The Making of an American High School 9780300191264

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Table of contents :
Contents
Figures and Tables
Acknowledgments
Chronology
1. Introduction: Politics, Markets, and the Middle Class
2. The Origins of a High School: Embodying the Middle- Class Vision
3. Meritocracy for the Middle Class: Academic Achievement and Student Attainment
4. The High School and the School System: From Market Control to Bureaucratic Control
5. From Professional to Proletarian: The Declining Position of the High School Professor
6. Courses and Credentials: The Impact of the Market on the Curriculum
7. Credentialism in a Falling Market: The Disabling Legacy of the Early High School
Appendix A: Student Data Methods
Appendix B: Social Class Categories
Appendix C: Multiple Classification Analysis
Appendix D: A Close Look at the Multiple Classification Analyses Graduation
References
Index
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The Making of an American High School

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The Making of an American High School The Credentials Market and the Central High School of Philadelphia, 1838-1939

DAVID

Y A L E N E W

F.

LABAREE

U N I V E R S I T Y H A V E N

A N D

P R E S S

L O N D O N

Published with assistance from the foundation established in memory of Amasa Stone Mather of the Class of 1907, Yale CoUege. Copyright © 1988 by Yale University. All rights reserved. This book may not be reproduced, in whole or in part, including illustrations, in any form (beyond that copying permitted by Sections 107 and 108 of the U.S. Copyright Law and except by reviewers for the public press), without written permission from the publishers. Designed by Sally Harris and set in Meridien type by Huron Valley Graphics. Printed in the United States of America by Vail-Ballou Press, Binghamton, N.Y. Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data Labaree, David R, 1947The making of an American high school. Bibliography: p. Includes index. 1. Central High School (Philadelphia, Pa.)—History— 19th century. 2. Central High School (Philadelphia, Pa.) —History—20th century. 3. High schools— Pennsylvania—Philadelphia—Curricula—History— 19th century. 4. High schools—Pennsylvania—Philadelphia— Curricula—History—20th century. I. Title. LD7501.P492L33 1988 373.748'11 87-14233 ISBN 0-300-04091-1 (cloth) 0-300-05469-6 (pbk.) The paper in this book meets the guidelines for permanence and durability of the Committee on Production Guidelines for Book Longevity of the Council on Library Resources. 2 4 6 8

1 09 7 5 3

To Jenny

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Contents

List of Figures and Tables ix xi Acknowledgments xiii Chronology 1 1 Introduction: Politics, Markets, and the Middle Class 2 The Origins of a High School: Embodying the Middle- Class Vision 9 3 Meritocracy for the Middle Class: Academic Achievement and Student Attainment 36 4 The High School and the School System: From Market 64 Control to Bureaucratic Control 5 From Professional to Proletarian: The Declining Position of the High School Professor 97 6 Courses and Credentials: The Impact of the Market on the Curriculum 134 7 Credentialism in a Falling Market: The Disabling Legacy of the Early High School 173 Appendix A: Student Data Methods 183 Appendix B: Social Class Categories 185 Appendix C: Multiple Classification Analysis 187 Appendix D: A Close Look at the Multiple Classification Analyses of Graduation 189 References 197 Index 205

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Figures and Tables

Figures 2.1 4.1 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4

Course of Studies, 1850 Examination Results by Grammar School, 1838-50 Course of Studies, 1863 Course of Studies, 1871 Course of Studies, 1889 Course of Studies, 1900

24 69 144 146 151 154

Tables 3.1 3.2

3.3. 3.4 3.5 3.6 3.7

Occupational Distribution of CHS Household Heads, 18381920 Combined Class Distribution of CHS Household Heads, 1838-1920 Index of Representativeness, CHS versus Philadelphia Household Heads, 1850-80 Index of Representativeness, CHS Household Heads versus Philadelphia Males, 1850-1920 Graduation Rates by Social Class and Year, 1838-1920 Multiple Classification Analysis of Graduation Rate Using General Sample, 1850-1920 Multiple Classification Analysis of Graduation Rate Using Census Sample, 1850-1900

IX

40 42 43 44 53 57 58

FIGURES AND TABLES

3.8 5.1 5.2 6.1 6.2 6.3 6.4 6.5 A.I A.2 B.I B.2 D.I

Multiple Classification Analysis of Graduation Rate Using Twentieth-Century Sample, 1910 and 1920 Salaries of CHS Professors and Other Philadelphia Educators Compared Size of CHS Student Body and Faculty, 1838-1920 Allocation of Class Time to Subject Areas in Selected Curricula, by Administration, 1840-1920 Proportion of Entrants and Graduates by Curriculum, 1890-1920 Graduation Rate and High-grades Rate of CHS Students by Curriculum, 1890-1920 Class Distribution of CHS Students by Curriculum, 18901920 Index of Class Representativeness of CHS Students by Curriculum, 1890-1920 Sampling Plan by Cohort Linkage of Students to Census Manuscripts, 1850-1900 Wealth of Central Parents by Class, 1860 and 1870 Combined Occupational Distribution of Household Heads, CHS versus Philadelphia, 1880 Graduation Rates of Central High School Students by Curriculum, 1910 and 1920 (weighted)

x

59 100 118 147 156 156 158 158 183 184 186 186 195

Acknowledgments

Work on this book began in 1979 as I started collecting data for a doctoral dissertation in sociology at the University of Pennsylvania. I am particularly grateful to two people who helped me carry the project through from start to finish. Michael Katz inspired my initial interest in the subject, served as dissertation adviser, provided funding through his grant from the National Institute of Education, gave me the confidence to keep going, and thoughtfully criticized countless drafts. David Hogan worked with me closely during the data gathering and ongoing conceptualization of this project, continually provoked me to rethink and reinvigorate my argument, and consistently extended his help as a critically perceptive friend. Without these two, this book never would have happened. Without a third person, it never would have happened in this form. David Cohen gave the first draft of the book a remarkably thoughtful and empathetic reading, which led me to unearth the book's half-buried central theme—the tension between politics and markets—and make it the focus of the final version of the manuscript. I am grateful to a variety of people who helped in gathering and analyzing data: Howard Carlisle and Santo Diano graciously provided access to the records at Central High School; Theodore Hershberg and Henry Williams allowed me to use the facilities at the Philadelphia Social History Project and showed me how to do so; Mark Stern provided advice on methodology and a good deal more; Stuart Bogom and Laura Gaynard provided programming assistance; and twenty student coders performed much of the drudge work. Over the years, a large number of people have provided helpful responses to various parts of this book at different stages

XI

ACKNOWLEDGMENTS

of its development: David Angus, Digby Baltzell, Bruce Bellingham, Ivar Berg, Fred Block, Paul Eisenhauer, Christopher Hurn, Marvin Lazerson, Jeffrey Mirel, Michael Olneck, John Rury, Michael Sedlak, Malcolm Spector, Maris Vinovskis, Philip Wexler, and several anonymous reviewers. I owe a great deal to Gladys Topkis, my editor from Yale University Press, who has given me strong support and valuable suggestions from the proposal stage all the way through to the final draft, and to Michael Joyce for his careful and unobtrusive copyediting. Early versions of the book's argument were presented at the annual meetings of the Organization of American Historians, American Educational Research Association, History of Education Society, and American Sociological Association. One article drawn from this study appeared in Sociology of Education, and I am grateful to the editors for granting me permission to reprint passages from it. The research for this book was supported by grant number 9-0173 from the National Institute of Education (Michael Katz, principal investigator). I owe a more diffuse debt of gratitude to my colleagues and students in the College of Education at Michigan State University, who have provided me with a stimulating, congenial, and supportive environment for writing this book; to Mary Murray Labaree, for her tolerance during the period when I was obsessed with my dissertation; and to Benjamin and Jean Ridgley Labaree, for teaching me the difference between education and schooling.

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Chronology

1818 1834 1836 1838 1839 1842 1848 1849 1854 1856 1858 1862 1866 1867 1868 1877 1883 1885 1887

Philadelphia school district created (pauper test) Pennsylvania common-school act passed Revised common-school act authorizes Central High School Central High School (CHS) opens Alexander D. Bache named acting principal reorganizes school John S. Hart becomes principal Girls High School opens CHS granted power to confer academic degrees Hart drops elementary course Hart combines principal and classical course leaving no electives Nicholas H. Maguire named principal Formal hearing into charges against Maguire and faculty; three professors fired Another formal hearing results in firing of Maguire and four professors George I. Riche named president State law requires that school board be appointed by judiciary Board drops admission exam in favor of certificates and quotas Board adopts course of study for elementary schools Board restores exam but retains quotas Philadelphia's first superintendent takes office Central Manual Training School opens, city's second secondary school for boys Professors vote for college preparatory curriculum after bitter debate

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CHRONOLOGY

1888 Henry C. Johnson named president, abolishes collegial governance 1889 Johnson introduces differentiated curriculum capped by college preparatory course 1894 Robert E. Thompson named president; restores faculty meeting but not collegial governance 1898 Commercial department added as a separate track 1900 Entrance exams dropped; admission by certificate 1902 Lavish dedication of new building; Theodore Roosevelt speaks 1905 School law cuts authority of ward boards, strengthens board of education and superintendent 1906 Martin G. Brumbaugh (author of school law) named superintendent 1910 Central opens annexes in Frankford and Germantown 1911 School code further strengthens board and superintendent 1912 Superintendent given power over high school curriculum Superintendent reorganizes high school system: all high schools (including CHS) become four-year comprehensive regional schools Central Manual Training School merged into CHS as mechanical arts department 1915 CHS annexes become high schools 1919 Philadelphia Trades School merged into CHS as industrial arts department 1920 John L. Haney named president 1930 Promotion by grade ends; now promotion by course 1935 Restoration of CHS to academic status approved by board 1939 Central moves into new building and becomes the city's only selective academic high school for boys

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1

Introduction: Politics, Markets, and the Middle Class For a long time all boys were trained to be President. Then for a while we trained them all to be professional men. Now we are training them to get jobs. —President of the Muncie, Indiana, School Board, ca. 1925 (Lynd and Lynd, 1929, 194)

The American public high school is the product of a continuing struggle between politics and markets.1 From its founding to the present day, it has embodied interests that are both public and private. On the one hand, the high school has always been an intensely public institution, with strong public support and control and a high degree of public access. As a result, in its origins and development, the high school has consistently been subjected to public scrutiny and the authority of the state. On the other hand, the high school has also been an important mechanism for the preservation and enhancement of private advantage, as individuals have used its credentials to acquire social position. The high school has accordingly been subjected to market pressures, since the school's value to its constituency has fluctuated in response to supply and demand. The aim of this book is to explore the way in which politics and markets have shaped the history of the American high school. My argument is that the high school was founded to produce citizens for the new republic but quickly became a vehicle for individual status attainment. The intrusion of the market transformed the purposes and practices of the high school, shifting the balance from republican virtue to capitalist commerce, and the high school itself played a major role in this change. The entrepreneurial behavior of its early leaders created competitive markets (under highly favorable monopolistic conditions) for the acquisition and disposition of 1. I am grateful to David Cohen for suggesting "politics and markets" as concepts that capture the characteristic tension I found within the American public high school. The terms themselves come from the title of a book by Charles E. Lindblom (1977).

1

INTRODUCTION: POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE CLASS

high school credentials. Their success in selling the high school as a valuable commodity led to an extraordinary demand, which spurred political intervention to ensure that this private good remained publicly accessible. This in turn led to a rapid expansion of high school enrollment, which diluted the market value of this educational commodity. Thus the public and private purposes of the high school have continually undercut each other. The power and autonomy of the high school have risen and fallen in a pattern that is directly related to the strength of its market position and inversely related to its degree of public accessibility. I approach this subject through a historical case study of one of the oldest and most prominent high schools in the United States, the Central High School of Philadelphia. Founded in 1838, Central was the first and, for the most of the nineteenth century, the only public high school for boys in the nation's second-largest city. Fortunately, the school was aware of its own historical importance and therefore kept an extraordinarily comprehensive array of records. Among the sources that I have used in this study are: annual reports by the principal, published every year from 1840 to 1915; faculty meeting minutes from the beginning to the present; individual records of the origins and attainment of every student who attended the school; and three published histories of the school, written by members of the faculty. This depth and range of sources has given me the opportunity to explore the development of the high school through a variety of analyses that are both qualitative (based on reports, minutes, and so forth) and quantitative (based on a sample of two thousand students drawn from the first hundred years of the school's records). The aim of a case study, as Harold Silver (1983, 296) has argued, is not to pick a typical subject but to choose one that is exemplary. The typical nineteenth-century high school was a rather modest extension of the grammar school, but Central High was created out of whole cloth as a distinctively innovative and elevated form of school. It was, after all, such early, novel, and highly visible high schools as Central and Boston English— rather than the more typical schools—that served as the forerunners and models for the contemporary American high school. The study of such schools is thus of particular importance for a broader understanding of educational development in this country. The difficulty with conducting a case study is integrating it into the larger pattern of events and issues. My approach is to focus on the point of articulation between the life history of a particular school (Central High) and the social history of the institution it helped to shape (the American high school).2 As a consequence I have not written a straight chronological 2. The idea of focusing on the point of articulation between life history and social history comes from an insightful book by Philip Abrams (1982). 2

INTRODUCTION: POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE

CLASS

history but instead organized the material by topics—origins, bureaucratization, governance, pedagogy, curriculum—that reflect significant aspects of the institutionalization of the American high school. By examining one functional area of schooling at a time, I am able to move back and forth between particular events and general trends, between historically specific developments and long-term institutional outcomes. What I have aimed to produce therefore is not a history of a school but an essay on the historical sociology of the American high school. My goal has been to preserve a balance between historical particulars and social theory, maintaining a healthy respect for the complex contingencies surrounding historical events and a strong sense of the need for developing theoretical generalizations about these events. The case study of Central High School provides insight into the institutional development of the American high school and the role of politics and markets in this process. Central was founded as an extension of the Philadelphia common-school system. Its founders, teachers, and students came primarily from the proprietary (self-employed) middle class, and its goals were shaped by the ideology shared by the members of this class. This ideology, which also infused the common-school reform movement, expressed a mixture of public and private purposes. Republicanism contributed a concern for developing a community of public-spirited citizens, while Protestantism contributed a focus on moral education. But at the same time capitalism provided a concern for utility (practical education) and meritocracy (the market-based belief in the competitive distribution of rewards based on individual achievement). From the opening day in 1838, Central High School took on a form that closely expressed the mixed purposes embedded in its founding ideology. It presented students with a curriculum that was both common, permitting little choice (and later, no choice at all), and practical, oriented toward the preparation of students for business. The early system of discipline was explicitly designed to mold character rather than simply keep order, and conduct was incorporated into academic grades. Also, the school's pedagogy was extraordinarily meritocratic. Students could gain admission only through a highly competitive entrance examination, and for those admitted the graduation rate was only 25 percent. High school grades rather than class background proved to have the strongest impact on a student's graduation chances. However, this ideological balance was short-lived. From the very start, market forces developed within the new high school to shift its basic goals from common/moral to practical/meritocratic education. Central was a very uncommon school. As the only public high school for boys in the 3

INTRODUCTION: POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE

CLASS

country's second-largest city, Central enjoyed a position of great prominence and exclusiveness: during most of the nineteenth century, only about 1 percent of male lower-school students in Philadelphia succeeded in entering the high school. Acting in a thoroughly entrepreneurial fashion, Central's early supporters worked hard to enhance the school's distinctiveness. Its first building had an expensive marble veneer and a state-of-theart astronomical observatory, and its form of discipline, curriculum, and pedagogy were ideologically correct almost to the point of caricature. The public toward which the high school displayed itself so selfconsciously was its middle-class constituency. From the beginning, twothirds of Central's student body came from the middle class, the bulk of them from the more prosperous self-employed middle class (as distinct from white-collar employees). In part, the appeal to this group was a deliberate effort on the part of the common-school founders to attract middle-class students into the lower schools. The irony is that they created an exclusive school in order to help make the common schools common. The middle class took the bait and quickly became organically bonded to the new high school, which offered them an extremely scarce and valuable form of cultural property—a high school diploma. Concerned about the uncertain future of small capital and the threat of proletarianization, these middle-class proprietors sought to acquire the new educational credential as an alternative mechanism for transmitting status. The primary attractions of this new credential were its meritocratic legitimacy and its public subsidy. Central's monopolistic hold on the supply of high school credentials and the strong demand for them among middle-class families combined to produce a highly competitive seller's market in which the value of the new educational commodity soared. Central's dedication to meritocratic procedure served only to increase competition and enhance its market position by restricting the number of students admitted and graduated. This market situation had a number of important consequences for both the school and the school system. First, it created an informal hierarchy of control within a school system that was formally quite decentralized. Consumer demand for the high school put pressure on grammar-school masters to adapt their curricula to the demands of the high school entrance examination. Since Philadelphia did not have a superintendent until 1883, Central High School's market power provided the primary mechanism for exerting hierarchical control in the city's school system. Second, Central's professors (as its teachers were called) enjoyed the same sort of entrepreneurial autonomy within the school that the school enjoyed within the school system. Paid four times as much as the average Philadelphia schoolteacher, these were men of power and privilege who 4

INTRODUCTION: POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE

CLASS

were meritocratically selected from the city's grammar-school masters. They were subject only to the board of education, but the board generally deferred to them as the system's ranking professionals. The professors exercised complete autonomy over the governance of the high school, deciding all major issues relating to curriculum, academic procedure, and discipline in a weekly faculty meeting conducted according to parliamentary rules. Central's privileged position in the educational marketplace, already attained by the early 1840s, made it an enormously successful and powerful institution. The critical role of markets in this educational success story, however, brought about a shift in the school's purposes from public to private. The effect of markets on the high school was to promote individual competition for Central's credentials, whose value was the result of their relative scarcity and thus their ability to confer distinction on the bearer. This impact was closely in line with the meritocratic component of Central's founding ideology, because meritocracy is a social belief system modeled after market processes. Under pressure from the market, therefore, Central High School became increasingly meritocratic during the mid-nineteenth century. But at the same time, the shift toward an individualistic and proprietary view of the high school undercut Central's strong initial commitment to republican community and Protestant moral education. The school's curriculum remained common until late in the century, but the middle-class enrollment it attracted quickly turned out to be anything but common. The original political goals of the high school became infused with market values as its public mission changed from providing citizens with a shared educational experience to providing consumers with equal opportunity to acquire an exclusive cultural commodity. The most dramatic sign of the market-induced change at Central occurred in 1859, when its new president, Nicholas H. Maguire, ended the practice of including conduct as part of a student's academic average, on the ground that the school's charter restricted it to instruction in and evaluation of academic achievement. The president's defense of this change constituted a meritocratic manifesto liberating the high school from its moral and communitarian roots. Under market pressure, even the meaning of practical education changed—from a form of liberal arts training with a worldly focus (symbolized by a preference for science and modern languages over the traditional classical curriculum) to a form of business education that bordered on vocationalism. The smashing success of Central High School in the educational marketplace brought about a growing public demand for access to the school or to 5

INTRODUCTION: POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE CLASS

some form of secondary education. During the mid-nineteenth century local school boards in outlying areas complained about the school's inaccessibility and asked to create miniature versions in their own grammar schools. After the Civil War, the criticism focused more on the high school's extreme selectivity, which allowed it to remain stable in size as the lower-school population was growing dramatically. The result was a political initiative to regulate high school admissions and provide wider access to higher levels of schooling. After a state law reorganized the city school board in 1867, the new board set out to accomplish these goals, with partial success. During the course of the next twenty years, it first abolished the entrance exam, then restored it with a rigid quota system, and for a time allowed grammar schools to compete with the high school. The tentative nature of these efforts at public regulation reflected the weakness of the board's formal authority within a decentralized school system and its continuing need for Central's market power to control the lower schools. By the 1880s, a string of events undermined Central's market position. The school board finally took the step of opening the first of a series of new public high schools, which broke Central's fifty-year monopoly. Also in this period the school's middle-class clients, as a response to the decline in small proprietorships, began to pin their hopes for status attainment on the professions—which required college attendance and thus made Central's practical and terminal curriculum look much less attractive. As the supply of high school alternatives increased and the demand for Central's particular form of high school weakened among its core constituency, the market value of Central's credentials plummeted, leaving the school vulnerable to a series of political interventions. The result was a period of change, beginning in 1889, that radically transformed the high school. In that year the new president, Henry C. Johnson, replaced the old uniform practical curriculum with a stratified curriculum that had vocational courses at the bottom and a college preparatory course at the top, thus severing another link to the school's original common-school purposes. At the same time, the extraordinary autonomy enjoyed by the school's professors was severely weakened when the president ended the weekly faculty meeting and with it the tradition of collegial governance. (Although meetings were restored in later administrations, they were never again endowed with decision-making authority.) Also during the 1890s, Central was allowed to grow rapidly, doubling in size within ten years and then doubling again ten years later. And finally, the superintendent and school board, after a prolonged struggle, succeeded in gaining direct authority over the city's schools, including the high schools. A new state school code in 1911 reduced Central to the same subordinate status occupied by the city's other high schools. 6

INTRODUCTION: POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE CLASS

The new vision of the high school that emerged in the 1890s contained a contradiction. Political regulation of the educational-credentials market can be a successful mechanism for widening access to these credentials, as it has been with high schools and then colleges in the United States. However, the market response to a sharp increase in the supply of credentials (in the absence of an equally sharp increase in demand from employers) is to lower their value. Central High School had a large and influential group of alumni and of prospective clients who wanted to acquire its selective benefits; widening access to the high school could hurt their interests in the zero-sum game of educational credentialing. How then could school officials respond to the public pressure for high school access without destroying the very exclusiveness that made high school credentials so attractive in the first place? The answer they devised in 1889 has become the main solution to this perennial American educational dilemma: stratification. School officials established an academic track (which was college preparatory) and a commercial track (originally called "scientific"). Students in the academic track had a credential whose value was unaffected by the increasing numbers of diplomas issued by non-preparatory programs, at Central or in other schools. Therefore the open-access public high school was still able to offer exclusiveness; the market in educational commodities was alive and well. Central managed to preserve much of its distinctiveness and autonomy in the era of the comprehensive high school. It isolated the newly introduced mechanical and industrial courses in separate buildings and elevated the mechanical and commercial tracks into college preparatory programs (engineering and business, respectively). Thus by the 1920s Central was on the surface a large comprehensive high school with a diverse student body; but within its main building, it was a college preparatory school in liberal arts and business, with a student body still dominated by the middle class, as it had been for eighty years. Moreover, despite strenuous efforts by a series of superintendents to soften its meritocratic pedagogy, the school's faculty held to rigid standards for promotion and graduation, keeping the graduation rate at the nineteenth-century level of 25 percent. Given the persistence in the twentieth century of Central's meritocratic form and its status-conferring function (providing selective benefits for its middle-class clientele), it is not surprising that the school's supporters succeeded in having it formally restored to a special position within the school system. In 1939 Central moved to a new building, leaving behind all non-academic courses, and assumed a new status as the city's only selective academic high school for boys. Except for the 1983 court-ordered admission of girls, Central High School has retained this selective character into the last decades of the century. 7

INTRODUCTION: POLITICS AND THE MIDDLE

CLASS

Central succeeded in protecting its thoroughbred credentials from the mongrelizing effects of expanding enrollments. The secret to its success was a powerful and well-mobilized group of middle-class alumni and aspirants who sought to preserve a mechanism for obtaining an exclusive high school education when high school was becoming a universal experience. With a close eye to the school's market position, its supporters resorted to stratification to preserve and enhance Central's status-conferring distinctiveness. The stratification pattern works as follows: The high school's success in the credentials market brings political pressure for wider access; wider access lowers the market value of high school credentials for members of the middle class who already have access; this market situation puts pressure on the high school to stratify (both schools and curricula) in order to permit both wider access in the lower tracks and schools and exclusiveness at the upper end. In the history of Central High School this cycle occurred twice—once in 1889 and again in 1939, during the two periods in American history when high school attendance rose most dramatically and the credentials market became suddenly saturated. Seen from the perspective of this case study, the history of the American high school has been a continuing struggle between political forces and market forces, and there is little sign of a change in the offing. For as long as we require the high school to produce educational commodities for the purpose of individual accumulation, we will affirm the high school as a market institution and subject its credentials to the vagaries of shifting supply and demand. And as long as we also require it to provide open access to all citizens as a matter of political right (the watery residue of the common-school ideal), we will unavoidably keep flooding the market and diluting the exchange value of high school credentials. Since politics prevent American educators from restricting access to high school, its characteristic form has become a peculiar combination of comprehensiveness and stratification. As illustrated by the hundredfifty-year history of an early exemplar, the American high school continues to be torn between its own democratic and exclusionary tendencies.

8

2

The Origins of a High School: Embodying the Middle-Class Vision

The earliest American high schools emerged from the same middle-class ideology that fostered the common-school movement, and the Central High School of Philadelphia was no exception. This cultural vision contained a complex set of public and private concerns that were frequently at odds. But from the vantage point of the late twentieth century, what is most striking about the common-school ideology is its emphasis on public and political purposes. In the first decades at Central High School its organization, curriculum, and pedagogy embodied the middle-class vision to the point of exaggeration. Its founders were ideological zealots who sought to construct a school that would make a cultural statement, and they did so. At the same time, however, Central's founders were institutional entrepreneurs who tried to make this innovative school succeed in the educational marketplace. To accomplish this goal, these men had to be sensitive to the needs of the middle-class families that supplied most of its students. These needs were not only cultural, reflected in Central's close adherence to middle-class ideology, but also social, reflected in Central's ability to make a practical contribution to the social-status needs of its public. Like other early high schools, Central was in part designed to be socially attractive to the middle class in order to encourage these families to send their children to the new common schools. But Central became so attractive that middle-class families began competing with each other to gain admission. What had been designed largely to express political and moral purposes gradually transformed itself into a form that was quite contrary to commonschool ideology. Central began to adapt to the growing demands of the 9

THE O R I G I N S OF A H I G H SCHOOL

market while casting off or reformulating key elements of its public purposes. It quickly came to play an instrumental role in its constituents' competition for status attainment as the cultural goals of the school gave way to social goals and politics deferred to markets. Beginnings The high school movement in the United States began in Boston in 1821 with the establishment of Boston English Classical School which three years later was renamed Boston English High School. Massachusetts' leadership was a natural outgrowth of the state's early role in the formation of public elementary schools. Less that thirty years after the landing of the Mayflower, when most other colonies had not yet been chartered, Massachusetts enacted legislation requiring every town with fifty familes to establish a primary school and every town with one hundred families to found a grammar school. By the early nineteenth century, the state had the most extensive and elaborate system of public schools in the country. Using Boston English as a model, a number of other high schools soon opened throughout New England but most particularly in Massachusetts, where a law in 1827 made the formation of a high school mandatory in the larger towns. Grizzell (1923, 94) calculates that twenty-six high schools had been established in Massachusetts before 1840, but there were very few in the rest of the country at this early date. Although the record is uncertain, Pennsylvania had perhaps seven high schools at this time, but most appear to have been little more than modest extensions of the grammar school—typically just an extra year or two tacked onto the regular elementary course (Mulhern 1933, 488-510). The one striking exception was the new high school in Philadelphia, which was created de novo by the authority of the state, housed in a specially built structure, and provided with a four-year curriculum. The establishment of Central High School was the culmination of the common-school movement in Philadelphia, authorized by the same state law that in 1836 provided for a system of common schools in the city. As far back as the constitution of 1790, Pennsylvania had mandated "the establishment of schools throughout the state, in such a manner that the poor may be taught gratis" (quoted in Custis 1897, 7), and in the first decade of the nineteenth century the legislature passed several bills that authorized public subsidy of private-school tuition for students who could not afford to pay their own. This system of charity schooling received a formal structure in Philadelphia with the formation in 1818 of the First School District of Pennsylva10

THE O R I G I N S

OF A H I G H

SCHOOL

nia. Each municipality within the county selected a board of school directors with the responsibility for establishing charity schools for its own citizens, and over these groups was a board of controllers charged with overseeing the system for the county as a whole. The controllers immediately chose as president of the new system the well-known Quaker reformer Roberts Vaux, most famous as the founder of the much-imitated Eastern State Penitentiary. In addition, they adopted the monitorial system of instruction and even managed to attract the system's inventor, Joseph Lancaster, to set up a model school in the city for the purpose of training teachers in the method. However, although the new district provided for public funding and control of the schools, this was not a common-school system, since families had to declare themselves paupers in order to qualify their children for admission. By the late 1820s, the push for free and universal schools was taking shape; both Vaux and his successor as board president, Thomas Dunlap, took leading roles. In 1834, the state legislature passed a bill authorizing systems of tax-supported common schools at local option, and, after proponents beat back a powerful effort at repeal, a stronger version of the same bill was signed into law two years later. The Philadelphia schools were quickly reorganized under the terms of the latter legislation, and commonschool supporters expressed their satisfaction and optimism in terms such as those penned by President Dunlap (Annual Report 1837, 9-10):1 "The stigma of poverty, once the only title of admission to our public schools, has at the solicitation of the Controllers been erased from our statute books, and the schools of this city and county are now open to every child that draws the breath of life within our borders. What may not be accomplished by this mighty lever of universal education?" Before passage of the 1836 bill, an amendment was attached authorizing the Philadelphia controllers "to establish one Central High School for the full education of such pupils of the public schools of the first school district as may possess the requisite qualifications" (quoted in Edmonds 1902, 24). The controllers acted quickly on their new authority, organizing a high school committee that constructed a building and selected faculty members. On October 26, 1838, the new high school opened its doors to a group of sixty-three students. In their hurry to open the high school the controllers appointed a faculty of four (called professors) without designating a head; these men were left the task of devising a course of study. In the absence of direction, the professors established Central as a traditional Latin grammar school with a 1. In this book, the citation "Annual Report" refers to the reports issued by the Philadelphia Board of School Controllers (renamed the Board of Public Education in 1870). 11

THE O R I G I N S OF A HIGH S C H O O L

heavy emphasis on Latin and Greek. But in the fall of 1839 the board sought advice about the school from an expert, Alexander D. Bache, the president of the Girard College for Orphans. Since his position at the time involved no duties (the college was not built yet), he offered his services to the board gratis, and they accepted. He proceeded to study the school's operations and wrote a detailed report, offering a wide-ranging plan of reorganization. The board both accepted his plan and appointed him acting principal, a position retained until 1842. Born into a wealthy and prominent Philadelphia family (he was the great grandson of Benjamin Franklin), Bache was educated at a local classical school and West Point and started teaching natural philosophy and chemistry at the University of Pennsylvania in 1828. He was soon taking a leading role in the city's vigorous scientific community. In 1836, he assumed the presidency of Girard College and left on a two-year tour of European educational institutions. He had just completed the six-hundredpage report of his findings (Bache 1839a) when pressed into service by the controllers. Despite his short tenure, Bache's impact on the school was enormous. More than anyone else he established the long-term character of the school—developing its curriculum, pedagogy, discipline, internal organization, and (most important) its sense of purpose. In addition, he presided over Central long enough to make certain that his design became a reality. Ideology and the High School The Age of Jackson was the most fertile period of institutional innovation in American history, and one of its most influential and enduring creations was the common school. Like the other new institutions—ranging from the asylum to the penitentiary—the common schools reflected the deep-seated and partially contradictory concerns embedded in antebellum middle-class ideology.2 As Carl Kaestle (1983, chap. 5) has noted, the ideology that provided the impetus for the founding of the common schools in the early nineteenth century was shaped by three major social forces—market capi2. By ideology I mean a relatively coherent system of shared values, assumptions, and perceptions arising from socially structured experience, whereby the primary structuring expe rience is the emergent relations between social classes. However, an ideology should not be understood as the property of a particular class. An ideology develops as a natural expression of the opportunities, constraints, and interactions that constitute the daily life of class members, and as a natural interpretation of that experience as viewed from within its own limits. But no class exercises simple control over an ideology—either in the sense of owning exclusive rights to it (since it is frequently shared across class lines) or in the sense of being able to manipulate it to serve only that class's own interests.

12

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talism, evangelical Protestantism, and republicanism.3 For common-school reformers, the public high school represented the crowning achievement of the new educational system and provided the purest expression of their own ideological aims. At Central High School the impact of the reformers' ideology was evident in four major characteristics of the school: two of these reflected the school's adaptation to the ideology's public purposes, shown by its stress on citizenship training and moral education; and two others demonstrate the school's adaptation to the market, shown by its stress on practical curriculum and meritocratic pedagogy. In the following I examine the earliest days of Central High School in light of these four ideologically charged characteristics. The time period is defined by the terms of the school's first two principals, Alexander Bache from 1838 to 1842 and John 5. Hart from 1842 to 1859. These two men, as well as Thomas Dunlap, who was president of the school board during the high school's earliest phase, constitute the core of the group that I refer to as "the founders." Central High School in this period was more than a school founded for the transmission of knowledge and skill; it was a model institution founded by zealots, which projected a high degree of ideological intensity and more than a hint of procedural extremism. CITIZENSHIP TRAINING Thomas Dunlap, who presided over the board of controllers of the Philadelphia school system during the founding of both the city's common schools and its high school, saw the two events as the realization of a republican dream. Speaking at a Central High School commencement in 1859, he first underscored the necessity for common schools in a republic: "Ignorance in the masses is the aliment of usurpation and the safe-guard of tyranny. Education, confined to the favoured few, makes but a janizary guard for the tyrant. The only pedestal on which Liberty can stand erect, forever firmly poised, is UNIVERSAL EDUCATION" (Dunlap 1851, 6, emphasis in original). Then, after describing the process by which the "noble structure" of public education was constructed, he turned to the role of the high school, identifying it as the "crowning stone in the arch" (Dunlap 1851, 13). "It is the School of the Republic,—it is emphatically the School of the People—founded by the people—maintained by the people 3. A number of other historians have identified the major elements of middle-class ideology as well, although most have preferred either to call it by other names (such as culture, creed, or belief) or to describe its component parts without attempting to characterize the whole. See Church and Sedlak (1976), Tyack and Hansot (1982), and Curti (1959). For an excellent account of this ideology outside of the educational context see Howe (1976, 1979) and Halttunen( 1982).

13

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educating the people—controlled by the people—responsible, under God, to none but the people. Such as the purest spirit of Republican Equality— such as the truest philanthropy would have it—such is it" (Dunlap 1851, 15). The republican rationale for the high school incorporated two related arguments: the high school was necessary to spread enlightenment and to promote civic virtue. Dunlap stressed the former goal, arguing that Central represented an upward extension of the ideal of universal education which gave everyone an equal opportunity to achieve the highest levels of learning, thus providing the republic with citizens and leaders who were capable and informed. When a former state superintendent of schools toured Central in 1842, his report stressed the school's role in promoting civic virtue: "The course of instruction is in every way calculated to attach [pupils] to the institutions of our country, to fill their minds with a devotion to our republican government, and inspire them with a laudable ambition to become useful and eminent citizens of the community in which they live" (Annual Report 1842-1843, 56). Accordingly the high school's most important contribution was to mold its students into active and informed citizens by instilling in them a devotion to the public interest and giving them a strong sense of membership in the republican community. How did Central High School seek to accomplish these grand republican goals of enlightenment and virtue? Promoting enlightenment was the natural result of two of the high school's most prominent characteristics—its accessibility and its elevated curriculum. Any school which, like Central, offered a higher level of education to a wider array of students was in fact enlightening a portion of the citizenry that otherwise might not have obtained such training. But the pursuit of republican community was more problematic than the pursuit of enlightenment. Although no one was likely openly to oppose the latter goal, the notion of a public-interested dedication to the community ran directly contrary to the principle of possessive individualism which characterized entrepreneurial capitalism. Yet this was precisely why antebellum reformers felt it so important to promote civic virtue within the schools, because political and community life needed shoring up in the face of advancing markets. Central made a contribution to the creation of a cohesive community in a distinctively academic way, by imposing a common curriculum on its students. Initially, Central's curricular aims did not appear unified. Bache (1839b, 16), in his reorganization plan, saw the high school as having not one purpose but three: "First, to afford a higher elementary instruction than can be had in the other public schools: Second, to furnish an education 14

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SCHOOL

preparatory to the pursuits of commerce, manufactures, and the useful arts: Third, as supplementary to the former two objects, the school is expected to prepare youths from the public schools whose parents may desire a classical course for them, for entrance into college." Each of these purposes translated in turn into a distinct course of study, which he labeled respectively as elementary or English (a two-year course for those who had to go to work early on), principal (a four-year course directed toward business not college), and classical (for the college-bound only). Yet although he presented an apparent variety of possibilities, his choice of words reveals his own preferences. The "principal" course was intended to be the central focus especially since the elementary program was essentially only a truncated version of it, and the classical course, identified as "supplementary" to the others, was included only because some "parents may desire" it. The phrasing of Bache's proposal suggests that he designed the curriculum around the principal course and that he included the classical course reluctantly because of the demand from middle-class families who wanted to send boys to college. There are three reasons for thinking this was the case. First, both of Central's early principals gave most of their attention— and all of their enthusiasm—to the principal course in their annual reports. Second, the principal course was always more popular with the students than the classical course, and its popularity grew over time; for example, the proportion of entering students who chose the classical course declined from 35 percent in 1846 to 20 percent in 1852.4 Third, the high school committee eliminated the classical course in 1854 (merging some of its Latin content into the principal course) and then eliminated the elementary course two years later, so that by 1856 the principal course was the only one remaining. For its first eighteen years, therefore, Central offered a small amount of formal curriculum choice while encouraging students to take the principal couse, and then finally removed the last vestiges of choice from the curriculum. These events in the high school's curriculum history provide evidence that the school's founders established a curriculum that was as common as they felt was feasible in light of the school's middle-class market. But when the school had established a strong relationship with its middle-class constituency and when the enrollment in the subsidiary courses slipped, Central's leaders simply dropped the alternative courses that stood in the way of uniform cultural training. The tentative early stratification of the curriculum was a pragmatic response to market conditions, but this pattern was 4. The annual reports record such figures for every year. These numbers come from: Annual Report (1846, 98); Annual Report (1852, 110). 15

THE O R I G I N S

OF A HIGH

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inconsistent with the common-school ideal. For .how could Central help produce a cohesive community of public-interested citizens when it permitted them to learn along divergent tracks? Central's curricular uniformity makes it similar to mid-nineteenth century colleges and quite different from other early high schools. Rudolph (1962) and Veysey (1965) have portrayed the college during this period as offering an undifferentiated curriculum focusing on mental discipline and pietistic morality.5 But high schools were different. Although evidence is sketchy at best, it appears that most high schools offered both a classical course and an "English" course (roughly similar to the principal course at Central but without any Latin) throughout the nineteenth century. Central was apparently the only high school that eliminated the classical choice after starting with both courses (Boston English had only an English course, but it was founded that way). Central's founders and early leaders were thus sufficiently committed to the common-school ideology to shape the high school around a common course of study. The absence of curricular choice was just one of a number of characteristics that distinguish Central as an unusual high school, suggesting that its distinctiveness was at least in part the result of a strong initial commitment to principle. However, although the high school modeled republican principles via its curriculum, the school's thoroughly uncommon student body and its unique position in the educational market severely undermined its ability to mold a community of citizens. Two-thirds of the students at Central came from the middle class, and as students at the only public high school for boys in a large city, they were far removed from the common citizenry. As a result, the high school's founders endowed it with a strong symbolic commitment to republican community via the curriculum but with no practical method of accomplishing this goal. This was, after all, a high school, elevated above the common herd of elementary schools and attractive to students for precisely this reason. As we shall see, the same characteristics that made Central so successful in the educational market drained its capacity to carry out its original political mission. MORAL EDUCATION If the commitment to republican community at Central High School was largely symbolic, the commitment to moral education was deeply grounded in the practice of the school. The founders' strong 5. Some recent accounts have suggested that Rudolph and Veysey exaggerate the degree of curricular uniformity and inflexibility of these colleges. Yet by comparison to the developments in college curricula late in the century, calling the earlier curriculum uniform is a reasonably accurate approximation. For an example of the revisionist history of the early college see Burke (1982) and McLachlan (1978).

