Average Education

During the 1930's few people went to college. Many adults were even illiterate. In the
1930's having three or more years of education meant functional literacy. Many children
were forced to drop out of school to work on their parent's farms or find jobs in cities.
The literacy rate in the North were a good bit higher than that of the South.

Colored Schools vs. White Schools

American education was racially segregated because the whites believed that blacks were incapable of learning at an advanced level. By keeping white school-children from black or colored school-children meant that white pupils would not have to be "held back" in the classroom by less-capable black pupils. There were not many black high schools in the South. There were 230 southern counties without a single high school for black students in 1932—even though they all had a high school for whites. In sixteen states there was not a single state-supported black institution that offered graduate or professional programs. Northern white Americans made it clear that there goal was to prevent “competition between races,” and insisted that their charity be used to build black “industrial schools” training African Americans for manual labor. Colored communities built schools for themselves. In 1930, 15 percent of rural adult African Americans had no formal schooling, and 48 percent had never gone beyond the fifth grade. White school boards paid white teachers an average annual salary of $833; black teachers, who had larger teaching loads, were paid only $510. In northern schools, school boards began to abolish segregated education as a way of saving money; in the South educators fearful of the possible consequences of unschooled, unemployed youths succeeded in getting school districts to build high schools for blacks. The number of African Americans attending high school doubled; the number of high-school graduates tripled; and the percentage of blacks attending school became equal to that of whites.

Quality of Schools

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In the 1930's, one-room grade schools were still common. Usually there were
students of many grade levels all being taught in the same classroom. Many times,
the teachers weren't much older than the students. It was sometimes hard to learn
in these kinds of classrooms. Teachers and students would have face dust, heat, snow
cold, and many times, leaky roofs. In many cases, these schools could not afford
many new textbooks. Because of this, the books students used were usually
either outdated or in poor condition. Sometimes, parents had to pitch in to help
keep these schools running.

Elementary Schools

Subjects included math, English or spelling, art, civics and geography and sometimes sewing. There was no lunchroom, children mostly walked home for lunch. Some children had to buy their own textbooks. There were report cards, but each school was different; While some schools graded with A, B, C, D, or F, others graded with "good," "excellent," or "fair." Students had homework, and projects, and there were PTA meetings, but parents were never too involved with volunteering in schools. School children played games on school yards, much like today with jump rope, hop scotch, swings, and slides.