kitchen table math, the sequel: public schools in the Great Depression

Friday, January 7, 2011

public schools in the Great Depression

Three years after the stock market cratered in 1929, American schools suffered their own crash. School districts had managed to ride out the early years of the Great Depression; in fact, because many districts depended on property taxes, which didn’t crash as fast as income taxes, more than a few managed to increase spending.

But in the 1932–33 school year, many districts ran out of funds. With more than one in five workers unemployed, many households didn’t have the money to pay property taxes, so all of a sudden, the school boards didn’t have enough money to pay their bills. Some 2,200 schools in 11 states closed entirely—in Alabama, schools in 50 out of 67 counties shut down. Many more districts cut services or sharply reduced their hours; thousands of districts in the Midwest and South shrank the school year to fewer than 120 days.

Dire States
By Megan McArdle

I had never read this before...

7 comments:

LynnG said...

And then what happened? I've never heard of this either. . . .

Anonymous said...

Then the dust bowl happened. I'd expect that to result in continued shrinkage in the center of the country, both for reasons of declining enrollment and also continued declining tax funding. It would be interesting to see what happened in the West, which has to have experienced rising enrollments.

The Arthurian said...

1933 was the bottom of the depression, according to Milton Friedman. So maybe things started getting better after that.

I had never read this before...
I've never heard of this either...

Funny how people just take the economy for granted, until they can't.

Art

Anonymous said...

I'd be interested in seeing test scores of the children being home schooled... I bet they went up.

Allison said...

The data from the 30s is that more kids stayed in school, not less, more graduated from high school, and more went to college. Not sure how that correlates to performance, but less money in school didn't end up meaning less kids in school.

Catherine Johnson said...

We have got a major, big-time sticky-wages problem in my district.

Not only can wages not decline in synch with declining home values & taxpayer incomes, but under Taylor law we are required to continue giving raises.

What option does that leave us?

Lay-offs.

Catherine Johnson said...

Under the heading It can always be worse: Connecticut has a law requiring the school districts **never** spend less than they did the year before.