16

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rhetoric about character-training embedded itself in an extraordinarily elaborate mechanism for governing student discipline—a system the former state superintendent commented on when he visited Central: The plan of government exercised by the professors, is such as appears admirably calculated to elevate the character, to impress upon the youthful mind that we are all rational and accountable beings, possessing, by nature, the powers which, if properly cultivated, would render our social relations of the most refined and polished cast. Its effect is to teach the pupils self-government—to control their persons— to respect as well as love those around them, and that strict regard for order and law so necessary in a country of freemen (Annual Report 1842-43, 56).

It is hardly surprising that the former superintendent should have found such a satisfactory system of character elevation at the high school. For as a dedicated common-schoolman imbued with the ideology of character, he was looking for it, and as a school created within that same ideology, Central was designed to carry out such a system. Bache's reorganization report devotes four pages to the subject of moral education at the new school. The plan he ultimately implemented revolved around a system of demerits for misbehavior modeled after the system he had experienced at West Point. His successor, John Hart, developed and elaborated this plan into a comprehensive framework for instilling self-discipline. Two aspects of this system of discipline—its link to grades and its extraordinary scope—identify it as originating from antebellum bourgeois ideology and not simply from the organizational necessity for crowd control within the school. First, until 1859 student grades at Central High School reflected a mixture of academic performance and behavior. Students received demerits for disciplinary infractions, which were then deducted from a student's grade point average at the end of the term; a student's disciplinary status thus affected his academic standing, rank in class, and chances for promotion. Although evidence is extremely scarce on the subject, this pattern may have been common in the antebellum college (and perhaps the high school as well). Harvard, for example, did not begin separating moral and academic performance until 1869 (Smallwood 1935, 74). The ideological stress on character formation suggests that the practice was widespread. If moral education was indeed a major goal of public schooling, then a student's grade must necessarily include demonstrations of character along with demonstrations of intellectual ability. The second sign of the ideological roots of the high school's pattern of moral education was its comprehensiveness. Hart refined Bache's system of

17

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discipline to the point where it became a well-tuned machine for molding the character of Central students. As Hart described it: Students not previously accustomed to a mild method of discipline sometimes mistake it at first for want of firmness. But such mistakes are soon rectified. The whole machinery of the school, like an extended piece of net-work, is thrown over and around him, and made to bear upon him, not with any great amount of force at any one time or place, but with a restraining influence just sufficient, and always and every where present. Some of the most hopeless cases of idleness and insubordination that I have ever known have been found to yield to this species of treatment. Some of the most hopeful students now in the school, some of the distinguished ornaments of the classes who have graduated, were once for months together on special trial (Annual Report 1853,126).

The system functioned in the following manner: Teachers evaluated each student twice in every class every day, once for scholarship (on a scale of one to ten) and again for conduct (with the possible application of demerits, scaled from one to five). At the end of each month, the faculty computed the student's scholarship average on a hundred-point scale and then deducted double the sum of his demerits to produce his monthly average. They averaged the latter against the final examination grade to produce the student's term grade. Extrapolating from Hart's account, it would appear that each student was independently evaluated for either scholarship or conduct sixteen hundred times every term (Annual Report 1853, 116-26; 1843, 80). This was indeed "an extended piece of net-work," exactly the kind of pervasive surveillance system promoted by penitentiary and asylum reformers in the same period and in response to the same ideological pressure (Rothman, 1971). The purpose, of course, was to instill permanent self-control—as opposed to temporary restraint "by means of special stimulants and terrors known only at school"—and thus help prepare the student for "the real accountabilities of life" (Annual Report 1853, 125). Hart left no doubt that the aim of this system of discipline was to mold character and not simply to maintain order: Where fear is the only motive appealed to, and instant punishment follows every offense, obedience and quiet may undoubtedly be secured. But conscience will not be educated. No habit of self-control will be cultivated For the more serious and lasting consequences, the pupil is trained to look forward to the end of the quarter, the end of the term, the end of the year, the end of the course. At each of these points, he is made to feel the consequences of every neglected lesson, of every misspent hour. These consequences are found to follow with almost the certainty of natural laws. The young man who has grown up in the habit, of regarding such consequences and of governing his conduct by an accountability yet future, has already within him the elements 18

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of successful resistance to most of the temptations of life (Annual Report 1846, 174-75).

Thus, although Hart prepared his boys for early entry into the city's business life, he simultaneously prepared them to resist its manifold temptations. The high school was accordingly acting in the dual capacities that followed from its ideological origins. It was psychologically empowering its own budding entrepreneurs by imbuing them with the habit of selfreliance, and it was morally restraining the activities of these same entrepreneurs by instilling in them a self-regulating set of character traits. John Hart (an ordained Presbyterian minister) was a dedicated ideologue with an evangelical zeal for moral instruction. He succeeded in turning the ideology of character into a set of procedures that became inextricably linked to the developing academic core of the high school. He was a master at turning ideological principle into educational practice, and the result was a school tinted with extremism. The detailed elaboration and ideological purity of his mechanism for evaluating students rivals anything that sprang from the mind of Jeremy Bentham, who excelled at developing institutional forms to fit his beliefs. Like Bentham's Panopticon, Hart's high school was a mechanism for training the unblinking eye of moral surveillance on hapless subjects in order to induce self-regulation. The leaders of the early Central High School were proud to impose public norms on the private interests of their students. When it came to moral education, therefore, Central was a profoundly public institution. PRACTICAL CURRICULUM Citizenship training and moral education in the early Central High School suggest that the school's purposes were primarily political and moral. But the booming capitalism of Jacksonian America worked against these purposes, posing the threat of class antagonism and possessive individualism, while Central's founders gave the high school the role of defending the public interest. However, Central's practical curriculum and meritocratic pedagogy both showed the strong ideological influence of capitalism. But even in these areas, the school's public purposes had a hand in shaping the impact of markets on the educational process. Capitalists are of necessity this-worldly in orientation, compelled to focus attention on their business affairs to the exclusion of other less practical affairs. As a result, the early high school was under ideological pressure to present a utilitarian rationale. Reformers argued that high schools represented a sound investment in human capital by raising the skill level and thereby boosting productivity. Let us look at how an ideological concern for utility expressed itself at Central High School. From the very beginning the early Central High School curriculum had a

19

THE O R I G I N S OF A H I G H S C H O O L utilitarian cast, which the school's founders proudly characterized as "practical."6 The primary aim of this curriculum was to produce men of affairs rather than men of letters, or as John Hart put it, "not to educate boys above their business, but for it" (Annual Report 1843, 65). Hart showed his understanding of the ideological significance of this practical goal within the context of Central's broader mission, just as he had identified the significance of discipline at the new high school: It was very early a matter of anxiety with the Controllers to avoid the error, not of over educating the pupils, but of so educating them as to give them a distaste for business. It was feared that the gift of intellectual culture would be accompanied with a disrelish for anything but intellectual employment, if not with dislike of employment altogether. Such, without doubt, is often the result of education, misdirected. The tendency in this respect of the course of instruction prescribed by the Controllers, would seem to be of the most encouraging kind. The alumni of the High School are already found scattered through the city in almost every walk of useful industry. . . . I deem it not improper to add in this connection, that many of our leading mechanics, manufacturers, merchants and others, are in the habit of sending to the school whenever they are in want of desirable young men to be trained to business (Annual Report

1850, 118). Practicality of purpose manifested itself in the curriculum in several ways. First, the principal course of study was designed to be terminal rather than college preparatory. In Bache's words, its purpose was to make students ready for "the pursuits of commerce, manufactures, and the useful arts"—not for college or the professional careers that tended to follow from 6. The practical course of study, which was the dominant and before long the only course at Central High School, was by no means unique. Most nineteenth-century high schools and academies appear to have offered a course similar to Central's practical program, usually identified as the "English" course. Although probably less comprehensive and rigorous than Central's practical curriculum, the generic English couse was otherwise a close match, right down to the classes in bookkeeping and stenography. Its lineage can be traced back to at least three sources close at hand. One was Boston English High School, whose 1821 course of study had many similarities with that at Central and other later high schools. A second was the mechanics' institutes that proliferated during the 1820s and promoted practical English education for artisans. The most prominent was the Franklin Institute in Philadelphia, at which Central's first principal, Alexander Bache, played an important scientific and educational role (Sinclair 1974). A third source was the academy movement that flourished in the early part of the century. From this point the trail leads back to the work of some of the main figures in bourgeois intellectual history. Practical education was the focal concern of Benjamin Franklin's influential 1749 pamphlet "Proposals Relating to the Education of Youth in Pennsylvania" (1961, vol. 3, 395-436), which in turn drew heavily on John Locke's seminal essay (published in 1695), Some Thoughts Concerning Education (Lamprecht 1928, 3-15). Adam Smith (1976, vol. 2, pp. 282-309) also wrote in support of education that was both widespread and useful, and he pioneered the modern curriculum with his lectures on English literature. The practical curriculum at Central High School in the 1840s, therefore, was the culmination of a long-developing tradition of bourgeois thought and educational practice.

20

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college. Because of this, any graduates of the principal course who wanted to go to college had to pay for private tutoring in classical languages, which college required and which the high school's founders chose not to provide. (The classical course was canceled in 1854.) But by orienting the school toward commercial life rather than higher education, Central's founders were not choosing a lesser educational role for the school. On the contrary, to its supporters and constituents, the high school was seen as a species superior to a college preparatory school; it was a "people's college," which was more attractive than the traditional college in part because of its practical curriculum. And one reason for the intensity of Central's appeal to the middle-class public was that its business orientation aptly expressed two different strands of antebellum ideology: not only was it a bourgeois statement of faith in the value of productive activity, but it was also a republican statement of antipathy toward the aristocratic "disrelish for anything but intellectual employment." In an effort to demonstrate the effectiveness of the practical curriculum Hart asked the intended occupation of students when they left the school. For the class that entered in 1850, not a single student said he was going to college; instead all students reported they were headed for some form of work. Of course, since students were asked only about their immediate plans, some might have attended college later on.7 The point, however, is not that Central students never went to college but that, true to its founding ideology, the high school was not channeling them into college. Even students who graduated from the nominally college preparatory classical course were opting for practical over intellectual pursuits, at least in the short term. Over half the students were planning to become store employees or clerks, which were the key entry-level white-collar positions in the mid-nineteenth century. More surprising is the fact that a third of the students headed into manual work of some sort, including twenty-two skilled workers and five farmers. But this merely shows that Central was carrying out its promise of a practical education by not imbuing its students so thoroughly with "intellectual culture" that they would develop a distaste for the "useful arts."8 By designing Central around the goal of providing a practical education, the school's founders liberated its curriculum from the straitjacket of college entrance requirements. For nearly all of the nineteenth century, a 7. In fact, the school's semi-centennial catalogue shows that the class produced at least four doctors, four lawyers, and two ministers (Central High School 1890). The four M.D.s, at least, must have gone to college, and possibly others did as well. 8. The early presidents frequently pointed to the practical pursuits of Central alumni as proof that the school was succeeding in its mission. See, for example, Annual Report 1841, 25:1846,96.

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student could only be admitted to college by demonstrating a thorough grounding in classical languages—typically four years of Latin and three years of Greek. The traditional Latin-grammar-school curriculum was designed around these requirements, leaving little room for other subjects. However, Central's principal course represented a significant shift away from classics to a new emphasis on modern languages and science. For example, in 1850 students in this course took no classics at all while spending 34 percent of their class time on science and math, 21 percent on modern languages, 14 percent on history, 12 percent on vocational courses, 11 percent on English, and 8 percent on other subjects.9 Although these new courses were rarely vocational, by focusing on the contemporary world and providing an empirical understanding of this world, they were certainly more useful than classics and thus more appropriate for the training of the bourgeois mind. Central's stress on the physical applications of scientific principles underscored the utilitarian character of its curriculum. The philosophy behind science instruction was that theories required practical demonstrations, that they became comprehensible only when they took on material form. From the beginning, therefore, the high school had a policy of acquiring a wide range of scientific equipment, and every annual report for decades after the school's founding includes an extensive list of the latest accumulation of such "philosophical apparatus." The obsessive pursuit and prominent display of these instruments elevated them from teaching tools to symbols of the curriculum's practicality. By far the most expensive and highly publicized of these symbols was an advanced telescope enshrined in an astronomical observatory atop the original high school building. So closely intertwined was the telescope with the school's emerging ethos that an early in-house history of the school devoted an entire chapter to it (Edmonds 1902, chap. 5). Perhaps the most vivid symbol of the utilitarian character of the practical curriculum was the inclusion within it of a few courses that were strictly vocational, providing students with white-collar work skills. These courses—which included stenography, bookkeeping, mechanical drawing, and civil engineering—bore witness to the high school's conviction "not to educate boys above their business, but for it." However, it would be a mistake to conclude that the practical curriculum was focused primarily on preparing students "to get jobs." Vocational courses did not appear in the curriculum until the mid-1840s, and they never constituted more than 15 percent of the students' time in class. 9. For a look at the change in the amount of class time devoted to various subjects over the course of Central's first eighty years see table 6.1.

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SCHOOL

The subjects taken by Central students in 1850 were overwhelmingly academic in character (see fig. 2.1). Even if one removes the offerings in the classical program, the early course of study at Central appears, from the perspective of the late twentieth century, to be an example of liberal arts education at a rather elevated level. This curriculum was practical only in comparison to classical training—reflected in the stress on modern languages and science, and in the insistence on terminal rather than college preparatory training—but it was never significantly vocational. The publicinterested ideology of Central's founders barred any direct subordination of the school to the economy, just as moral education sought to block it from capitulating to market values. The founders refused to pursue their utilitarian rhetoric to its logical conclusion and thereby helped preserve the high school's tilt toward politics over markets. The practical curriculum served the political goals of the high school's founders in another, more direct way. By deliberately providing a terminal course of study, the founders made the high school more widely useful to the larger community. By preparing them for entry into commerical life, it could benefit a broad range of students instead of focusing on the much smaller number of college-bound students. In this sense, then, the practical curriculum was not only utilitarian but democratic, for it undercut the elitism that had dominated the Latin-grammar-school curriculum. Appropriately, the "people's college" offered a course of study that was accessible to the public. MERITOCRATIC PEDAGOGY Merit was a crucial concept that pulled together the disparate economic, religious, and political strands of antebellum ideology into a plausibly coherent package. It played such a key role because all the sources of this ideology shared a strong dedication to the principle of individual responsibilty. Meritocratic theory argues that individual differences in ability, motivation, and character define varying degrees of individual worth or merit. Accordingly, those with the most merit should receive the largest share of social rewards, and it becomes society's responsibility to guarantee that people get what they deserve. However, meritocratic thought provided only a superficial cover for the contradictions built into the ideology that motivated common-school reform. For the merit principle promoted an intense individual competition over scarce societal rewards. Although perfectly suited to the entrepreneurial demands of market capitalism, this competition was anathema to the development of civic virtue in the new republic and also to the internalization of community morals. It reduced political equality to equality of opportunity and public morals to the sum of private interests. Meritocracy within 23

Figure 2.1 Course of Studies, 1850 StwriY: Board of 'Controllers of the Public Schools, Annual Report, 1850, pp. 173-74.

1.

Prof.Bregy (A pr.) Spanish; Don Quixote, 2 lessons a week •• French; A. Picot's Rec.Scient. 2 lessons a week

Lectures in French, once a week (B.pr.) Spanish; Gil Bias, 2 lessons a week B.

French; Rep.de Litterature, 2 lessons a week •• Lectures in French, once a week

Charles E. XII, Grammar and Exercises (Levisac & Pinney )

(F pr.)

French, (5 times a week ) Picot's Historical NarraF. tions, Grammar and Exercises (Levisac & Pinney )

(G pr.)

G.

H.

(E el.)

Latin; Virgil, 5 lessons a week

(F cl.)

Latin; Caesar, 5 lessons a week

(Whole class ) Universal History (Uillard ) 4 times a week (F Eng.)

Chemistry (Johnston's ) 5 times a week (Whole class ) History of Rome (Goldsmith ) twice a week

Arithmetic and Mensuration (Vogdes ) revi ewed twice a week

8.

Prof. Kirkpatrick

Prof. Kendall

Lectures

Moral Science

Uranography

once a week on the History of English Literature

(Way I and )

(Kendall )

3 times a week

twice a week

Composition once a week

Lectures

Moral Science

Algebra

Lectures on the History of Pennsylvania once a week

once a week on the History of English Literature

Prof. Rhoads

6.

Prof. Hart

Composition once a week Lectures on the History of Pennsylvania, once a week English Grammar (Hart ) reviewed once a week

Latin; First Lessons (M'Clintock and

(Levisac & Pinney )

5 times a week

(H pr.)

(H cl.)

Latin; First Lessons (M'Clintock and Crook's ) 5 times a week

Chemistry (Johnston's ) 5 times a week -(Whole class ) Lectures once a week on the public Institutions of Philadelphia (H Eng.) Natural Philosophy (Coates ) 5 times a week

(Whole class ) Lectures once a week on the public Institutions of Philadelphia

10.

11.

Prof. Vogdes

Prof. Becker

Prof. M'Murtrie

Spherical Trigonometry

Drawing from Patterns, twice a week

Anatomy and Physiology

Home Exercises in Penmanship

1 Lecture and 2 Recitations a week

Drawing, (Peale's Graphics ) twice a week

Anatomy and Physiology

Home Exercises in Penmansh i p

1 Lecture and 3 Recitations a week

Penmansh i p (Becker's ) twice a week

Anatomy and Physiology

9.

(Chauvenet ) 3 times a week

9

History of England (Goldsmith ) 3 times a week

(G Eng.) (G cl.)

French, (5 times a week ) Picot's Amusing Narrations, Grammar

French, (5 times a week ) Grammar and Exercises (Levisac & Pinney } Aesop's Fables (Deloutte )

Political Economy (Way land's abridged ) 5 times a week

7.

5.

Book Keeping (Bocker ) 3 times a week

Book Keeping (Bocker ) 3 times a week

Composition once a week

Lectures

History of Greece (Goldsmith ) twice a week

once a week on the History of English Literature

Lectures Compos i t i on once a week

once a week on the History of the Public Schools of Philadelphia

(Way I and )

(Alsop )

3 times a week

twice a week

Phonography, 1 Lecture and 2 Recitations a week -(Booth's Instructor, Patterson's Reporter's Assistant ) Phonography, 1 Lecture and 2 Recitations a week (Booth's Instructor, Andrews & Boyle's Reder

Algebra (Alsop )

Plane Trigonometry (Chauvenet ) twice a week

Geometry (Davies1 Legendre's)

twice a week

9780300048971_

Book Keeping (Becker's ) twice a week

1 Lecture and 3 Re citations a week

Algebra

Geometry

(Alsop )

(Davies' Legendre's )

Penmansh i p (Becker's) once a week

Elements of Special Physics

Book Keeping (Becker's) once a week

1 Lecture and 4 Recitations a week

twice a week

twice a week

I

(McMurtrie's scintific Lexicon

THE O R I G I N S

OF A HIGH S C H O O L

the high school thus promoted the primacy of markets over politics but under an ideological cover of procedural fairness. Central High School both reflected meritocratic ideology and furthered meritocratic practice. First, it helped extend the ideal of equal opportunity already embodied in the common schools by providing every student with a chance at an uncommon education. Thomas Dunlap (1851, 16), in his "School of the Republic" speech, elaborated on this meritocratic role of the high school with characteristic rhetorical flourish: Free to all—amply sustained—skillfully organized for its purposed ends. .. knowing no patron, lay or spiritual—screened by no chartered privileges— bound by no eleemosynary endowment—controlled by no lordly or royal founder—trammeled by no antiquated usages or effete statutes—knowing no master but God and the People—opening its portals alike to the son of a President or a ploughman, a Governor or his groom, a millionaire or a hewer of wood—treating with equal justice—rearing with equal fidelity, and crowning with all its honors alike the one and the other, and demanding no passport to its blessings, or to its laurels, save that which the people demands, and forever will demand from all its sons—INDIVIDUAL, PERSONAL MERIT. Such, fellow citizens, is your High School.

In addition, the introduction of Central extended the hierarchy of schools from primary to grammar to high school, thereby creating a ladder of opportunity for sorting out the meritorious students. Bache described this hierarchical function of the high school in a retrospective speech before the Central Alumni Association in 1859: It seems to me that public education is like one of those great pyramids of eastern work, broad at the base, and gradually and gracefully tapering to its vertex, the number of its recipients, like the number of stones, decreasing from the base. That it is, in the accommodations needed, like a great ocean from which you pass to a wide and capacious bay, thence into a mighty river, thence, mounting towards the source, to a stream. That public education, to be thoroughly useful, should be general, the broad base of the pyramid; the ocean, vast, unlimited, with room and verge enough for all. Circumstances determine that the numbers who frequent the grammar school shall be less than those who pass through the primary, and so onward; the pyramid narrowing, the bay contracting (Bache 1859, 7).

The high school's place at the top of public education, its special curriculum, and its selectivity gave students a powerful incentive to swim upstream in an effort to reach "the source." Competition along the way was fierce because the number of spaces at the high school was quite small compared to the number of potential applicants: in 1850 the students at the

26

THE O R I G I N S OF A H I G H SCHOOL

city's sole male high school represented only 1 percent of all students attending common schools. A special committee of school controllers in 1841 noted approvingly that the new school was inciting competition among students and thereby stimulating the entire school system: Before the establishment of the High School, the Board is well aware that it was found impossible to fill the grammar schools of the different sections of the County of Philadelphia, while at this time the schools are not only full, but many candidates are waiting for admission. This result, your Committee believe, not only from their own observation, but from the report of others who have had much experience on the subject of public education, has been principally produced by the operation of the High School. An emulation and desire to reap the extensive advantages which have been thus opened to the public, have been raised, to which the public schools, before the establishment of the High School, were strangers (Annual Report 1841,42).

To encourage this emulation, the founders established a rigorous set of procedures for selecting from the pack of competitors only those with the greatest academic merit. To gain admission to the school a student had to graduate from a public grammar school and then pass an extensive written examination designed and graded by Central's faculty. Even though grammar-school masters sent only their most promising students to take the exam, in the early years between 40 and 60 percent failed it. Of course, most students never took the exam in the first place. Of the students who gained admission in 1850, 72.7 percent were from the middle classes, and 60.0 percent were from the proprietary middle class alone.10 Most working-class families simply could not forego the income of teenage boys by allowing them to attend high school. Once inside the high school, students confronted an even more intense form of merit selection that allowed only 25 percent to graduate. Class had very little effect on a student's chances of graduating: 27.4 percent of the proprietary middle class graduated, 23.2 percent of the employed middle class, 23.3 percent of the skilled working class, and 26.0 percent of the unskilled working class. Student academic performance had the most significant effect on graduation. During the school's first eighty years, students who earned high grades enjoyed a graduation rate of 72.5 percent—nearly three times the average. The founders took bourgeois ideology at its word and established a school that was extraordinarily meritocratic in both theory and practice, making Central as much an ideal type as an educational organization. It 10. This "proprietary" class consists of such self-employed groups as shopkeepers, master artisans, and professionals.

27

THE O R I G I N S OF A HIGH

SCHOOL

acted as a model meritocracy in a society that placed a high value on competitive individual achievement but which more often than not guided itself according to patterns of inherited privilege. Once again the founders took an important ideological principle and used it to shape the high school into a mold that was institutionally innovative and somewhat extreme. After all, they were applying the merit principle to the their own class: they had the temerity to deny admission to one half of the middle-class applicants on the basis of merit and then to fail three quarters of those students who enrolled. As a rigorous application of ideology to education, Central was a truly exemplary school, designed for all the world to admire and imitate. However, as we shall see, zealously meritocratic pedagogy triggered a chain reaction of status-group competition that eventually transformed Central into an institution based on the market. Ideological Principles and Academic Forms I have been arguing that Central was founded primarily as an expression of the capitalist-revivalist-republican ideology that dominated antebellum America. The high school as an institution was designed by the middle class in order to put into practice the main principles of its ideology and to guarantee that those principles were passed on to its sons. In this light, Central emerges as an agent for the reproduction of middle-class culture. Although plausible, this version of events does a great injustice to the actual process of school formation. The cultural reproduction interpretation fails to give proper credit for the active role the school played in these proceedings. For example, the three men who most clearly deserve the title of founder—Thomas Dunlap, Alexander Bache, and John Hart—all helped to shape the high school into a form that closely expressed their shared class-based ideological concerns for republican community, character, utility, and merit. Yet like so many other public schoolmen of the era, they enlisted in the service of the organizations they created. Far from being the pawns of middle-class culture, these men were cultural entrepreneurs who used ideological resources to establish, promote, and defend the high school. Their zeal in applying ideological principles to the high school was matched by their ability in fitting these principles into a form compatible with academic practice and organizational necessity. Let us look at each of the four elements that characterized the early high school from this schoolcentered perspective. CITIZENSHIP TRAINING The high school helped to promote the cause of developing an enlightened and politically empowered citizenry, but it did 28

THE O R I G I N S

OF A HIGH

SCHOOL

so in a peculiarly academic manner. Contrary to the republican rhetoric surrounding the early high school Central did not prepare boys to be president, for it offered no training in the art of politics or of political leadership. What it did instead was offer all male citizens access to a formerly exclusive type of liberal education that had been traditionally associated with leadership. By making high-status academic knowledge available to the public, the high school managed both to extend the possibility of political participation and to preserve the link between academic learning and leadership. Similarly, the high school helped to promote republican community not through the direct generation of civic virtue but through the provision of a common set of academic experiences. In the final analysis, Central's accessible and uniform academic knowledge was probably teaching students more about the values associated with schooling than it was about the values of republicanism. MORAL EDUCATION The method by which the early principals sought to establish student discipline was clearly designed to instill within students a long-term commitment to moral principles. Yet the elaborate system described in such loving detail by Hart was also a very effective method for gaining control over a potentially unruly group of adolescents and thus served the school's organizational needs. The deduction of demerits for misconduct from a student's grade point average not only signaled the high value which the school placed on moral education; it also provided the school with a powerful weapon to use in its effort to preserve social order. When the practice was abandoned in 1859 because of a change in the ideological perception of the school's moral role, a majority of the faculty bitterly protested the move on the pragmatic grounds that it would undercut their authority over the students. PRACTICAL CURRICULUM Central's practical curriculum reflected capitalist concerns in its stress on usefulness and its orientation toward commercial life, but the high school was not providing its students with an apprenticeship for business. The vocational courses never took up more than a small fraction of students' time, whereas nearly all the remaining classroom instruction was devoted to subjects that today are considered the core of the liberal arts; none were particularly practical pursuits for future clerks, managers, and commerical agents. The high school's practical curriculum was actually an academic curriculum with a practical bent, and its usefulness was most striking when viewed in contrast to the traditional classical course from which it emerged. MERITOCRATIC PEDAGOGY Central High School functioned as a model expression of the meritocratic ideal, but it spelled out the rules of the 29

THE O R I G I N S OF A H I G H S C H O O L

competition in narrowly academic terms: professors determined a student's success or failure based on his scores in tests that were aimed at measuring his level of mastery of the school's curriculum. Inside the walls of the high school, merit meant academic achievement. The extraordinary abstractness of this version of merit made it relatively easy to operate a model meritocracy at Central—unlike what would be confronted in a real-life setting. Grades alone told the student where he was located in the intense but thoroughly artificial intramural hierarchy of merit. Therefore, both the content and the stakes of the competition were purely academic—in both senses of the word—and it was precisely this quality which made Central High School such an idealized meritocracy.

The Market, the Middle Class, and the High School

Central High School was founded not only as an expression of bourgeois ideology but also as a mechanism for marketing the common schools to the middle class.11 In both roles, the new school was a thundering success. It offered all the advantages of a private secondary school—advanced instruction and social exclusiveness—without charging tuition, and as a result middle-class parents competed vigorously for the privilege of enrolling their sons. The Board of Controllers made clear from the start that it intended to harness this interest in the high school for the benefit of the lower schools. Before the school opened, the board voted to require that all applicants for admission to the school present a certificate from a city grammar school, and in 1842 it specified further that candidates must have spent at least one year in the public schools. John Hart calculated that between 1842 and 1850 the average time spent in public school by students admitted to Central had increased from two-and-a-half years to more than five (Annual Report 1850, 102-04). One newspaper editorial summed up the value of the support that the high school provided the common school system: "In estimating the value of the High School to the community, its influence on the Grammar schools is by no means to be omitted. This has been of the happiest kind. It has created additional induce ment for all classes of citizens to send their citizens to them, and has afforded a powerful stimulus to both the teachers and pupils of these schools" (North American, May 9, 1842). Central's powerful appeal to the middle class is reflected in the dispropor11. A number of observers have noted that the high school acted as a selective inducement for middle-class families to shift loyalties from private schools to the new common schools. For example, see Troen (1975, chap. 1) and Peterson (1985, 9-13). 30

THE O R I G I N S

OF A HIGH

SCHOOL

donate number of middle-class sons in its student body. As we have seen, 73 percent of the students entering in 1850 were middle-class, although only 25 percent of the city's families were from this class. Fully 60 percent of the students were from the proprietary middle class compared to 13 percent from families of white-collar employees. What distinguishes the former from the latter group is ownership of capital; however, most of these proprietary families owned relatively small businesses. Although some families of wealth and power sent their sons to Central, they accounted for only a small portion of the student body. The sons of the wealthy were few to begin with, and their numbers at the high school were further reduced by those who failed the entrance exam and those who chose to pursue a more socially exclusive form of secondary education at a private school. Instead, Central's constituency consisted of shopkeepers and master craftsmen, the petty entrepreneurial group that had been considered middle-class long before the arrival of industrial capitalism and that continued to hold this position, albeit in declining numbers, throughout the mid-nineteenth century. Almost from the moment that Central High School opened its doors, fierce competition erupted over admission and ultimately over the acquisition of its educational credentials. Starting with the first class admitted to the school, applicants considerably outnumbered openings, a state of affairs that persisted even as the school grew in size. Admission to Central was based on a rigorous written examination, which itself became a major source of controversy. A bull market for Central's credentials developed quickly. Strong demand and scarce supply were the defining characteristics of this credentials market, and the school's own meritocratic procedures regulated market transactions. Four factors help to explain why this market emerged when it did and why it favored the high school so decisively: (1) the meritocratic procedures established for entering and leaving the school; (2) the unique position of the high school in the local market; (3) the special ideological appeal of the school's curriculum; and, at the most basic level, (4) the special structural needs of the high school's middle-class constituency. Th first two parts of the answer focus on factors regulating the supply of the high school's credentials, whereas the last two examine the factors shaping the demand. MERITOCRATIC PROCEDURE From the start, Central's meritocratic pedagogy established a high school diploma as a form of cultural property that many individual students could pursue but relatively few could acquire. By itself, the selective manner in which the high school bestowed its credentials on its students (only 25 percent graduated) made these credentials a 31

THE

O R I G I N S OF A H I G H

SCHOOL

scarce and valuable cultural commodity. The fact that the school made the award based on a student's rigorously demonstrated academic merit (independent of his ascribed status) rendered the resulting legitimacy of these credentials even more desirable. In addition, meritocratic procedure governed not only graduation but also admission to the school (although compromised by class pressures in practice). In terms of odds, this meant that only one male first-grader in every fifty would gain admission to Central and only one in two hundred would ever graduate. Under these circumstances, being a Central High School alumnus (however short one's stay) was a source of some distinction, while earning a diploma was a significant honor. UNIQUE POSITION OF THE HIGH SCHOOL Another supply-side argument for the high value accorded Central's credentials is the uniquely elevated position occupied by the school during the mid-nineteenth century. For fifty years it was the only public high school for boys in the nation's secondlargest city: this fact alone gave it a kind of solitary prominence that high schools have never had since. Under the loose pre-bureaucratic structure of the Philadelphia school system, the high school became the dominant market presence around which the system coalesced; for in their eagerness to compete successfully for positions at Central, grammar-school students pressured teachers to reshape the lower-school curriculum around highschool-admission standards. Few private schools could compete with the high school's prestige, much less with its free tuition and meritocratic credibility. Central's entrepreneurial founders were expert at creating and preserving the characteristics of the high school that made it appear special and therefore marketable. Its first building was described in a report by the high school committee one year before the high school opened: The front of the school is to be of blue marble; with an Ionic portico of white marble, and pilasters from the first story of the same material, the sides to be of brick, painted and sanded. . . . In the rear of the lot the Observatory will be placed, to be built of brick, sixteen feet square, and about sixty feet high. The contract price for the School, exclusive of the marble work is the sum of 11,750 dollars, and for the Observatory 2,000 dollars. The marble work is not to exceed 8,000 dollars (quoted in Mulhern 1933, 493).

The marble facade and the observatory together cost nearly as much as the school building, without including the cost of the school's highly touted German telescope. In his 1839 annual report, the board president Thomas Dunlap devoted more space to this telescope than to the school (Annual 32

THE O R I G I N S OF A H I G H SCHOOL

Report 1839, 9). 12 Central's founders were obviously aware that the success of their new school was dependent on more than teachers and books. They went out of their way to demonstrate the high school's distinction, even if this distinction was sometimes only skin deep. IDEOLOGICAL APPEAL For educational credentials of the quality and character of those offered by Central High School the supply was strictly limited. Yet this cannot explain the high market value of these credentials except in conjunction with evidence about a strong demand for them. We have already examined one source of this demand. Central offered a form of schooling that was specifically designed to be in tune with middle-class ideology. What middle-class family that honored citizenship, character, utility, and merit could be immune to the appeal of the novel form of education that was available at the new high school? STRUCTURAL NEEDS OF THE MIDDLE CLASS The high school's credentials also satisfied the structural needs of its primary constituency, the proprietary middle class. Before the nineteenth century, America's shopkeepers and master artisans enjoyed a relatively secure existence protected by a traditional economy and the stable prices and costs that went with it. The standard method for fathers to transmit class position to sons was the transfer of economic capital—either in the form of passing on title to the business or setting the son up in a business of his own. However, the rapid development of market capitalism brought about a sharp increase in economic and social instability as the result of increased competition and price fluctuation. In this altered situation, the transfer of economic capital became difficult. Mary Ryan's (1981, 152) study of middle-class life in mid-nineteenth-century Oneida County (New York) concluded that: "Small-business men who were struggling to keep their own firms solvent were particularly hard-pressed to put their progeny on a sound economic footing within the middling sort. Of all the wills processed in Utica after 1850 a mere five witnessed the transfer of a store or workshop to a second generation." The proprietary middle class in this era therefore found itself caught between two advancing dangers. On the one side was the encroachment of successful entrepreneurial competitors, which posed the threat of financial ruin; on the other side was the rapid growth of wage labor, which posed the threat of proletarianization. With the declining reliability of economic property as a guarantee of status transmission, middle-class families began to depend increasingly on cultural property in the sense of symbolic 12. Searching for a practical justification for installing this expensive piece of equipment, Dunlap lamely asserted that it would keep businessmen's clocks on time.

33

THE O R I G I N S OF A H I G H S C H O O L

wealth: all those cultural traits—such as speech patterns, tastes, manners, style, and academic credentials—that are considered valuable to possess as a result of their association with the dominant culture. This kind of property can serve either as a cultural corollary to economic capital (part of the property benefit that follows from owning capital) or as a crucial means of status attainment for those without capital. 13 In short, the proprietary middle class in the mid-nineteenth century was under such intense socioeconomic pressure from the advance of capitalist social relations that it jumped at the opportunity to acquire cultural property from Central High School. The cultural goods offered by the school were ideal: its curriculum was already partially shaped into a bourgeois mold, its credentials were scarce and prestigious, and its meritocratic process for granting the credentials gave them considerable legitimacy as an achieved rather than ascribed form of symbolic wealth. By acquiring this unique form of cultural property for their sons, the proprietors could ease them into a very different kind of middle-class existence—one based on business employment rather than business ownership. Future business employees learned a few useful skills such as bookkeeping and drafting at Central, but more important than vocational training was the symbolic wealth that students accumulated. This wealth may have been of limited utility to those with substantial economic property, but for prospective white-collar employees it was their certified cultural distinction that distinguished them from working-class wage-earners. A Central High School diploma therefore offered its constituents a cultural reinforcement of middle-class standing, an entree into business employment, and a hedge against proletarianization. By making a high school education into a marketable commodity, Cen13. The term cultural property is used here in deliberate contrast to what Bourdicu (1977, 488) calls "cultural capital," which he defines as "instruments for the appropriation of symbolic wealth socially designated as worthy of being sought and possessed." I reject Bourdieu's concept for two reasons—because it reflects a determinist vision of education and because it distorts the meaning of capital. Cultural capital is in Bourdieu's view the key element in the process of cultural reproduction. He sees it as more than a simple accumulation of symbolic wealth (cultural property) but as "instruments" or "codes" by which one can unlock the storehouses of such wealth. These codes are deeply embedded within members of the dominant classes during the process of early socialization, which means that they have a vast and "natural" superiority in access to the available stores of cultural property over persons from the lower classes (Bourdieu and Passeron 1977). The result is a nearly automatic process which preserves cultural and social advantages via education. The other problem with Bourdieu's concept is that, as Hogan (forthcoming) has noted, it misuses the word capital. For Marx, capital is not just the means of accumulating private property but a social relation that gives ownership and control of productive property. The term cultural property incorporates educational credentials into a broader social framework without committing the analysis to a reproductionist viewpoint or a false analogy to economic capital.

