Sunday, June 27, 2004

Theses Are Feces (pt. 2 of a million)

More reading of The Little Red Schoolhouse ensued. It seems that only a rotating cast of supporters and journalists put the thing together, with diminishing returns. Begun in 1927, the eight-page monthly eventually became a four-page monthly, then an eight-page bimonthly, and then quit in 1935. Though many periodicals shut down with the onset of the depression, the fact that several of the dozen or so persons running the paper died was also cause for concern. This fact could also symbolize the cause of one-room schoolhouses: aged, passing away slowly without replacement. The first issue emphasized rural Brockport's struggle for district autonomy, but by 1935 the fight was futile. Lost lawsuits led to closed classrooms. Public opposition quieted.

The paper was pretty low-rate. It required donations to stay afloat, and begged that rural schools put those donations into their budgets. Simultaneously, they argued against the higher taxes that would arise as a result of consolidation and the salaries of school boards. Articles were inflammatory and propagandistic. School superintendents were Tsarist dictators, the State Department of Education was despotic, and the state judicial system supported tyranny and despised dictators. When elections and referendums were held, they were fraudulent. Town officials performed a litany of conduct errors at each public meeting. And in each case, a Rural School Improvement Society member witnessed each offense for Schoolhouse readers, promising speedy legal repercussions.

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