by Marcia Napier, Grain Valley Historical Society
Having read several Broadcasters this past week, I can assure you not only school, but life was very different in 1940. The school was apparently the center of everything social in Grain Valley, as every issue mentions at least one school dance or party. There was the school dance, the hayride, the school carnival, the Pie and Box Social and the Halloween Party, all within the first two months of school.
Also, school assemblies are mentioned frequently. From the back-to-school assembly during the first week to marionettes, the junior play, and a musical presentation, there was apparently an assembly every week.
During American Education Week, held the first week in November, there were daily topics which included the following: Enriching Spiritual Life, Strengthening Civic Loyalties, Financing Public Education, Safeguarding Natural Resources, Perpetuating Individual Liberties, and Building Economic Security. As I perused the topics, I found that although the topics are 80 years old, not much has changed. Or has it?
On spiritual life --“America was founded upon a spiritual foundation by earnest pioneers seeking to govern themselves and to worship God in their own way….great teachers of all faiths in schools, public and private, encourage religious feeling and practices as the foundation of moral conduct. The schools guide pupils to enriched spiritual living thru the development of character, the encouragement of right conduct, the opening of minds to new horizons, the practice of tolerance, a steady emphasis upon the sacredness of human personality, and a constant leadership in the search for truth, goodness and beauty.”
On civic loyalties –“Although government of the people, by the people, and for the people has not solved all our problems, who would exchange it for the tyranny and force which prevail today in so many parts of the world?”
On financing public education –“The public elementary and secondary schools of the United States cost 2 billion dollars a year (an average of $75 dollars per pupil).” Okay, so times have changed.
However, the final statement might still be applicable, “…millions are unemployed; hunger exists amid plenty; crime takes a vast toll; ill health ravages the underprivileged. These conditions need not exist in a wealthy nation. They can be corrected by improving the individual and promoting the general welfare, which the schools seek to do.”
On safeguarding natural resources –“There is still time to safeguard resources so that we shall have plenty if we consistently strengthen the conservation movement. The schools will be a mighty factor in this vital educational campaign.”
On perpetuating individual liberties –"Education perpetuates individual liberties by developing a people able to govern themselves and determine that America shall remain the land of the free and the home of a people unafraid of the duties that liberty entails.”
On building economic security – “Certain broad objectives are generally agreed upon as necessary, including (1) conservation of natural resources, (2) upbuilding of human resources, (3) extension of taxation according to ability to pay, (4) fair play between capital and labor, (5) social security, and (6) unemployment insurance….to help develop these qualities in all the people is the task of the schools.”
Learn more about the Grain Valley Historical Society at www.grainvalleyhistory.com.