The personnel of the Education Department was an interesting one, in that it was composed almost equally of teachers and laymen, and the interchange of ideas between the two groups was helpful and stimulating. The expert knowledge of the teachers, together with the zeal of the laymen should give some weight to the findings of the Department.
During the year 1918-19, which was a legislative year, the main topic
for study was educational legislation. There were many hundreds of progressive
and interesting bills before the state legislature, but only the most important
of these could be studied and acted upon. The Department endorsed the very
necessary bills for increased state and county appropriations for schools;
recommended, however, that all important tax measures constitute bills
in themselves. It endorsed, too, an increase in pay for the teachers of
San Francisco, and this increase later went into effect. It gave considerable
study to the Hoke Smith Bill, now the Smith Towner Bill, providing for
a Federal Bureau of Education, and after much discussion, endorsed the
same. At the January (1919) Convention of the
City Federation, the report of the Education Department was accepted by the Federation and these
Through the consideration of school legislation, questions of Americanization came before the Department. As an outcome of the splendid work of Dr. Anne NICHOLSON and her sub-committee, the establishment of a Foreign Clubs Department was recommended to the Federation, so that foreign groups could meet each other and native born groups on equal terms. Under the direction of Mrs. Edwin J. HANSON and a committee composed of Mrs. Arthur FLOOD, Mrs. E. J. WALES, Mrs. Cora CONKLIN and Mrs. Ednah AIKEN, this department under the chairmanship of Dr.NICHOLSON was immediately organized, and the report will show how successfully the work has been carried on.
During the year 1919-20, with legislative matters behind us, interest centered on problems of more immediate local importance. Three matters were selected for study:
1. The question of High School Scholarships for talented children whose
circumstances do not permit their obtaining a high school education. It
was found that there was a need for such scholarships, and that from time
to time some had been offered by generous individuals, but that no well
advertised and well established scholarship fund had been contemplated
in San Francisco, though a beginning has been made in some other cities.
This is partly due to the fact that there has been no central body to administer
such a fund, and also because of the difficulty in establishing an impartial
method of selecting the children whose mental ability and general worth
would warrant their
being awarded the proposed scholarships. Under Miss Genevieve CARROLL's direction, a solution to both problems was found. Through the interest of Professor TERMAN of Stanford University a simple series of tests can be arranged for and the merit of the applicant can be established without the setting up of a complicated board of examiners, while the City Federation itself could act as the central body to distribute the fund, until such time as the size of the scholarship fund would warrant other machinery. The Education Department, therefore, recommended to the Federation as a work for the coming year, the establishment of one or more such High School Scholarships as a step in the right direction.
2. The second problem studied was the closer correlation of school and library work. This was a question requiring very detailed and technical study and too much appreciation can not be shown Mrs. Archie CLOUD, the delegate from Corona Club, for the two able reports she presented. Mrs. CLOUD's investigation outlined the legal basis for our library organization and the various legal provisions by which funds are supplied. According to her report, the main criticism of the library work in its relation to the schools is not one of organization, but is a metter of an inadequate supply of books and a poor system of distributing them to the schools. Both defects imply a lack of funds. The Charter permits the Supervisors to provide for a larger fund for library work. Accordingly, the sub-committee recommends that pressure be brought on the Supervisors by the City Federation so that a proper allotment of funds be made to the Library which will allow it to do the necessary work for the schools of the city.
There is much splendid material on hand that was collected by some of the teachers of the San Francisco School Department at the time of the Panama-Pacific Exposition as the basis of a so-called School Museum. This splendid collection for "Visual Education," as it should be esignated, is now being stored in an old school building by the Board of Education, because there are no funds to circulate it from school to school. The committee, therefore, recommends as an economical way of circulating the same, that it be put under the charge of an expert in the library and be circulated on the same plan as books.
Finally, the committee recommends that the excellent reference library of educational books collected by the City and County Superintendent of Schools from the fund established by law for that purpose, be suitably housed in the City Hall so that the books may be readily accessible to the teachers and to the public; that they be catalogued by the City Librarian and that a librarian clerk be employed to give them out. It is hoped that the full weight of the Federation will be given to the carrying out of this important recommendation.
3. The third matter was the old subject of After-School Play Centers
which was brought to the Federation by the principal of a school because
many of the children attending her school had no place to go after school
hours, and had no home supervision, for the reason that their mothers were
at work. In this work, the Board of Education could be of no assistance,
for no funds were available for the establishment of the centers or for
the payment of play supervisors, and the matter was dropped for the time
being. Upon the request of Mrs. CASTLE, President of the Federation,
taken up again, when it seemed possible to secure the first floor of the New Outside Inn rent free. But to maintain that building as a play center necessitated too complicated an administrative machinery and too expensive an equipment, and so that, too, had to be dropped.
In the course of these investigations, however, the committee found
that Miss THOMAS, Principal of the Winfield Scott School, was doing
some real after-school play work with the aid of one of her teachers and
that with a little additional money the work could be greatly developed.
The district is a
poor one and the mothers of many of the children are at work, so they naturally congregate about the school yard after school hours.
The Department felt that it could undertake to finance the supervision of after-school play for five days a week in the school yard of the Winfield Scott School. The Board of Education has given permission for the experiment; Miss THOMAS and her teacher are cooperating cordially in working on this plan. As part of the needed funds are now on hand, on Monday, May 10th, the modest beginnings of an after-school play center will be undertaken under the auspices of the City Federation of Women's Clubs. Let us hope this modest start will point the way to larger things.
The work of the Education Department has not been spectacular in its
nature, but the type of problem brought before the group required great
study before it could be determined whether or not the questions involved
were worthy of further consideration. I should like to express my thanks
each and every delegate who came to listen and remained to work, and I should also express the appreciation and help given the group by our President, Mrs. CASTLE. The results of this team work are even now apparent in their effects on legislation, in the establishment of the Foreign Clubs Department, in the actual organization of an "After-School Play Center" at the Winfield Scott
School. Promise for the future is held out in the plan for High School Scholarships and the closer correlation of School and Library Work.