"THE CITY AND COUNTY FEDERATION OF WOMEN'S CLUBS" of San Francisco

EDUCATION DEPARTMENT
MRS. JESSE H. STEINHART, CHAIRMAN

Owing to the fact that educational topics require close study and
consideration the organization of the Education Department varied a
little from that of other Departments of the City Federation. Subjects
brought before the Department were immediately referred to
sub-committees for investigation. The sub-committees brought back
written reports to the Department, and these written reports were fully
discussed by the Department acting as a committee of the whole, before
any action was taken on them. So that any matter recommended to the
Federation for endorsement had to pass the criticism and investigation
of two very active committees.

The personnel of the Education Department was an interesting one, in
that it was composed almost equally of teachers and laymen, and the
interchange of ideas between the two groups was helpful and stimulating.
The expert knowledge of the teachers, together with the zeal of the
laymen should give some weight to the findings of the Department.

During the year 1918-19, which was a legislative year, the main topic
for study was educational legislation. There were many hundreds of
progressive and interesting bills before the state legislature, but only
the most important of these could be studied and acted upon. The
Department endorsed the very necessary bills for increased state and
county appropriations for schools; recommended, however, that all
important tax measures constitute bills in themselves. It endorsed, too,
an increase in pay for the teachers of San Francisco, and this increase
later went into effect. It gave considerable study to the Hoke Smith
Bill, now the Smith Towner Bill, providing for a Federal Bureau of
Education, and after much discussion, endorsed the same. At the January
(1919) Convention of the City Federation, the report of the Education
Department was accepted by the Federation and these recommendations
approved.

Through the consideration of school legislation, questions of
Americanization came before the Department. As an outcome of the
splendid work of Dr. Anne Nicholson and her sub-committee, the
establishment of a Foreign Clubs Department was recommended to the
Federation, so that foreign groups could meet each other and native born
groups on equal terms. Under the direction of Mrs. Edwin J. Hanson and a
committee composed of Mrs. Arthur Flood, Mrs. E. J. Wales, Mrs. Cora
Conklin and Mrs. Ednah Aiken, this department under the chairmanship of
Dr. Nicholson was immediately organized, and the report will show how
successfully the work has been carried on.

During the year 1919-20, with legislative matters behind us, interest
centered on problems of more immediate local importance. Three matters
were selected for study:

1. The question of High School Scholarships for talented children whose
circumstances do not permit their obtaining a high school education. It
was found that there was a need for such scholarships, and that from
time to time some had been offered by generous individuals, but that no
well advertised and well established scholarship fund had been
contemplated in San Francisco, though a beginning has been made in some
other cities. This is partly due to the fact that there has been no
central body to administer such a fund, and also because of the
difficulty in establishing an impartial method of selecting the children
whose mental ability and general worth would warrant their being awarded
the proposed scholarships. Under Miss Genevieve Carroll's direction, a
solution to both problems was found. Through the interest of Professor
Terman of Stanford University a simple series of tests can be arranged
for and the merit of the applicant can be established without the
setting up of a complicated board of examiners, while the City
Federation itself could act as the central body to distribute the fund,
until such time as the size of the scholarship fund would warrant other
machinery. The Education Department, therefore, recommended to the
Federation as a work for the coming year, the establishment of one or
more such High School Scholarships as a step in the right direction.

2. The second problem studied was the closer correlation of school and
library work. This was a question requiring very detailed and technical
study and too much appreciation can not be shown Mrs. Archie Cloud, the
delegate from Corona Club, for the two able reports she presented.

Mrs. Cloud's investigation outlined the legal basis for our library
organization and the various legal provisions by which funds are
supplied. According to her report, the main criticism of the library
work in its relation to the schools is not one of organization, but is a
metter of an inadequate supply of books and a poor system of
distributing them to the schools. Both defects imply a lack of funds.
The Charter permits the Supervisors to provide for a larger fund for
library work. Accordingly, the sub-committee recommends that pressure be
brought on the Supervisors by the City Federation so that a proper
allotment of funds be made to the Library which will allow it to do the
necessary work for the schools of the city.

There is much splendid material on hand that was collected by some of
the teachers of the San Francisco School Department at the time of the
Panama-Pacific Exposition as the basis of a so-called School Museum.
This splendid collection for "Visual Education," as it should be
designated, is now being stored in an old school building by the Board
of Education, because there are no funds to circulate it from school to
school. The committee, therefore, recommends as an economical way of
circulating the same, that it be put under the charge of an expert in
the library and be circulated on the same plan as books.

Finally, the committee recommends that the excellent reference library
of educational books collected by the City and County Superintendent of
Schools from the fund established by law for that purpose, be suitably
housed in the City Hall so that the books may be readily accessible to
the teachers and to the public; that they be catalogued by the City
Librarian and that a librarian clerk be employed to give them out. It is
hoped that the full weight of the Federation will be given to the
carrying out of this important recommendation.

3. The third matter was the old subject of After-School Play Centers
which was brought to the Federation by the principal of a school because
many of the children attending her school had no place to go after
school hours, and had no home supervision, for the reason that their
mothers were at work. In this work, the Board of Education could be of
no assistance, for no funds were available for the establishment of the
centers or for the payment of play supervisors, and the matter was
dropped for the time being.

Upon the request of Mrs. Castle, President of the Federation, it was
taken up again, when it seemed possible to secure the first floor of the
New Outside Inn rent free. But to maintain that building as a play
center necessitated too complicated an administrative machinery and too
expensive an equipment, and so that, too, had to be dropped.

In the course of these investigations, however, the committee found that
Miss Thomas, Principal of the Winfield Scott School, was doing some real
after-school play work with the aid of one of her teachers and that with
a little additional money the work could be greatly developed. The
district is a poor one and the mothers of many of the children are at
work, so they naturally congregate about the school yard after school
hours.

The Department felt that it could undertake to finance the supervision
of after-school play for five days a week in the school yard of the
Winfield Scott School. The Board of Education has given permission for
the experiment; Miss Thomas and her teacher are cooperating cordially in
working on this plan. As part of the needed funds are now on hand, on
Monday, May 10th, the modest beginnings of an after-school play center
will be undertaken under the auspices of the City Federation of Women's
Clubs. Let us hope this modest start will point the way to larger
things.

The work of the Education Department has not been spectacular in its
nature, but the type of problem brought before the group required great
study before it could be determined whether or not the questions
involved were worthy of further consideration. I should like to express
my thanks to each and every delegate who came to listen and remained to
work, and I should also express the appreciation and help given the
group by our President, Mrs. Castle. The results of this team work are
even now apparent in their effects on legislation, in the establishment
of the Foreign Clubs Department, in the actual organization of an
"After-School Play Center" at the Winfield Scott School. Promise for the
future is held out in the plan for High School Scholarships and the
closer correlation of School and Library Work.



Transcribed by Elaine Sturdevant

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Page last updated June 4, 2002