34

THE

O R I G I N S OF A H I G H

SCHOOL

iral's founders created an anomalous situation, for the school that was supposed to forge a cohesive community was actually producing a new source of division. To give one person a high school diploma and thus an advantage in the competition for status was to leave others at a relative disadvantage. As a result, there was a rumble of opposition to Central from those with less access to its benefits, which included the skilled working class and those middle-class families living in more remote areas of the city. In the early 1840s a number of letters to the editor identified as "aristocratic" the very characteristics of the high school that made it attractive to its proprietary-middle-class constituency, charging that Central was too expensive and too exclusive to be considered a democratic institution. 14 As one writer put it: "that thirteen poor children should not be excluded from the means of procuring an English education, in order that one son of a rich man should learn Latin and Greek at the public expense. That is the principle upon which I have taken my stand, and the only one that I am now advocating" (News clipping, ca. 1842). In 1842 a commission of outside experts was appointed to investigate the charges, and after two weeks of examining students they completely cleared the school of being undemocratic or extravagant. Yet Hart experienced continuing pressure on these issues, as shown by a scrapbook of press clippings titled "Record of the Wars of 1842, 1845 and 1856." The response of Bache, Hart, and the committee was to point to the sober utility of the expenses at the high school (even if the cost per pupil was ten times the system average), its beneficial effect on the other schools, the meritocratic achievement of its students, and the "modest" origins of the students. They portrayed the students' class background as less than aristocratic by pointing out the small number of professionals and wealthy mer chants, by lumping together master artisans with their employees and calling them mechanics, and by concluding that only a small proportion of students could afford to pay for their schooling (see, for example, Annual Report 1841, 25-29, 41-45). The critics, however, were essentially correct. Central's high cost was a symbol and cause of its exclusiveness (as a unique school created on a grand scale), and this exclusiveness was the market factor that so attracted its middle-class clientele. The critics sensed that this public institution was beginning to serve private interests as Central High School started to shift its orientation from politics to markets. 14 Critics of the high school raised these same issues in a number of American cities in the mid-nineteenth century. See Katz (1968, pt.l), Vinovskis (1985), and Church and Sedlak (1976, 154-56, 181-86). On Pennsylvania high schools see Dunkelberger (1927, 252-53) andMulhern(1933,513-15). 35

3

Meritocracy for the Middle Class: Academic Achievement and Student Attainment

The founders of Central High School responded to the prevailing ideology by creating a school that was republican, moralistic, practical, and meritocratic. But of all these original purposes, the most durable and the most influential was the last. During the course of the nineteenth century, all the other goals underwent radical change as the school's orientation shifted from public to private. The early stress on broad citizenship training gradually narrowed into an emphasis on academic learning. The goal of building a republican community through a common educational experience eventually lost out to a differentiated social vision and a stratified curriculum. Moral education changed into a mechanism of behavioral control whose sole purpose was to support the process of academic instruction. Even practicality edged toward privatism as preparation for life came to mean preparation for specific roles in a differentiated job structure. Throughout all these changes, however, Central High School remained solidly meritocratic. From 1838 to 1920, Central graduated only 25 percent of its students, and during this entire period, the sole factor that exerted a consistent and powerful effect on a student's chances for graduation was his level of academic achievement. Why did the high school exhibit such steady devotion to one of its original goals and such flexibility toward the others? The answer is that meritocracy stood on the winning side of the long-standing struggle between politics and markets for the heart of the American high school. The meritocratic principle prescribed a pattern of social interaction that was closely modeled after behavior within an ideal market—individuals 36

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

competing with each other for scarce resources, with the winner earning the lion's share. At Central this market-based principle expressed itself through intense competition among middle-class students, based on individual academic performance, both to gain admission to the high school and to graduate from it. Reinforcing the high school's academic meritocracy was the market in educational credentials, which established a high school diploma as a valuable commodity and therefore provided a powerful incentive for families to pursue it. At the same time, Central's meritocratic selectiveness restricted the supply of this commodity and kept its market value high. And since this selection process was expressly based on individual merit, the resulting credentials were not only valuable but legitimate—earned through the special diligence and competence of the degree holder. As a result, market and meritocratic processes were engaged in a pattern of mutual support that provided the high school with both a market model and a market role. Most important, the pattern worked. Central's middle-class constituency earned cultural distinction and the high school attained institutional power. Backed by the surging power of the market, the high school's meritocratic structure overpowered its original political goals. The striking success of the school as a meritocratic institution led to a shift in focus from collective to individual purposes, from commonality to stratification, and from use value to exchange value. In short, the high school gradually changed into a marketable commodity. The result was the transformation of Central's initial republicanism, moralism, and practicality into a form whose individualistic, stratified, and abstractly academic character was best suited to the school's emerging market role. In addition, Central's meritocratic character led to the development of a market-based hierarchy of schools within the Philadelphia school system and to a sharply stratified structure of teaching within the city. In this chapter, my aim is to establish the precise character of meritocratic practice at Central High School. The key question I seek to answer is: When one cuts through the rhetoric and looks at the way the high school actually dealt with its students, how meritocratic was it? What I find is that students obtained admission to the school through a mixture of class background and academic ability. However, once admitted, they found themselves in a model meritocracy where academic performance was the only characteristic that determined who would receive the school's valuable diploma. Therefore, although middle-class students were still the primary beneficiaries of the high school, since they constituted the majority of those admitted, this class effect was mediated through a form of meritocracy that held all students to the same rigorous academic standard. On the one hand, then, Central was fully as meritocratic as its founders 37

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

said it was—in itself a striking finding. This meant that the school was indeed a powerful spur to the competitive individual pursuit of scarce educational goods, which gradually undermined Central's original publicinterest aims. It also meant that the school's credentials, earned in an open academic contest, carried considerable legitimacy. But, on the other hand, Central's meritocracy was based entirely on formal procedures of academic selection, which applied only to those students whose class background provided them with the economic and cultural capacity to enter the contest in the first place. As a result, middle-class families found that the high school provided them with a double benefit, privileged access and legitimate credentials. The data that provide the empirical basis for this chapter are drawn from student records. Some form of record exists for every student who entered the school from the time it opened its doors in 1838 to the present. The information for each nineteenth-century student consists of a single line in a roll book, including such entries as date of entering and leaving, father's occupation, age at admission, previous school, and reason for leaving. After 1900, detailed records are available on each student's high school courses and grades and on his progress through elementary school. From the high school records I drew a sample (N = 1,834) that included the first four classes entering the high school (1838-40) and then every class that entered during the fall of each federal census year from 1850 to 1920, with fractional samples used in later years when class sizes grew larger. Where possible (1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900) I located the families of students in federal census manuscripts and added this information to each student's files.1 The sample was weighted by the inverse of the sampling fraction used for each cohort, with the result that the weighted dataset (N = 2,715) included approximately the same number of students each year as entered the high school that year. All tables shown reflect weighted data. (See Appendix A for a more detailed discussion of sampling and coding procedures.) Social Class and High School Attendance In the discussion that follows, I will show that the early Central High School was both staunchly meritocratic and solidly middle-class. My method will be to examine the connections among four student variables— social class, academic performance, high school attendance, and high 1. Before 1850, the manuscript census lacks individual-level data; 1890 records were lost in a fire; 1910 manuscripts were released too late to be used in this project.

38

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

school graduation—which measure, respectively, ascription, achievement, and two forms of educational attainment. The aim is to demonstrate the impact of class and merit on a student's chances of attending and graduating from high school. The first step is to examine the effect of class on high school attendance, which requires us to look closely at the class distribution of Central students. CLASS CATEGORIES For purposes of this analysis I employ a four-class scale based on the occupation of the students' family heads. These classes are: proprietary middle class, consisting of those occupational groups that are self-employed, such as shopkeepers, manufacturers, self-employed craftsmen, and professionals; employed middle class, made up of white-collar employees, clerks, supervisors, and government workers;2 skilled working class; and semiskilled-unskilled working class. Persons with missing or unclassifiable occupations are excluded from the class distribution in this section of the analysis in order to permit comparison with census data; however, they are included as a fifth class level in subsequent multivariate analyses. Table 3.1 shows the proportional distribution of occupational groups by class at Central High School between 1838 and 1920. Derived in large part from occupational titles, this classification scheme provides information about work categories and thus about status-group memberships. However, it also constitutes a useful approximation of a class scale because it identifies a person's position within the social relations of work—that is, whether the person is an owner or an employee. In these terms the classes consist of proprietors and three grades of employees. Given the absence of systematic data on firm size or personal wealth, it was impossible to distinguish the self-employed with no employees (petty bourgeois) from the owner-employer (bourgeois); thus both are included in the proprietary class under the common banner of self-employment. However, occupational titles and other collateral data reveal that the petty bourgeois greatly outnumbered the large-scale capitalists at Central High School. The bulk of the proprietary class consisted of shopkeepers and master artisans rather than of merchants and manufacturers. As a result, it is most appropriate to refer to this group as a "middle class." Although it is difficult to identify salient differences within the proprietary middle class, it is possible to distinguish between the self-employed and those who worked for someone else. In order to make this critical class 2. I have included government workers in the employed middle class regardless of whether the specific job was blue-collar or white-collar in character. The reason is that in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries government workers of all types were largely buffered against the insecurities of working-class life in much the same way that middle-class workers were.

39

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS Table 3.1

Occupational Distribution of CHS Household Heads, 1838-1920 Combined

Proprietary middle class Proprietors 25.7% Master artisans 9.2 Professionals 6.4 Manufacturers 5.8 Employed middle class White-collar employees 9.9 Government employees 4.7 Clerks 3.5 White-collar supervisors 2.7 Skilled working class Semiskilled/unskilled working class

(594) (213) (148) (134) (229) (109) (81) (63)

TOTAL Missing and other

47.1 %

(1,089)

20.8

(482)

25.4 6.7

(588) (156)

100.0%

(2,315) (400)

Sources:Student records; U.S. Bureau of the Census (1850-1900); city directories.

distinction in a nineteenth-century sample, master artisans must be separated from the mass of journeymen. These masters were a large if declining group of independent commodity producers who owned their own shops and frequently employed journeymen but who tended to list their occupation by craft title (for example, cordwainer, cabinetmaker) just as journeymen did. I identified as a master any artisan who was listed in the city business directory (which recorded the proprietors of business establishments) and then included that person within the proprietary middle class; other artisans were grouped with skilled workers. The three classes of employees, in turn, are differentiated according to the life chances and cultural orientations associated with the occupations they held. White-collar employees on salary enjoyed a special advantage over wage workers in job security and also usually in pay. In addition, these employees had a distinctly bourgeois value scheme, which makes it appropriate to locate them in the middle class. The connection between proprietors and white-collar employees is confirmed by their shared propensity for seeking a high school education for their sons. At the same time, skilled workers received better pay and security than other manual workers, and they formed a culturally and behaviorally distinctive group within the working class. (See Appendix B for further discussion of the class categories used in this study.) DISTRIBUTION OF CLASSES The students who entered Central High Schoo between 1838 and 1920 came primarily from the middle classes, and the class composition of the student body changed very little over time (see table 3.2). On average 67.9 percent of the students throughout this period came from middle-class families, and individual cohorts did not vary much 40

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

from this figure. Excluding the earliest cohort (because the number of proprietary middle-class persons is understated in these years), the middleclass proportion occupied a range between 62.2 and 73.5 percent. Proportions fluctuated from year to year, but the basic pattern was unchanged. Central was a middle-class school from the start, and during its first nine decades nothing occurred to alter that situation. Although the middle class outnumbered the working class at the high school by a ratio of two to one, in the city as a whole workers outnumbered the middle class by a margin of three to one. Table 3.3 provides a measure of the degree to which the various classes were disproportionately represented at the high school. In it the percentage at Central in a given class for a particular year is divided by the percentage of Philadelphia household heads in the same class that year (1.0 = proportional representation; see also Labaree 1983, table 3.4). Obviously, the middle classes were heavily overrepresented at the high school, whereas the working classes, especially the unskilled working class, were heavily underrepresented. On average the index for the proprietary middle class was 2.2, for the employed middle class even higher at 3.4, for skilled workers 0.6, and for unskilled workers 0.3. And although the employed middle class and skilled workers provided similar numbers of high school students, the latter group was five to ten times as large as the former in the city as a whole. Class was thus clearly a significant factor in predicting which boys would attend the high school. To examine the disproportionality of Central's class distribution for the whole period from 1838 to 1920 we have to shift the base of comparison from individual-level data (found in census manuscripts) to aggregate data (found in published census reports). This change introduces two forms of distortion. First, in the absence of published data on household heads, Central heads of household are compared with adult males in Philadelphia (90 percent of Central heads of household were male). Since the group of Central heads is limited to persons in their occupational prime, whereas the group of adult males includes a large number of young men just starting out in the job market, this distribution understates the size of the proprietary middle class while overstating the size of the employed middle class.3 3. It is possible to measure this distortion by comparing the porportions for city heads with the corresponding proportions for city adult males (1850-80). For this period, the shift from heads to adults leaves working-class representation largely unaffected but has a considerable impact on the middle class. Looking at 1880 alone, the male distribution understates the proprietary-middle-class proportion by a third while overstating the employed-middle-class proportion by a third. In other words, a number of young men started out in a form of whitecollar employment (most often the ubiquitous "clerk" role) and eventually worked up to a position of self-employment. But at the same time there seems to have been a tendency by 1880 for middle-class employment to become permanent rather than a way station on the path to proprietorship, which suggests that the class distributions of heads and adult were converging in later years.

41

Table 3.2 Class Distribution of CHS Household Heads, 1838-1920 (% by year)

18381840° Proprietary middle class Employed middle class Skilled working class Unskilled working class

N Missing and other

1850

1860

1870

1880

1890

7900

1910

42.0 12.7 40.4 4.9

60.0 12.7 21.8 5.5

44.1 18.1 29.9 7.9

53.2 14.1 20.7 12.0

45.6 27.2 23.7 3.5

51.9 20.2 24.8 3.1

45.8 24.8 24.0 5.4

51.0 23.5 20.1 5.4

7920 43.9 20.0 25.2 10.9

100.0 205 41

100.0 55 30

100.0 127 15

100.0

100.0 114 16

100.0 258 42

100.0 516 80

100.0 353 45

100.0 595 95

92 36

Sources: Student records; U.S. Bureau of the Census (1850-1900); city directories. The number of proprietary-middle-class students is understated and the number from the skilled working class overstated for these early years because of the low degree of comprehensiveness of the business directories of the era. Many master artisans are thus incorrectly located among skilled workers. a

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

Table 3.3

Proprietary middle class Employed middle class Skilled working class Unskilled working class Goodman and Kruskal's Taub

Index of Representativeness, CHS versus Philadelphia Household Heads, 1850-803 1850

I860

1870

1880

2.8 3.8 0.4 0.2 .243

1.8 3.9 0.7 0.3 .137

2.2 2.5 0.5 0.4 .230

2.0 3.6 0.6 0.1 .215

Sources: Table 3.2 and Labaree 1983, table 3.4. Index (for a particular class and year) = percentage of Central heads divided by percentage of Philadelphia heads (from the same class and year). b This measure of association was calculated from tables consisting of the percentage class distributions of Central heads and non-Central Philadelphia heads for each year. High school attendance is the dependent variable, class the independent variable. a

Second, the published census provides no way of distinguishing master artisans from others with artisans' titles, which inflates the skilled working class at the expense of the proprietors. Table 3.4 provides an index of representativeness for the class distribution of Central heads (from table 3.2)4 compared with the distribution of adult males in Philadelphia from 1850 to 1920 (Labaree 1983, table 3.7 Given the cross-sectional distortion introduced by this comparison, the best use for this index is to measure changes in disproportionality over time. From this perspective, the index reveals no pattern of change in the representation of the unskilled working class, whereas the skilled workers show a slow but steady increase in representation between 1880 and 1920. More dramatic is the marked decline in the representation of employed middleclass sons, from 2.7 times their population share in 1880 to 1.0 in 1920. There is little change in the proportion of Central students from this class during that period; the decline in representation is due entirely to a rapid increase in the proportion of white-collar employees in the population. Equally dramatic and stretching over an even longer time is the steady increase in the representation of the proprietary middle class at the school, from 2.5 in 1870 to 3.4 in 1910. As with business employees, the chang was not in the proprietary-middle-class proportion at the school but in the population as a whole. The proportion of the self*employed among city males declined steadily from 16.8 percent in 1860 to 11.3 percent in 1920 while this group's share of the students admitted to Central remained constant at about 40 percent. 4. Because master artisans appear in the skilled working class in the adult male distribution, I shifted the Central masters into this class from the proprietary class before calculating the index.

43

Table 3.4 Proprietary middle class Employed middle class Skilled working class Unskilled working class Goodman and Kruskal's Tauc

Index of Representativeness,3 CHS Household Heads versus Philadelphia Males, 1850-1920b 1850

I860

1870

1880

1900

1910

1920

2.7 1.9 0.8 0.2 .142

1.6 2.4 1.0 0.3 .094

2.5 1.6 0.8 0.4 .106

2.6 2.7 0.7 0.1 .185

2.9 1.5 0.9 0.2 .170

3.4 1.3 1.0 0.1 .230

2.9 1.0 1.2 0.3 .134

Sources: Table 3.2 and Labaree 1983, table 3.7. Index (for a particular class and year) = % of Central heads divided by % of Philadelphia males (from the same class and year). Master artisans are included in the skilled working class rather than in the proprietary middle class. c This measure of association was calculated from tables consisting of the percentage class distributions of Central heads and non-Central Philadelphia males for each year. a

b

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

AN ENDURINGLY MIDDLE-CLASS CONSTITUENCY The data on the social origins of Central High School students lead to two conclusions: (1) the middle classes consistently dominated the student body of the high school throughout its first eighty years, and (2) the high school-attendance patterns of the proprietary and employed middle classes began to diverge over time. The first conclusion—that Central students came primarily from the middle classes—is hardly controversial. A number of quantitative studies have provided an empirical basis for the long-standing belief among educational historians that the early American high school was filled with middle-class youths. Katz (1968, 271) found that the 98 percent of the students at Somerville (Mass.) High School in 1860 were middle-class; Troen (1975, 232) found the proportion to be 73 percent in St. Louis in 1880; Perlmann (1980, 102) computed proportions ranging from 36 to 6 percent for Providence high schools in 1900 and 1915; while Counts (1969, 26) figured the rate at between 60 and 80 percent in four different cities in 1920. The reasons for the class bias in early high school attendance are readily apparent. The first is economic. Middle-class families could more easily afford to forego the earnings of their teenage sons than could working-class families, and thus the former kept their sons out of the workforce and in school longer. Katz and Davey (1978a; 1978b), for example, have shown that in Hamilton, Ontario, between 1851 and 1871 school attendance for working-class teenage boys rose and fell in inverse relationship to the supply of jobs, whereas the schooling of middle-class youths was largely unaffected by job availability. The second reason is cultural. The high school was founded as an expression of bourgeois ideology, and its structure and process reflected the entrepreneurial, Protestant, republican, and meritocratic ideals embodied in middle-class culture. As a result, it was an attractive, reassuring, and familiar place for middle-class parents to send their sons; for working-class parents it was none of these. Given these two obstacles, it is no wonder that the large majority of the working-class students at Central came from the aristocracy of labor, the skilled craftsmen, who were both financially more secure and culturally more in sympathy with the middle class than other workers. Even more striking than the middle-class dominance of the high school was the fact that this dominance was completely unaffected by the dramatic changes taking place in the school. A whole series of political reforms seemed to be aimed at making high school more accessible to a wider range of the city's grammar-school students. In 1868 came quotas, which undercut Central's academic selectivity; the first of a series of competing secondary schools opened in 1885; a differentiated curriculum appeared in 1889, followed by a sharp increase in the number of students admitted; 45

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

and in 1900 the entrance exam ended. The combined effect of these reforms should have been to render the Central High School less exclusive and more representative of the city's population, but in fact, as we have seen, two-thirds of its students continued to come from the middle class throughout this entire period. In addition, middle-class dominance was actually strongest after all these putatively egalitarian changes had gone into effect. The impact of class on attendance was greatest in 1910, when the disproportionate representation of the proprietary middle class reached an all-time high (see table 3.4). Therefore, the middle class had more than a casual association with the high school. It created this institution in its own image, adapted itself to the school's rigorous academic demands, and stuck with it through a long chain of organizational vicissitudes, fluctuating admission policies, and new curricula. Come what might, this was a middle-class institution, and its constituency remained intensely loyal. SPECIAL ROLE OF THE PROPRIETARY MIDDLE CLASS Both of these reasons for middle-class domination of the high school are based on characteristics of the middle class as a whole. However, the data on Central's class distribution suggest the desirability of constructing separate explanations for the strong interest shown in the school by the proprietary and employed mid dle classes. The degree of proprietary-middle-class overrepresentation at the school increased steadily from 1860 to 1910 while employed-middleclass overrepresentation declined during most of the same period (see tabl 3.4). The change was not due to an alteration in the class ratio within the school (which remained constant) but instead to a decline in the proprietary-middle-class proportion of the city's population and a corresponding rise in the employed-middle-class proportion in the city. To understand the trend of proprietary-middle-class attendance at the high school, its defining characteristics must be considered: it was made up of occupational groups that existed prior to the development of industrial capitalism, and its members were self-employed, with shopkeepers and master artisans constituting a majority. The rise of large-scale business enterprise in the middle of the century posed a serious and permanent threat to these groups. Factories and department stores began to drive smal manufacturing and retail shops out of business, and the proportion of proprietors declined by a third between 1860 and 1920. The traditional means for the proprietary middle class to transmit class position to its sons was by transferring ownership of the family business. Yet in the mid-nineteenth century, this method became increasingly unreli able as the viability of the small shop declined. To hard-pressed families the high school threw a lifeline by offering them a chance to invest foregone 46

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

earnings in a form of cultural property to replace their devalued business property. Their sons could acquire some useful commercial skills and cultural values and emerge with a set of distinctive credentials certifying their worth. They could then move into positions within the expanding whitecollar employee sector of the middle class. The high school aided in the process of transmitting middle-class position by helping to transform one kind of property into another. And as the viability of small businesses declined (measured by the drop in the number of proprietors), an increasing proportion of the city's proprietary-middle-class families sought out the cultural advantage offered by the high school. The employed middle class, by contrast, was a prime beneficiary of the rise of industrial capitalism, for white-collar workers occupied an expanding share of the workforce. As employees rather than proprietors, they sought to maintain middle-class status by fortifying and certifying their employability rather than through transfers of economic property. In the same way as for the proprietary middle class, therefore, the high school presented itself to this group as an invaluable aid. Yet there was an important difference: in the absence of a family business, the employed middle class was more dependent on Central High School credentials than was the proprietary middle class, at least at first. For the portion of the proprietary middle class with shops that continued to be profitable, the high school was an option but not a necessity. The employed middle class, however, lacked this option, and between 1850 and 1880 was consistently more overrepresented at the high school than the proprietary middle class, with an average index of 3.4 as opposed to 2.2. But between 1880 and 1920 the employed-middle-class proportion of the city's males doubled while its share of the Central student body remained constant. If the employed middle class was indeed more dependent on the high school than the proprietors, it is logical to ask what its members were doing with their sons. The most likely answer is that the boys attended the manual training schools in disproportionate numbers. The first of these schools, Central Manual Training School (CMTS), opened in Philadelphia in 1885 at a location only a few blocks from Central High School, thus drawing its students from the same population. Class-distribution figures for students at CMTS are available for 1900, permitting a comparison with figures for the high school in the same year. Although the overall middle-class proportion was the same in the two schools, CMTS did indeed have a higher proportion of employed-middle-class students (32.6 percent) than did the high school (24.8 percent). Put another way, at the high school the proprietary-middle-class students outnumbered those from the employed middle class by a ratio of almost two to one, while at the manual training school the ratio was nearly even. 47

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

One explanation for this finding focuses on curriculum. In 1888 Central High School shifted away from its traditional practical curriculum (oriented toward the working world rather than further education) and toward a college preparatory course. But at the same time the new manual training schools were offering a program similar to Central's abandoned practical course, which required only three years to complete as opposed to four years at Central. Apparently, a practical program was preferable for families in a hurry to see their sons acquire credentials and enter the white-collar workforce. Employed-middle-class families would, in fact, be in more of a hurry than those of the proprietary middle class, who had an option requiring no secondary education at all (the family business) and more wealth to cushion the pursuit of college credentials. However, if Central's new curriculum alienated a portion of its historic employed-middle-class constituency, it probably helped to retain the equally historic proprietary-middle-class clientele that had always supplied nearly half its students. It is no accident, then, that the latter's support for the school peaked in 1910. During a period when the public school system offered a variety of secondary-school options and many middle-class employees and skilled workers took advantage of them, the proprietors chose to stay with Central. Despite all the leveling efforts directed toward it, Central had managed to preserve enough of its distinctiveness to continue to provide its most loyal supporters with a credential they valued highly. CLASS, MERIT, AND HIGH SCHOOL ATTENDANCE

Social ClaSS obviously

played a major role in the initial selection of Central High School students. However, meritocratic procedure also shaped the school's student body. This finding runs contrary to the predictions of those who see education simply as a mechanism for reproducing social inequality (Bowles and Gintis 1976). Merit acted as more than ideological window-dressing for a process of status ascription in at least one early high school, for it presented the school's middle-class constituency with the threat of being denied admission and offered the working class the possibility of gaining entry. Let us consider the relative effect of class and merit on high school attendance.5 The class distribution of Central students makes the influence of class on the admissions process clear. The middle class was heavily overrepresented in the student body and consistently dominated it numerically, whereas the working class was distinctly underrepresented, especially among the un5. The best way to explore this issue would be to compare the academic achievement and social class of two groups of grammar-school students, those who entered the high school and those who did not. Unfortunately, we were unable to find any data on grammar-school grade in Philadelphia, which means that an empirical test of the effect of merit on high school attendance is not possible as part of this study. 48

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

skilled. Yet the proportions shown in table 3.2 do not make Central look like a school for the elite. A persistent third of the students came from working-class families and the rest from the middle class. This was a school of shopkeepers, master artisans, business employees, and skilled craftsmen, which clearly distinguished it from the private secondary schools patronized by the well-to-do. For example, the premier private school for Philadelphia's elite during the middle of the nineteenth century was Faires' Classical Institute, which boasted a sizable array of upper-class alumni, including no fewer than twenty-six members of the powerful Biddle family (C. Cohen 1926, 828-29). In comparison to the Institute, Central had a thor oughly democratic assortment of students. Central's leaders were sensitive to the charge that the school served only the interests of the elite and defended themselves against it by publishing the occupations of the parents of their students and by erecting a complex set of meritocratic procedures so that the admissions process could "avoid, not only all possibility, but all appearance of favouritism" (Annual Report 1850, 40). The result was a written entrance exam administered under rigorous formal guidelines, complete with blind grading and public inspection. This meritocratic screening device did more than reassure the public about the fairness of the selection process; it eliminated a significant number of applicants. Presumably these applicants, like those who were accepted, were primarily middle-class, and for the same reasons: a middle-class family was more likely than a working-class family to have the economic and cultural capacity to seek a high school education. Between 1838 and 1867 (wh exam results were published in the annual reports), an average of 29 percent of the students who took the exam failed to pass it. Considering that the group of test-takers had already been subjected to a prior academic screening by grammar-school masters, this is a substantial rejection rate that adds credibility to the school's claim of merit-based admissions. Attendance at Central High School, therefore, was attained through a process characterized by both achievement and ascription, competitive performance and class privilege. This combination of contradictory traits was not an idiosyncrasy of the early high school but has been an enduring characteristic in American educational history. It always appears at that level of education where attendance is less than universal. In the nineteenth century that level was the high school, but as the high schools filled in the early twentieth century the arena shifted to colleges; as college attendance became the norm in the last few decades of the twentieth century the focus of educational competition and ascription shifted to graduate and professional schools (D. Cohen and Neufeld 1981; Labare 1984a). At each of these stages, attendance at the non-universal level of education has been shaped by the same mix of factors at work in Central's 49

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE M I D D L E C L A S S

case: the student's academic preparation and performance, and his economic and cultural capacity to pursue further education. The stability of this combination of factors over the past hundred and fifty years provides insight into the historical patterns of American education. Those levels of American education where attendance is not universal are governed by market processes, which by nature simultaneously pro mote individual achievement and social reproduction. The market's penetration into the organization and development of the early high school is one of the major themes of this study. I have argued that Central's constituents saw a high school credential as an educational commodity that could be exchanged for status in the open market. The exchange value of this credential derived from its relative scarcity, which in turn derived in part from the high school's limited enrollment. In addition I have argued that meritocratic ideology has been a major force in shaping the history of the high school, and that this ideology is an extension of the principles of market behavior to behavior in society. It is hardly surprising to find, therefore,that market principles were also at work in defining the pattern of high school attendance. Viewed as a market phenomenon, the process of selection and selfselection that defined the student body at Central High School was a model of fairness. This was a truly free and competitive market, with a vast array of procedures designed to eliminate favoritism and the direct, hereditary transmission of privilege. (By contrast, one need only consider the directly ascriptive admissions process at Faires' Classical Institute or a contemporary New England boarding school.) A student could not be admitted to Central without demonstrating academic competence on an entrance exam, just as a manufacturer could not succeed in a free market without demonstrating productive efficiency. But even the freest and most competitive of markets inevitably reward not just individual initiative but also class privilege. Entry into the economic market requires property, and the chances of success are greatly increased if this property is substantial. Rags-to-riches stories are possible, because the market rewards individual effort; but they are improbable because the market also rewards class position. Similarly, the competitive market in high school admissions rewarded both academic ability and social origins (economic and cultural property). A bright working-class boy could gain admission to the high school and a less able middle-class boy could be turned down, but the probabilities worked in the other direction. The point, however, is that within the limits of bourgeois culture, Central High School offered the fairest conceivable system of selection. After all, the school was founded not on egalitarian but on meritocratic principles, and this meant allowing the invisible hand of the market to shape the constitu50

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

tion of its student body. If the result was a group of decidedly middle-class students, this would only serve to demonstrate their superior merit and wrap their future social attainments in a mantle of educational legitimacy.

Life within the Meritocracy: Striving to Graduate If admission to Central High School required a mixture of position and performance, graduation from it required only the latter. Once a student entered the school his social class exerted no significant influence over his chances of graduating. For its first eighty years, Central functioned internally as a model meritocracy that held all students to a single standard of performance measured in grades. For both theoretical and empirical reasons, I have chosen to focus on graduation rather than on such other measures of educational attainment as the number of years at the school. It is only through the graduation variable that the acquisition of high school credentials can be captured. Also, in a school where nearly half the students repeated at least one term, graduation provides a truer measure of educational accomplishment than years of attendance. Finally, an examination of the length of student attendance suggests strongly that there was not a steady attrition over a fouryear period but a dichotomous pattern. Approximately 60 percent of those admitted dropped out in the first two years while only 10 percent left after this point. CLASS AND GRADUATION Most Central students left the school before graduation, and between 1838 and 1920 an average of only 26.9 percent of the entrants graduated. This rate stayed relatively stable over time; in only three of these years did it vary more than a few points from the average (see table 3.5).6 To a modern observer of American education, an attrition rate of nearly 75 percent conjures up a truly draconian system of class differentiation. For if working-class students failed to apply for admission to Central in part because of the need to help support their families, it seems that the same logic would compel those who did enter to drop out early while students from the middle class could afford to stay the route. However, this 6. In 1838-40 and 1910, more than a third of the students graduated. The first of these occurrences could be attributed to a pent-up demand for a high school among the school's most able prospects, which was met by Central High's opening. The second, coinciding with the peak in proprietary-middle-class interest in the school, is a result of the school's increasingly college preparatory orientation. By contrast, the graduation rate of the class entering in 1860 was slashed by the onset of the Civil War.

51

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE M I D D L E C L A S S

was not the case at Central High School. A student's social class had little effect on his chances for graduation. Overall, the proprietary middle class graduated 29.1 percent of its students, the employed middle class 25.5 percent, the skilled working class 26.5 percent, and the unskilled working class 26.6 percent. Thus, over eight decades, the average effect of class on attrition boiled down to an only slightly higher chance of graduation for proprietary-middle-class boys. Examination of the graduation rate by class for each of the nine entering classes separately produces much the same result. The proportions in table 3.5 fluctuate from year to year because of the small size of the nineteenthcentury samples and the erratic effect of the subjects who are missing a class designation.7 But the figures do reveal that the average distribution i not masking wide variations in class effect from year to year. In general, the data support the position that the effect of social class on graduation was quite weak. Working-class boys had graduation rates identical to the school average: once they had won admission to the high school, their class background provided no further impediment to their academic careers. What small differences existed were within the middle class, where the proprietary middle class graduated at a rate two points above average while the employed middle class graduated at a rate one point below average. GRADES AND GRADUATION Although class had little effect on a student's chances for graduation, academic grades exerted a powerful impact. The primary measure of grades used in this chapter is a simple dichotomous variable that is available for all the students in the study except those in the earliest cohort. It divides students into two categories—those who achieved a grade point average of 85 percent or higher during at least one term at the high school (amounting to 22.8 percent of the total) and those who never achieved this level. I developed this variable from the school's com mencement programs, which recorded the names of all "meritorious" and 7. Between 1838 and 1900, the sample for each entering class ranged between 85 and 150. Therefore, given the high attrition rate, the number of graduates amounted to only 2041. (As mentioned earlier, data for 1890, 1900, and 1920 are based on fractional samples and are reported here and elsewhere in this chapter in weighted form; the weights are 2.0, 4.0, and 1.67.) The result is that the graduation rate for each social class within each cohort is frequently based on small numbers of students and thus should be expected to have a high variance. In addition, there is the problem of the cases with missing or unclassifiable occupations. Graduation rates for these cases, recorded for each year, show that in some years the exclusion of these cases appears to have little effect on the distribution of graduates. The rates for students without class designations are quite similar. However, in other years these cases are clearly not neutral in their effects on graduation, and their exclusion undercuts the validity of the graduate distribution that year; for example, in 1910, half the students with missing occupations graduated, compared to only one-eighth in 1920.

52

Table 3.5 Graduation Rates by Social Class and Year, 1838-1920 1838-40 N

Proprietary middle class Employed middle class Skilled working class Unskilled working class

86 26 83 10

Number Missing and other Overall graduation rate

205 41

Graduation rate

36.0 34.6 31.3 50.0 31.7 34.1

N 33 7 12 3 55 30

1850

I860

1870

Graduation rate

Graduation rate

Graduation rate

24.2 14.3 16.7

0.0

30.0 23.5

N 56 23 38 10 127 15

16.1 13.0

7.9

10.0 26.7 14.1

N 49 13 19 11 92 36

26.5

7.7

26.3 36.4 16.7 22.7

1890

1900

1910

N

Graduation rate

N

Graduation rate

N

Graduation rate

N

Graduation rate

Proprietary middle class Employed middle class Skilled working class Unskilled working class

134 52 64 8

22.4 26.9 25.0 25.0

236 128 124 28

32.2 21.9 29.0 28.6

180 83 71 17

33.3 32.5 32.4 15.8

261 119 150 65

28.0 26.9 26.7 27.7

Number Missing and other Overall graduation rate

258 42

23.8 24.0

516 80

20.0 27.5

351 45

48.8 33.8

Sources: Student records; U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population Schedules (1850-1900); city directories.

1880 N 52 31 27 4 114 16

12.6 25.4

30.8 25.8 18.5 25.0 18.8 25.4 TOTAL

1920

595 95

Graduation rate

N

1,088

482 588 157

2,315

398

Graduation rate

29.1 25.5 26.5 26.6 23.6 26.9

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

"distinguished" students from the previous term—that is, those with averages above 85 and 92, respectively. The data show that over Central's first eighty years, 72.5 percent of the students with high grades succeeded in graduating, compared with only 19.8 percent of the students with lower averages. Considering that only a quarter of the student body as a whole managed to graduate, it is quite striking to find that this one subgroup, identified by a single variable, enjoyed a success rate three times the average. Compared to grades, the effect of class on graduation was trivial. There are some problems with this grade variable: it is biased toward graduation (since students who stayed for eight terms (four years) had more chances to attain a high term average than those who left after only one or two), and it compresses a continuous variable into two categories. However, the data suggest that neither of these problems has a significant effect on this analysis. For students in the 1910 and 1920 cohorts, records permitted the calculation of individual grade-point averages (GPAs), and this version of the grade variable shows the same strong relationship with student graduation as the simpler version. Students with averages of B-f or higher graduated at a rate of 76.7 percent, compared with 54.4 percent for B— students, 28.1 percent for C + students, and 5.1 percent for students with averages of C- or lower. These results support the conclusion that the relationship between graduation and grades is not the result of variable bias. These data also provide evidence for the conclusion that the effect of grades on graduation was essentially dichotomous rather than linear: B students graduated and C students did not. Thus, in representing grades as a yes/no proposition, I am using them in the same way that the high school faculty did. This parallels an argument I made earlier, that student attain ment was itself a dichotomous variable, better represented as graduation/ no-graduation than as number of terms in school. This point becomes clearer if we consider that grades had little effect on the number of terms a student spent at the high school, short of graduation. Only 18.0 percent of students who left school after three years had high grades, compared to 72.5 percent of the graduates. As we saw in the previous chapter, Central's founders designed it as a zealous expression of ideological principles. As such it exhibited a tendency toward institutional extremism. Central was an exemplary high school, built around the ideal of free competition in the open market. As a result, its founders and leaders refused to intervene in the workings of the market or adulterate the purity of its merit standard, which left students no safe middle ground, no general track, no form of social promotion. Either stu dents showed substantial academic achievement and won a high school diploma or they failed at both. Within this model meritocracy, one had to make the grade or drop out. 54

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

MULTIPLE CLASSIFICATION ANALYSIS OF GRADUATION When we examined the effect of each variable separately, class had little effect on a student's chances for graduation, whereas grades had a very strong effect. However, these findings in themselves are unconvincing because of the absence of control variables. The apparent impact of grades may actually be the result of other factors that have not yet been considered. Most plausibly, it could be argued that class might have had a strong influence on graduation indirectly through an influence on grades, even though it has no significant direct influence. Class certainly shapes student achievement in contemporary American schools (Jencks et al. 1973, 1979), so there is good reason to suspect that the same was true in the early high school. In addition, a variety of other variables—including ethnicity, family structure, age, and previous education—might have exerted a direct or indirect effect on graduation. In concert, these additional variables have the potential to reduce the apparent effect of grades. The technique I used is multiple classification analysis (MCA).8 MCA is a form of multiple regression with dummy variables which allows the researcher to estimate the effects of each level of a categorical variable (called a factor) on a dependent variable while controlling both for other factors and for interval-level independent variables (known as covariates).9 In addition, MCA provides the researcher with an estimate, beta, of the overall effect of each factor after controls (analogous to a standardized partial regression coefficient). (See Appendix C for a more detailed discussion of MCA.) The results of all MC As in this chapter are displayed in a similar fashion. The grand mean of the dependent variable is shown along with the mean level of that variable for each category of each factor after adjusting for all other factors and covariates. In addition, the statistical significance of the factor is recorded beside its beta. For each covariate, an unstandardized regression coefficient and level of significance are provided. Finally, at the bottom appears multiple R2 (the multiple correlation coefficient squared) that is adjusted for degrees of freedom, compensating for the overstatement of explained variance with small samples. I performed MCA on three different subsamples of the Central High 8. The most thorough discussion of MCA can be found in Andrews et al. (1973). The actual analysis was performed by means of the Statistical Package for the Social Sciences (SPSS), and the discussion of the technique in the SPSS manual is quite helpful (Nie et al. 1975, 409-10, 416-18). For extended applications in school studies see Kaestle and Vinovskis (1980, 88-99) and Vinovskis (1985). 9. The technique has definite advantages for handling historical data. Not only are historical independent variables usually categorical (and thus appropriate for MCA), they are also frequently correlated. Whereas ordinary multiple regression cannot allow the simultaneous use of correlated variables, MCA is permissive toward such factors as long as the correlation is not extreme and no interaction occurs.

