Historical / architectural resources survey, Village of Thiensville, Ozaukee County
Chapter 11: education, pp. 55-56
Historical and Architectural Resources Survey Village of Thiensville Page 55 CHAPTER 11 Education To appreciate educational developments in Thiensville, it is helpful first to trace the evolution of public education at the state- and county-wide levels. Wisconsin's 1848 constitution included provisions for the establishment of a free public school system. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, the state's educational system as a whole remained somewhat rudimentary at best. The average rural school was a small, frame structure equipped with a woodstove, wash pails and a handful of benches or desks; depending on the locale, equipment as basic as maps and blackboards often were scarce. The curricula typically included spelling, reading, writing, grammar and arithmetic. As the state became more heavily settled, higher standards were imposed. An 1861 law created the office of County Superintendent of Schools, responsible for coordinating the activities of county schools. The following year, a standard method of certifying teachers at the county level was adopted. County superintendents also held Teacher Institutes each summer to provide teachers with the opportunity to upgrade their skills. The state's first compulsory attendance law was passed in 1879, although it was unevenly enforced. During the decade, public high schools also began to be established as a wider variety of academic subjects were taught, including algebra, astronomy, botany and geology.88 After the beginning of the twentieth century, consolidation and centralization of schools became issues of increasing urgency, due to the disparity on the quality of instruction in urban versus rural districts. Fueled by the reformist Progressive Movement, the professionalization of the teaching corps also picked up the pace through the early decades of the twentieth century. Normal schools multiplied and districts began to emphasize the retention of trained teachers with years of experience as a worthwhile investment of still-limited funds. In Ozaukee County, many school districts responded to increasing educational pressures by constructing new, graded facilities that incorporated the most modem design elements available. Its districts also began to offer vocational, agricultural and home economic education programs reflective of contemporary teaching theories.89 Formal education began in Thiensville as early as 1844 with the founding of Van Buren School District #3. Early school meetings were held in the home of John Henry Thien, as well as the schoolhouse. As the area's population increased, a larger facility was needed and in 1866, a two- story, stone school building located at 228 Elm Street (Photo Codes 77/3) was built. By 1904, the district had outgrown the facility and a large addition was constructed as a residence for the principal on the first floor and a third department on the upper level. The district also was renamed Mequon- Thiensville Joint School District #3. In 1922, the citizens of Thiensville passed a $3 5,000 bond issue 88Langill and Loerke, eds., From Farmland to Freeways, 275-93. 89Ibid., 293-315; School Files--Mequon & Thiensville Binder, Ozaukee County Historical Society.
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