Teaching Cleveland
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High School Edition: 9-12

Lesson 8

Education - 1846: Issues and Beliefs


To provide students with an overview of the public education system in Cleveland in 1846 through the comprehension of reading material and discussing the accompanying questions.



From the "Report on the Common Schools" -- obviate, earnestly, disarrangement, corporal, flogging, indemnity

From the "Diligent Scholar" --countenance, reprove

From the School Boy -- creditable, rudiments


  1. What were some of the issues facing the public school system in 1846?
  2. What were considered to be the desirable characteristics in order to be a successful student in 1846?


  1. Distribute the reading, "Report on the Common Schools" to the class and read and discuss.
    a.How many schools were in the system in 1846? (13) How many teachers? (16) How many students were in the system? (1500) What percentage of students attended school on an average day? (62.4%) What was the increase in number of students from the previous year? (200) What percentage of the annual expenditure as used for teacher salaries and fuel? (71.4%) How do figures compare with statistics today?
    b. What were the suggestions to accommodate the increase in the number of students to the school system? (an additional grammar school or the establishment of a boy's dept. of a high school) How would the latter suggestion be received today?
    c. What other issues did the Board Manager discuss?
    • repair of the St. Clair street school-house that was considered in an inaccessible area.
    • suggestion to sell the lot of this school and build a better school in a better location
    • performance of teachers
    • discipline
    • irregular attendance
    • affect of parents on the attitude of students toward school attendance
    • corporal punishment
    • examination of schools
    d.What solutions, if any, were suggested for some of these problems?
  2. Compare and contrast the school report of 1846 with the current issues of the Cleveland Schools today. Students may conduct research on statistics, Board Minutes, newspaper articles, etc.
    Students may conduct a class debate on public v. private education systems; the voucher system; how public schools are funded; or discuss the needs of the student and schools in 1996 (buildings, technology, classes, safety, etc.).
  3. Distribute the reading "The Diligent Scholar" to the class and read. Through discussion, have students develop a list of characteristics that were expected of the successful student. (i.e., always on time, never misses school, always clean in appearance) What would be the qualities of a successful student today?
  4. Distribute readings from The School Boy. As students read through the various items, ask them to:
    1. Identify the objective of the school paper
    2. Identify qualities considered important to and expected of a high school student in 1846.
  5. Ask students to write a column for a school newspaper that would describe what they believe are important characteristics for successful high school students today. An alternative assignment would be to have students write an ad similar to the announcement for applicants to Central High School in 1846. If there were admission requirements, what would they be for their high school today?
  6. Students may also design their own school newspaper. What items would or should be included today? How would it get published? How would they solicit article contributions? Requirements? What would the cost be?

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