55

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE M I D D L E CLASS

School student data. The first (called the "general sample") includes all students from the data set except those who entered in 1838 to 1840, for whom there is no grade information (used in table 3.6). This is the broadest and thinnest of the samples: it contains the relatively small number of variables that were recorded for eight cohorts (N = 2,467). The second sample (the "census sample") is limited to students from the years 1850 to 1880 and 1900 whose families I located in the census manuscripts. This is a much smaller sample (N = 814), restricted as it is to five cohorts in years when the number of entrants was small, and further restricted by the linking requirement. Yet it has the considerable advantage of allowing me to introduce the household variables from the census into MCA equations (used in table 3.7). The third sample consists of only cases from 1910 and 1920 (thus called the "twentieth-century sample"). Although restricted in time, this sample (used in table 3.8) can draw on a wide array of data on student performance in the high school and grade school (N = 1,086). Summarizing the results of these multivariate analyses turns out to be quite easy because they simply confirm that Central High School was a thoroughly meritocratic school. Grades had a powerful impact on student chances for graduation and class had hardly any impact at all. Tables 3.6, 3.7, and 3.8 show that the effect of grades was sustained across all three subsamples and in combination with a wide variety of other variables. The beta for grades held at an extraordinarily high level—.50, .52, and .54, respectively—while no other variable even came close. And grades alone explained between 21 percent and 23 percent of the total variance in graduation. The robustness of this independent variable persists even when we analyze each cohort separately; grades had the highest beta in every year for both subsamples and also had the distinction of being the only factor that was statistically significant every year. At the same time the MCAs reveal that the effect of social class was quite weak. In the three summary analyses, class achieved statistical significance only once, and its beta ranged between .03 and .12. (See Appendix D for a detailed analysis o tables 3.6 through 3.8) A number of other variables exerted a modest but statistically significant effect on graduation. Many of these are measures of alternate forms of academic merit. Students who were young when admitted ("age at admission") had already demonstrated their ability to breeze through the lowerschool curriculum and thus were more likely to succeed at the high school as well. Similarly, students who did not repeat terms in elementary school ("elementary-school terms per grade level") did better in the high school's meritocratic atmosphere. A grammar school that sent a large number of students to Central ("grammar-school frequency") was probably giv ing them better academic preparation, which enhanced their chances of 56

Table 3.6 Multiple Classification Analysis of Graduation Rate Using General Sample, 1850-1920 Graduation Rate (grand mean): 27% Factors

Mean % after Adjustments

N

Class Proprietary middle Employed middle Skilled middle Unskilled working Missing and other

926 420 465 139 236

28 25 28 25 26

Grammar-school frequency Over 50 30 to 49 20 to 29 10 to 19 1 to 9

233 294 437 576 687

31 29 32 22 26

Age at admission 12 or less 13 14 15 16 17 or more

59 384 828 581 261 113

51 35 30 20 17 25

1,801 426

16 73

85 142 128 124 296 584 273 595

14 12 14 18 26 35 26 30

Grades No high grades Some high grades Cohort 1850 1860 1870 1880 1890 1900 1910 1920

N = 2,227 (missing = 240) Readjusted) = .307 R2 (adjusted) due to grades alone = .226 *** = significant at the .001 level.

57

Beta

.03

.09***

.16***

.50***

.16***

Table 3.7 Multiple Classification Analysis of Graduation Rate Using Census Sample, 1850-1900 Graduation Rate (grand mean) : 27% Factors Class Proprietary middle Employed middle Skilled working Unskilled working Missing and other Birthplace of family head U.S. Ireland Germany Britain Russia N. Europe and other

N

Mean % after Adjustments 31 19

325 150 140 42 63

27 17 34

504 75 66 24 28 23

27 24 20 23 32 48

Siblings (birth order; working or dependent siblings) Youngest; working 86 26 Youngest; dependent 42 14 Middle; working 157 26 Middle; dependent 121 27 Oldest 248 31 Only child 24 66 Grades No high grades Some high grades

599 121

17 78

Cohort 1850 1860 1870 1880 1900

53 89 96 94 388

9 14 16 18 37

Covariates School frequency Sex of head Age at Admission

Raw regression coefficient .002** .194*** -.073***

N = 720 (missing = 94) Readjusted) = .401 R2 (adjusted) due to grades alone = .231 * = significant at .05 level. ** = significant at .01 level. *** = significant at .001 level.

58

Beta

.12*

.10***

.09**

.52***

.25***

Table 3.8 Multiple Classification Analysis of Graduation Rate Using Twentieth-Century Sample, 19 10 and 1920 Graduation Rate (grand mean): 33%

Factors

Class Proprietary middle Employed middle Skilled working Unskilled working Missing and other

N

Mean % after Adjustments

328 154 174 63 41

34 30 35 35 25

Elementary-school terms per grade level Less than 1 85 1 469 81 1 to 1.15 124 1.15 and over

GPA A

B+ B-

C+

cD F

Absences per term None 1 through 3 4 through 7 8 through 13 More than 1 3 Cohort 1910 1920 Covariates

37 35 31 26

11 56 169 279 181 49 15

89 87 60 27 7 6 8

118 233

23 33

204 131 73

39 37 24

270 489

29 35

Raw Regression Coefficient

.011 .003*

Latenesses per term School frequency N = 760 (missing = 326) R2 (adjusted) = .309 R2 (adjusted) due to grades alone = .217 * = significant at .05 level. ** = significant at .01 level. *** = significant at .001 level.

59

Bet Beta

.06

.08***

.54***

.13***

.07*

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

graduating. Finally, students who had a moderate number of absences (''absences per term") were more likely to do well than those who were absent more frequently since Central's rigorous pedagogy required a student's full attention. There were several measures of ascription that had a small impact on graduation. The strongest of these was "sex of head/' for female-headed households (only 10 percent of the total) had a difficult time doing without the earnings of a teenage boy during four years of high school. "Birthplace of family head" had a surprisingly small effect; the graduation rates for Germans were the lowest and those of Northern Europeans the highest. Family structure ("siblings") also exerted less pressure than expected; an oldest child was somewhat more likely to graduate than the average, and a youngest child with dependent siblings was less likely to graduate. Introducing statistical controls and a variety of competing explanatory variables had no significant effect on my original findings. When Central's founders and early leaders portrayed the school as a place where individual academic merit was the deciding factor, they were not exaggerating. For within its walls, Central High School was a model meritocracy, which muted the ascriptive forces of class, nativity, and family structure and judged students according to the harsh but unbiased standard of the market: only the academically fittest survived. Conclusion

This examination of the origins and attainment of Central High School students reveals that the educational careers of these students were shaped by significant class effects and also by substantial school effects. This mixture demonstrates that the high school did indeed become the thoroughly meritocratic institution its founders sought to establish. Neither egalitarian nor ascriptive, Central adhered closely to the market principle that lies at the root of meritocratic thinking. This principle directed that the school's academic rewards be distributed by means of rigorous individual academic competition, open to everyone who could afford the economic and cultural price of admission. The continuous domination of the high school's student body by the proprietary middle class was a pure class effect. Working-class families were hard-pressed to provide their sons with the cultural training required for entry to the high school and to sustain themselves economically without their sons' wages while they were in school. But for the proprietary middle class, the high school—designed as an expression of middle-class culture—was a culturally congenial environment and one that they could 60

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

afford. In addition, the proprietors found that the high school's credentials were particularly useful in meeting their growing need to preserve status through cultural rather than economic means. Yet in addition to this class effect, Central students were subjected to a powerful school effect. It is visible in the merit-based admissions process, which let in a large number of working-class boys (one-third of the school) and excluded as many as 30 percent of the middle-class applicants. However, the high school's independent power comes most clearly into view when we examine its internal pedagogical process. Within the walls of Central High School, social class had no significant effect on a student's chances for success. Instead, the factor that exerted a powerful and consistent impact on graduation was individual academic performance, as measured by grades.10 Students had to prove themselves by fulfilling the school's academic requirements in a manner deemed superior by the faculty before they were awarded a high school diploma. Central was thus able to set its own standards and hold all its students to them, regardless of background.11 The school's tough academic standards demonstrated the considerable autonomy it enjoyed in relation to the middle class that founded it and provided its students. Central was no mere puppet of the privileged classes, promoting the social reproduction of existing patterns of inequality. Instead, it was a model meritocracy that took bourgeois ideology at its word and put it into educational practice. The school relentlessly pursued the market metaphor to its logical educational conclusion. It put students through an intense contest for educational credentials and ruthlessly eliminated three out of every four for failing to make the grade. This rigorously meritocratic school still benefited its middle-class constituency more than any other group. First, even if they received no favoritism within the school, the middle classes were much more likely to seek and gain admission in the first place. By contrast, those few working-class families who were able and willing to send their sons to the high school had to be highly dedicated to schooling to overcome the hurdles in their path, and their sons had to be academically superior to the middle-class competition. Second, those middle-class sons who succeeded in winning admission to the high school or, best of all, earning a high school diploma, 10. Several other variables that had an influence on graduation were also measures of academic merit—including age and elementary-school progress (both reflecting rate of promotion in elementary school), grammar-school frequency (reflecting quality of academic preparation), and absences and latenesses (reflecting academic diligence). 11. In the MCA that used census data, four background variables exerted significant influence on graduation—class, ethnicity, birth order, and sex of household head. However, all except the last were modest in size, and all of them affected small numbers of students (less than 20 percent). In addition, this was the data set in which sampling was most problematic.

61

M E R I T O C R A C Y FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

then possessed an educational credential with extraordinary cultural value. These credentials pronounced the holder to be a person who had proved his merit through an open and public educational competition. Thus the middle-class winners in this competition received legitimation for their social position: they had earned their rewards. What the high school received as a result of its meritocratic pedagogy was an increase in selectiveness and credibility, both of which helped keep the market value of its credentials at a high level. As a prototypical meritocracy, Central spurred its middle-class students to compete for the prize at the end of the program, encouraging them to think of high school education as a commodity whose most important characteristic was that it could be exchanged for something useful like a good job. The individualistic, competitive, and commodified form of education offered by Central therefore spurred the school's integration with the market and its separation from its original political goals. Concerns such as republican community and moral education had little place in a school where the prevailing norm was "every boy for himself." Through its meritocratic structure, Central was telling students that an education is not a public benefit but a form of private property and that the value of this education derives not from its content but its relative scarcity on the market. One important question about Central and its students remains to be answered: Why did the school remain steadfastly meritocratic throughout its first eighty years? The effect of grades on graduation was largely unchanged from 1838 through 1920 despite the school's abandonment of selective admissions, its subordination to the superintendent after the turn of the century, and its eventual conversion into a regional comprehensive high school. One reason is that the persistence of meritocracy signals the continuing autonomy of the school. During the 1920s President John Haney continually exhorted the faculty to relax its standards and increase the graduation rate, but the meritocratic tradition lived on. The professors were invested in this tradition since they were themselves high achievers who had thrived in meritocratic settings as students and teachers; and the presidents had even stronger histories of achievement. Presidents Bache, Hart, Thompson, Haney, and Cornog all graduated first in their classes in school or college, and President Riche was valedictorian of his. As a result, there was considerable support within the school for perpetuating a high standard for aca demic achievement, even in the face of a changing educational environment. By stratifying the curriculum and isolating the industrial course, the school's leaders were able to protect it from the ravages of comprehensiveness and thus maintain its standards. As a result, in 1920 all of Central's programs showed the time-honored relationship between grades and grad62

MERITOCRACY FOR THE MIDDLE CLASS

uation except for the industrial course, which was operated in isolation and was soon to be abandoned. A second reason is the school's growing constituency. During the first eighty years, Central admitted forty thousand students and graduated nine thousand. A large number of these alumni went on to occupy important positions in business, government, and the professions. Central had provided a difficult experience for them, and this degree of difficulty had accorded them a credential of unique value. Under these circumstances, they were not likely to be pleased about having standards for future students relaxed and their own credentials watered down; and they were a group that was sufficiently large and influential that neither the school nor the school system could easily ignore them. This suggests a third reason for the persistence of meritocracy at Central. The school's alumni knew something from personal experience that most other Americans held only as an unsupported belief. The high school had taught them that a system of rewards based on merit was not a hollow promise but a vital reality that existed in the public schools. And since educational credentials helped allocate individuals to social positions, it is likely that many of these men concluded that meritocracy was also the dominant pattern within the larger society. In an era when high school attendance was not yet universal, these schools played a critically important role by providing an accessible and highly visible arena for reinforcing meritocratic beliefs. The prominence and rigor of the early high school allowed it to disseminate its ideological message far beyond its circle of students: People get what they deserve. At least within the hothouse setting of the high school, with its narrow academic standards and its obsessive competition, this message had some substance.

63

4

The High School and the School System: From Market Control to Bureaucratic Control

Central High School was founded to serve purposes that were primarily political. According to the original design, the school was intended to help preserve the republic and promote community morals, and the founders managed to imprint this design on its early educational practice. However, the plan for Central also included a market component, reflecting its roots in bourgeois ideology. Within the school this took the form of an intensely meritocratic pedagogy in which students competed on equal terms for scarce academic rewards in an idealized model of the capitalist market. Closely intertwined with Central's pedagogy was its dominant position within the local market for educational credentials, where the school's uniqueness and selectivity made its diploma a valuable commodity. Over the course of the nineteenth century, as we have seen, the high school's leaders were quite successful in preserving its meritocratic standards and market position, but in the process they turned the school away from its original political goals. The rise of markets at the expense of politics is therefore one major part of the Central High School story. But there is another part—the rise of a political response to the high school's transformation into a market institution. The history of the school can thus be viewed as a series of actions and reactions by the two elements that jointly defined Central's changing character. Political aims fostered the development of educational markets, which in turn provoked political intervention in those markets. This pattern expressed an enduring tension between two antithetical social principles that necessarily coexist within bourgeois republics—exclusiveness and inclusiveness, private interests and public interests, capitalism and democ64

THE HIGH

SCHOOL

AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

racy. In Central's history, first one of these principles and then the other gained the upper hand within the school, each reacting to the impact of the other. The result was a string of organizational compromises that were subject to disruption as the political and market conditions for the school periodically changed. In this chapter I will track the ebb and flow of politics and markets by closely examining the changing role of the high school within the Philadelphia school system. The organizational history of Philadelphia schools, like that of other urban school systems, was a story of advancing bureaucratization. Researchers have found a persistent and eventually successful effort by nineteenth-century school officials to bring urban school systems under central administrative control, culminating in the establishment of fullscale educational bureaucracies by Progressive reformers at the start of the twentieth century.1 My aim is to show that the bureaucratization of the Philadelphia school system is best understood as a political intervention in the previously unregulated educational marketplace; the organizational effect was to undercut the market-based power of the early high school. The opening of Central High School had a profound effect on the Philadelphia school system, for the new school reshaped the organization of schooling in its own meritocratic image. Competition over the high school's credentials gave Central a dominant position in the educational marketplace and led to a centralized structure in a school system that was formally quite decentralized. The result was a form of organization that I call market control, which served many of the same organizational functions as an educational bureaucracy but without a formal hierarchical structure and without politically delegated authority. Instead, this was an informal structure whose power arose from consumer demand. After the Civil War, the school board acquired the legal authority for developing formal hierarchical control of the system. This eventually took the form of bureaucratization, and the high school acted as both the spur and the target of this organizational development. The extraordinary success of Central as a market institution meant that there was growing political demand to increase access to its valuable credentials. This demand provoked sustained efforts by the school board to intervene in the credentials market by establishing organizational control over this previously unregulated area. One important result was the step-by-step removal of the props that had made Central so exclusive and therefore so attractive to middle-class consumers. Another was the replacement of the old market1. The two most comprehensive discussions of this process are Katz (1975) and Tyack (1974). In addition, some case studies detail the rise of educational bureaucracy in particular cities: Hogan (1985) in Chicago, Troen (1975) in St. Louis, Issel (1970, 1978) in Philadelphia.

65

THE HIGH SCHOOL

AND THE SCHOOL

SYSTEM

based control structure, in which the high school was dominant, by a politically grounded bureaucratic structure, in which the high school was subordinate. Central, however, managed to ward off much of the thrust of this politically inspired bureaucratic onslaught. In the early decades of the twentieth century, its supporters used stratification, isolation, and organizational autonomy to preserve the school's meritocratic pedagogy and organizational distinctiveness. Then, in 1939, the school board officially restored Central to something like its old status by establishing it once again as a selective academic high school drawing students from the entire city. Market Control 1838-67 The organization of schools took two sharply distinct forms during the nineteenth century. Most of the historical literature focuses on bureaucracy and the process by which school boards, superintendents, and controlminded reformers imposed bureaucracy on school systems (Katz 1975; Tyack 1974). Both the supporters and the opponents of this reform process argued from political grounds. While asserting that their organizational initiatives would produce more efficiency and less corruption, the supporters claimed that the primary aim of their efforts was to establish public authority over a school system that was then public in name only. On the other hand, the opponents charged that bureaucratization brought an end to local (ward-level) democratic control over schools and placed it in the hands of upper-class school boards. However, markets can also generate control structures that serve many of the same functions as a bureaucracy. Market control is an organizational form that often develops in situations where there is intense competition over scarce resources and competitors are able to develop a mutually acceptable mechanism to regulate the contest. These were exactly the conditions provoked by the arrival of Central High School. The problem was how to establish high school admissions procedures that were overtly fair to all parties and administered in a disinterested fashion; once established, these procedures became a powerful mechanism for shaping the organization of schools. Whereas the bureaucratic control of schools was based on political processes, market control was based on market processes. Although derived from opposing principles, these control structures shared a number of important characteristics. The early development of market control in the Philadelphia school system produced many of the organizational characteristics that are normally associated with bureaucratization: centralization,

66

THE HIGH SCHOOL

AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

differentiation of function, qualification for office, objectivity, and precision and consistency.2 By examining each of these organizational functions in turn, we find that, although lacking the political authority of a bureaucracy, the market-based structure of schools that developed around the early Central High School provided a powerful mechanism for organizing the fledgling common-school system. In fact, in some ways this was a more tightly coupled form of school organization than the bureaucratically controlled system that followed. CENTRALIZATION OF CONTROL AND SUPERVISION In the middle of the nineteenth century, Philadelphia schools were bound together by only the loosest of formal ties, providing an extreme example of the prebureaucratic organizational form that Katz (1975, 15-22) calls "democratic localism." Each city ward and suburban township in Philadelphia county constituted a separate unit of school administration, known as a section, and each had its own board of directors with complete control over schools, teachers, and curriculum. (After the city and county became coterminous in 1854, every section corresponded to a city ward.) State law established a board of school controllers for the county as a whole, but the board's powers were largely limited to such financial matters as constructing buildings, buyin materials, and setting pay rates for teachers. The only schools over which it had direct authority were Central and its female counterpart, Girls High School (founded in 1848). Not only did the board of controllers lack formal authority over the schools, but it also was politically dependent on the local boards, for each member of the central board was elected by a sectional board of school directors as a representative of that section's educational interests. It was not until 1905 that the formal balance of power shifted from ward boards to central board. Before that time the only mechanisms available to the controllers for centralizing this formally decentralized school system were necessarily indirect and informal. Central High School provided such a mechanism. The school's credentials offered the city's middle-class families a unique and valuable form of cultural property that provoked them into an intense competition over access to the school. Since access was regulated by a written examination, the exam became a subject of great interest to the competitors. And since the high school was under the supervision of the controllers, they had the power to define the curriculum content of the exam. The aspirations of the city's middle-class families quickly magnified this sliver of authority into a 2. This list of characteristics comes from the definition of bureaucracy used by Michael Katz (1975, 59-65) in his seminal study of "The Emergence of Bureaucracy" in the Boston schools. He, in turn, borrowed this definition from Friedrich (1950,44-57). 67

THE HIGH

SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

potent weapon for exerting centralized curricular control. Once the controllers had established the subjects and areas of coverage for the entrance exam, grammar-school masters found themselves under strong pressure from ambitious parents to teach to the test in order to maximize the chances that their sons would gain admission. The masters also felt pressure from another quarter, for in a decentralized system with only one boys' grammar school per section, the performance of their students on this exam constituted the sole objective method of measuring the efficacy of each master's teaching. The high school principals carefully cultivated competition among the grammar-school masters by publishing annual tables ranking the city's grammar schools according to the number of students who passed the exam and won admission. John Hart, Central's second principal, went even further with a series of charts comparing grammar-school performance over the entire history of the exam and linking the performance of students at the high school with the schools they came from (see fig. 4.1). Adding spice to this competition was the knowledge that the only way for a teacher to reach the top rung of the school system's truncated career ladder, a teaching post at the high school, was to develop a firm reputation as a man who successfully prepared students for entry into the school (Edmonds 1902, 184). Competition among students and among grammar-school masters over the high school entrance exam led the masters to design their curricula around the content of the exam. This meant that the board of controllers— despite its minimal legal authority within the decentralized structure of schooling—was in practice able to dictate the lower-school curriculum. The board was well aware of how to use the market power of the high school to carry out its own administrative ends. In 1849, for example, it compelled the grammar-schools to elevate their curriculum by raising the level of the subjects tested in the entrance exam. Looking back on this period from the turn of the century, a Philadelphia superintendent matter of factly noted that "the Course of Instruction in the Elementary Schools was for many years determined by the requirements for admittance into the Central High School" (Annual Report Supt. 1904, 45). Other observers also noted this centralizing effect of the early high school. Henry Barnard argued in 1848 that this influence over the lower schools was one of the primary benefits offered by the high school (S. Cohen 1974 II, 1259-60), and this opinion appears to have been widely held by school officials (Tyack 1974,57). The view from the top of the school system in the mid-nineteenth century was that Central's power over the lower schools was healthy for all

68

GENERAL RESULT. AVERAGE SCHOLARSHIP of the Candidates from the different Schools, as indicated by the marks received of the several Examinations for admission, from the organization of the High School, October, 1838, to July, 1850.

1838 & 39 SCHOOLS.

00 CO

„ .4.3 Model - 5.1 Locust st eet, Zane stre , North Eas rn - 4.1 North Wes rn, - 4.5 South Eas rn, - 5.5 South Wes rn, - 7.5 Madison, (New Market street ,) Jefferson, Thirs street, (Northerm Libeerties,) 5.1 Mount Vernon, (Catherine street,) 5.4 Weccacoe, (Reed street,) Monroe, (Buttonwood street, ) - - 1.8 Hancock, (Coates street,) Marshall, (Frankford,) Ritenhouse, (Germantown, ) Newton, (West Philadelphia, ) - - 1.6 Hestonville, - 4.4 Ringgold, (Moyamensing,) Morris, (Palmer street,) - 5.3 Harrison, (Master street,) Jackson, Livingston, (Fairmount, ) Thompson, (Manayunk,) Dickinson, (Roxborough, ) Harmony, (Chestnut Hill,) Hart's Lane, Irving, (Bridesburg,) Hagy, (Roxborough,) Columbia, Oakdale, Carroll, Rut ledge, (Cohecksink, ) - Olney, Walnut street, -

1840

1841

1842

1843

1844

1845

1846

5.3 5.7 5.4 5.3 5.2 6.4 5.4 4.2 5.2 6.6 5.9 6.7 5.6 6.0 5.2 6.3 6.6

5.5 8.2 7.0 4.8 5.7 6.1 7.2 5.8 6.7

7.9 7.1 7.6 6.3 5.9 6.6

4.1 5.6 5.3 4.7 4.4 4.3 8.8 5.8 5.4 6.6 4.4

6.2 5.9 5.2 5.6 5.2 8.3 7.6

6.4 6.9 5.4 6.6

5.3 5.4 6.3 6.2

6.1 4.1 5.4 7.1

2.0 4.4 6.6 5.6 7.2 6.2 6.4 4.4 6.6 6.9 2.5 8.2 8.8 5.8 6.8 8.0 6.7

6.3 6.6 7.8 5.6 7.4 6.1 6.4 6.2

5.1 5.8 6.6 5.5 6.8 5.0 6.2 5.6

5.9 6.0 6.7 5.8 7.6 6.1 6.3 6.1

5.4 4.1 6.5 6.9

4.7 4.2 4.7 6.9

5.5 5.3

6.7 4.0 6.9

7.8

6.7 6.0 6.5 6.4 8.2 7.2 6.8 6.6 5.6

4.8 6.2 7.2 5.3 6.7 5.4 5.9 5.9 5.9

7.1 5.1 7.8 7.8 6.2

5.1 5.6 7.4 7.0 6.5

6.1

6.2 6.7 7.2 4.3 7.2 6.7 6.3 6.0

6.5

7.4

6.6

7.0 7.2 7.1 5.6 7.2 6.6 6.5 6.7 5.5

5.8 6.5 6.1 5.6 6.5 5.8 5.1 5.8 7.0 6.5 6.0 4.9 5.8 5.4 5.5 5.5 6.6 4.9

6.9 5.8 6.6 6.4 5.6 4.9 5.1 6.2

1848

Examination Results by Grammar School, 1838-50

7.0 7.0 5.5 5.3 5.9 6.5 6.0 5.9 6.0 5.7 6.1 6.6 6.0 6.4 5.8 6.4 5.2 5.4 6.2 4.5 4.9 4.6 4.3 5.0 5.9 6.1 6.8 6.5 6.7

5.9 6.3 5.1 6.1 4.1 4.5 5.7 5.1 5.9 5.0 8.2 7.5 5.9 6.7 6.0 6.0 6.3 5.6 6.9 6.2 5.7 4.6 5.9 5.3 4.7 6.4 5.8 6.5 5.6 6.7 5.5 4.3 4.2 6.5 7.4 5.5 5.4 6.4 6.7 7.2 6.0 5.6 6.0 5.6 7.2 7.3 7.7 7.3 6.3 6.4 5.8 6.3 7.3

No general average for the whole time is given, because nearly all the Schools have changed teachers since 1838. make in each case an average of the results for the time that any particular teacher has had charge of the School.

Figure 4.1

1847

1849

1850

o> f>

4.2

5.1 6.4 5.0 5.3 0 5.1 5.4 5.1 4 «o 6.5 5.8 5.7 5.7 6.6 6.4 6.5 6.1 5.0 5.4 5.5 6.2 6.5 5.1 5.3 5.4 5.5 2.8 5.7 4.2 4.8 4.5 6.9 7.2 7.2 6.5 6.9 6.2 6.7 5.1 3.5 5.0 5.8 6.4 5.6 4.9 5.8

4.5

4.2

5.5 5.8

6.2 5.0 5.3 4.3 4.4 4.2 4.8 5.5

6.9 5.9 4.9 5.0 4.6 3.4 4.2 6.2

4.4 3.8 5.1 5.1 4.6 5.8 4.3

4.6 4.8 4.5 4.6 4.6

4.3 6.3 4.5 3.5 2.4 6.1 5.3 3.4 7.2 4.9

3.7 6.6 4.8

5.5 6.4 5.6 5.4 6.0 5.8 6.0 5.6 5.0 5.4 5.1 5.1 5.6 5.2 6.8 6.3 4.3 5.6 5.6 5.2 5.3 7.6 5.7 3.5 5.2 7.1

5.4 4.2

5.5

6.1 3.6 3.1

6.2

5.6

5.0

6.0

4.8 5.3

3.6 2.4 6.2

The only fair method of comparison is to

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

concerned.3 The high school created a pattern of centralized control based on individual competition and merit selection. Thus the power that it exercised (and that the controllers harnessed) was peculiarly legitimate from the point of view of meritocratic ideology. It was consumer demand for high school credentials that structured the school system. During this period, then, centralization came from below. John Hart, who understood the meritocratic nature of this structure, noted in 1850 that, according to an earlier report by the controllers: "the influence of the institution upon the other schools is believed to be worth more than all that it cost, independent of the advantages received by its actual pupils." This influence is exerted solely through the examinations for admission. The privileges of the High School are held forth to the pupil as the reward of successful exertion in the lower schools. They are kept constantly and distinctly in his view, and operate as a powerful and abiding stimulus to exertion through all the successive stages of promotion, from the lowest division of the Primary to the highest division in the Grammar School. The influence is felt by those who do not reach the High School quite as much as by those who do. It is an influence pervading the whole Public School system (Annual Report 1850, 85).4

DIFFERENTIATION OF FUNCTION The leaders of early school systems avidly pursued functional differentiation in their campaigns for graded schools. Grading was a response to two pressures confronting antebellum schoolmen, one organizational and one ideological. The new common-school systems were forced to deal with the consequences of a large increase in the number of students, and differentiation is a classic organizational response to such a situation. First, by dividing the students into different levels of schools and different grades within schools, educators could deal with them in classes that were relatively homogeneous in age and ability. In addition, as David Hogan (forthcoming) suggests, the homogeneous grouping that resulted from graded schools provided a level playing field for academic competition among students. In this sense, a vertically differentiated structure of schooling was the prerequisite for the introduction of meritocratic pedagogy within a school system. Proponents of graded school systems saw the high school as the key to the achievement of their goal (Dunkelberger 1927, 254-56). For example, Central's introduction into the Philadelphia common-school system en3. The view from the bottom was quite different. During the 1840s in particular, sectional boards jumped to defend their grammar schools from the influence of the high school. Raising curriculum standards helped alleviate some of this opposition because it allowed grammar schools to provide a fuller education for students within the ward. 4. Much of this passage appears to be a paraphrase of Henry Barnard's statement on the subject two years earlier (S. Cohen, 1974, vol. 2, 1261). 70

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

couraged and strengthened the process of grading sought by the controllers. First, this new and higher level of school provided an upward extension of a system of graded schools that had previously consisted only of primary and grammar schools. Second, Central's entrance requirements defined a sharp boundary between it and the grammar schools, a boundary that was reinforced by board regulations prohibiting either school from teaching subjects assigned to the other. This clear differentiation between the two grades of school was in marked contrast to the blurred boundary between high school and college during the same period (when a high school diploma was not a prerequisite for college). The result was that while the high school had to compete with colleges for its students, it generated an orderly structure for recruiting students within its own graded school system. Most important of all, however, the high school was the force that activated this system. The controllers could have created a graded framework for schooling in the absence of the high school, but without Central as a stimulant and motivator the grades would have remained an empty shell. A graded hierarchy of age and difficulty will work only if students have a strong desire to compete for the chance to attain the next level. Central heightened this desire by offering a social reward worth working for and by making the process of acquiring it highly selective. Without these elements, the graded structure of schooling would have lost much of its meritocratic character and turned into a structure based more on age than competitive achievement. In the twentieth century, this nonmeritocratic alternative is called "social promotion." Grammar schools also played a part in the meritocratic structure. Since they were the highest level of schooling available in their respective wards, they were visible and attractive cultural objects; and since their attrition rate was high, their credentials were relatively scarce. Yet it was the high school that raised the level of competition from the ward to the city as a whole, and it was the high school that raised selectivity to extraordinary heights. By itself, Central created and dominated a city-wide market for advanced public schooling, thereby introducing a new form of educational incentive that was both quantitatively and qualitatively superior to what the grammar schools could offer. Urged on by the elevated position of the high school, the controllers extended the grading of the Philadelphia schools to unusual heights. Whereas most cities had a three-tiered school system—primary, grammar, and high schools—Philadelphia had a fourth level, known as "secondary," inserted between the first two. And although primary, secondary, and grammar schools each lasted two years during most of the nineteenth century, they were graded by the half year—which meant that a boy enter71

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

ing Central had already completed the twelfth grade.5 Under Central's meritocratic influence, the Philadelphia school system pursued vertical differentiation with a vengeance. QUALIFICATION FOR OFFICE Throughout the nineteenth century, ward level school boards were responsible for hiring all Philadelphia school teachers except those at the high schools, and before 1865 these hiring practices were unrestricted by any form of certification requirements.6 A teacher's qualifications for office might therefore include patronage ties and salary kickbacks in addition to competence in the classroom. The Board of Controllers simply did not have the legal authority and political independence to impose hiring standards, and once again the market power of Central High School helped fill this structural void. During this period, the principal and faculty of Central High School acted like the members of a superintendent's staff, offering informal guidance to local boards about selecting teachers. Until 1856, when the controllers created a committee on the qualification of teachers, the high school provided the only system-wide influence on this process. John Hart frequently examined teacher candidates at the invitation of various sectional boards: in 1848 he reported to the controllers that since his appointment six years earlier he had conducted a total of 49 such examinations involving 964 candidates (Annual Report 1848, 95). He also operated a voluntary Saturday normal school for female elementary-school teachers from 1844 until 1851, when the opening of the Girls Normal School made it redundant (Clark 1938, 31). Meanwhile, the high school subjected its own teacher candidates to a rigorous screening process that frequently included written examinations. In addition, Central trained the bulk of the city's male grammar-school teachers, who, though small in number, exerted considerable infuence as the top professional educators in their respective wards. Therefore, while the school system edged toward a policy of setting standards for its teachers, the high school was promoting a form of professional standard in its own characteristic way. Issuing directives to the ward boards, as in a bureaucracy, would have been futile. Instead, the school drew on the influence available to it because of its market power and used it in a manner consistent with the constraints of this power. Sidestepping any attempt at imposing standards, the school instead presented a model of 5. This grading pattern was unchanged in Philadelphia until 1886, when the number of divisions stayed at twelve but the four grammar-school divisions were extended to a full year each, raising the total of elementary-school years from six to eight. 6. In that year a state law authorized the controllers to examine the qualifications of teacher candidates and certify those who were acceptable. Under this law, local boards continued to make the final decisions about hiring, but now they had to hire teachers from the approved list. 72

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

rigorous hiring practices and then offered to share this model on a voluntary basis. Central's credibility and effectiveness as a standard setter for the school system came from its market success and its meritocratic mode of operating. OBJECTIVITY The legitimacy of a functioning bureaucracy requires it to establish procedures that are predictable, rule-bound, and disinterested. From the day Central opened, a similar need for legitimacy quickly prompted its leaders to create procedures for its entrance exam. This exam stirred so much competitive interest that it became the object of intense scrutiny. As John Hart put it, "In proportion to the importance attached to examinations for admission, is the jealousy with which they are watched, and the care with which they should be conducted" (Annual Report 1850, 85). For the school this meant administering the exam so as "to avoid, not only all possibility, but all appearance of favouritism" (Annual Report 1850, 40). This concern was fully warranted. In 1865, the controllers discharged the principal of Girls High School after grammar-school heads complained about irregularities in the administration of the school's entrance exam. At Central the entrance exam was regulated by a set of bureaucratic procedures as elaborate as those surrounding the modern Scholastic Aptitude Test, and for the same reason: to proclaim the objectivity, fairness, reliability, and openness of the testing process. Central pursued this goal in countless ways. It used written answers and multiple readers; it kept the answers on file and considered appeals; it encouraged visitors to observe the process; and it published the aggregate test results in the newspaper. In his 1850 report Hart spent twenty pages discussing every step in the exam process, including all the questions asked. He even reproduced three forms used in the process—a letter sent to grammar-school masters announcing the exam and listing rules; a certificate for admission to the exam attesting that a student met minimum qualifications, and a card with a number on the front (given to the student for anonymity) and rules on the back (for example, "Be careful not to lose this card"; Annual Report 1850, 84-106). In promoting these punctilious procedures, the high school's supporters were simply trying to protect the exam and the school from the charge of bias, but the effect was to establish a model of formal procedure for a school system that was wholly lacking in it, a model that would have done credit to a highly evolved bureaucratic organization. Following the now familiar pattern, the high school led the way in the adoption of bureaucratic forms in response to demand from the consumers rather than from the administrators of public schooling. PRECISION AND CONTINUITY In order to preserve the objectivity and stability of their procedures, bureaucracies must generate a precise and thorough 73

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

set of records. For the same reasons—defending and legitimating the school—Central High School's entrepreneurial founders maintained records of the school's activities from the start and modeled this form of careful record-keeping for the school system as a whole. Central collected an extraordinary array of data on its students, faculty, and inner workings; these student registers, faculty-meeting minutes, committee reports, course schedules, historical accounts, and so on are still preserved in an archive at the high school. It is perhaps the annual reports of the high school's principals that provide the clearest insight into the meaning of records for the school. These reports were published as part of the annual report of the board of controllers, but during the antebellum period the high school's contributions tended to overwhelm the parent report. In part this was simply because of their length (several high school reports extended for more than a hundred pages), the result of detailed descriptions of curriculum, pedagogy, test procedure, discipline, hiring, and all other phases of high school activity. In part it was also because of the mass of facts and figures presented (some reports included as many as thirty-five charts and tables), showing everything from student success rates on the entrance exam (by grammar school over time) to high school costs per student (by grade level, course, and year). This public display of precision and comprehensiveness in organizational record-keeping was unique to the high school. The controllers initially showed few tendencies in this direction; in contrast to Central's reports, the reports by the president of the controllers tended to be brief, rhetorical, and spare in the use of supporting data. And a survey of nineteenth-century grammar-school records in Philadelphia revealed that they kept only the most minimal records. A number of factors can explain the passion for committing Central's experience to paper: the self-consciously innovative character of the high school and people's pride in being associated with it, the elevated status occupied by the school relative to other schools, and the quasi-administrative function served by the high school within the school system. But the most pressing reason was that these carefully maintained and publicly displayed records were essential means for documenting the school's fairness in administering the meritocratic scramble for its credentials. The argument implicit (and sometimes explicit) in all the early high school reports is that the school collected, calculated, and published such an elaborate account of its affairs in order to reassure its middle-class constituency. The reports told this constituency in stupefying detail that the high school was neither arbitrary nor biased in its workings but was a fully functioning meritocracy; that it was not a pawn of the upper class but a 74

