From the Logan Banner of Logan, WV, comes this bit of history about U.S. teachers in 1896. The story is dated April 7, 1937.
Writer in 1896 Declared Teachers Earned No More Than Cobblers, Milliners
School teachers’ pay in 1896 assumed as prominent a place in public problems as it does today. The difference in the problem is in that the teachers of 1896 were said to receive about as much pay as milliners and cobblers while today they probably receive less.
But this is not an editorial.
A clipping from Forum in 1896 showed that teachers’ salaries ranged from $100 to $900 a year. The Forum writer wondered how the teachers could live on such a small amount. He’d be in a deeper quandary today.
The average salary for a school year amounted to approximately $318.36 for men and $262.92 for women. Duties included cleaning the schools and building the fires. The writer said these duties were not always considered hardships by the persons who took the jobs, the women having always been accustomed to such duties and the men didn’t find it hard because they could always induce students to perform the tasks for certain favors.
Nearly three times as many women teachers than men were employed in the country schools in the United States at that time. The percentage was higher in the country than in the city.
The teachers instructed their one roomful of children in all branches of learning up to grammar and algebra, the writer said.
He also said that “for what these teachers do they are quite adequately paid.” That wouldn’t apply today.
“A village schoolmaster will earn as much in the year as the cobbler; the schoolmistress will earn as much as the milliner,” the Forum scribe said.
“They do not belong as a general thing to a class better educated than the cobbler or milliner (remember, this was 1896) and they do not work any harder, the writer declared.
Here’s where he warms up a bit and applies to 1937.
“Those of them who have thought about their calling and who have ever been moved to feel that great responsibilities devolved upon them have realized that the conditions were such that they could not do next to nothing, and usually they have given over any efforts to secure a change in school administration.”
Fact for fact and condition for condition there is only a small change in the country schools left after many of them were consolidated. Consolidation was a boon to the country, but 41 years have passed and many teachers are still underpaid and have to teach under intolerable conditions.