers say that children are getting less education in fundamentals than they did in 1920.
4. Opposition to platoon school.
That is a question that has been before the public in the District of Columbia for the last 8 or 10 years. I would like to introduce into the record City School Circular No. 9 of the Bureau of Education, which tells what the platoon school is, how it works, and results.
The CHAIRMAN. Is that favorable or unfavorable to the system? Mrs. BANNERMAN. The Bureau of Education never takes a stand. It simply presents facts. The facts show it costs less and gives better results educationally. That is the reason I would like to introduce this page from the platoon school by Doctor Spain, of Detroit. First, I will put in this City Circular No. 9. (The circular referred to is as follows:)
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BUREAU OF EDUCATION, Washington, D. C., October, 1928.
City School Circular No. 9
GENERAL STATEMENT IN REGARD TO THE WORK-STUDY-PLAY OR PLATOON PLAN TOGETHER WITH THE LIST OF CITIES HAVING PLATOON SCHOOLS
(Compiled by Alice Borrows, specialist in school buildings)
(Because of the numerous requests for a brief explanation of the work-studyplay or platoon plan, the following summary in regard to reasons for the development of the plan, its method of organization, and general characteristics has been compiled from the annual report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1926; an article by Dr. John J. Tigert in the Journal of Education, June 4, 1925; article on the platoon plan by the chief of the city schools division, United States Bureau of Education; and the "General statement in regard to the work-study-play or platoon plan," published by the United States Bureau of Education. The references for each quotation are given so that the reader may look up the complete statements in the original sources.)
The work-study-play or platoon plan has developed in the United States be cause of the radical changes in social and industrial conditions which have taken place in the last 50 years. One result of these changes has been the concentration of large sections of the population in cities until now over half the people in the United States are living in cities.1
Without doubt the education of city children is one of the important problems facing the educational world, and its solution becomes more and more pressing as the population drifts constantly toward the cities. In 1920 there
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were 19,436,202 children from 1 to 19 years of age living in cities of over 2,500 population. In other words, more than 45.1 per cent of all the children in the country from 1 to 19 years of age were living in cities. How these children are educated is vitally important, not only for the present generation, but for the whole future of the country.2
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The city, as it exists to-day, does not satisfy the fundamental needs of children. Children need to play, but it is a rare city that has adequate play space for its children so located and supervised that it is easy for all children to play under wholesome conditions. The result is that a large number of children play in the only available space, i. e., the city streets. Children need to have the chance for constructive, creative manual work, but there is small opportunity or need for such work in the average city home. Children need first-hand contact with nature-the earth and sea, birds, flowers, and trees. Children are natural scientists, and this is the kind of subject matter upon which they should have the opportunity to feed their curiosity. Each generation needs these contacts with the actual physical world for the sake of its own growth and the
General statement in regard to the work-study-play or platoon plan published by the U. 8. Bureau of Education.
Annual Report of the U. 8. Commissioner of Education, June 30, 1926, pp. 6, 7, 8.
preservation of the race. But the city, with its pavements and brick and mortar, is starving rather than nourishing this curiosity about the physical world. * * * Probably one of the most serious aspects of city life for children is that it tends to build up habits of cheap amusement, cheap and undesirable ways of using their leisure time. It is for this reason that educators are now realizing that city schools must not only teach the three R's, but must counteract the effect of city life upon children by helping them to form tastes for worthwhile use of their leisure time. * * *
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Various plans whose aim is to help the educational problems of the modern city have been introduced into some of the schools of the country. One of these is known as the work-study-play or platoon plan of organization.
Since the modern city takes away the opportunities for work and play, the platoon or work-study-play school has developed as an attempt to return to children opportunities for work and play as well as study. Consequently, these schools provide not merely classrooms, but well equipped shops, science laboratories, drawing and music rooms, cooking and sewing rooms, auditoriums, playgrounds, and gymnasiums.
Up to the present time the public school system has been running on what is called by engineers the peak load plan of operation, i. e., on the principle of reserving a school seat for the exclusive use of one child during the entire year; when the children leave their classroom seats to go to special activities, such as play or shop, the seats remain vacant. The result is that there are never enough seats for all the children to study in, nor enough playgrounds for oll of them to play in, nor enough shops for them to work in, and yet large sums of money are invested in these facilities which the children can use for only a fraction of the day.
Under the word-study-play plan all activities in the school-classrooms, auditoriums, gymnasiums, shops, and laboratories are in use every hour of the day. The school is divided into two parts, each having the same number of classes and each containing all the eight or nine grades. While one of the schools is in classrooms, the other is in special activities, auditorium, play grounds, and gymnasiums. This means that only half of the usual number of classrooms is needed. Since the cost of a classroom at present is approximately $12,000, this means that in a 30-class school only 15 classrooms are needed, instead of 30, with the result that fifteen times $12,000 is released for all other activities in the school. Under such circumstances it is possible to supply a school seat for every child when he needs it and also the special facilities enumerated above at no greater cost than it takes to supply classrooms only under the traditional plan.3
It is evident that a school building containing special rooms in addition to regular classrooms will accommodate more pupils if it is organized on the platoon plan. The increase in housing capacity varies, but generally one-fourth to onethird more children are housed in a building after it has been organized on the platoon plan. * * There is no standardized platoon school. Some superintendents do not provide auditorium periods, some do not include grades one and two in the organization, some have only a 5-hour day. After a superintendent has decided that he is willing that more than one child shall use the same school seat at different times of the day, he may organize the school with a longer or shorter school day, he may teach any kind of manual training he wants to, he may or may not have auditorium periods.1
The essence of the work-study-play plan is that it can be adapted to any community. There is no set program that must be followed; in fact, there are as many different kinds of programs as there are schools. Each superintendent can work out the kind he considers necessary for the children of his city and for the different schools in his city. The only thing that is essential, however, is that there should be a multiple use of all facilities all the time so that half the children at any one moment are in classrooms, while the other half are working and playing, in this way making it possible for every child in the school to secure the advantages of an enriched curriculum.5
The bureau of education is not interested in the promotion of, or propaganda for or against, the platoon plan, or any other type of school organization, but in accordance with its policy and in response to a very general demand, the bureau