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

thoroughly republican institution, open to everyone, yet safely dominated by the middle class. In short, the high school's leaders generated these records as a way of proving to the public that it was doing what it was created to do, providing a meritocratic education for the sons of the middle class. CONCLUSION Under the leadership of Central High School the Philadelphia school system in the mid-nineteenth century established a form of organization that fulfilled many of the functions of a working bureaucracy. The high school acted as a strong and effective agent of centralization in a highly decentralized school system; it promoted the differentiation of schooling by grade; it initiated informal programs for the training and certification of teachers; it developed elaborate formal procedures for governing the operations of the school and its relations with other schools; and it generated a wide array of internal records and public documents. However, although the school system was trying out various bureaucratic forms, the resulting pattern of organization could hardly be called a true bureaucracy. There was centralization of authority but without legal basis; as a result the system as a whole had no formal structure and no one in charge. (Its first superintendent was not appointed until 1883). Differentiation affected schools, but roles within the schools remained diffuse, with one man (John Hart) playing high school principal, quasi-superintendent and normal-school teacher. The high school exerted pressure to set standards for teacher hiring, but participation was spotty and formal certification nonexistent. In matters of procedure and records, Central forged ahead, with the school system establishing little on its own. Perhaps the most telling bit of data, however, is that when the process of bureaucratization began, in the last third of the nineteenth century, the school system's leaders made the high school into a target, initiating a series of reforms that undercut its market power and the system's market-based structure of organization. Central High School in the mid-nineteenth century exercised power over other schools in much the same way that Harvard University did (and continues to do today). Like Harvard, Central was established long before any peer organizations could develop. This allowed the school to offer unique educational credentials to a constituency that valued these credentials highly and was willing to compete for them vigorously. For both Harvard and Central, the root of organizational power was strong market position. This is in sharp contrast with the authority exercised within the prototypical modern bureaucracies, the corporation and the government agency, where authority is based on property rights and legislation, respectively. In these classic bureaucracies, power emanates from the top down75

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

ward because it is the top officials to whom the owners and legislators have delegated authority. However, schools like Central and Harvard exercised power within their own organizational spheres without any such formal authorization. None the weaker for being informal, their power derived entirely from demand from below rather than delegation from above, for in each case the school found itself the object of intense competition—a piece of valuable cultural property for which the demand greatly outpaced the supply. Therefore, the authority over Philadelphia schools exercised by Central High School in the mid-nineteenth century was based on an organizational principle antithetical to the bureaucratic authority invested in the Progressive-era superintendent. Although Central moved the school system in a bureaucratic direction, it did so by means that were strictly nonbureaucratic. Drawing on its informal market-based powers, the high school played a free-wheeling entrepreneurial role within the school system, one that helped pave the way for bureaucracy but inevitably led to conflict with the formally delegated authority of the superintendent in the developing bureaucratic structure. As a result, the next phase of the organizational history of Philadelphia schools marked a major shift in the position of the high school. No longer the agent of centralization, Central became the object of this process; less and less the dominant power within the system, it gradually became subordinate to the growing power of the superintendent. During this period, the high school gradually lost its entrepreneurial role in the fading market structure of schooling and acquired a formal structural niche within the new bureaucratic order. The Growth of Bureaucratic Control, 1867-1911

Political factors, particularly the actions of the Pennsylvania legislature, played the most significant role in promoting the development of bureaucratic organization in the Philadelphia schools. In 1819, this body established the city's public schools, and in 1836, it reconstituted them as a graded common-school system. An 1867 law removed the power to appoint central board members from the ward boards and vested it in the courts, thus permitting the central board greater independence. Then, in 1905 and 1911, the legislature mandated a dramatic transformation of system governance by shifting the remaining powers of the ward boards into the hands of a small appointed school board and its agent, the superintendent. The common-school law of 1836, which also authorized Central High School, initiated the form of system organization described above—a highschool-dominated market-based structure of schooling. But it was the 76

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

1867 law that moved the city's schools into the next organizational phase, by creating the possibility of establishing bureaucratic control from above and simultaneously ending the special status of the high school. In the following, I will explore the role of the high school during this forty-fouryear period when the school system lurched unsteadily down a path that led eventually to a bureaucratic model of organization. In the last third of the nineteenth century, the school board actively sought to expand its control over the operation of Philadelphia's schools. At the same time the market success of Central High School had provoked a public demand for the school board to intervene in the contest for high school admissions. These two goals, one organizational and one political, converged in an attack on the high school's exclusive market position; for the market power of the high school interfered with the establishment of administrative control and also limited public access to its private benefits. However, the board was not able to move quickly toward achieving either goal, since it lacked both the legal authority and the political influence to accomplish them. The result was that for much of this period, the old market-based structure of schools (dominated by the high school) persisted alongside the emerging hierarchical structure, as market principles and political principles maintained an uneasy coexistence in a school system characterized by a series of organizational compromises. However, with the rise of a politically powerful Progressive reform movement at the turn of the century, the board finally achieved formal bureaucratic control of the school system and formal subordination of the high school while sharply increasing public access to high school. POLITICS, ADMINISTRATION, AND THE ATTACK ON THE HIGH SCHOOL

In 1867,

the state legislature removed the power to appoint the board of controllers from the ward boards and turned it over to the judges of the court of common pleas and the district court. This new method of selection, which continued until 1951, had two important and contradictory effects on system organization. On the one hand, it freed the controllers from the constraints imposed by their former ward-board constituency, allowing them to pursue policies geared to the needs of central administration without concern for parochial interests. On the other hand, it left the controllers without a close political link to the still-powerful local boards. In other words, they were in a position to act more autonomously in pursuit of greater centralization within their limited legal mandate, but they were isolated from the local political constituency they needed in order to exert influence beyond this mandate (Nash 1946, 18). This meant that the controllers could attack the exclusiveness of the high school but could not 77

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

afford to do without it, since they still needed some form of market structure to maintain control over the school system. The newly appointed controllers wasted no time in exercising their statutory freedom in ways that reflected a willingness to employ direct hierarchical controls over the schools and to impose political constraints on the operation of the educational market. In 1868 the board adopted its first complete course of study for the elementary grades, which specified every subject and text to be used in each division of the district's primary, secondary, and grammar schools. No longer prepared to regulate curriculum through the competition for high school admission, the board sought to accomplish the same end by means of an administrative order (Annual Report 1869, 46-59). In the same year the board adopted rules that undercut the meritocratic character of Central's admissions procedures and in so doing attacked the roots of its market-based organizational power. For the school's first thirty years, admission was determined solely by open competitive examinations administered by the school itself. Only those with the highest scores were admitted. But the new system changed this procedure in two vital ways. First, the board eliminated the exam and ordered that students be admitted on the basis of a certificate of competence signed by their grammar-school principal and sectional board. Second, it imposed a quota system requiring that the number of students sent to the high school by each grammar school be proportional to its size. Also in 1868, the controllers adopted another new policy with organizational significance: they established a fifth division (on top of the normal four) in the city's grammar schools, calling it the "senior class." The new policy authorized the new grade to cover material that had previously been restricted to the high school, so that for the first time grammar schools were allowed to compete directly with Central. In effect, the policy created a mini-high school in every ward in the city, each awarding its own special diploma, thus ending Central's years of splendid isolation. The competitive position of these senior classes relative to the high school was further enhanced when in 1870 the board added a sixth division (making its senior-class curriculum two years in length) and awarded graduates a special diploma. In combination, these four policy initiatives from the new courtappointed board of controllers—the elementary course of study, the end of the high school entrance exam, admission by quota, and the senior class—all reveal a sudden willingness by the board to take administrative control of the schools and simultaneously to launch a major assault on the power base of Central High School. This new frame of mind was underscored by a subsequent symbolic action. In 1870, the board changed 78

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

its name from the Board of Controllers (a deliberately narrow title, designed to reflect its control of finances but not of schooling generally) to the Board of Public Education—a title that implied a sweeping claim to all of the city's schools. What is the explanation for these changes, most of which occurred in a single year? The venture into curriculum control is understandable in light of the sudden opportunity for action presented by the 1867 law. But the reasons for the attack on the high school are more complex. One is that the school itself was in a weakened state as the result of a bitter intramural dispute in the early 1860s that turned into a public spectacle, complete with open hearings and mass firings (discussed in detail in chapter 5). This event cost the school much of its luster and made it an easy target. But there are two other, more significant reasons, one organizational and one political. The flurry of changes marked a transition point from an informal market-based control structure to a formal administrative control structure. Central High School was both linchpin and symbol of the early market structure, and as such it represented a threat to the viability of the educational hierarchy that started to emerge after 1867. The two organizational forms were incompatible. The old model was based on the consumer drawing power of a single school: its uniqueness made it a desirable object worth competing for, and the competition gave it organizational power based on the self-regulation of the competitors. The emergent model was based on the subordination of all schools to a common structure of administration: from this perspective the old system was anathema to the principles of good management since it placed obstacles in the path of developing a stable method of governing the schools from above on the basis of formal rules. The old voluntarism and open competition ran counter to the new comprehensive regulation; an entrepreneurial structure confronted a corporate structure. As a result, in 1868, the controllers attacked those special qualities that gave the high school its power. They undercut its uniqueness by permitting much of its work to be done by the city's grammar schools, and they ended its selectivity by giving grammar-school masters the power to determine admissions. These organizational reforms had important political implications. In combination they represented the imposition of political authority over a previously unregulated structure of schools, placing public limits on the private uses of these schools. Throughout the second half of the nineteenth century, pressure for admission to the high school increased as the result of growing elementary enrollments and a fixed enrollment at the high school. As a proportion of total enrollment in the city schools, Central's student body declined from 1.1 percent in 1855 to 0.6 percent in 1870 (Annual Report 1855, 1870). The senior classes drained off much of this pressure. 79

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

At the same time they enabled the controllers to grant the local boards a truncated form of high school for local consumption and under local control, trading centralized control of curriculum for decentralizing a piece of secondary education. This was a political accommodation that fit the classic seesaw pattern of American educational expansion. Historically, competition for scarce educational commodities becomes so intense that public pressure develops to ease access through political intervention in what had been a free-market process. In Philadelphia one form of intervention was t expand the number of opportunities through the senior classes; another was to relocate the decision about high school admission from the high school (via its exam) to the grammar school (via certification); a third was to guarantee fair distribution of a scarce commodity by means of a geographical quota system. The controllers were well aware of the political implications of their actions. In 1869, a committee of the board reported on the system's organizational needs, arguing that the board should no longer allow the high school to dominate the system. Drawing heavily on the political rhetoric of the common-school reformers, the committee asserted: "Our schools are established for the masses, the commonwealth of mind, rich and poor alike—for the common benefit and the common protection, regardless of the accidents of life. It is not correct to measure the value of our Public School System by special instance of talent amongst its graduates" (quoted in Nash 1946, 26). From this democratic perspective, Central High School was a glaring example of exclusiveness, grounded in the "special instance of talent" rather than the general good. As a result, the school that was so successful in the marketplace became politically vulnerable, in large part because of the special qualities that made it so marketable. MIXING MODELS-. MARKETS AND POLITICS After its bold initiative to gain independence from the high school and establish administrative control, the board of education executed another sudden policy shift. In 1877 it issued a new rule for high school admissions that partially restored the high school to its former position. As in the old days, all students seeking entrance were required to take an exam given by the high school; the certificate system was abandoned. Also in line with the old method, the board determined the subjects to be tested. But in addition it defined a minimum passing grade (formerly at the discretion of the high school), so that anyone receiving a score of 60 percent or higher would be considered qualified for admission. And as the final element of the package, the board retained the quota system, which meant that each grammar school had the right to send the high school a fixed number of students who earned passing exam 80

THE HIGH SCHOOL

AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

scores, with the quota varying according to the number of divisions in the school (Annual Report 1877, 327). The net result was a compromise between the old and new methods for admitting high school students, a compromise based on two conflicting principles of selection—one based on meritocratic competition and another based on political entitlement. Why did the board slide from the latter principle back toward the former? Why did it fell its organizational rival, the high school, and then restore much of its rival's power? The board did not make its intentions explicit, but the long-term relationship between the high school and the organization of the school system suggests an explanation. For although it set out in 1868 to govern the system by means of bureaucratic directive rather than through the drawing power of the high school, the school board soon discovered that these directives were easier to issue than to enforce. Until 1905, local boards continued to have firm control over the selection of teachers and the operation of the city's elementary schools. Thus, although the board of education could mandate a course of study, it had no way to insure that this course was being followed in the city's classrooms. Under these circumstances, a partial return to the old market structure made good sense, by accommodating the board's efforts at administrative control with its limited powers of enforcement. The new exam procedure would help generate pressure from below, as parents urged local schools to prepare their children for the exam, while at the same time board directives would exert pressure from above. The board was in effect admitting its inability to govern on its own account and its continuing need for the help of the high school to maintain centralized control. Yet it was also making clear that the high school's free-wheeling entrepreneurial role within the school system was a thing of the past, and that its meritocratic powers were now being harnessed to the board's own ends. This combination of market-based and administrative controls characterized the Philadelphia school system during the extended period between the time when the board discovered the possibility of developing direct control of the system in 1867 and the time when it finally became able to accomplish its goal in 1911. In the years following 1877, the high school retained a strong but circumscribed role in the organization of Philadelphia public schools while the board sought to extend its regulatory authority. The uneasy coexistence of these conflicting organizational principles is reflected in the fluctuating status of the high school, as recorded in the bureaucratic language of the "Rules of Board" published in the back of every annual report. These rules kept changing the terms of the 1877 compromise—sometimes leaning toward greater power for the high school (making admissions more merit81

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ocratic, increasing faculty control over the process, and guarding the school from competition) and sometimes reducing the high school's power (extending quotas, reducing faculty control over exams and admissions, and undercutting the school's exclusiveness). During the last decades of the century, the only constant was the persistence of some form of exam and some form of quota system. The exam symbolized the high school's continuing role as a market institution, grounded in selectivity and high exchange value, while the quota symbolized its recurring role as a political institution, grounded in democratic access. Embodying the compromise spirit was the man elected school board president in 1879, Edward Steel. A strong advocate of centralization who began the rationalization of teacher pay scales in the system (see chapter 5), he led the board in 1882 to authorize the hiring of the city's first superintendent. Yet he also argued strongly for preserving the entrance exam as a mechanism of organizational control, and he gave the superintendent no authority over the high school (Annual Report 1880, 21-22; Nash 1946, 135). Under his administration, the school system first edged toward further empowerment of the high school and then turned in the other direction. In 1883, the board raised the minimum exam score to 65 percent and ended competition with the grammar schools by mandating that Central could accept only students from the senior class. Steel defended this move as necessary "to stimulate the entire school system and to elevate all the schools to a higher plane of effort" (Annual Report 1883, 45)—in other words, to restore to the high school some of its market power. But only two years later the latter rule was rescinded, placing the senior class once again in parallel with the freshman year at Central. At the same time, the board turned over responsibility for writing and administering the exam to the new superintendent. The most important event in shaping the high school's position within the school system also occurred in 1885—the opening of Central Manual Training School (CMTS) only a few blocks away. Although CMTS offered a three-year program in manual training, as opposed to the high school's four-year academic curriculum, it was still the city's first alternative public secondary school for boys—ending Central's fifty-year reign as the only school of its kind. Two years later the board established a formal parity among Central High, Girls High, and the manual training school: applicants to all three would have to complete the same grammar-school course, be tested in the same subjects, meet the same minimum score (now raised to 70 percent), and fulfill the same quotas. A state law passed the same year, requiring school districts to provide a high school education for any student under twenty-one who qualified for admission, put pressure on the board to expand the number of secondary schools even further 82

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(Annual Report 1887, 359-64). In 1890, a second competitor, Northeast Manual Training School, opened its doors, and plans called for a series of other secondary schools. Political pressure for wider access to secondary education initially led to a series of administrative constraints on the entrepreneurial freedom of Central High School as the school board sought to bring about a more equitable distribution of Central's scarce and valuable credentials. In opposition to this public-interested aim were the private concerns of the high school's proprietary-middle-class constituents, who sought to preserve the status advantage they had always derived from the school's special character. In addition, the board's need for the high school's market power to fill the gaps in its own organizational authority mitigated the vigor of its attack on the exclusiveness that formed the basis of this power. But by the 1880s, the nature of the political pressure on the high school changed. There came to be less concern with redistributing the pie than with expanding its size and less concern with equalizing opportunity for a selective high school education than with increasing a student's chances of gaining access to some form of high school. This meant opening new secondary schools, thus breaking Central's monopoly, and at the same time sharply increasing the number of students admitted to the high school. President Steel made the case for both forms of wider access in 1887: The best interests of the city demand, at the earliest date, increased and improved High School facilities. Since 1854, when there were 656 pupils in the High School, nothing has been done to enlarge the High School accommodations, and the number of pupils in the school now is no greater than it was then, while the number of boys in the lower schools has doubled. If for no other reason than to furnish room for manual training, in connection with the course of study, larger accommodations must be provided, in a building that will accommodate twelve hundred boys, with all the facilities that belong to a modern school. The brightest spot in the school department is the Manual Training School, started in 1885, and now full to its utmost capacity (quoted inMichener 1938, 25).

The demand to expand secondary education was even more pronounced in Philadelphia than in other cities because public access was narrower there. Philadelphia's public school enrollment in 1880 formed an elongated pyramid, which (as President Bache had noted approvingly back in 1851) had a wide base and an extremely narrow apex. The two high schools accounted for only 1.4 percent of the city's public school enrollment—the lowest proportion for any large city in that year (Labaree 1983, tables 2.10 and 2.11). For the next few years, supporters of Central High School sought to 83

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restore its special status within the school system by elevating it to the status of a junior college. Citing the example of the City College of New York, which originated as a high school they argued that Central should add a two-year college curriculum to its regular four-year course and become Philadelphia's City College. From such an attractive position, Central would again become the object of emulation and could play the kind of regulatory role toward the city's high schools that it once played toward grammar schools. A faculty report put the organizational aim of the citycollege movement concisely: ''It was a necessary move to keep Central High School in the line of its traditional development and to restore to it its pristine position in the educational system of Philadelphia" (quoted in Cornog 1952, 199). However, this plan for rescuing Central's status and restoring its organizational power never won a favorable response from the school board, which by the 1890s felt that such palliatives were no longer necessary. Symbolic of this developing confidence in its ability to do without market incentives in controlling the system was the board's decision in 1900 to mandate high school admission by certificate, ending once and for all the sixty-two-year-old high school entrance examination (Superintendent of Schools, Annual Report 1900-01,46). BUREAUCRATIC CONTROL AND THE SUBORDINATION OF THE HIGH SCHOOL

During the last third of the nineteenth century, the board of education governed Philadelphia's school system employing a pragmatic combination of two contradictory forms of organization, one based on consumer demand and the other on administrative regulation. Unwilling to rely on th former and unable to rule by the latter alone, the board muddled through by using the market power of the high school when needed but keeping it under close constraint. As a result, the high school's position in the school system experienced a series of erratic upward and downward adjustments. It was not until the late 1880s that a clear trend developed in the downward direction, as the high school was subjected to a variety of measures designed to subordinate it to system administration and to strip it of the special characteristics that made it so marketable. One reason for the shift in organizational balance was the arrival of a superintendent. Before 1882, Central's faculty had constituted the highestranking body of educational professionals in the system; they answered only to the laymen on the high school committee and school board. But placing a professional educator at the head of the school system did not in itself alter the distribution of power, since he, like the board that appointed him, had little legal authority. In short, any significant change in the patterns of control within the school system would require a change in the law. And the factor that tipped the balance was the growing political clout 84

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of the educational reform effort that emerged from the city's Progressive movement. The official beginning of educational Progressivism in the city occurred in 1881 with the founding of the Public Education Association (PEA), which served as the organizational base for the movement that transformed the structure of the Philadelphia school system.7 In Philadelphia as elsewhere, the conservative form of educational Progressivism (whatTyack [1974] calls administrative Progressivism) predominated over the liberal form. Whereas the liberals pursued such goals as child-centered pedagogy and social service to the community, the conservatives aggressively promoted centralized control, stratified curricula, and educational expansion. In order to attain centralized control over the schools, the Progressive reformers had to engage in a vigorous political struggle with the local communities and politicians who sought to preserve ward-level control. Only when the central administration had the legal authority over the entire system did a full-fledged bureaucratic structure develop. But when that happened, the special character of the high school became more a threat than an aid to the new bureaucratic order, and its final subordination quickly followed. The result was the administrative domination of a school system once guided by the invisible hand of the market. This change produced educational outcomes that reflected a mixture of both public interests (widening access to education) and private interests (stratifying access to preserve positional advantage), laced together in a snug bureaucratic knot. The efforts of the educational Progressives in Philadelphia culminated in two state laws that embodied the bulk of their goals. The reform law of 1905 reorganized the structure of control in the district, reducing the size of the school board and sharply restricting the powers of the ward boards. The author of the bill, Martin G. Brumbaugh, was named superintendent by the new board and moved aggressively to consolidate his powers. Matching these new powers with a strong ideological commitment to administrative Progressivism, Brumbaugh pursued a policy of centralizing control and leveling the high school. In the next five years he replaced the seventyyear-old committee on Central High School with a generic committee on boys' high schools, established the first comprehensive high school, set up a series of "annexes" under Central and Girls High that soon became independent high schools, and narrowed the region from which Central could draw students from the city as a whole to the area surrounding the school. Then, in 1911, the Progressive movement for educational reform 7. For an account of the Progressives' successful fight for educational reform in Philadelphia see Issel (1970, 1978). For a wider-ranging look at the character and course of educational Progressivism see Tyack (1974), Church and Sedlak (1976), and Hogan (1985).

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reached its culmination in the passage of a comprehensive school code that effectively abolished the ward boards (turning them into boards of "visitors"), further reduced the board of education to fifteen members, standardized the curriculum, and provided the board with authority to levy taxes. The new board immediately granted the superintendent explicit power over two key aspects that had previously been vested in the high school committee and faculty, the course of study and the hiring of teachers. After a long struggle, the school board and its superintendent were finally in firm control of all levels of the Philadelphia school system. Wasting no time, Brumbaugh in 1912 thoroughly reorganized the city's high schools into a homogeneous pattern, submerging Central's unique identity into the mass of its peers. Central had previously managed to retain certain distinctions—it was the only secondary school in the city with a four-year program offering both academic and commercial courses—that continued to elevate it above the competition, if only marginally. But the reorganization put all secondary schools on an even footing: all would have four-year programs; all would offer academic, commercial, and manual training courses; and all would henceforth be known as high schools. Central High School—the city's first public high school, which for seventyfive years had successfully translated unique characteristics into organizational power—had finally become another face in the crowd.8 It is particularly ironic that this final subordination of Central High School took place just ten years after the dedication of its grand new building. These ceremonies, spread out over four days, brought together an extraordinary assembly of distinguished alumni, judges, educators, and politicans, including alumnus and former governor Robert E. Pattison and President Theodore Roosevelt. The speeches delivered by these men, later published in a 270-page book (Edmonds 1910), celebrated precisely those characteristics that the school was rapidly losing, its uniqueness and its educational influence. For example, Superintendent Edward Brooks, after exploring in detail the "most conspicuous and worthy" record of the high school and its graduates, concluded that "the Central High School has thus projected itself into the civic and professional life of the city, and thus helped to mould its institutions and to shape its history; and what it has done in the past, amid its humble and inadequate facilities, is but an earnest of what we may expect it to do in the future, housed in this magnificent building" (Edmonds 1910, 75). To read these speeches out of context, one would think that Central was 8. Interestingly, Girls High School, unlike Central, managed to preserve some of its distincliveness, remaining a strictly academic high school while the commercial course was taught at another institution (see Clark 1938).

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such a powerful school that no one would dare meddle with it. Yet, given the school's circumstances at the time, the rhetoric expressed bravado rather than calm assurance, as the speakers sought to roll back the tide of bureaucratization and political regulation that so clearly threatened the high school's traditional powers. This grandiose dedication ceremony can be read as the last major expression of the school's entrepreneurial spirit, a glittering example of institutional self-promotion that provided powerful support for Central's prestige and for the market value of its credentials. As we shall see, this support helped to preserve a measure of autonomy for the high school under the new regime but could not restore the distinction the school derived from its early monopoly. Throughout the entire period of Progressive ascendancy, Robert Ellis Thompson was president of Central High School. A Presbyterian minister, Thompson had taught economics and Christian sociology at the University of Pennsylvania until he was fired in the wake of Penn's professionalization effort. The primary charge against him was that he was behind the times: in the new specialized and research-oriented university of the 1890s he was conspicuously a generalist and a moralist (teaching a half-dozen subjects while preaching on weekends). Hired to head the high school in 1894, he stayed on until 1920, the longest tenure of any Central president. The same qualities that made him resist the imposition of organizational and curricular change at Penn led Thompson to become an inveterate if largely ineffective foe of the growing domination of the high school by the educational bureaucracy. Looking back on this process at the end of his career, he argued: The tendency of nearly all these innovations is to exalt the superintendency as the central and initiative power of the School System and to bring everything else into control. It is subsidiary to the idea of standardization, which seeks to reduce schools of the same grade to mechanical copies of each other in which no improvement is permitted which does not come from the central office (quoted in Cornog 1952,231).

After 1912, when the major structural changes were put in place, the innovations continued, but they now consisted primarily of stripping Central of its remaining symbolic distinctions. In 1915, the school's Germantown and Frankford annexes became independent, bringing the total number of public secondary schools in the city to thirteen, including two normal schools, a vocational school, and ten regional comprehensive high schools. Central was now in the midst of a crowded field. At about the same time, the school lost a series of time-honored privileges and practices. No longer was it permitted to publish a catalogue or to give its students final exams. The annual reports of the president were also eliminated; these reports, ad87

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dressed to the board of education rather than the superintendent, violated the new chain of command, suggesting special access. Even the use of the honorific title "professor" was abolished; faculty members were now simply teachers. Autonomy and Resurgence, 1911-39

Despite the victory of educational Progressivism in Philadelphia, the men at the top of the school system's new bureaucracy never succeeded in achieving complete control of Central. Frustrating their best efforts at domination, the high school retained a substantial degree of autonomy. District officials expressed early and continuing dissatisfaction with what they perceived to be the persistent recalcitrance and conservatism of the city's high schools, especially Central. In 1916, the superintendent announced that he was seeking to establish a more uniform course of study for the high schools through discussions with the principals. In the following year the school board president recommended that a supervisor of high schools be appointed who would work to overcome tradition and modernize these inistitutions, and, in 1918, he proposed a thorough reorganization of Central. One year later he expressed deep pessimism about whether any of his hopes could ever be accomplished: "Our high schools still carry on in the same old way as heretofore, and personally I almost despair of a reorganization along modern lines" (Annual Report 1919, 12). Carrying on the same themes, the Progressive-sponsored school survey of 1921 directed sharp criticism at the city's high schools, recommending a full reorganization to put them under firm administrative control (Pennsylvania State Department of Public Instruction 1922, vol. 2, 118-21). This chorus of complaints echoed the language of administrative rationalization and social efficiency used by Progressive school administrators in a national assault on the high school (Krug 1964). The high school was a natural target since it represented so many characteristics that were anathema to Progressive educators, particularly its attachment to the academic curriculum and meritocratic pedagogy. The Central case suggests that these accusations of recalcitrance were well founded, for the school managed, to a remarkable degree, to preserve its former character with regard to both elements. Of course, the high school did undergo significant changes, especially in its curriculum, but it also succeeded in containing or subverting many of these changes. Under market pressure from its middle-class constituents, who increasingly sought a college education for their sons, Central abandoned its practical curriculum in 1889 in favor of a college preparatory 88

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academic curriculum. But then the growing political authority of the school board and superintendent compelled the school to accept the addition of three entirely new courses in addition to the academic course. In 1898, the school board installed a commercial course; in 1912, a manual training course arrived through merger with the Central Manual Training School; and 1919 brought an industrial-vocational program when the high school took over the Philadelphia Trades School. These four courses defined the school's curriculum through the 1930s. However, the course titles exaggerate the scope of the curricular transformation that actually took place. The high school succeeded in dealing with these compulsory changes by adapting two of the new courses to its traditional academic curriculum while isolating the third. Both the commercial and manual training programs were designed as courses for training boys in practical skills that would lead directly to employment. But this early vocationalism was soon abandoned as the high school changed the commercial and manual training courses into college preparatory programs leading to advanced education in business and engineering, respectively. This left the industrial course as the only non-preparatory course in the curriculum; but its association with the school was kept a distant one, with its students confined to the old Trades School building blocks away from the high school proper. (See chapter 6 for a full discussion of the school's curriculum changes.) Not only did Central succeed in containing curricular incursions, but it also managed to resist pedagogical innovation with considerable effectiveness. Throughout the 1920s, faculty meeting minutes show repeated exhortations by the president on behalf of the superintendent to back away from the school's meritocratic standards. The argument was that Central simply failed too many students and that the school's rate of attrition thus remained far too high. My own data show that of the students who entered Central in 1920 in all four courses, only 25.4 percent graduated—-a proportion that had remained unchanged since the the mid-nineteenth century. At the same time, even under the reform-minded leadership of Thompson's successor, John L. Haney, it was not until 1930 that the school abandoned the practice of promoting students by grade. This system had been a major factor in discouraging the marginal student by requiring him to pass all classes at one level before being promoted (or to be promoted with "conditions/' deficiencies that had to be made up). Thus Central High School remained an academically exclusive and college preparatory institution long after the purported victory of inclusiveness and vocationalism at the system level. The high school's partial autonomy in the face of bureaucratic control provides historical evidence in support of the proposition that schooling is 89

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organized into a "loosely coupled" system.9 From this perspective, school bureaucracies are only partially effective in controlling the educational process within schools because the links in the line of command are weak at crucial points. The connections between the superintendent and the school and between the principal and the classroom are especially weak, because both school and classroom are relatively isolated, making close supervision difficult. Bureaucratic directives are thus easy to deflect or ignore when they reach the lower realms of the school system, leaving instructional practice only indirectly affected. Although a traditional bureaucracy is designed to maximize the efficiency of a routine operation whose technology is clearly established, schooling lacks both elements. Teaching is anything but routine, and its technology is far from being so clearly defined that it can be embodied in bureaucratic directives. Depending on the flexibility and the skill of the individual teacher, educational organization has never been able to advance from formal to real subordination. At Central loose coupling permitted the faculty to retain much of the school's traditional character even in the face of strong pressure for reform. If Central succeeded in preserving much of its original autonomy during the 1920s, in the next decade it managed to emerge once again as the city's premier high school for boys. In 1935, at the request of Superintendent Edward C. Broome, the board of education approved a plan that called for the return of Central High School to a strictly academic curriculum, authorized construction of a new building, and established a new high school in the old building for Central's non-academic students. In October, 1938— exactly one hundred years after Central first opened its doors—the board completed the school's transformation by approving selective standards for admission to both Central and Girls High Schools and permitting them to draw students from the city at large. Three months later Central High School started operation in its new home, bringing with it 1,300 of its former 3,600 students. Thus Central's hundred-year rise and fall through the status hierarchy of the Philadelphia public school system ended dramatically with the school's restoration to its accustomed position at the top. Central and Girls High Schools remain Philadelphia's only academic high schools, selectively drawing their students from all corners of the city. Why did Central experience this resurgence in the 1930s? One reason is that it had not fallen as far as appearances suggested. Having retained considerable autonomy, the high school was not returning from the dead but re-establishing itself after an extended illness. Its recovery was aided by 9. There is a wide range of literature on the subject of loose coupling. The basic sources include: Bidwell (1965), Weick (1976), Lortie (1975), Meyer and Rowan (1978), Kamens (1977), and Meyer (1977).

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a second factor, the considerable collective power of the Central High School alumni. More than 50,000 boys had enrolled at the school during its first hundred years, and many of these alumni eventually assumed positions of influence throughout the city. As a group they were eager to see the high school restored to the special position it occupied in their youth, and they had the power to help bring this restoration about. In addition to the school's residual autonomy and its influential alumni, we must consider its history. Central could never be just another high school simply because it had for so long been operating in lonely splendor. Prospective students, parents, faculty, employers, and college-admission officers all knew that Central was old and academically demanding—a special school whose credentials would always carry a certain extra weight. Thus even when Central was a comprehensive regional high school during the 1920s, tradition made it first among equals. Franklin S. Edmonds, who had been at various times a student, professor, and historian of the high school, as well as a school board member and state senator recalled it this way in a speech delivered at the school's centenary celebration in 1938: I was a member of the Board of Public Education in the period when the district high schools were established. It was necessary for Philadelphia that these schools should have been created. It was never intended that the Central High School should become merely a district school. It was always contemplated that in addition to the district high schools, there would be a higher institution, one of higher standards, and stronger and more progressive in leadership, which would perform each year its great function of sending out a group of young men who would become leaders in industry and life (quoted inCornog 1952, 310).

One last issue, which may have been the deciding factor for the superintendent, was that the administration once again needed Central's meritocratic drawing power. The Depression brought a sharp increase in the proportion of working-class youths attending and graduating from high school. Between 1930 and 1935 the percentage of seventeen-year-olds who graduated from high school rose nationally from 28.8 to 41.1 percent (U.S. Bureau of the Census 1975, Series H 599). The high school was thus rapidly becoming an inclusive institution, and high school credentials were becoming common currency for America's youth. Under these circumstances, the homogeneity of the city's high schools (accomplished in 1912) left middle-class students with no way to preserve their credential-based advantage over students from the working class. The comprehensive high school could no longer be counted on as the preserve of the middle class, so these families sought and won the stratification of secondary schools by reestablishing a special high school that once again offered invidious distinc91

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tions. True to its roots, the high school reaffirmed publicly its familiar role as the provider of meritocratic instruction and status advantage to its longstanding middle-class constituency.10

Conclusion: Structuring the Meritocratic Contest From the very beginning, the American public high school was a model expression of the meritocratic principle, spurring students on to a vigorous competition over its highly valued credentials and distributing them according to a strict standard of academic merit. This new institution had a powerful impact on the organization of the early common-school systems and shaped them in the high school's own meritocratic image. The result was a market-based control structure that succeeded in diverting both school and school system away from the political aims of the founders. Thoroughly imbued with the meritocratic principle, this structure was based on the self-regulation of students and teachers striving to demonstrate superior merit in a contest for the rewards offered by the high school. This chapter has traced the transformation of the early structure of schooling in Philadelphia into its later and more familiar bureaucratic form, highlighting the role of Central High School in this process. The question 1 want to address here is how we should interpret this transformation in the organizational role of the high school in light of the school's mixture of republican and meritocratic origins. Following the lead of David Hogan (forthcoming), I see this shift not as an abandonment of the meritocratic principle but rather as its evolution into a more structured form. Thus I argue that the high school in Philadelphia remained meritocratic during this period, but the character of meritocracy itself changed, from entrepreneurial individualism to organizationally structured individualism, and from a performance standard to a credential standard. This change represented a partial retreat from the type of meritocracy displayed by the high school in the mid-nineteenth century. The market that formed the basis of the high school's early power was subjected to increasing political scrutiny and interference as a result of the growing public demand for access. Ultimately it was Central's success as an exclusive institution that led to the demand for greater inclusiveness and to the 10. I will present some evidence to support this market-based pattern of change in chapter 6, where I argue that the high school's supporters did the same thing in 1890. At that point they succeeded in shoring up the value of Central's credentials in the face of the threatened flood of manual-training-school credentials in the secondary-school market by upgrading Central's curriculum from practical to college preparatory.

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ultimate subordination of the high school to the authority of a politically empowered educational bureaucracy. In seeking to explain the change in the Philadelphia school system, a distinction must be made between two different aspects of school organization—the structure of control over the system as a whole and the structure of opportunity for individuals within the system. In the early period the school system had a wide-open meritocratic opportunity structure. Students and teachers at the lower levels of the system competed for positions at the higher levels, and the winners were determined according to a strict performance standard, with grades and test scores providing the measure of merit. Translated into the terms used by Turner (1960) in his classic typology of educational opportunity structures—those based on sponsored mobility versus those based on contest mobility—this pattern was a pure example of contest mobility. In economic terms, the system was an example of unregulated entrepreneurial competition within a free market for educational credentials. What is most striking about the early organization of schooling in Philadelphia, however, is that it was the school system's open meritocratic opportunity structure that constituted its control structure: the only real source of centralized regulation over the city's schools came from the contest over access to the high school. Competitors did what was necessary to attain the honors dangled before them by the high school, producing a structure of control grounded in the self-regulation of those at the base of the structure of opportunity. In short, the system was governed by the invisible hand of the market in educational commodities. However, after 1867, a politically liberated school board discovered the possibility (if not yet quite the reality) of erecting a control structure independent of the old high-school-dominated opportunity structure. This change— the establishment of administrative authority from above—came about not by means of a dramatic administrative initiative but through a series of compromises between the old and the new control structures. The reason for this long period of organizational transition was that the school board had more autonomy than power. In the absence of sufficient legal authority to run the school system from above, the board had to continue to rely on the consumer-driven market-based power of the high school. As a result, this incipiently bureaucratic control structure constrained the early openopportunity structure in order to harness its power but was slow to eliminate it as long as its influence was needed. The full emergence of bureaucratic control and the subordination of the high school opportunity structure did not take place until the passage of school-reform legislation in 1905 and

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1911. By the latter date, the high school's unique organizational contribution had become, at least temporarily, both unneeded and unwanted. Between 1867 and 1911, pressure from the school board fundamentally changed the opportunity structure of schooling in Philadelphia. It enclosed the free and open competition over the high school, diluted merit selection with quotas, and undercut the value of Central's credentials by introducing alternative secondary schools. Eventually, it abandoned the admissions tes as the key criterion for high school admissions and replaced it with the grammar-school certificate. All these changes limited Central's free-market procedures, eroding its meritocratic vitality by reducing the value of its credentials, the rigor of its pedagogy, and the selectivity of its admissions. Under the old structure, students who pursued the meritocratic prize offered by the high school were judged according to a strict performance standard: they had to prove their merit on a written entrance exam. Under the new structure, students were judged according to a credential standard, which required that their grammar school certify their merit. This change paralleled the transformation of the entrepreneurial free-market economy of the mid-nineteenth century into an economy dominated by corporate trusts and government regulation at the turn of the century. As with the economy, the schools continued to offer opportunity for individual advancement, but in the new meritocracy this opportunity was attainable only with organizational support. The Philadelphia school system in the late nineteenth century was still meritocratic, but it reflected an important change in the meaning of meritocracy. These changes had important implications. First, they shifted individual academic achievement into a fixed organizational channel. Simply demonstrating high individual achievement was no longer enough; students now also had to obtain the endorsement of their school before they could move up in the opportunity structure. This meant subordinating interpersonal competition to organizational cooperation. Second, by channeling student aspirations into the achievement of proximate educational goals, the credential standard helped to empower the individual school. Whereas grammar-school masters were once at the mercy of their students' ambitions, forced to prepare them for the high school exam, they now had the power to certify students for promotion and therefore to motivate compliance with the school's own academic regimen. Third, this lower-school empowerment in turn eliminated the high school's domination through its entrance exam. Admission of a student by certificate reflected a greater equality of power between the two schools, since one was taking the word of the other about the merit of a student without exercising the right of direct inspection (Meyer and Rowan 1977). In this sense, then, student achievement became a matter of organizational assertion rather than per94

THE HIGH SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL SYSTEM

sonal performance, and the high school now had less power to contest this assertion. Firmly embedded after adoption of the School Code in 1911, the new organization of educational opportunity reflected a revised version of the meritocratic principle in which credentials defined merit and schools structured individual competition. Two explanations for this change suggest themselves at this point. One explanation is organizational. The development of bureaucratic control over the school system was incompatible with the preservation of the old market-based opportunity structure centered on the high school. A series of school boards, superintendents, and administrative reformers therefore actively sought to change this structure into a form that would be appropriate for a system of top-down authority centered on professional administrators. As a result, they reduced the high school to a position of equality with other schools and enclosed the competition over status attainment within schoolhouse walls, fitting individual ambitions into the standardized units of bureaucratic organization. However, this explanation does not show why the school system changed organizational form, or why pressure developed for bureaucracy to tame the market and eventually supersede it. A more fundamental explanation is that the change was a political response to the strong marketability but limited availability of high school credentials within the market structure. The shift to a more enclosed form of meritocratic opportunity structure was in large part the result of pressure from the public to gain wider access than the early open meritocracy allowed. Although the market-based structure provided administrators with the power to centralize control when they lacked legal authority, ironically they began using this power against the high school in order to help meet the extraordinary demand for a high school education generated by Central's considerable market appeal as a cultural commodity. Interventions like the quota system were methods of sharing the wealth that became politically expedient because of the degree to which demand had outpaced supply. By the 1880s, such rationing methods were no longer adequate to deflect the growing charge of elitism, and a series of new high schools were established. Therefore Central, like so many other free-wheeling nineteenth-century enterprises, lost much of its uniqueness and market power in large part as a result of being both unique and powerful. The high school's entrepreneurial success led to government regulation and organizational containment. The unregulated educational market provoked political intervention, which then imposed a new structure of public authority and formal organization on the market. But political interference with market processes, by increasing supply relative to demand, inevitably lowered the exchange value of Cen95

THE HIGH

SCHOOL AND THE SCHOOL

SYSTEM

tral's credentials. This, in turn, as we shall see in chapter 6, provoked an effort in the 1880s by the high school's major constituencies (faculty, parents, alumni) to shore up credential value by means of stratification. They succeeded for a time in establishing Central as the only college preparatory high school in the secondary market. When comprehensiveness ended this advantage in 1912, they managed to segregate the flood of the school's new students in the lower tracks while keeping the class composition, curriculum content, and meritocratic pedagogy of the academic course largely unchanged. Finally, in 1939, they succeeded in re-establishing selectivity for Central High School, providing its middle-class clientele once again with a distinctive credential at a time when a Depression-induced spurt in workingclass school attendance provoked another sharp increase in the supply of high school credentials and threatened to flood the market. Thus, from its political origins the high school developed a strong market orientation, which provoked efforts at political regulation, which in turn led to efforts to defend the school's market position. In this way, the cyclical organizational history of Central High School reflects the classic American struggle between political equality and social inequality, as the high school careened between incompatible goals requiring it to provide both public benefit and private advantage. The first of these goals is grounded in wide access and the second in narrow access; and as we shall see, success in either undermines the other.

96

5

From Professional to Proletarian: The Declining Position of the High School Professor

Late in the nineteenth century, the growth of bureaucratic control over the Philadelphia school system brought a decline in the power and prestige of Central High School. During the same period a parallel process occurred within the school, as internal governance became more bureaucratic and the power and prestige of the faculty fell precipitously. Changes in the organization of the high school followed on the heels of changes in the organization of the school system, and the occupational status of high school teachers closely tracked the organizational status of the high school. The organizational transformation of urban school systems at the turn of the century had an impact on high school teachers that was strikingly different from its impact on other teachers. For elementary teachers, the bureaucratization of public-school administration brought about a variety of changes that promoted professionalization, including increases in the requirements for certification, the average education level of teachers, the number of normal schools, the length of the professional-training course, the separation of teaching from political favoritism, and, as Elsbree (1939, 434) has calculated, a sizable increase in teachers' real earnings. In all these ways, public schoolteachers in the early twentieth century were better off than their politically dependent, underqualified, and underpaid nineteenth-century counterparts, whose lowly status has been vividly portrayed by Elsbree (1939), Hostadter (1963), and a number of their own contemporaries. Although growing professionalization describes the changing situation of the typical teacher during this period—a young, single woman occupying a

97

FROM PROFESSIONAL TO PROLETARIAN

temporary position in an elementary school—high school teachers had an entirely different experience with bureaucratization. In the mid-nineteenth century, when the situation of the average teacher was in a sorry state, America's career-oriented and largely male high school teacher occupied an elite position characterized by independent professionalism. But at the same time that their lower-school counterparts began to register significant occupational gains, these men suffered a loss of professional autonomy and slipped into a subordinate status. Ultimately, professionalizing elementary teachers and proletarianizing secondary teachers found themselves on con vergent paths early in the twentieth century. The vast social distance that once separated the two shrank, and both came to be defined for the first time as members of the same occupational category—"schoolteacher." The aim of this chapter is to explore the process by which the high school teacher lost his position of power and privilege and to consider the implications of this process for a fuller understanding of the making of the American high school. I will analyze this change by comparing the position of Central High School teachers in the nineteenth century to the radically different position their counterparts occupied in the first decades of the twentieth century, examining three characteristics that defined this position—the status of high school teachers in relation to the rest of the teaching force, the methods used for recruiting them, and the degree of autonomy they exercised in governing the high school. Then I will explore the reasons for the occupational transformation of high school teaching in light of such factors as the bureaucratization of the school system, the expansion of educational opportunity, the changing character of meritocracy, and the rise of credentialism.

A Position of Privilege, 1838-88

STATUS For fifty years after the opening of Central High School, its faculty members enjoyed an elevated position within the educational community. Always referred to by the honorific title "professor/' these men were regularly consulted by municipal officials, quoted in the daily press, praised at public gatherings, and held up as models for civic emulation. The city directories during this period assigned them a special listing along with other local dignitaries. The early high school professor received such an embarrassment of honors because he was a member of a very elite group. First, the high school faculty was all male in a school system where male teachers were a rarity. Between 1835 and 1840, when the common-school system opened in Philadelphia, the proportion of male teachers dropped 98

FROM PROFESSIONAL TO PROLETARIAN

from over 50 percent to 15 percent and continued to fall during the rest of the century—slipping below 10 percent in the 1850s and reaching 4 percent by 1875. Second, they were part of a tiny subset of the teaching fraternity, men who taught at the city's only high school for boys (its only high school of any type, if one considers that Girls High functioned primarily as a normal school). From 1850 to 1880, Central's faculty grew from 11 to 16 men; in the same period the total number of teachers in the school system grew from 727 to 2,075. From a simple quantitative perspective, therefore, these men constituted an elite within the male elite of public schoolteachers. But most important, they were affiliated with a school that occupied a^powerful market position, an organizational distinction that spilled over onto the professors, buttressing their market scarcity with institutional prestige. The status advantage enjoyed by Central professors in the early period and its decline over time can be measured by comparing the salaries paid to professors with the pay of ordinary teachers. First, a global comparison: although rather sketchy, there are suggestive data on the average pay level of Philadelphia teachers as a whole and on the maximum pay level for teachers at the high school. Comparing the two will tend to exaggerate the high school advantage, but only to a modest degree, since the extended tenure of high school professors put most of them near the upper pay limit. 1 For in 1879, when the restructuring of teacher pay began, the average Philadelphia schoolteacher was paid $486,2 whereas the maximum pay for Central professors in the same year was $1925 (see table 5.2). High school professors were thus paid as much as four times what elementary school teachers were paid within the same public school system. The highly stratified structure of extrinsic rewards for teachers in nineteenth-century Philadelphia provides a sharp contrast to the egalitarian structure identified by modern observers (Lortie 1975). And a closer look at this early pattern sharpens the contrast by revealing the systematic and carefully elaborated principles of pay stratification out of which this enormous differential emerged. For the years 1841-1920, a comparison with the maximum pay levels for public educators closest in status to the high school professors, including the principals and teachers of the city's various high schools and the principals of the boys' and girls' grammar 1. While the average Philadelphia elementary school teacher in the 1870s persisted for twelve years (Fishbane 1979), the average high school professor during this period stayed on the job for twenty-five to thirty years. 2. This figure comes from annual reports of the school board, quoted in Fishbane (1979). The board.cites the figure to show that this level of pay is markedly low in comparison to other large cities. The average pay in New York, Boston, Cincinnati, and San Francisco was nearly twice as high as in Philadelphia.

99

Table 5.1

Salaries of CHS Professors and Other Philadelphia Educators Compared0 (% of CHS Professor's salary for each year)

Central High Professor

$ 1841 1842 1843 1844 1845 1846

1,350 " " " "

Grammar-school Principal

President

Male

$

%

2 ,000 1 ,600

"

— 119 "

n

n

n

n

n

n

1847 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861 1862

$ " " "

n

1,500 " " 1,650 " " 1,500 " " " " " "





67 n n n

450 n n n

1000

74

500

Girls High

President $

%

900 n n n

Central High Professor

Principal

0/ /O

tf J>

$

%

.



33 " " " 37

Grammar-school Principal Teacher

O/ /O

Female

$

Male

tf J>

O/ /O

19 22 n

1,000

74

n

n

n

250 300 n

2,,000 n

133 n

1,200 n

80 a

" n

20 n

n

n

H

n

n

n

2,,200 "

133 "

2, 000 " " " " " "

133

1,350 " 1,650 1,500

82 " 100 100

380 " 500 "

23 " 30 33

" " " " "

" " " " "

" " " " "

" " " " "

" " " " "

Female

$

%

$

n "

n "

n "

n n

67 H n

a n



1,200 " "

73 " " 80

600 " "

H

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

II

% " " " 33 " " 36 " " 40 " " " " " "

1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879 1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885

1,800

" " "

1,980

H " "

2,178

" " " " "

2,250

" " "

2,475

" " "

2,722

" " " " "

2,069

2,886

1,925

2,400

"

" " " " " "

"

" " " " " "

124 " " " 125 " " " 125 " " " " " 125 " 125 " " " " " "

1,800

" " "

1,980

" " "

100 " "

" 100 "

" "

2,178

100

2.069

" " 100

" " " " " "

2,200

" " " " " "

" " "

"

114 " " " " " "

600 " " " 660 " " " 735 " " " " " 698 " 82 5b " " " " " "

33 " " " 33 " " " 34 " " " n "

34 " 43 " " " " " "

1,500 " " " 1,650 " " " 1,815 " " " " " 1,724 " 1,595 " " "

83 " " " 83 " " " 83 " " " " " 83 " 83 " " "

750 " " " 825 " " " 907.50 " " " " " 862 " 1000

"c

"c

"

"

"

"

"

" "

"

" "

42 " " " 42 " " " 42 " " " " " 42 " 52 " " " " " "

Table 5.1 (continued) Girls High

Central High Professor

o

K)

1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907

President

Grammar-school Principal Teacher

Principal

$

$

%

$

%

1,975 2,178 "

2,450 2,715 " 4,000

124 125 " 184

2,500

"

160

2,500 "

4,000 "

160 "

2,450 " " 2,700 3,000 " 3,050 4,000 "

124 112 " 124 138 120 122 160 "

if

n

ii

ii

n

"e " " "

" " " "

" " " "

" " " "

" " " "

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

"

" n

" n

" n

" n

" n

"

"

"

"

"

$ 875 " " 1,025 1,100 " 1,150 l,150 d " 1,250 " " " " " // " 1,350 " " " "

Male

Manual Training School

Female

Teacher

Principal

%

$

%

$

%

$

%

$

%

44 40 " 47 51 44 46 46 " 50 " " " " " " " 54 " " " "

1,645 1,815 " " " " 1,865 1,865 " " " " " " " " " 2,015 " " " "

83 83 " " " 73 75 75 " " " " " " " " " 81 " " " "

1,050 " " 1,200 " " 1,250 1,250 " " " " " " " 3,500 " 1,400 " " " "

53 48 " 55 " 48 50 50 " " " " " " " 140 " 56 " " " "

2,450

3,000 3,000 " " it n " "

124 112 " 118 124 108 120 120 " " n n " "

II

H

1,975 " " 2,067 2,178 " 2,000 2,000 " " " " " " "

100b 91 " 95 100 87 80 80 " " " " " " "

2,500 " " " "

100 " " " "

" " " "

n

H

n

n

" " " " " "

" 2,580 2,700

"

High School Teacher Male

1908 1909 1910 1911 1912

$ 2,500 " " " "

High School Teacher Male

0

1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919

High School Principal

$

%

4,500 " "

180 " "

H

It

"

"

High School Principal

High School Teacher Female

$ 1,650 " " " "

% 66 " " " "

Grammar-school Principal Female

Male $

%

$

%

2,115

85

1 ,400

56 " " " "

" " " "

High School Teacher Female

" " " "

" " " "

Grammar-school Principal1

Grammar-school Teacher

Female

Male

Male

Female

%

$

%

$

%

$

%

$

%

167

$ 1,650 1,750

66 65

2,500 3,100

100 115

2 ,500 3 ,100

100 115

1,300 1,400

52 52

1,000 1,100

40 41

n " " "

n " " "

»

" " n

» " " "

» " " "

>, " " "

" " "

" " "

" " "

" " "

$ 2,500 2,700

$ 4,500

% 180

// " " "

„ " " n

11

" "

Table 5.1 (continued)

High School Teacher 1920 1921 1922 1923 1924 1925 1926 1927 1928 1929 1930 1931 1932 1933 1934

Grammarschool Supervising Principal

High School Principal

Grammarschool Teacher

$

$

%

$

%

$

%

2,632 3,200 3,600

5,060 5,500

192 172 153 " " " " " " " " " " n "

3,700 4,000

141 125 111 " " " " " " " " 125 " " "

1,800 2,000

68 63 56

" " " " " " " " " " " "

" " " " " " " " it

4,500

" " "

" " " " " " " "

2,400

" " " "

H " " " " " "

67 " " " "

Source: Philadelphia Board of Public Education, Annual Reports, 1838 to 1940. Included under the heading of Central professors are all those who taught at the school, whether or not they had that title. Pay levels shown are all maximums—the top pay permitted for each category of educator. See text for discussion of the relative merits of maximum versus average pay measures. b Starting this year there were several men teaching at Girls High at more advanced pay levels than the women. The figures in this column are the maximum pay levels for female teachers only. c ln this year the board began a policy of paying a $200 bonus to supervising principals (full-time administrators) above the regular principal rate shown here. d The figures for prior years are for Girls High and Normal School. But the two segments separated this year and the figures given here are for Girls High School alone. c Beginning in 1896 Central had a multi-level pay scale. The new maximum rates were: department head, $3,000; professor, $2,500; assistant, $1,800; and instructor, $1,250. In order to be consistent and because they were the largest group numerically, I have shown only the pay for professors. Starting in 1913 the principal rates on the table are for supervising principals only, for that is the year that the board made them the standard.

FROM PROFESSIONAL TO PROLETARIAN

schools demonstrates the power and durability of the professors' market position (see table 5.1). 3 Before 1879, teacher pay was stratified according to three guiding princi ples: position, gender, and status of school. The position principle derives from the hierarchical logic of bureaucratic organization, which sees administration as a higher function than production and therefore justifies rewarding managers more generously than workers. In the public school system of mid-nineteenth-century Philadelphia, this logic was reflected in the practice of paying principals more than teachers. But stratification by position was limited by two factors. For one, the market structure of the early school system did not clearly differentiate administration and teaching from each other; most principals acted as principal teachers rather than as full-time supervisors. For another, position determined pay only within the same gender and within the same type of school; across the boundaries of gender and school, the impact of position simply evaporated (see table 5.1). The effect of gender was significant. During this period female grammarschool teachers and principals were paid exactly half what their male counterparts were paid, and the controllers carefully preserved this ratio across a series of pay changes. (In 1871 they raised the men to $1,815 and then punctiliously raised the women to $907.50.) Yet the effect of gender in turn became blurred by the third principle of stratification, status of school. Male grammar-school principals were paid 67 to 83 percent of what Central's male professors received—a sign that the high school's status was powerful enough to provide its professors with superior rewards without the benefit of gender advantage and even in the face of a positional deficit (teacher to principal). This school factor was due not simply to the school's secondary level but to its perceived rank in the community, for the female grammar-school principals were actually paid more than the teachers at Girls High School. The three principles—position, gender, and school status—were additive, and all of them worked to the benefit of the high school (see table 5.1). Central professors enjoyed the benefits of gender and school effects, while the Central president capitalized on all three. But the principles were not equal in their impact, for position clearly gave way to gender, and both yielded to school status. The dramatic pay difference between the faculties at Central and Girls High Schools provides an example of this stratified arrange3. Grammar schools for girls had all-female staffs, whereas boys' grammar schools had male principal teachers but mostly female assistant teachers—hardly surprising for a school system which in 1880 had only sixty-one male teachers to cover sixty-five grammar schools. As a result, the terms "girls' grammar school principal" and "female grammar-school principal" are interchangeable, as are the terms "boys' grammar school principal" and "male grammar school principal."

105

FROM PROFESSIONAL TO PROLETARIAN

merit of stratifying factors: despite their nominal equality of position with the professors, the teachers at Girls High School not only experienced the customary 50 percent discount for being women but an additional pay loss for being associated with a less prestigious high school—leaving them at only one-third of the Central pay level and only slightly above the elementary school average. Thus, in the highly stratified structure of teaching in nineteenth-century Philadelphia, Central professors occupied a comfortable position at the top of the pyramid. RECRUITMENT Given the high level of social and economic rewards associated with a teaching position at Central, the demand for positions was strong and hiring policies were correspondingly selective. Fortunately, the characteristics of the professors recruited in this way are a matter of record, thanks to the efforts of a historian on the faculty who compiled a minibiography for each of the 120 men who taught at the school during the nineteenth century (Edmonds 1902, 319-49). (See Labaree 1983, tables 2.2-2.7', for a summary of this biographical information.) Within twenty years of its founding, Central developed a clear pattern of recruitment that it retained until 1890. The modal Central High School professor during this period was a Central graduate with no further education who had taught grammar school for a dozen or so years and then, in his thirties, won a position at the high school. This summary suggests that two forms of credentials were particularly important in the hiring process for Central professors—a Central diploma and lower-school teaching experience. Both of these are signs of a selection process that was thoroughly meritocratic. As soon as possible after the opening of the school, Central began hiring its own graduates; no fewer than four members of the first graduating class eventually joined the faculty. From 1860 on, a consistent half of the faculty came from this source, while just over a third (with some overlap) had college degrees.4 Why did the high school hire its own graduates instead of college men? A number of reasons suggest themselves, including availability and professorial patronage, but a strong argument can be made that alumni were hired in large part because they demonstrated a superior level of academic achievement. Central's rigorous academic regime meant that a graduate was an academic high achiever and a proven meritocratic competitor. Significantly, the proportion of alumni among the school's faculty rose most sharply in 1860 and 1890—in each case following a period when a written entrance exam was the sole criterion for employment. Thus, when 4. By far the most common college degree held by Central professors during this period was not a B.A. but an M.D.

106

FROM PROFESSIONAL TO PROLETARIAN

the hiring process was at its most meritocratic, the high school graduates trounced the college men: in the 1880s, six of the nine professors hired were alumni, and four of the six had never attended college. A striking example is provided by the case of Albert H. Smyth. In 1886, he applied for a post at Central and found himself in competition with the temporary incumbent, Francis Thorpe. The president preferred Thorpe (a non-alumnus with a Ph.D.) to Smyth (a Central graduate with no college training) and suggested that Smyth enroll at the university. But Smyth persisted, and the high school committee ordered an examination; the result was that the high school graduate defeated his heavily credentialed opponent. Thorpe went on to become a distinguished historian, but Smyth developed into one of the most popular men ever to teach at Central, while writing and editing a number of historical works (Mordell 1937). Professors won their positions not only through demonstrations of academic achievement but also through occupational achievement, particularly their performance as grammar-school teachers. By 1880, 81 percent of the faculty had teaching experience prior to joining the high school, and 63 percent had earned this experience in the public schools. The emerging career track followed a typical pattern: after graduation, the aspiring high school professor began teaching as an assistant in one of the city's male grammar schools, often rising to the rank of principal teacher; the most successful of these teachers then moved on to the high school. And how was their success measured? By means of the only city-wide standard for academic merit in the early Philadelphia school system—the high school entrance exam (Edmonds 1902, 184). The most effective grammar-school principals were judged to be those who were consistently able to qualify the most students for admission into the high school. As we have seen. Central's early presidents promoted competition for positions on the faculty by publishing detailed comparisons of the grammar schools' performance on the entrance exam (see figure 4.1). Therefore, both students and teachers were engaged in a meritocratic struggle over access to the prize at the top of the educational pyramid, Central High School, and both were judged according to the same standard of academic performance. As a result, the men who reached the high school faculty in this period were experienced teachers who had proven both their own academic skills and their ability to train others in the same skills. AUTONOMY Teaching at Central High School in the mid-nineteenth century was an occupation structured around meritocratic principles: its elevated rewards provoked intense competition, and the winners were selected according to individual merit. Those who emerged from this struggle 107

FROM PROFESSIONAL TO PROLETARIAN

with a chair on the high school faculty were a high-achieving, experienced, ambitious, and battle-tested group of men. They had reached the top rung of the city's career ladder for teachers and frequently had given up a principalship to do so. Accustomed to vanquishing their competitors and running their own show, these self-confident and independent men had little taste for taking orders. And in the absence of bureaucratic authority or any other strong challenge to their preeminence during Central's first fifty years, the professors were in fact allowed to govern the school very much on their own. When Alexander Bache presented his plan for reorganization of the high school a year after it opened, he included a set of rules that established the formal framework of the school's internal governance for the next halfcentury: The principal, and professors, or masters, shall meet, from time to time, as a Board, to inform themselves of the progress and character of the pupils in the several rooms, to consult in regard to improvements in their courses or discipline, and to consider such cases of discipline as may be submitted to them. The principal of the school shall have authority to convene this Board, and to serve as a medium of communication with the Committee of Control. Each Professor is considered as responsible for the good discipline and due progress of the pupils in his department, subject to the rules of the Committee of Control. The principal is charged with the inspection of the school, and it is his duty to make to the professors, or masters, or to the Committee, such suggestions in regard to the studies, discipline, and general welfare of the establishment, as may seem to him to be necessary or expedient. The principal shall make a report to the committee twice every year, at the close of each term, relative to the condition of the High-school, and embodying such suggestions for its improvement, as may appear advisable. The principal is considered as replacing the committee in regard to the internal management of the school, when they are not in session. The Committee of Control have full authority to make all rules and regulations relating to the High-school, not conflicting with the foregoing, and to alter them at pleasure (Bache 1839b, 33-34).

Under these rules the high school was to be governed under two contrasting forms of authority—the executive authority of the principal and the collegial authority of the faculty. On the one hand, the principal was "charged with the inspection of the school" and was "considered as replacing the [high school] committee in regard to the internal management of the school, when they are not in session." The principal's formal role was thus primarily administrative and his authority hierarchical, descending directly from the high school committee of the board of controllers. On the 108

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other hand, "each Professor [was] considered as responsible for the good discipline and due progress of the pupils in his department/' and the professors, with the principal, were ordered to "meet, from time to time, as a Board, to inform themselves of the progress and character of the pupils in the several rooms." Therefore, the professor also had a role in the supervision of the school, and his authority arose from both his structural isolation within the self-contained classroom and his membership in a collectivity of his peers. However, the principal's powers were delegated to him from a source external to the school, whereas the professors' powers emerged directly from the educational process within the school. The tension between principal and professors, between hierarchical and collegial governance, runs through the early history of Central. Conveniently for the historian, each side left its own record of events. The natural forum for the principal to express his view of the school's internal affairs was his annual report to the board of controllers, published every year from 1840 to 1915. The corresponding record for the professors was the minutes of the school's regular faculty meetings, which have been preserved in their entirety from 1840 to the present. Occasionally, the executive function won clear victories during the early period. For example, before reorganization, the high school had no principal, and the five professors at the time therefore enjoyed an untrammeled form of collegial governance. Reluctant to abandon their powers, they subsequently constituted a strong core of resistance to the early principals, but it turned out to be a losing battle: three were eventually fired. The larger pattern of internal governance in the high school's early history reflected broad professorial autonomy. The faculty collectively governed the school through its weekly meetings; in general, the principal chose to reserve his hierarchical powers and to exert his influence through the parliamentary process. The nature of this accommodation by the school's head is revealed in the dual title he assumed; mid-nineteenthcentury minutes refer to the head as "president" when he was acting as presiding officer of the faculty during their stated meetings and as "principal" when he was acting as administrator and agent of the school committee. As revealed in minutes, annual reports, and histories, the trend (during this period) was for the school's head to lean toward the role of president rather than principal, acting as political leader of the faculty and as their spokesman to the high school committee. Significantly, by 1870, the term "principal" disappears from high school records, and ever since then Central's head had been referred to as the president. Central's tendency toward collegial governance received a big boost in 1849 when the state legislature granted the high school the power to award academic degrees. The professors immediately established a policy of con109

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ferring the bachelor's degree on all graduates of the four-year course and the master's degree on selected distinguished alumni. The school has continued to award these degrees up to the present day. In 1851, two years after Central's elevation to the status of a college, the professors voted to organize themselves formally as a college faculty (with an elaborate set of rules) and began to function more self-consciously as a governing body. Between 1851 and 1888, the faculty met every Saturday at noon, when classes were in session, in order to conduct the business of the school. (Before 1851 it met several times a month.) The minutes provide a remarkable record of these meetings.5 They reveal a politically empowered faculty acting within strict parliamentary forms to debate and decide on a wide range of issues involved in school governance, ranging from such minor administrative matters as doling out "notes" (demerits) for student misconduct to such important policy concerns as curriculum changes, examination procedures, graduation standards, and textbook selections. Matters large and small were dealt with using a strictness of procedure and a degree of contentiousness that mark the proceedings as a true locus of decisionmaking and not just a forum for rubber-stamping executive positions. The following excerpt from the minutes of one meeting suggests the procedural punctiliousness of these meetings as well as the range of day-today issues discussed: January 22d 1858 A stated meeting of the Faculty was held, the President in the chair. Present, Profs Hart, Vogdes, McMurtrie . . . The minutes of the last stated meeting, and the intervening special meetings were read and approved. Reed (E 2 ) accused by Prof Boye with breaking some bottles, and throwing [illegible] in his room, also accused by Prof. Haverstick with throwing spitballs . . . The following Resolution was offered by Prof. Vogdes, and seconded by Dr. McMurtrie, "It is agreed that no Professor or Assistant shall converse with another, while in charge of an examination room, nor read examination papers, books or other matter, or attend to any other business, while in charge of an examination room." Prof. Hopper moved an amendment, that no Professor shall repeat the questions, after the writing of the answers has commenced. Agreed to. The ayes and noes being called on Prof Vogdes Resolution, results as follows. Ayes. Hart, Vogdes, McMurtrie, Rhoads, Hopper, Haverstick, Kirkpatrick Noes. McClune, Boye, MacNeill. 5. Whereas the minutes prior to 1851 are sometimes perfunctory, after this point they become detailed accounts of what occurred in the style of a formal parliamentary record.

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FROM PROFESSIONAL TO PROLETARIAN Kelley was marked 10 for impertinence to Prof Vogdes and 50 for not appearing.6 Adjourned

Another example shows something of the faculty's involvement in a more important issue—setting the limits on the subject matter covered in the entrance examination—as revealed in excerpts from the minutes of three consecutive meetings. (In this case, as always, the grammar-school masters sought to negotiate narrow limits while the high school faculty sought to preserve their discretion over the exam and to push for wider rather than narrower coverage.) The faculty dealt directly with the grammar-school heads and high school committee in defending its interests. [September 14, 1866] The following communication was received Phila. Sep. 8, 1866

George Inman Riche A.M. Principal of Central High School Dear Sir, The Association of Principals of the Boys' Grammar Schools, being in doubt in reference to the course of study necessary to be pursued by candidates for the next High School Examination, at a regular meeting held this morning appointed a committee to confer with the Principal of the High School and the Committee on that Institution in reference to this subject. In behalf of said committee I would most respectfully request that as early a date as possible may be named by you for said interview. Please address . . . After considerable discussion it was finally agreed that a Committee of three (including the principal) should be appointed to confer with the Committee of Grammar School Teachers and report at the next meeting. The chair appointed Professors Hopper and Hartshorne. [September 21, 1866] The Principal read the report of the Committee appointed to confer with the Committee from the Principals of the Grammar Schools relative to limitations. Prof. Rhoads moved that the report be referred to the High School Committee with the assurance that it was satisfactory to the Grammar School Teachers, and that while the Faculty cannot unite in recommending it, they have no special objection to it. Adopted. 6. Students subject to disciplinary action were required to attend the faculty meeting to hear the accusations against them and receive their punishment.

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[October 19, 1866] Professor Stuart moved that the arrangement made with the Grammar School Teachers with reference to limitations be considered valid for the next examination. Professor Kirkpatrick moved the following amendment in that we approve of the arrangement made with the Grammar School Teachers for the next examination with the understanding that after that there shall be no limitations whatever. The amendment prevailed, and the original motion as amended was adopted.

The evidence shows that the autonomy enjoyed by Central High School professors in the mid-nineteenth century was qualitatively different from the pallid and largely negative form of autonomy attributed to contemporary teachers by the theory of loose coupling (Lortie 1975; Bidwell 1965; Weick 1976). Like the contemporary teacher, the professor experienced freedom from outside control and for the same reasons—the inability of hierarchical authority to penetrate his domain within the classroom. However, for Lortie's schoolteacher, autonomy ends at the classroom door— leaving him or her with a relative lack of supervision, but also without any basis for exerting influence over the educational process in the school as a whole. In contrast, the early Central professor was authorized to oversee this process "in the several rooms," not just his own, and he had a regular forum and a formal procedure for exercising that surveillance. Whereas the modern teacher has an autonomy of isolation and disenfranchisement, the early high school professor had an autonomy born of collective action and political empowerment. Whereas one practices classroom management, the other engaged in school governance. In the early 1860s, the high school underwent a major internal struggle that served to highlight both the power of the faculty and its limits in relation to executive authority. The problem started when the long-time president John Hart (1842-59) retired and the committee chose to replace him with an outsider, a successful grammar-school principal named Nicholas Maguire (1859-66), over several inside candidates. With the committee's approval, he immediately proposed a radical change in the school's system of grading and discipline. He argued that disciplinary demerits should no longer be deducted from a student's academic average, both because this system improperly blurred the distinction between academic merit and conduct and because it was too harsh. In short, he sought to purify the school's meritocracy and soften its discipline. A large majority of the faculty opposed the change, so, with the support of the high school committee, he simply imposed the new policy without putting it to a vote. Naturally, this usurpation stirred a powerful rebellion 112

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by the professors against the new president, who responded by demanding that the high school committee fire three ringleaders for incompetence. A special committee held a public hearing, with the result that the firings were first reversed by the high school committee and then upheld by the controllers (Board of Controllers 1862b). But in 1866 the controllers instigated another hearing, this time focused on Maguire's handling of the school. The result this time was the firing of Maguire and most of his faculty supporters (Board of Controllers 1866). The transcripts of these hearings reveal that the professors posed the issue as one of defending the right to collegial governance and the tradition of discipline that had developed through it. To Maguire and his defenders on the faculty and high school committees, collegial governance produced a very conservative form of schooling; the only way to bring about reform was through administrative intervention, with the president acting as the committee's agent instead of as the faculty's representative. In this fight between collegiality and hierarchy, both sides drew blood, but the professors won on points. They lost some of their members and were ultimately forced to accept Maguire's disciplinary innovation, but they managed to save collegial governance.7 The usurper was routed, and the man who replaced him, George I. Riche (1866-86), seemed to have learned from his predecessor's mistakes. A former city councilman with a flair for consensus politics, Riche survived for twenty years in office without ever challenging the faculty or proposing radical change.8 The Maguire affair suggests, therefore, that although collegial governance was by no means unlimited and hierarchical intervention in school affairs was a credible threat, the power of the faculty was strong enough that intervention was not worth the struggle. By the 1870s, these prestigious, highly paid, meritocratically legitimized, and now battle-hardened professors were in a seemingly unassailable position to continue running their own show. THE ROOTS OF AUTONOMY Central High School professors enjoyed a half century of robust self-governance because of four closely related characteristics of the high school during its early years. First, Central functioned within a school system that lacked formal bureaucratic structure and was 7. For a more detailed analysis of the battle over Maguire see Labaree (1983, 162-69). 8. One early school historian described the president's cautious style this way: "The changes made by President Riche were not immediately of a radical character, nor did he seek to introduce any practices widely divergent from those already in use. His course of study was a slow growth. Believing that, after all, the efficiency of a school rested with the teachers, and with the teachers only, changes were made in the methods of instruction rather than in the studies themselves" (Cliff 1888,29). 113

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therefore unable to intrude effectively on the school's internal operations. Instead, the school functioned within an entrepreneurial structure based on consumer competition over scarce educational rewards, which permitted it and its faculty a great deal of freedom. Second, not only was the high school blessed by the absence of outside control, but it occupied the dominant position within the early school system. This position was the result of a strong middle-class demand for educational credentials as a hedge against the uncertainty of status transmission, the scarce supply of these credentials due to the uniqueness of the high school and its small size relative to the school population, and the strict process of merit selection applied to both students and professors. Third, in combination these conditions put high school professors in the powerful position of doling out a hotly pursued, rare, and legitimate cultural commodity. As a result of the market-based dominance of the early high school and the influential position occupied by the high school professors, these professors garnered extraordinarily high levels of pay and prestige in comparison with other teachers in the public school system. Such rewards, justified by the professors' meritocratic climb to their positions of privilege, served to symbolize the extent of their power and underscore their insulation from ordinary structures of control. Fourth, although all these conditions were necessary for establishing the autonomous power exercised by the early professors, they were not sufficient to explain the faculty's collective control of the school. To make this final transition from individual autonomy to collegial governance required a strong and enduring consensus on the school's basic ideological principles. One such principle was that a high school should be both republican and practical. These men, like the school's founders, felt that Central should train boys directly for their future civic and economic responsibilities rather than for college and, in the best common school tradition, that this training should be uniform for all students. The other key principle was that a high school should be operated as a strict meritocracy, for students and professors alike. Meritocratic ideas—individual competition, exclusive rewards, merit selection—simultaneously defined Central's pedagogy, its role within the school system, and its method of recruiting faculty members. Conveniently, these same meritocratic ideas helped protect the highly favorable market position enjoyed by the professors. Unimpeded by the loose formal structure of the early school system, empowered by the elevated position of the high school, fed and protected by the professor's exclusive status, and drawn together by common educational purposes—the faculty of Central High School for fifty years was able to maintain collective governance over the school.