3 General statement in regard to the work-study-play or platoon plan published by the U. S. Bureau of Education.
Article on the platoon plan by W. S. Deffenbaugh, chief of the city schools division, U. S. Bureau of Education, in the United States Daily for August 29, 1928, p. 2.
General statement in regard to the work-study-play or platoon plan published by the U. S. Bureau of Education.
has been collecting for some years past as full and complete data as possible for distribution to those asking for information about this plan.
Since many requests for information in regard to how platoon-school pupils compare with nonplatoon-school pupils in academic work have been received, the bureau has made a point of collecting information on this subject. Information received shows that in all cities where educational tests have been given comparing the work of pupils in academic work in platoon schools and in nonplatoon schools, the standing of the platoon-school pupils in academic work is equal to or superior to that of the pupils in the nonplatoon schools. The fullest reports have been received from Birmingham, Pittsburgh, and St. Paul.
Superintendent C. B. Glenn, of Birmingham, Ala., reported to the bureau in 1924 that "During the past school year two groups of children in Grades IV to VIII were selected by the department of research of the Birmingham public schools, one from several nonplatoon schools, the other from several platoon schools. These children were approximately equal in their ability to learn, and the amount of learning already acquired, in intellectual maturity and in the number of days in attendance during the period of investigation. On December 15 they were measured by a standardized test in arithmetic, reading, history, literature, language, geography, and spelling for the amount of learning they had acquired up to that time. Four months later they were measured again by a test of equal difficulty to see how much they had gained in all these subjects. This test shows that, while the average pupil in the nonplatoon schools made a gain of nearly 51 points in his score, the average pupil in the platoon schools made a gain of almost 66 points in the same period, or 29.5 per cent more than the one in the other type school. The amount of gain is such that, according to the experiences of the best authorities in educational measurement, should the investigation be repeated an indefinite number of times, the chances are 20 to 1 that there would be a substantial difference in favor the of platoon schools."
A report issued October 22, 1924, by the department of research and measurement, Pittsburgh Public Schools, Pennsylvania, publishes the results of educational tests in spelling and arithmetic given to pupils in platoon and nonplatoon schools. The report states that: "In arithmetic it is evident that the platoon group is superior in all grades in that function of arithmetic which we call reasoning. The platoon schools, however, maintain almost the same supremacy when the scores for correct answers are considered. At no point do they go below the corresponding median score of the nonplatoon group. * * * All grades considered in both arithmetical accuracy and arithmetical reasoning, the platoon type of school organization in Pittsburgh shows superiority over the nonplatoon type. Previous surveys in spelling and reading show similar superiority in favor of the platoon group. This superiority in the three R's is worthy of commendation in view of the fact that the platoon school carries an enriched curriculum. In addition to all the other excellent enriched activities, the platoon schools in Pittsburgh furnish more adequate training in the three R's than do the nonplatoon schools."
Superintendent S. O. Hartwell, of St. Paul, Minn., in an article published in the Elementary School Journal, February, 1925, "A Sidelight on Platoon Schools," gives the results of tests in platoon and nonplatoon schools in spelling, arithmetic, reading, and language. He prints graphs which he summarizes as follows: "There was clear advantage of the platoon schools over the other schools not only in the general curve for each subject but in practically three-fourths of the grades, subject by subject. * * * Two factors seem to be largely responsible for the success of the platoon schools. First, the academic teacher of platoon classes is relieved of most of the special work. The teacher's freedom from special subjects, therefore, makes for better concentration on the part of both teacher and pupil in the regular recitation, and concentration produces results. Second, supervision is better adjusted, an advantage in both the regular and special subjects. In a word, the teaching staff in a platoon school is seldom intrinsically superior to that in other buildings, but it is better classified and organized, which, in turn, leads to improved results."
At the present time there are 148 cities, and 2 counties, in 38 States in the United States which have one or more schools organized on the platoon plan. The first work-study-play or platoon schools were started by Superintendent William Wirt in Bluffton, Ind., in 1902, and in Gary, Ind., in 1907. By 1914,
The Platoon Plan of Work-study-play, by John J. Tigert, in Journal of Education, June 4, 1925, pp. 631-632.
9 cities had platoon schools; by 1921, 39 cities had schools of this type; and by
March, 1930, 1,050 platoon schools; 199 cities have platoon schools; 39 States
Mrs. BANNERMAN. I would now like to have page 200 of Doctor
(The page referred to is as follows:)
Comparative costs per pupil of buildings organized on platoon and nonplatoon basis,
Average saving per pupil in these 9 schools, $109.27.
That shows that by organizing the traditional schools on the pla-
I don't care how much these schools cost, I don't think anyone
The slogan has been repeated in New York City and in Chicago,
The popular demand for "a seat for every child" really means three seats for
There has been a great deal of opposition to the platoon plan in