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The Slide into Subordination, 1888-1915 TRANSITION: THE 1880S The 1880s were years of transition for Central High School and its faculty. This decade brought a marked deterioration in all the factors that had promoted professorial autonomy. As shown in the previous chapter, there was a surge in bureaucratic development within the school system and a corresponding decline in the position of the high school. In addition, the faculty suffered a loss of status and a disintegration of its ideological consensus. One sign of this loss was that the professors found themselves becoming the object of attack. For an elite group guarding access to a highly sought-after school, attacks were not uncommon. What was unusual was that the professors were now being attacked as underskilled, incompetent, and backward. Critics in the press and in the educational community charged that the school had declined, that the (acuity had fallen into mediocrity, and that one of the prime causes of these troubles was the faculty's dogged commitment to the outmoded common curriculum. One alumnus of the period recalled the situation this way: "We must remember that at the close of the Riche administration the standing of the school was relatively lower than it had been. Old ideas were being followed, old systems of education prevailed—in fact, this school had not kept pace with the progress made by other institutions of similar rank" (Edmonds 1910, 118). The new superintendent of schools concurred with this assessment, charging in particular that both high schools had failed to adapt to changes in the lower schools, where he had just completed upgrading and modernizing the course of study (Superintendent of Schools, Annual Report 1889, 26-27), Joining in the criticism was the high school committee, one of whose members asserted during a public meeting in 1889: "For the past twenty years the High School, instead of going forward, has deteriorated and lost prestige. Why gentlemen, thirty years ago it had accomplished teachers in Greek, Latin, French and other languages. Now look at it! It is in the hands of men who are only fit to teach grammar courses" (quoted in Cornog 1952, 42). The external pressures on the school throughout the decade had a cumulative effect on the nature of relations inside it, provoking President Riche to resign in 1886 in large part because "in the Faculty the harmony that had characterized the earlier period had been sadly marred" (quoted in Edmonds 1902, 226). By 1886, the professors had become sharply divided over a proposal to jettison the uniform practical curriculum and install a multi-tier curriculum whose principal course would prepare students for college. After bitter debate in faculty meetings and committee reports over several years, the question came to a vote in 1887, and the college prepara-

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tory plan defeated the traditional curriculum by a tally of eight to six. The professors who favored change were more likely to have attended college (five out of eight) than those in opposition (two out of six), and the majority professors were also less likely to have graduated from Central (four out of eight) than were those in the minority (five out of six) (CHS Faculty Minutes, April 26, 1887). College men, who saw more value in college training and who had less invested in the high school's tradition of study, therefore edged aside the high school men, for whom the high school course had proven eminently practical and who had invested their lives in this course. Far from diminishing as a result of this vote, the conflict within the faculty and the volume of public criticism crescendoed, reaching a climax in the critical year 1888. It was then that the school board intervened by appointing a college Latin professor, Henry C. Johnson (1888-94), as the new president of the high school and giving him a clear mandate to impose radical change. Immediately after taking office, Johnson suppressed collegial governance and, after a short delay, established the school's first college preparatory curriculum. In the sections that follow, I will explore the impact of this decade of turmoil and change on the situation of the Central High School professor. The discussion will focus on the status, recruitment, and autonomy of these men during the period following 1888. STATUS The wide-ranging attack on the high school faculty that emerged during the 1880s signified a newly developed vulnerability. The early professors were sometimes called elitist but never incompetent. Whereas the former epithet reflected egalitarian hostility toward the professors as persons of high status, the latter showed something far worse—a form of disdain usually reserved for social inferiors. The primary reason for the decline in professorial status was the sinking fortunes of the high school as a whole. This decline of Central's influence within the school system began with the gradual enclosure of the entrance exam within a web of rules and quotas, which continued after the appointment of a superintendent in 1883, accelerated with the formal imposition of bureaucratic control in 1905 and 1911, and culminated in the reorganization of high schools in 1912. The influence of the high school faculty, so closely tied to the power of the school, inevitably followed the latter's downward arc. At the same time that its organizational influence fell, the high school lost its uniqueness to a rising tide of new secondary schools and student enrollments. Central faced its first competitor in 1885 and its second in 1890; by 1915 there were no fewer than fifteen public secondary schools in the city. Therefore, not only did Central professors lose their solitary posi116

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tion at the apex of the educational pyramid, but they also lost the special distinction that derived from their membership in a tiny and exclusive faculty overseeing a small and selective student body. Teaching at Central quickly lost its cachet in the wake of a massive increase in the number of faculty and students (see table 5.2). After remaining at a level of five to six hundred students during the 1870s and 1880s, the school began to grow rapidly in 1894, doubling in size by 1900 and doubling again by 1910. Meanwhile, after holding constant at sixteen for the previous twenty years, the number of faculty members grew to twenty-eight in 1894, fifty-four in 1900, and eighty-four in 1910. Mirroring their loss of status was the decline and eventual loss of the sizable pay advantage enjoyed by Central professors in the earlier period. The school board in 1879 began a long-term process of equalizing teacher pay (see table 5.1). The gender gap began to close as the pay of Girls High School teachers rose in 1879 from 34 to 42 percent of the pay of Central professors—growing to 50 percent in 1895, 66 percent in 1908, and achieving formal equality in 1920. At the same time the status gap between Central and other schools also began to close. For about ten years the pay of teachers at the new manual training high schools hovered around 80 percent of the level paid to Central professors, until they finally attained parity in 1901. The emergent principle that governed the new distribution of teacher pay in the Philadelphia schools was the weakest component of the earlier pay pattern, position. After seventy years of receiving a fraction (usually about 80 percent) of the amount paid to Central professors, the principals of the male grammar schools finally edged past the professors on the pay scale in 1913. In the new system of stratifying pay within the school system, principals (as supervisors) outranked teachers (as employees) and therefore received higher salaries, regardless of gender or school. In sum, the Central faculty's old sources of advantage, gender and school status, simply evaporated. According to the new position-based pay standard, these men were merely the occupants of a non-exclusive subordinate status, schoolteacher. The superintendent brought this point home with clarity in 1915 when he abolished the title "professor." RECRUITMENT The method of recruiting Central professors changed dramatically in the late 1880s. At about the same time that the school shifted from a practical-terminal curriculum to an academic curriculum aimed at preparation for college, the school board ordered the school to hire only college men for its faculty. Central continued to hire a high proportion of the faculty from its own alumni, but otherwise the profile of the men acquired through the mass hirings of the 1890s was strikingly different 117

Table 5.2

1838 1839 1840 1841 1842 1843 1844 1845 1846 1847 1848 1849 1850 1851 1852 1853 1854 1855 1856 1857 1858 1859 1860 1861 1862 1863 1864 1865 1866 1867 1868 1869 1870 1871 1872 1873 1874 1875 1876 1877 1878 1879

Size of CHS Student Body and Faculty, 1838-1920

Students Enrolled"

Members of Faculty*

63 101 199 246 332 383 389 408 452 505 505 511 485 502 514 520 556 601 576 517 532 556 540 536 525 470 528 426 412 471 453 452 489 533 572 542 570 611 601 644 516 462

4 6 7 7 10 10 9 10 11 10 10 10 11 12 11 15 16 15 14 13 13 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 14 15 15 15 15 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 16

Students Enrolled

1880 1881 1882 1883 1884 1885 1886 1887 1888 1889 1890 1891 1892 1893 1894 1895 1896 1897 1898 1899 1900 1901 1902 1903 1904 1905 1906 1907 1908 1909 1910 1911 1912 1913 1914 1915 1916 1917 1918 1919 1920

495 480 523 559 576 619 610 623 598 548 561 609 606 631 706 773 865 1,044 1,164 1,228 ,235 ,319 ,366 ,438 ,474 ,729 ,942 ,987 1,905 1,943 2,301 2,282 2,166 2,285 2,481 2,560 2,927 2,074 2,186 1,956 2,802

Members of Faculty 16 16 16 16 16 16 16 15 16 18 21 22 22 23 28 33 38 43 45 46 54 54 54 58 62 72 75 76 75 86 84 84 89 108 105 107 82 83 81 96 106

Source: Philadelphia Board of Public Education, Annual Reports (1838-1939). Enrollment at start of year. Includes all those who taught at the high school, not limited to those with the title of professor.

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from the earlier faculty profile. Unlike his predecessor, the modal professor in this cohort was a young recent college graduate with a degree in arts and sciences and without any teaching experience. This meant that the old performance standard for attaining a position at the high school was abandoned in favor of a new credential standard. The magnitude of the transformation in the Central faculty between 1890 and 1900 was significant; the group hired during this decade was the largest, youngest, best educated, and least experienced faculty in the school's history. It is instructive to analyze the cohort of forty-one men hired during the 1890s apart from the carryovers from the previous decade. No fewer than 95 percent of the new men had attended college, and at least 80 percent had received degrees, including ten Ph.D.s. At the same time, only 22 percent of the newly hired faculty had public-school teaching experience; 41 percent had no experience of any sort, since they joined the faculty directly from college. The college men, who had more often than not been defeated by high school men in past competitions for faculty positions, had now been declared qualified by credentials alone. The still sizable number of alumni among the newly hired faculty in 1900 had had to acquire a college degree to be considered acceptable. Similarly, experienced grammar-school principals, the mainstay of the old high school faculty, were excluded from consideration unless they confirmed their competence through a college education. The shift from a performance standard to a credential standard in hiring for the high school faculty occurred for a variety of reasons. First, there was a national escalation in middle-class educational aspirations in the wake of expanding high school enrollments, which shifted attention to the acquisition of the more exclusive university degree and therefore forced high schools to teach a college preparatory course. (See chapter 6 for further discussion.) It followed logically that only college-educated teachers could properly conduct such a course. Second, the expansion in enrollments also impelled high school teachers across the country to urge that a college degree be made a prerequisite for entry into the profession, as part of an effort to shore up the status of high school teaching and prevent it from becoming just another mass occupation (Powell 1976). This shift toward credentialing was therefore in part a reflection of professional weakness. Elementary teachers turned toward credentialing to help elevate a lowly occupational status, whereas credentialing came to the Philadelphia professors only after their once commanding market position turned downward. When the position of the high school fell and their own status with it, the imposition of a credential requirement provided a welcome form of external validation. Thus the elevation of educational requirements for the Central faculty should be 119

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read not as a means of professionalization—what Larson (1977) calls a collective mobility project—but as a defensive measure to head off proletarianization. AUTONOMY As the Central professor turned into an ordinary teacher and the competition for positions yielded to the bloodless pursuit of a college degree, faculty autonomy skidded toward subordination. With the passing of Central High School's special position within the school system, the maintenance of autonomy was difficult to justify. And as the school's independent, experienced, and competitive group of ex-principals was replaced by a collection of untested and inexperienced college boys, the faculty no longer had the stature or the will to practice self-governance. After heading their own schools, the earlier professors were both capable of running Central and willing to accept nothing less. But the new teachers were entering as raw novices in a clearly subordinate post (with the title of instructor) and were thus in no position to lay claim to the leadership of the school. The year 1888 marked the dramatic turning point in professorial selfgovernance at Central, as all the elements that had worked in its favor turned against it. Not only was the position of the school and its professors in a state of decline, but the faculty's ideological consensus had been irretrievably lost in the dispute over curricular change. And then came a sudden fatal blow. Self-governance had always depended on the unwillingness or inability of the president to use his authority to interfere in the affairs of the school. The only major exception was President Maguire, and the experiment had cost him his job. But when the school board hired Henry Johnson, it authorized him to take firm control over the fractious faculty. He acted quickly on his new mandate with a startling display of hierarchical authority: immediately after his inauguration, he simply eliminated the professors' political forum. The first faculty meeting he attended—on November 8, 1888—was the last "stated meeting" of the Central High School Faculty. The fifty-year tradition of collegial governance ended by executive order. From this point on, the high school faculty met infrequently and only at the pleasure of the president. During Johnson's tenure of just over five years, he called twenty-four faculty meetings, seven of which were ceremonial gatherings at commencement; this left only three or four routine meetings per year. A comparison of the two major attacks on collegial governance at the high school reveals how much organizational relationships had changed in twenty-five years. In Maguire's case collegiality came under fire only because the professors collectively refused to reform school policies, forcing him and his backers on the school board either to abandon reform or to impose it. They chose imposition; but once the reform was in place, the 120

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board and the new president allowed the school to return to collegial governance. In Johnson's case, a majority of the faculty had already voted in 1887 for the kind of college preparatory curriculum that he finally installed three years later. Unlike the earlier situation, there was no policy reason for cracking down on the faculty. Instead, the abrupt termination of faculty control appears to have been a pure act of organizational discipline. The board of education was expanding its bureaucratic powers at the same time that the high school's market powers were waning. In this light, the obstreperous autonomy exhibited by the increasingly vulnerable professors in the 1880s presented the incipient bureaucrats with both a provocation and an opportunity. It was a chance to put the high school faculty in its place within the developing bureaucratic structure of Philadelphia schools. The position of the professors was never the same afterward. The minutes of the scattered faculty meetings held during the Johnson era reveal that the professors were performing such peripheral functions as approving lists of names for graduation and writing letters of condolence but were not taking part in school governance. The president apparently ran the school without their advice and consent, adopting the organizational styl that Edwards (1979) calls "simple control." Like the owner-manager of the nineteenth-century factory, he took personal control over all administrativ functions. And as was true with his capitalist counterpart, this approach caused problems for President Johnson. This simplified and concentrated control structure was poorly equipped to deal with the growing size and complexity of organizations at the turn of the century, and it simultaneously tended to provoke opposition. In the early 1890s, Central High School was growing rapidly, but its faculty was still dominated by the experienced and independent professors who cherished memories of collegial governance and bitterly resented Johnson's role as usurper. As a result, although the president succeeded in killing off the old governance structure, he was not able to install a workable alternative. He came under attack from the school board and the public for his inability to quell disharmony within the high school faculty and finally resigned in 1894, leaving education to become a corporate tax lawyer (Edmonds 1910,123). Edwards argues that the trend in the last century has been for firms to shift from simple control to bureaucratic control because of the advantages offered by the latter: bureaucracy allows a diffusion of administrative functions while preserving centralized authority, a feat accomplished by embedding control in a differentiated management structure instead of leaving it concentrated in a single pair of hands.9 Central High School's internal 9. Edwards actually talks about a third form of control intervening between the other two. However, "technical control/' which is dictated by the pace of the factory's machinery, does not apply to the labor-intensive organization of work in a service industry like schooling. 121

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organization moved quickly in a bureaucratic direction under the leadership of its new president, Robert E. Thompson (1894-1920). In the first years of his administration this change occurred under the guise of a return to collegial governance. Although "warned by the members of the High School Committee of the Board never to call a faculty meeting except to vote the graduation of the Senior Class" (Cornog 1952, 59), he called twenty-four meetings in his first year. In part a reflection of his own bitter experience with hierarchical authority (he had been fired from the faculty of the University of Pennsylvania in 1892 as part of a major reorganization), this approach proved a useful method of quieting faculty unrest. The professors seemed to like Thompson as much as they had detested his predecessor. However, appearances to the contrary, collegial governance was dead at the high school. The powers that the faculty once collectively exercised over school affairs shifted to a complex new bureaucratic structure of control that consisted of four separate elements. At the top of the new hierarchy was a superintendent of schools with growing powers over the school. By the 1890s, he had already eliminated the influence once exerted by the Central faculty over the rest of the school system. He controlled and soon eliminated the entrance exam, opened competing high schools, and in 1912 took over the school's curriculum and abolished the last elements distinguishing the faculty from other teachers. Then there was the president. Thompson, like Johnson before him and ail those who followed, saw himself not as the agent of the faculty (in the model of Hart and Riche) but as the executive authority over the faculty. This puts a different cast on his frequent faculty meetings. Not only were these meetings held only at the will of the president, but his manner in conducting them was quite autocratic. The faculty was allowed to debate and vote on a wide range of substantive issues during the early part of his administration, but the decisions counted only if they agreed with the president's position. Anything else he simply vetoed. As one professor recalled, Thompson justified one such veto to the faculty in the following terms: "Serenely, then, Dr. Thompson explained that he, not the faculty, was responsible for all that transpired in the school; therefore when the faculty voted to do something that he felt was injurious to the interests of the school or the taxpayers, he was obligated to annul such an action" (quoted in Cornog 1952, 60). At best, this situation left the faculty meeting as a kind of council of advisors to the president rather than as the legislative body it once was; at worst, it was reduced to little more than a debating society. Under the structure of governance that developed before the turn of the

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century, the collective role of the faculty declined, but a new form of faculty involvement did develop within the school's new academically and functionally differentiated administrative units. In the 1890s, the rapidly expanding school began to reorganize into academic departments on the basis of traditional disciplinary boundaries. These departments held regular meetings about issues internal to the particular subject area, and their heads came to act as middle-level administrators. The minutes make frequent reference to issues that are referred for resolution to a particular department or to the department heads jointly. The differentiation of administration also took a functional form. The president and faculty created a large number of committees with a wide range of specialized administrative concerns. During the course of Thompson's term in office, the minutes refer to the following standing committees: roster, lateness, special cases, hygiene, rules, (public) lectures, library, six year's course (city-college status), students' work, distinctions, scholarship awards, school records, recess, finance, and police. Before 1888 ad hoc committees were frequently established to prepare reports for the faculty on issues that the faculty as a whole would then decide: committees proposed, the faculty acted. In the new regime, however, the faculty referred matters to a committee and that was the end of it; the committee was expected to act on its own. In the new bureaucratic structure of administration, the powers that had once been exercised by the faculty as a whole were now in the hands of the superintendent and the president and were scattered among a wide range of academic departments and specialized committees. The faculty retained a role in this new structure, but the role was restricted to carrying out narrowly defined administrative assignments. The professors no longer had the means to develop an overview of the school's policies and operations. It was the professional administrators alone who had such a perspective: as Thompson put it, "only he, not the faculty, was responsible for all that transpired in the school." In the classic bureaucratic manner, then, a dispersion of administrative duties led to a concentration of policy-making power. As a result, a political structure—collegial governance—was transformed into a technical structure—administration—and the professors became its functionaries. The minutes of the faculty meetings neatly capture the declining autonomy of the Central High School professor during this period. The pre-1888 minutes provide an elaborate record of parliamentary proceedings, revealing a politically contentious faculty deeply involved in all aspects of school governance. After 1888, the irregularity of these meetings and the growing number of references to alternative loci of power (administrators, departments, and committees) make the faculty appear peripheral to the ongoing

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governance of the school. Not only did they now lack the ability to make binding decisions, but they also spent a declining amount of time even discussing policy questions. By the twentieth century, the minutes have an increasingly perfunctory look about them, as meetings focused on routine approval for work that was accomplished elsewhere and on the making of announcements. By 1915 the professors had suffered through the worst of their decline in status—losing their pay differential and their special title while the school lost the last of its market power. Significantly, the minutes for this period record that the faculty was spending a growing share of its time discussing its own status concerns. From this point on, two of the topics most frequently talked about in Central's faculty meetings were the prospects and mechanisms for raising teacher salaries and the activities of a variety of professional teacher organizations. These discussions dealt with political and organizational tactics, the importance of membership in various lobbying groups, and the assessment of dues. During the next two decades the minutes show that Central's faculty as a whole joined and elected representatives to four different teacher organizations: the Association of Colleges and Preparatory Schools of the Middle States and Maryland, High School Men's Association, Pennsylvania Teachers Association, and Philadelphia Teachers Assocation. These organizations represented the new collegiality of the Central faculty. Unlike the old collegiality, whose focus on governance reflected the dominant position of the earlier professors, the new form aimed at the issues of security and salary, reflecting the subordinated status of the professors in later years. Once a political body charged with governing the school, the professors had become more like a work group seeking union representation—and for good reason. More significant than their loss of status, they had lost control. Once policy-makers, they were now consigned to minor administrative roles. Like the skilled workers who at the same time were being subjected to scientific management (Braverman 1974), the professors lost the ability to develop an integrated conception of the educational process at Central (to the school's professional administrators) and were left with the simple execution of their specialized duties. The prestigious and autonomous professional had become a partially proletarianized school-system employee. A sequence of notations in the minutes during the early 1920s captures the extent of the decline in faculty power from the days when the faculty meeting made the decisions that ruled the high school: [Septembers, 1921] Dr. Haney favors departmental group meetings rather than meetings of the entire faculty. 124

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[December 13, 1921] Dr. Haney expressed a willingness to have more faculty meetings if its members so desire, but wants the meetings to count for something more than mere routine that can properly be cared for elsewhere. [January 11, 1922] Dr. Haney informs us that a number of the men have expressed a desire for more frequent meetings even if partly for social reasons.

So much for collegial governance. EPILOGUE Central High School teachers managed to escape some of the worst effects of their new proletarian status by several different routes. A few chose to leave teaching for administration, climbing the new career ladder for male educators that developed at the start of the twentieth century. As Powell (1976) notes, high school teachers in general during this period turned increasingly toward administrative positions, buffered and elevated by professional training, as an antidote to declining status. Given the closure of the old career ladder from grammar-school principal to high school professor, the growing importance of hierarchical position within the school system, and the declining status of high school teaching, it was inevitable that some Central faculty members chose to pursue administrative posts.10 For those who chose to remain in teaching, there were two mitigating factors. First, like other schoolteachers in the twentieth century, these high school teachers continued to enjoy the limited and largely negative autonomy accorded to them by the self-contained classroom. Although lacking control over the operation of the school, the curriculum, or the definition of their role, high school teachers still had the ability to control the educational process within the classroom because of the inability of administrators to supervise their behavior there. Thus, they experienced a version of formal subordination but were saved from real subordination by the loosely coupled structure of schooling. For these teachers, then, the classroom became the last haven for a diminished professionalism and the principal hedge against full proletarianization. Second, some teachers at Central High School benefited from its resurrec tion as an elite school in 1939. The new Central was a purely academic high school that could selectively admit the highest-scoring students from a city-wide pool of candidates. This change not only restored the school to something like its old special position within the school system but also 10. Of the post-1888 faculty, at least three ended up as high school principals and several others took important administrative positions ranging from school board member to evening-school principal (Nash 1946, 53, 61, 74; Central High School Handbook 1971, 15657).

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provided the faculty with a form of special distinction that had been missing for thirty years. Of course, the distinction did not apply to all high school teachers but only to those at Central. The newly elevated position of the Central faculty therefore did not represent the reprofessionalization of high school teaching but rather the restratification of the occupation. The latter process was highly visible in January 1939, when forty-one Central teachers moved up the street to the home of the new selective Central High School, while the eighty-two non-academic Central teachers remained in the old buildings as the faculty of a new comprehensive high school— named, ironically, for Central's ideological benefactor, Benjamin Franklin. Teachers at Central High School in the middle of the twentieth century therefore succeeded in regaining some of the status and autonomy they had lost early in the century, but the gains were limited and the costs high. Their elevation in status was attained at the expense of the average high school teacher, for the new distinctiveness of Central teachers simply highlighted the relative inferiority of the large majority of their peers. At the same time, they never did retrieve their former domination of school governance, for the internal structure of the school refused to bow to their new status. Instead, the new Central High School teachers had to settle for a position that offered attractive status rewards while forcing them to hide their once assertive autonomy behind the classroom door.

Understanding the Decline of the High School Professor

EXPANDING ENROLLMENTS The simplest explanation for the decline in the power and privilege of the high school professor is that it occurred as a result of expanding high school enrollments. This demographic change affected his status, his mode of recruitment, and ultimately his autonomy. As the high school moved rapidly toward becoming a mass institution at the turn of the century (Trow 1961), high school teaching developed into a mass occupation. Secondary teachers were forced to deal with the status problem that had confronted elementary teachers in the nineteenth century and would confront teachers generally in the twentieth century— namely, that a very large and nonexclusive occupation group cannot cloak itself in the kind of invidious distinctions that provide the basis for a claim of elevated status (Lortie 1975; Lanier 1986). If professionalization is understood to mean the collective upward mobility of a whole occupational status group (Larson 1977), then high school teachers experienced the opposite. For the growing size of the secondary sector undercut the once extraordinary exclusivity of these teachers and propelled them collectively 126

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into downward mobility, changing them from professionals into something more like proletarians. Growth also affected teacher recruitment. In 1880, the Central High School faculty numbered only sixteen in a public school system with 2,075 teachers. Under such circumstances, teachers could be recruited through the narrow funnel of meritocratic competition, which guaranteed exclusivity. But when Central had to increase its faculty to more than a hundred and new high schools simultaneously sought candidates to fill their own teaching positions, the school board needed a larger pool to choose from than the city's grammar-school principals and a more widely available qualification for office than teaching performance. The new policy of hiring inexperienced college graduates as high school teachers, represented not only an attempt to bring teacher credentials in line with the new college preparatory curriculum but also an effort to meet the expanded staffing requirements of a mass occupation. Finally, rising enrollments also affected the internal organization of the high school and the degree of teacher autonomy. In the early period, the professors were so few in number that they could sit around a table and deal with the full range of issues arising from the administration of their small school. Within such an uncomplicated structure, the social role of the professor was loosely defined, permitting him considerable personal autonomy and broad institutional authority. However, modernization theory argues that as the size of an organization increases, structure grows more complex through differentiation of functions and specialization of roles (Durkheim 1933; Parsons and Smelser 1956; Parsons 1971). In these terms, then, the new structure of governance at Central High School in the 1890s was simply the result of its burgeoning enrollment. The new school, with 100 teachers and 2,000 students, was qualitatively different from the old school, with 16 teachers and 500 students, and the old pattern of collegial governance by generalist professors simply would no longer work. So, from this perspective, size compelled Central to create differentiated functions (academic departments and administrative committees) and specialized roles (teacher versus administrator and history teacher versus math teacher). However, there is a problem with this size-based explanation for the decline of the high school professor: the timing is not quite right. The upward surge in the size of the Central student body did not begin until 1894, yet the transformation of the high school professor got under way during the previous decade (see table 5.2). Precipitated by a pay cut in 1879, the professors' pay advantage declined during the 1880s, and at the same time a series of public attacks on them gave evidence of their slipping prestige. Later in the decade the school board's recruitment policy shifted to 127

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require college training for all new faculty. And the most dramatic change of all, the elimination of coilegial governance in 1888, occurred when enrollment was no higher than it had been for the previous thirty years. Yet none of this means that size was irrelevant to the situation of the professors. Even though Central's enrollment was steady during the 1880s, the first of a series of new high schools opened in the middle of that decade, with the result that secondary enrollment in the city did rise significantly. Even if the decline in status started earlier, the full-scale proletarianization of the professors took place in the early twentieth century after Central's internal expansion. And although the old form of governance was destroyed earlier, the new bureaucratic structure did not arise until after the surge of growth within the school. THE HIGH SCHOOL'S DECLINING MARKET VALUE My argument is that size did have a significant impact on the position of the high school teacher, but that most of this impact was felt through its effect on the position of the high school. Therefore I see expanded enrollment less as a structural variable that spurred differentiation and specialization than as a historically contingent market variable that shaped the position of this particular high school within the local market for educational credentials. From this view, the arrival of the manual training school in 1885 struck a serious blow to the standing of Central High School and its faculty by destroying the uniqueness on which both had capitalized for so many years. The loss of Central's monopolistic position—ten years before the boom in Central enrollment—led to a sharp decline in the market value of the school's credentials and left it vulnerable to a series of major reforms imposed from the outside, including the abandonment of the old curriculum, the old method of faculty recruitment, and the old form of governance. Firmly in place by 1890, these changes then helped facilitate the bureaucratization o governance and the proletarianization of teaching that occurred after the turn of the century. Whereas the modernization approach would suggest that these developments were the natural result of an organization's adapting itself to the demands of growth, the market perspective argues that the declining position of the high school teacher was propelled by the changing relationship between the supply and the demand for high schools in Philadelphia at the end of the nineteenth century. Measured by the market value of high school credentials, this was an institutionalized relationship between the middle-class families who were the high school's traditional constituency (demand) and the faculty and administrators who ran the high schools (supply). The political pressures to expand the supply side of this market

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(by increasing high school enrollment) sharply undercut the market position of both Central High School and its professors.11 Once again, politics and markets worked at cross purposes to shape the development of the high school. BUREAUCRATIZATION The expansion of high schooling contributed to the decline in the position of the earliest high schools, which in turn led to the decline of the high school professor. However, other factors also exerted downward pressure on both school and faculty, the most important of which was the development of bureaucratic control within the school system. The previous chapter showed how the early high school enjoyed freedom from system control while informally dominating the system through its power in the education market. The privileged position occupied by the school passed through to its professors, granting them exceptional prestige and allowing them to operate the school largely free of outside interference. But when the political push for administrative control began in the 1870s, the entrepreneurial high school found itself increasingly constrained, and the free market in secondary education turned increasingly rule-bound. The high school became subordinate to the new bureaucracy in the second decade of the twentieth century, and the high school professor at the same time became subordinate within the structure of the school. Where once the high school had dominated the structure of schools, the new bureaucratic structure of schools dominated the high school. The freewheeling and autonomous early high school now found itself neatly plugged into the middle level of a rigid educational hierarchy defined by credentials: it had to admit students on the basis of grammar-school credentials and prepare them to pursue college credentials. Likewise, the early professors had played an unstructured role that gave them great personal freedom, but later they found themselves in a narrowly defined role within a structure established around the position principle. According to this new principle, teacher now meant employee and administrator meant boss; and, of course, the only way to gain access to this proletarianized teacher role was by presenting college credentials. CREDENTIALISM AND THE NEW MERITOCRACY Near the turn of the century the growing accessibility of high schools to the public and the increasing 11. In chapter 6 I explore the impact of changes in the demand side of the market during the same period, as the high school's middle-class clients began to pin their hopes on a college diploma instead of a terminal high school diploma.

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domination of high schools by educational bureaucracy led to the dethroning of Central High School and the deprofessionalization of its faculty. During this period, the criterion for selecting both students and teachers at Central High School shifted from personal demonstration to organizational certification, from performance to credentials, thus imposing a new formal structure on the high school's meritocratic process.12 By moving from a performance standard to a credential standard at all levels of the school's operations, the new high school was asserting the importance of organizational sponsorship over individual effort, standardized measures of merit over ad hoc demonstrations, and stable interorganizational coordination over open-ended interpersonal competition. Credentials therefore played a significant supporting role in the making of the American high school. First, the rapid expansion of high school enrollment would have been impossible under the old entrance examination. Shifting to admission by grammar-school certificate ended the exclusivity of the high school by providing a mechanism for gaining admission that was accessible to large numbers of students. At the same time, the new credential standard for high school teaching made that occupation more accessible and thus permitted it to grow in response to the growth in enrollment. Second, credentials were also an important factor in the development of bureaucratic control over high schools and school systems. Bureaucratic educational organization requires a stable set of relationships between schools, facilitated by a generally accepted hierarchy of grade levels stretching from kindergarten to graduate school. Such a system subordinates the autonomy of individual schools to the demands of the larger structure, which, of course, is presided over by professional administrators. Therefore, introducing a credential standard for movement through the grades provided a universal link between schools—a link that was abstracted from the characteristics of particular individuals and contexts and was thus more appropriate to a formal organization than the concrete performance-based link that characterized the informal market structure of schools. At the same time, this standard removed the high school's power over lower schools by granting each level in the graded structure the right to provide credentials of access to the next higher level. The rise of credentialism was an integral part of the change from the open, competitive, and entrepreneurial form of system organization to a more closed, stable, and tightly regulated structure. Third, as a result, credentialism had a devastating impact on the market 12. I am deeply indebted to David Hogan (forthcoming) for many insights into the relationship between the growth of credentialism and the transformation of educational meritocracy.

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position of the high school. The power of the early high school derived to a significant degree from its entrance exam, and the decline of Central High School can be tracked by following the growing efforts to regulate and finally eliminate this exam during the last thirty years of the nineteenth century. In this sense such early reforms as the quota system were preliminary steps toward credentialism, since they began to expand access to the high school by limiting the high school's power over admissions and embedding this power in the structure as a whole. By 1912, Central found itself at the middle level of a hierarchy of credential-granting educational organizations. It had lost its old dominant position but it had won, as a consolation prize, a secure spot in the new structure—receiving a steady supply of students from below and passing them on to college. The modern high school remains in this same position, both dominated and protected by a network of credential-based relationships with other schools in the educational hierarchy. Fourth, credentials played a dual role in the decline of high school professors. On the one hand, the new college credentials provided them with a status prop and a much-needed boost to their credibility. Given the growing attack on the high school and its faculty during the 1880s, Central professors could no longer rely on personal standing, school affiliation, or occupational performance to establish their credibility as teachers. Instead, they required some sort of external validation by means of a universally accepted standard, which a college degree provided. On the other hand, however, the new standard actually helped to speed their decline. It eliminated from the faculty the kind of experienced, competitive, and independent men who had upheld the faculty's tradition of self-governance and left it with young college graduates who adapted rather easily to the subordinate status of the teacher in the new high school. And at the same time, the credential requirement facilitated access to high school teaching, thus speeding the transformation of an elite profession into a mass occupation. DECOUPLING At the same time that Central High School professors experienced deprofessionalization, the Philadelphia school system was undergoing an organizational process that Meyer and Rowan (1978) call "decoupling." For teachers, this process meant the separation of credentials from performance. For the system as a whole, it meant the separation of schooling from education—that is, the growing ritualization of education to the point where it becomes defined as "a certified teacher teaching a standardized curricular topic to a registered student in an accredited school" (Meyer and Rowan 1978, 84) instead of as the production of particular educational outcomes. In the decoupled system that emerged in Philadelphia at the turn of the century, high school teachers were proletari131

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anized employees of the new administrative hierarchy, but this command structure never succeeded in gaining control over the process of classroom instruction. Meyer and Rowan argue, in fact, that educational bureaucrats do not try very hard to shape instructional outcomes because they understand that the legitimacy of the educational enterprise depends not on such outcomes but on the careful maintenance of the school's ritual categories— that is, focusing on traditional subject areas rather than curriculum content, on teacher certification rather than teacher effectiveness. By contrast, Philadelphia schools in the mid-nineteenth century constituted a tightly coupled system. The market structure that characterized the early schools, although lacking the tight administrative controls found in the later bureaucratic structure, was extraordinarily effective in controlling what teachers taught. The meritocratic competition for promotion to the high school provided teachers with a powerful motive to shape their instruction around the demands of the high school entrance exam, which in turn provided a public measure of their effectiveness in producing the desired educational outcomes. In addition, the men with the greatest incentive to teach to the test were also those in the best position to do so. The male grammar-school heads who constituted the prime candidates for the high school faculty were not supervising principals, decoupled from the classroom, but principal teachers, who taught the older students and set the instructional standard for their schools. Reinforcing this structural reason for tight coupling in the early school system was an ideological reason. Within the high school there was a strong ideological consensus about its aims, and these aims grew directly out of the same entrepreneurial bourgeois ideology that formed the rationale for the common-school system. At once republican, entrepreneurial, character-building, and meritocratic, the schools were firmly embedded in community values, and their teachers reflected this homogeneity of purpose in classroom practice. As an example of the power of the pedagogical consensus in this era, one need only recall that when Nicholas Maguire changed a key element in the system of student discipline at the high school, he was reviled as a heretic and then banished. By the 1890s this ideological consensus, both inside the high school and in the school system generally, was shattered as the idea of common schooling gave way to a stratified system of specialized curricula and schools. At the same time the market structure of schools gave way to a bureaucratic structure, trading a system with weak administrative controls and strong instructional controls for a system that could effectively subordinate the teacher everywhere but in the classroom. Symbolized by the shift in the criteria for recruiting high school teachers from performance to credentials, the new system decoupled instructional effectiveness from the ritual mean132

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ing of schooling. By the first decade of the twentieth century, the occupational characteristics of modern teaching had fallen into place at the point where the high school teacher's downward trajectory finally intersected the rising fortunes of the elementary-school teacher. The teacher who emerged from this dual process of change took the form portrayed in the loosecoupling literature—administratively subordinate but instructionally autonomous, disempowered within school and school system but all-powerful in the classroom.

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Courses and Credentials: The Impact of the Market on the Curriculum

As we have seen, during its first century, Central High School underwent a series of significant changes. Its power and autonomy declined in the face of growing bureaucratic control; its faculty fell from dominance to subordination in school governance; and its fifty-year tradition of a common practical curriculum was abandoned in favor of a stratified curriculum with college preparatory and vocational tracks. Of these changes, the last was the most dramatic; for although bureaucratization and proletarianization occurred over several decades, the transformation of the curriculum took place in a single year, 1889. Moreover, for the school's organization and governance as well as its course of study, that year marked the watershed between the old and new high school. This striking change in the curriculum of Central High School occurred when the school's supporters rallied to restore its exclusive market position after years of political initiatives had gradually undermined that position. Once again the school was caught up in a struggle between politics and markets. Central's common practical curriculum embodied the political aims of the common-school reformers. By permitting no electives, this course of study provided all students with a common educational experience, reflecting the communitarian republicanism of the school's foundin ideology. And the practical character of the course was also seen as a means of serving the common good, since studies were supposed to be useful for all students (not just the college-bound) and thus were deliberately terminal (not college preparatory). However, during the same half century that the common practical curricu lum reigned at Central High School, the school's monopolistic position in 134

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the local education market made it a valuable cultural commodity. As we have seen, the competition for access to the high school led to a series of political interventions designed to widen public access. The resulting expansion in opportunities for secondary education undercut Central's market position and drove down the exchange value of its credentials. The new stratified college preparatory curriculum, then, arose as a market response to these politically induced changes. The high school's middle-class supporters saw a dangerous decline in its usefulness as a status-attainment mechanism and sought refuge in the pursuit of higher-level credentials. Complementing this move, the high school provided a new set of curriculum tracks, which buffered its old constituency against the leveling influence of rising enrollments and channeled these middle-class students into the university. In this chapter I will examine the development of the modern curriculum at Central High School as a case study in the persistent impact of market forces on the high school. Just as the high school's market power had provoked a political response by raising the threat of educational inequality, the school board's exercise of political power had provoked a market response by raising the threat of educational equality. Central's influential middleclass supporters—who held or aspired to hold its credentials—responded to this egalitarian menace by mounting a concerted effort to regain the exclusive advantage once provided by these credentials. Through educational stratification, they managed to effect a compromise between public access and private rewards, thus providing an early example of a mechanism for reconciling politics and markets that has become the model for twentiethcentury American education. The Common Practical Curriculum

Chapter 2 revealed the early Central curriculum as an expression of common-school ideology. This curriculum showed the influence of both political and market concerns, but politics was primary. By providing the same program for all students, the founders promoted republican community; by making the course terminal and practical, they promoted wider public access; by keeping the course largely academic, they promoted the autonomy of the school; and by making the course business-oriented but not vocational, they promoted commerce without ceding it the dominant position. Since I have already defined the content of the practical curriculum, my aim in this section is to characterize what distinguished this curriculum from the one that replaced it. Toward this end, I will examine the common practical curriculum from the perspective of its structure, its ethos, and its effects on students. 135

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THE STRUCTURE OF AN INTEGRATED CURRICULUM The early curriculum at Central High School was based on what Basil Bernstein (1971) has called an integrated code, whereas the post-1889 curriculum was based on a collection code. The difference between the two codes is defined by two characteristics, which he calls classification and framing. A collection code, which tends to predominate in modern education, is characterized by strong classification. This means that the subject matter is differentiated and compartmentalized within the curriculum to such a degree that the boundaries between subjects are difficult to bridge. Thus knowledge is presented to students as a collection of unrelated specialties. A collection code is also usually characterized by strong framing, which means that knowledge transmission within the school is sharply distinguished from processes of knowledge transmission that exist in the community—in the same way that a heavy frame separates a painting from its background. School learning and common sense are thus not allowed to mix. Although, as we shall see, the later curriculum had all the elements of a collection code, the early curriculum can be characterized as integrated. Classification was quite weak at this stage in the high school's development. There was for most of this period only one course of study, and within this course the barriers between subject areas were low. The curriculum was not a set of distinct tracks or a loose collection of distinct fields (as in a collection code). Instead, it was an integrated whole, governed collectively by the faculty rather than by disciplinary specialists. The reason was that the school's powerful ideology welded together the various facets of academic knowledge around a central educational principle—to provide a common practical education. At the same time, framing was also weak at the early high school. Shaped by the ideology of its middle-class founders and constituents, the school turned away from the esoteric learning embodied in the classical curriculum in favor of the kind of learning required by the ordinary man of affairs. Commonsense knowledge from the community thus found its way past the weak frame, blurring the distinction between middle-class culture and school culture. Bernstein sees curriculum codes as imposing certain constraints on school organization, and his predictions are borne out by Central during its first fifty years. First, a school with an integrated code requires a mechanical solidarity among faculty and students maintained by a strong consensus. Central displayed such ideological cohesion—in its ideological origins, its internal rhetoric about practical education, and the cultural homogeneity of its faculty and students. Second, since the maintenance of the school's ideology was so important in conjunction with an integrated code, the school would have to socialize 136

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new teachers into this ideology with considerable care and to shore up the beliefs of existing faculty through regular rituals of rededication. Evidence for the former is the clear preference in the early years for hiring Central graduates as professors, since these men were already socialized into the school culture. (Their diplomas could be interpreted as certificates of ideological competency.) Evidence of the latter is the long-standing tradition of the weekly faculty meeting, which on an organizational level provided the natural mode of governance for the school in the era of practical education—collegial rule over an integrated curriculum—and which on an ideological level constituted a ritual for continually recreating the faculty consensus. (The student version of this ritual was the daily assembly.) Third, since under an integrated code a school is seen less as the agent for academic disciplines than as an extension of the community, the school's criteria for evaluation are likely to extend beyond academic matters to larger cultural concerns. The striking evidence for this point is Central's early history of counting students' conduct as part of their academic grades, demonstrating that character-building was inseparable from intellectual development. An integrated curriculum stands in opposition to the commodification of schooling. By treating subject matter as part of an integrated whole and presenting it to students as a package, an integrated curriculum imparts the message that there are some things everyone should know. This goes to the political core of the practical curriculum, which aimed to provide knowledge that was useful for the citizenry at large and not just the collegebound elite. Thus, the leaders of the early high school were in agreement about the content of the curriculum and about the political and individual use value of this content. The result was that Central's clear goal was to be a transmitter of a particular form of knowledge. At the same time that market forces were converting the school's credential into a commodity that could be exchanged for social position, the faculty was still looking at this credential as a sign that a student had acquired what he needed to know in order to be a productive citizen. The story of Central's curricular transformation is the story of the school's ultimate acquiescence in the market definition of what its credentials meant. BACHE AND THE ETHOS OF THE PRACTICAL CURRICULUM No One had a bigger impact on the practical curriculum than Alexander Bache, who created it out of whole cloth and then presided over its institutionalization. If examining the characteristics of an integrated code can help explain the underlying structure of this curriculum, then a look at Bache's career can help explain something about its social meaning. After graduating from West Point, the country's first technical school, 137

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Bache launched into a career that was devoted equally to applied science and public service. For him science meant applying scientific methods to practical frequently industrial, problems. Although he taught at the University of Pennsylvania during the early part of his career, he did his scientific work outside the academy, giving a series of papers on meteorology, astronomy, and the earth's magnetism at the influential workingmen's lyceum known at the Franklin Institute.1 After leaving Penn, he went on to become president of Girard College and Central High and then spent twenty-five years as head of the United States Coast Survey (Odgers 1947). The research that first brought him to national attention was a series of experiments between 1831 and 1835 which uncovered the cause of steam boiler explosions, a problem that at the time was seriously restricting the use of steam engines (Sinclair 1974, 150). This thoroughly practical investigation reveals how Bache's concern for practicality was always tempered by professionalism. One of his associates in the steam-boiler study was Matthias Baldwin, not a scientist but an entrepreneur, who subsequently expanded his small machine shop into the giant Baldwin Locomotive Works. But although Bache frequently worked with entrepreneurs, he never became one; he instead confined himself to the role of scientific expert. In fact he spent much of his energy on an effort to professionalize science in the United States. In 1836, he reorganized the Journal of the Franklin Institute and made it into a professional journal of technology with national influence. In 1840, he drew his professional associates together in an organization known as the Association of American Geologists, which eight years later became the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Bache's professionalism points to a second important quality of his scientific career: it was decisively public in character. He was educated as a scientist at public expense. He always published his scientific results instead of restricting access to them via patent and milking them for private gain. The two schools he headed, Girard and Central, were strongly public in character. His steam-boiler study was one of the earliest cases of large-scale federally funded research. And finally, he closed his career in Washington as the head of the federal government's major agency employing scientists, along the way helping to incorporate the Smithsonian Institution. I would like to suggest that Bache had the same view of practicality in education as he did in science. As a scientist he consistently shaped his research interests to meet the needs of industry and government for ad1. A number of such lyceums developed during the 1820s, all of them devoted to the marriage of scientific and mechanical pursuits—in the tradition of Bache's ancestor, Benjamin Franklin.

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vanced technology. He sought to be not a lonely theorist of pure science but a socially involved engineer looking for effective answers to real-world problems. Enthusiastically a man of his age, he accepted its premises and resolutely attacked the technical deficiencies that retarded its progress. Yet at the same time he never allowed himself to be swallowed up by it. He promoted the interests of private enterprise as diligently as anyone, but he never "hired on," preferring instead the roles of expert consultant and public servant. As an educator, then, Bache promoted a course of study that was oriented toward the real activities and concerns of his times without simply reflecting them. The quintessential Whig, he designed a curriculum that would encourage practical involvement in the world's work without sacrificing the public interest, enhancing commerce without abandoning republican virtue. THE CONSEQUENCES OF A PRACTICAL EDUCATION Measuring the effects of education is a notoriously difficult venture, especially when the researcher is confronted with historical data. Fortunately, there is one thin strand of data on the impact of the early high school. The founders of the practical curriculum felt that it exerted a considerable impact on the students, and one of them, John Hart, collected information on student careers in an effort to prove that Central was not giving students "a distaste for business." He asked students upon leaving the school the nature of their intended occupation and recorded the response in his roll book. These answers are available for seventy-nine of the eighty-five students who entered in the fall of 1850 and who are thus part of my student sample. As noted in chapter 2, Hart's survey confirmed that the practical curriculum was having the desired effect on students. The school's alumni tended to go to work rather than college, with two-thirds in white-collar employment and one-third in manual trades and farming. At this point I would like to look in greater depth at the relationship between the practical curriculum and work by considering the impact of two significant variables, family background and academic achievement, on the jobs chosen by these 1,850 students. If father's occupation is compared to son's intended occupation, it appears that the latter was only in part the result of intergenerational occupational transmission. Half of all shopkeepers' sons and half of all skilled workers' sons followed in their fathers' footsteps. Yet two-thirds of the students who went to work in a shop or in a trade had fathers in other occupations; and a quarter of the shopkeepers' sons found their way into a trade while a like proportion of the skilled workers' sons went to work in a shop. Even half of the professionals' sons turned to skilled manual work. 139

COURSES

AND CREDENTIALS

If father's occupation explains part of the career choices made by sons, academic merit (as measured by graduation) explains another part. None of the twenty-nine would-be store workers graduated. In part this was because a number of these boys were going to work for their fathers and thus did not need educational credentials; but beyond that, this finding may mean that jobs in shops were the easiest jobs for boys with less training to find. (Even the future skilled workers graduated at a 22.2 percent rate.) In contrast, the best students had a strong preference for becoming clerks and other white-collar workers (mostly engineers) with graduation rates of 66.7 percent and 50.0 percent, respectively. It appears that these jobs, unlike positions in a shop, were filled on the basis of educational credentials rather than inheritance. The school's early curriculum therefore seemed to fulfill the founders' expectations. Its alumni became productive members of the workforce rather than college students, and a third of them chose manual work. Thus, in spite of the school's highly selective admissions and skewed class distribution, Central was not producing a homogeneous elite. And the wide range of jobs the former students pursued could not be reduced simply to the effect of class background, for a number of students took positions that meant crossing class lines, and students' performance in the school's curriculum had a direct effect on job outcomes. Early Signs of Change

During the third quarter of the nineteenth century, a series of significant shifts occurred within Central's practical curriculum that helped prepare the way for its eventual demise. These events signaled changes in both the content and the purposes of the curriculum. School officials purified the academic character of the curriculum by removing some of its ideological content, shifted curriculum goals in a private direction, and reduced the portion of the curriculum devoted to liberal culture. THE PURGE OF MORAL EDUCATION Moral education was one of the primary aims of the common school. The early high school sought to establish a mechanism for maintaining collective control over behavior in an individualistic society, thus accomplishing a form of reconciliation between republicanism and capitalism. By instilling cultural constraint within the individual conscience, educators could preserve the freedom from external regulation required by entepreneurs while promoting the devotion to the common good required for the citizens of a republic. At Central, this mechanism took the form of an elaborate system of discipline designed to build 140

COURSES AND CREDENTIALS

character and a method of grading that measured conduct in addition to academic achievement. In 1859, President Nicholas Maguire, with the backing of the high school committee, abruptly ended Central's twenty-year tradition of moral education by announcing that grades would no longer reflect behavior.2 "This practice/' he argued, "was evidently unjust and injurious. It destroyed all incentive to study; it deprived the student of those honors which he had fairly won by diligence and industry" (Annual Report 1859, 133). Whereas Bache and Hart saw discipline as moral education and integrated it with the practical curriculum by means of grades, Maguire saw discipline merely as a way of achieving "subordination and docility"—qualities not necessarily related to academic performance: "The brightest scholars are not always the most decorous" (Annual Report 1859, 134). As a result, he sought to downplay the importance of discipline and instead stressed the centrality of achievement. "That school is the best disciplined which is the least governed," he stated, especially one with "pupils, selected as those of the High School are, by personal individual merit" (Annual Report 1859, 132-33, emphasis in original). The abandonment of the old grading system thus represented an important narrowing of educational aims at Central High School. Turning the school away from its diffuse role as agent for middle-class mores, Maguire sought to limit it to the transmission of academic knowledge. This meant focusing on cognition more than character, so that discipline became a means of maintaining social order rather than a central part of the curriculum. It also meant that merit was now defined by student achievement alone. Meritocracy at the high school, purified through the removal of nonacademic elements, now promoted a single standard of excellence—the competitive, individual appropriation of academic knowledge (Connell et al. 1983). Recalling that the early high school curriculum was integrated (in Bernstein's terminology), it becomes easier to understand why the introduction of a narrowed form of student evaluation provoked such a furor in the faculty and ultimately led to Maguire's dismissal. Testimony during the controversy that followed made it clear that influencing a student's morals as well as his mind was a key part of what the faculty saw as the school's practical mission and an essential element of the school's organizational ideology. The president was thus seen as guilty of tampering with one of the constituting and previously unquestioned beliefs of the integrated cur2. Harvard College took a similar step ten years later, ranking students by academic performance alone (Rudolph 1962, 348).

141

COURSES AND CREDENTIALS

riculum. As a result, he was treated as a heretic and banished. However, despite his removal, moral education was never restored: perhaps once such a belief is openly and successfully challenged it can never again be accepted as a matter of simple dogma. The shift toward a purely cognitive standard was a first step toward strengthening the high school's frame, for it raised the level of the barrier between the school and the community by announcing the school's intention to grade students on their acquisition of school knowledge rather than community mores. FROM PUBLIC TO PRIVATE If moral education was an important part of the common school, then the abandonment of this element of the curriculum by the high school suggests a realignment of its aims. Whereas the ideological pattern that had given birth to the high school was essentially Whig, the new pattern emerging at Central was characteristic of the new Republican Party. The Whig view was that individual competition for rewards was desirable, but only within the limits imposed by the public interest and embedded in conscience. At Central this meant meritocracy tempered by morality. The ideological shift toward the Republican view was marked by the desire to unleash the meritocratic principle from its moral constraints, just as the capitalist forces of production had been freed from societal constraints, and to allow private interests to proceed unimpeded by collective concerns. This privatization of the practical curriculum can be illustrated by the career of Elihu Thomson. Fascinated by the laboratory sciences as a student at Central, Thomson began teaching chemistry at the school after his graduation in 1870, first as a lab instructor and later as a professor. Using school equipment, he performed a series of experimental investigations into the basic properties of electricity, publishing papers and gaining a national reputation as well as the first of his seven hundred patents. After ten years he resigned and formed an electric company in association with Central professor Edwin Houston for the purpose of developing many of these patents. In 1892, the Thomson-Houston Electric Company merged with Edison General Electric and became the General Electric Company, whose new president (Wilbur Rice) was a Central alumnus and Thomson's former student (Haney 1939; Noble 1977). Thomson was the ideal product of Central's practical education in the Republican era, just as Bache modeled the high school's original Whiggish aims. In fact, the two men had a great deal in common: throughout their lives both sought to apply science to the resolution of the most pressing material problems of their times. But the difference is just as striking. Whereas Bache was an applied scientist and public servant in the mold of Benjamin Franklin, Thomson was an applied scientist and entrepreneur in 142

C O U R S E S AND

C R E D E NT! A LS

the mold of Thomas Edison. Central's first leader—reflecting his early concerns with common schooling, practical education, and character building—wanted the high school to produce citizens who would engage in business, but by the 1870s the emphasis was more on business than on citizenship. In forty years of practical education at Central High School the center of gravity had begun to shift from the public to the private domain. Another sign of this change can be found in the distribution of student time across the various subjects in the curriculum. Table 6.1 shows such a distribution by course of study for Central High School under each of the seven major presidents from 1840 to 1920. I have classified individual subjects in the table according to categories which reflect as much as possible the arrangement of subjects used by the presidents in their curricular charts.3 After assigning courses to these subject areas for a particular course of study, I computed the total number of years of study required for each area in a four-year program (course years) and then converted these into percentages.4 Table 6.1 shows that during the Riche administration, the liberal arts component was on the decline. Both classical and modern languages were allocated less time in this curriculum than ever before in Central's history— 18 percent of the total, compared with 26 percent for Maguire and 21 percent for Hart and Bache. Meanwhile, the time devoted to vocational courses doubled and the total for vocational and other subjects was, at 23 percent, higher than ever. It appears that by the 1870s, a practical curriculum at Central High School had a rather different meaning than it had had for the founders and early leaders of the school. By this time, education had become more narrowly focused on academic concerns as the faculty increasingly sought to teach a strongly framed form of school-based knowledge. This process of change was beginning to obscure the school's old ideological mission as the agent of middle-class mores, thus undercutting the community of purpose that had so effectively integrated the school's curriculum with its 3. There are seven such categories: classical languages; modern languages; English, including literature, composition, elocution, and rhetoric; history, which includes philosophy mental, moral, and political science, and political economy; science and mathematics; vocational subjects, which are those that teach specific job skills as opposed to general intellectual capabilities; and "other," the largest component of which during the nineteenth century was drawing. 4. This method provides a rather crude measure of the allocation of student time to different subjects. It would be more accurate to use hours of classroom time spent on each rather than years of study, since some courses were more intensive than others. However, data on hours by subject are not available for either the Riche or Haney administrations. So in order to permit comparisons, I have settled on the course-year method. In fact, it appears to reflect the course-hour distribution quite closely. When I recalculated this table using class hours, the percentages were nearly identical in most cases (Labaree 1983, table 4.7).

143

Figure 6.1 Course of Studies, 1863 Source: Board of Controllers of the Public Schools, Annual Report, 1862, pp. 193-94.

A.

B.

C.

D.

Prof. Rhoads

Prof. M'Clune

Prof. Havers tick

Prof. Beate

Prof. Vogdes

Prof. Bregy

Prof. Rand

Prof. Hartshorne

Logic, Composition, Elocution

Astronomy

Latin

Mechanical Drawing

Mental Philosophy

French

Organic Chemistry, Light

Special Physics

3 times a week

5 times a week

3 times a week

once a week

twice a week

4 times a week

4 times a week

3 times a week

Special Physics

Logic, Composition, Elocution

Integral Calculus and Engineering.

Latin

Mechanical Drawing

Mental Philosophy

French

Chemistry of Metals, Heat and Electricity

3 times a week

4 times a week

4 times a week

once a week

twice a week

3 times a week

4 times a week

4 times a week

Rhetoric, Composition, Elocution

Differential Calculus and Engineering

Latin

Political Economy

French

Chemistry of Metalloids, Sound, Heat

Special Physics

4 times a week

4 times a week

3 times a week

twice a week

4 times a week

4 times a week

3 times a week

Rhetoric, Composition, Elocution

Analytical Geometry

Latin

Perspective Drawing

Political Economy

French

Chemistry of Metalloids, Pneumatics

Special Physics

3 times a week

4 times a week

3 times a week

twice a week

3 times a week

4 times a week

3 times a week

3 times a week

Mechanical and Perspective Drawing once a week

Prof. Rhoads

E.

F.

Prof. M'Clune

Rhetoric, Composition, and Elocution

Plane, Spherical, and Analytical Trigonometry

3 times a week (in 2 sections )

4 times a week (in 2 sections )

Rhetoric, Composition, and Elocution 3 times a week (in 2 sections )

Book-keeping 3 2/3 times a week (in 3 sections >

H.

Prof. Beale

Prof. Vogdes

Prof. Bregy

Prof. Rand

Prof. Hartshorne

Latin

Drawing from Patterns & Writing

Moral Science

French

Special Physics

twice a week

twice a week

3 times a week

5 times a week

Chemical Affinity, Hydrostatics, Hydraulics

(in 2 sections )

(in 2 sections )

(in 2 sections )

(in 2 sections )

Prof. Wilson Surveying and Trigonometry twice a week (in 2 sections )

Geometry 4 times a week (in 3 sections )

3 times a week (in 2 sections )

Latin

Writing

4 times a week

twice a week

5 times a week

(in 2 sections )

(in 2 sections )

(in 2 sections )

Moral Science

Geometry twice a week (in 2 sections )

Latin 3 2/3 times a week (in 3 sections )

3 times a week

Special Physics 3 times a week

Prof. Hopper

Mr. Ring

Prof. Kirkpatrick G.

Prof. Havers tick

Mechanics twice a week (in 2 sections )

Prof. Angele German twice a week (in 2 sections )

Mr. Howard Writing

Algebra

twice a week

4 times a week

(in 3 sections )

(in 3 sections )

History 3 2/3 times a week (in 3 sections )

German 4 times a week (in 3 sections )

Book-keeping

Mensuration

Latin

Writing

Algebra

History

German

4 2/3 times a week

3 times a week

4 2/3 times a week

twice a week

3 times a week

4 2/3 times a week

3 times a week

(in 3 sections )

(in 3 sections )

(in 3 sections )

(in 3 sections )

(in 3 sections )

(in 3 sections )

(in 3 sections )

Figure 6.2 Course of Studies, 1871 Source: Board of Public Education, Annual Report, 1871, p. 29.

A.

Logic, Composition. Elocution

B.

Logic, Composition, Elocution

Uranography,

C.

Rhetoric, Composition, Elocution

Analytical

Composition,

Trigonometry,

Elocution

Geometry

Composition,

Trigonometry,

Elocution

Geometry

0.

E.

F.

Composition, Elocution

G.

Composition

H.

Composition

Astronomy

Calculus

Geometry

Algebra, Geometry Algebra, Geometry

Algebra

Latin

Mental Science

Latin

Mental Science

Latin

Political Economy

Latin

Political Economy

Latin

Political Economy, History

Physics,

Anatomy,

Chemistry

Physiology

Physics,

Anatomy,

Chemistry

Physiology

Physics,

Anatomy,

Chemistry

Physiology

Physics,

Anatomy,

Chemistry

Physiology

German

Physics

Book-keeping

Physics

Book-keeping

German

Latin

Political Economy

German

Com. Calculations and Forms, Penmanship

History

German

Com. Calculations and Forms, Penmanship

History

German

Nat. History, Physical Geog. Nat. History, Physical Geog.

Book-keeping

Book-keeping

Mechanical and Engineering Drawing Mechanical and Engineering Drawing Shades and Shadows Orthographic Projection Linear Perspective Linear Perspective Drawing from Cards Drawing from Cards

Table 6.1

Allocation of Class Time to Subject Areas in Selected Curricula, by Administration, 1840-1920 (% by curriculum) 3

Curriculum

Bache, 1840C Classical Principal Hart, 1850 Classical Principal Maguire, 1863 Principal Riche, 1871 Principal Johnson, 1889 Classical

Regular Chemistry/physics Scientific Thompson, 1900 Classical Latin-scientific Modern languages Commercial Haney, 1920-24f Academic Commercial Mechanical Industrial

Subject Areas Classical Language

Modem Language

English

History

Science

21 0

0 21

11 11

15 15

46 46

0 0

1

(107) (107)

16 0

5 21

11 11

14 14

34 34

12 12

8 8

(37) (37)

13

13

10

13

32

5

13d

(30)

10

8

13

13

33

10

13

(31)

Vocation

Other

d

Course Years*

21 12 4 6

3 9 9 9

12 12 11 18

15 15 14 15

38 38 49 41

0 0 0 0

12 12d lld 12d

(34) (34) (35) (34)

25e 14 7 3

4 7 17 17

14 14 14 21

14 14 14 21

36 45 41 21

0 0 0 17

7 7 7 7

(29) (29) (29) (29)

11 0 0 0

5 8 10 0

19 18 18 22

11 8 8 6

35 18 18 17

0 21 21 42

19 28 23 14

(37) (39) (40) (36)

Sources: Figures 2.1, 6.1 to 6.4; student records; Bache (1839, 52). Percentages may not total 100% across rows because of rounding. b Course years are the total number of years of study devoted to a particular subject within a four-year course of study. •These percentages are calculated from course hours rather than the course years used for other administrations. d Course years overestimate the true number of course hours spent on this subject. e Course years underestimate the true number of course hours spent on this course, which was actually 35%. •Unlike the other six administrations, the course years for Haney were estimated from the subjects taken by a sample of students in each curriculum drawn from the student data set (class entering 1920).

COURSES AND

CREDENTIALS

organizational structure. With the market commodifying its credentials and with its curricular goals shifting in the direction of private concerns, Central High School was starting to look like a market institution trapped in a common-school form. Preparing Students for College In the 1880s, toward the end of Riche's term in office, criticism of Central High School's continued commitment to a practical curriculum surfaced in the press, in the school board, and within the school itself. One alumnus of the period recalled the situation this way: ''We must remember that at the close of the Riche administration the standing of the school was relatively lower than it had been. Old ideas were being followed, old systems of education prevailed,—in fact, this school had not kept pace with the progress made by other institutions of similar rank" (quoted in Edmonds 1910, 118). Superintendent MacAlister concurred with this assessment, charging in particular that both high schools had failed to adapt to changes in the lower schools, where he had just completed upgrading and modernizing the course of study (Annual Report of the Supt. 1889, 26-27). Joining in the criticism was the high school committee, one of whose members charged during a meeting early in 1889 that the high school had "deteriorated and lost prestige" (quoted in Cornog 1952, 42). A majority of the faculty decided that the answer to the problem was not to improve the quality of the professors but to elevate the curriculum and to transform Central into a predominantly college preparatory school. A committee report embodying this plan was adopted by the faculty in 1887 after a long and bitter debate. The vote was eight to six, with the innovators coming from the ranks of the college-educated professors who were not alumni of the school, while the supporters of the old curriculum were for the most part educated only at Central. One reason for this conflict within the faculty was the organizational instability that accompanied the integrated curriculum, which depended on internal socialization, cultural homogeneity, and collective ritual to preserve the ideological unity that made integration possible. After the fight over moral education, the fiction of unity was harder to maintain; and as a growing share of the new faculty arrived with an educational experience capped by college rather than by Central High School, the ability of the high school to socialize its own receded. To these newer men, who had experienced a differentiated curriculum at the university, the integration o the Central curriculum appeared not only backward but also stultifying to the free choice of teachers and students alike. Under these conditions, it is 148

COURSES ANDCREDENTIALS

hardly surprising to find them promoting a new curriculum based on strong classification and strong framing. A school with such a curriculum does not need to socialize its teachers because they have already been socialized into the subculture of their individual disciplines as a byproduct of their specialized training. Within the looser ideological structure of such a school, consensus occurs naturally within each department but is not required for the school as a whole. This is a good description of what happened at Central in the last decade of the century. Under the new curriculum adopted in 1889, the organization that emerged—with its departments and committees—was (as we have seen in chapter 5) significantly more differentiated than that which preceded it and had no need for such collective rituals of social integration as the weekly faculty meeting. The organizational advantages of this structure were that it left faculty alone to teach their subjects and provided a firm basis for organizational stability. THE MINORITY VIEW The report approved by the faculty in 1887 has not survived, but the minority report has, and this document provides a fascinating look at the terms of the debate over curriculum. In its opening statement the minority called for a reaffirmation of the high school's fiftyyear commitment to the ideology of practical education: The records of the Central High School show that four-fifths of its students do not enter professional life. It has been the aim of the school to provide a practical education suited to the age of the students and the needs of the day. Science has hitherto wisely occupied a prominent place in the curriculum. The growth of the school in this direction in contradistinction to the classical bias, which the report of the majority of the Faculty would give it, has been but in accord with the practical tendencies of modern education. Heretofore, the instruction in modern and classical languages was of course inadequate as a preparation for a university course. This arose from the fact that the number of those who desired to pursue such a course was so small that it seemed an injustice to sacrifice the interests of eighty percent of the students to enable the remainder to prepare for a university. While it is desirable that classical training should be given to those who wish it, it must be conceded in view of the interests of the larger number, that it would be a grave mistake to make such training the dominant feature in the Central High School, as is distinctly proposed by the report of the majority (Central High School of Philadelphia 1887).

As an alternative, the minority professors proposed a dual curriculum—a three-year university-oriented course, with the last year devoted solely to preparatory studies, and a four-year general course. In this proposal the sharpest differences between the two courses were in languages and sci149

COURSES ANDCREDENTIALS

ence: The proportion of time spent on languages would be 30 percent for the college preparatory students, compared to 17 percent for the general student; whereas the proportion of time spent on sciences by the former would be only 27 percent, compared to 45 percent for the latter. If these time allocations are placed beside those in effect during the Riche administration, it is apparent that the minority general course and Riche's principal course were similar except for two categories. Riche's vocational courses were eliminated from the minority proposal, and the proportion of class time devoted to them (10 percent) was added to science in the general course (and to languages in the preparatory course). Apparently, the supporters of practical education during its waning hours were willing to sacrifice vocationalism in order to save practicality. And it is ironic that by so doing they succeeded in reinventing Bache's original principal course. Category by category, the 1887 minority proposal matches the 1840 principal course more closely than any other curriculum. Like the high school's founder, the faculty rear guard in the 1880s saw the essence of practical education not in vocationalism but in science, not in preparation of a few for college but in preparation of the many for life. But the minority of the faculty lost. The high school committee in the following year chose Henry Johnson as president with the understanding that he would reorient the school toward the university, as the majority of professors had proposed. Given this understanding, it was no accident that the new president was a university professor and that his field of specialization was Latin. THE NEW COURSE OF STUDY Johnson's 1889 curriculum offered entering students two options, regular and scientific. The former was college preparatory while the latter was "designed principally for those who enter school with the expectation of remaining only one or two years" (Annual Report 1889, 47). During the second year, students in the regular program could choose among four options, including classical, chemistry, physics, and regular. In 1893, 82.6 percent of the freshmen chose the college preparatory route. By junior year, when students had sorted themselves into the remaining options (and after most of them had left), no fewer than 90.2 percent were taking the four preparatory courses, and classics alone accounted for more than half of the class. Table 6.1 shows the time allotted to the various subjects for each of Johnson's programs and permits comparison with Riche's curriculum. Some differences are dramatic: Johnson dropped vocational subjects entirely, increased the time for science from 33 percent to about 40 percent for three courses and to 49 percent for chemistry and physics, raised 150

COURSES OF STUDY CLASSICAL, REGULAR, CHEMICAL, PHYSICAL, SCIENTIFIC.

Freshman Class. English (5) English (4) English (4) English (4) English (4) Ameri can Li tera t u re ( 3 ) . Latin (4) Latin (4) Latin (4) Latin (4) Mathematics (4) Mathematics (4) Mathematics (4) Mathematics (4) Mathematics (4) History (3) History (3) History (3) History (3) History (3) Botany (2)............ Botany (2) ............ Botany (2)............ Botany (2) ............ Botany (2) Physical Geography(2) . Physical Geography(2) . Physical Geography(2) . Physical Geography(2) . Physical Geography (2).. Drawing (1) Drawing (I).....*..... Drawing (!)..«. ....... Drawing (1) Drawing (1) Sophomore Class. English (2)

English (2)

Latin (3)

Latin (3)

Greek (3) Mathematics (5) History (2)... Zoology (2). Physics (2). Drawing (1)

English (2)

(latin, h year (3) \Chemistry, h year (3). German (3). ........... ^German (3) Mathematics (5) Mathematics (5) History (2) History (2) Zoology (2)........... Zoology (2) Physics (2) Physics (2) Drawing (1)........... Drawing (1)......

English (2) English Grammar and Literature (3) (latin, h year (3) Rhetoric and Logic (2).. J Physics, H year (3)... German (3) Ge rman (3).. ............ Mathematics (5) Mathematics (5) History (2) History (2) Zoology (2)............. Zoology (2) Physics (2) Physics (2) Drawing (1) Drawing (1)

Junior Class. English (4) English (4) Crystallography and Mineralogy (3) Latin (3) Latin (3) rr-00\, (4) (jreeK \~* i • • • • • •• Modern Languages (4).. Modern Languages (4).. Modern Languages (4).. Mathematics (3)....... Mathematics (3) Mathematics (3) ....... Mathematics (3) History (2) History (2) History (2) History (2) Physics (3) Physics (3) Physics (3) Chemistry (2)......... Chemistry (2) Chemistry (2)......... Chemistry (2) Political Economy (3). Political Economy (3). Political Economy (3). Political Economy (3). Blow-pipe Analysis (1) . Drawing (1)........... Drawing (1) Drawing (1)...... English (4)

English (4)

English (3) Latin (4) Modern Languages (4).... Mathematics (3) History (2) Physics (3) Chemistry (2) Political Economy (3).. Drawing (1).....

Senior Class. English (2) English (2) English (2) English (2) Theme writting Latin (3) Latin (3) Assying (3) latin (2). French (3). French (3) French (3) French (3) Greek (3). Geology (2).. .... Geology (2)............ Modern Language (4)... Geology (2) Astronomy (1) Astronomy (1).......... Mathematics (5) Mathematics (5) Constitutional and In- Constitutional and In- Constitutional and In- Constitutional and In- Constitutional and In ternational Law (2).. ternational Law (2).. ternational Law (2).. ternational Law (2).. ternational Law (2)... Ana toray (2) Anatomy (2)........... Anatomy (2) Anotomy (2) Anitomy (2) Physics (2) Physics (2) Physics (2) Physics (6)«. ••••••••• Physics (2) Chemistry (3)......... Chemistry (4) Chemistry (2) Chemistry (2) Chemistry (1) Ph'l h (4) Philosophy (4)........ Philosophy (4) Philosophy (4) Philosophy (4) Lectures on Art (1)... Lectures on Art (1)... Lectures on Art (1)... Lectures on Art (I)... Lectures on Art (1).... The studies in italics indicate the difference between the courses.

Figure 6.3 Course of Studies, 1889 Source: Board of Public Education, Annual Report, 1889, p. 53.

151

COURSES AND C R E D E N T I A L S

English by half for scientific students, and more than doubled Riche's classics requirement for the classics students. However, the proportion of time spent on English, history, and other was essentially unchanged from the old curriculum, and the language changes were not all in the direction of elevating Riche's standards. Whereas Johnson's classical and regular programs represented increases in the amount of time spent on languages from Riche's 18 to 24 percent and 21 percent, respectively, the corresponding proportions in the other courses dropped below Riche's level to 15 and 13 percent. If one turns from time allocations to the content of specific subject areas, the new curriculum sometimes appears less advanced than the old. Mathematics under Riche started with algebra and then moved in succession through geometry, trigonometry, analytical geometry, and calculus (See fig. 6.2). Under Johnson studies began with arithmetic and ended with trigonometry (See fig. 6.3). Thus, subject by subject, the new curriculum was different from its predecessor, but the changes were not as dramatic or as one-directional as might have been expected. Yet these were not changes that anyone look lightly. The school board, faculty, and middle-class public were sharply divided over the issue, and newspapers focused on the controversy for several years. The pressure eventually contributed to President Johnson's premature resignation.5 The reason for all this concern was that the new curriculum represented a dramatic reversal in the high school's goals. These goals—to provide a common, practical, and public-interested education—had been suffering steady erosion since the late 1850s, but they still had the school's formal support. What happened in 1889 was an apostasy from the ideology that had integrated the high school for fifty years. The new curriculum presented a new purpose for Central High School: to provide an education that was both stratified and college preparatory. No longer seeking to provide a common basis for citizenship or instill a single moral compass, the new high school was willing to accommodate itself to existing class distinctions and lay out alternative educational paths for students heading toward different social stations. In addition, this curriculum transformation signaled a final abandonment of the belief that school knowledge should be community-based and community-oriented. 5. This was not the only problem thai hastened his departure, however, since those opposed to the new curriculum were a minority in the faculty and apparently elsewhere. The biggest factor provoking internal opposition was his repression of collegial governance. Johnson seemed doomed to difficulty from his first day in office. A sharp-eyed journalist noticed that his inaugural address was plagiarized from a speech by President Garfield (Cornog 1952, 41-42).

152

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The new course of study was organized around the kinds of knowledge taught in and required by the university. The old curriculum had been academic in content but not in orientation, whereas the new curriculum was somewhat more academic in content (no vocational courses, more language) and resolutely academic in orientation. One sought to prepare all students for civic and economic life and the other to prepare the uppertrack students for higher forms of book-learning. INSTITUTIONALIZING THE CHANGE President Johnson installed the new curriculum, but his successor, Robert E. Thompson, presided over its institutionalization. By 1900, the curriculum had settled into a stable pattern that lasted well into the 1920s. Two factors contributed to this new pattern: the addition of a commercial department in 1898 (over Thompson's opposition), which replaced the scientific course as the track for those not headed to college; and the wide dissemination of the 1894 report of the Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies,6 which helped reshape course options within the preparatory course. The course of study in 1900 included four course offerings: the classical, Latin-scientific, and modern-languages scientific courses were college preparatory (the titles come from the Committee of Ten), and the commercial course was not (see fig. 6.4). The allocation of time to the various subject areas in each course can be compared to Johnson's in table 6.2. The two classical programs are similar except that Thompson increased the time for classical languages.7 But Johnson's regular, chemical, and physical courses were combined and upgraded into a single college preparatory scientific course, offering the option of a Latin or a modern-languages emphasis. This course appears quite similar to the former regular course except for a small increase in science. Finally, the new commercial course included more history than any other course and considerably less science, and it reintroduced vocational subjects, accounting for 7 percent of class time. The time allocations for the academic courses are quite similar to those found in the Committee of Ten recommendations, the main difference being in Central's traditional stress on science. The primary contribution of this curriculum was to strengthen the stratification of knowledge at Central High School. The gap between the academic and commercial tracks was wider than the gap between the previous regular and scientific tracks. One reason was that the academic track was more elevated in 1900. Proudly displaying the school's new college 6. This report is reprinted in a variety of source books. The essential parts are found in Krug( 1961, 83-99). 7. If one counts the amount of instructional time by means of classroom hours instead of course years, time spent on classics rose sharply. See Labaree 1983, table 4.7.

153

Classical Courews

Latin Scientific Course

Modern Language Course

Course in Commerce

Latin (5); American Literature (2); History (Greece and Rome) (3); Algebra (5); Science (Physical Geography, Botany, and Zoology) (3); Drawing (2).

Latin (5); American Literature (2); History (Greece and Rome) (3); Algebra (5); Science (Physical Geography, Botany, and Zoology) (3); Drawing (2).

Latin (5); American Literature (2); History (Greece and Rome) (3); Algebra (5); Science (Physical Geography, Botany, and Zoology) (3); Drawing (2).

Latin (4); English (Composition and American Literature) (2) ; Algebrea (5); History (Greece and Rome) (3); Science (Raw Materials of Commerce) (4); Philadelphia (History, Government, Business Interests) (2); Business Forms and Penmanship (2) .

Caesar (3); Latin Composition (1); Greek (4); English Literature (2); History (England) (2); Geometry and Trigonometry (5)j Physical Science (3); Drawing (2); Elocution (1).

Latin (3); German (3); English Literature (2); History (England) (2); Geometry and Trigonometry (5); Physical Science (3); Drawing (2); Elocution (1).

German (5); English LiterLatin (3); German (3); ature (3); Elementary English Literature (2); History (England) (2); Geometry, Trigonometry, Geometry and Trigonomand Commercial Arithmeetry (5); Physical Sci- tic (5); History (England) (2); Commercial ence (3); Drawing (2); Elocution (1). Geography (3); Bookkeeping (3); Stenography and Typewriting (4).

Latin (4); Greek (4); English Literature (2); History (U.S.) (2); Mechanics and Algebra (3»i); Chemistry (2*i); Physics (2); Anatomy and Physiology (2) ; Composition (1).

Latin (3); German (3); English Literature (2); History (U.S.) (2); Mechanics and Algebra (4*s); Chemistry (2**); Physics (2); Anatomy and Physiology (2); Composition (1).

German (2); French (3); English Literature (2); History (U.S.) (2); Mechanics and Algebra (4»s); Chemistry (2*s); Physics (2); Anatomy and Physiology (2); Logic (2); Drawing (1); Composition (1).

German (3); English Literature (2); History (U. S.) (2); Physics and Chemistry (4); Political Economy (2); Observation of Business Methods (2); Stenography (4); Elocution (1); French or Spanish (4) .

Latin (4); Greek (4); Latin (3); English Phil- German (2); French (3); German (3); English LiterEnglish Philology (1); ology (1); Shakespeare English Composition (1); ature (3)j Modern IndusShakespeare (1); Eliza(1); Elizabethan Drama Elizabethan Drama (1); trial and Commercial Hisbethan Drama (1); As(1); Mathematics (4); Astronomy (2); Spherical tory (U.S. and England) tronomy (2); Ethics (1); Astronomy (2); Spherical Trigonometry and Ana(3) ; Industrial Chemistry Political Economy (1); Trigonometry and Analytical Geometry (3); (2); Economics and PoFrench or German (3); lytical Geometry (2); litial Science (8); ConChemistry (2) ; Physics Mathematical Review or Chemistry (2); Physics (2); Geology (2); Eth- mercial Law (2); French (2); Geology (2); Ethics (1); Political or Spanish (3) . Architectual Drawing (2); Electives (see beics (1); Political Econ- Economy (1); Drawing low) (2). omy (1); Drawing (1); (1); Electives (see French or General Elecbelow) (2). tives (see below) (2).

*Some of the one-hour courses of the Senior Year are given two hours in a single term. ELECTIVE COURSES FOR SENIORS. Latin (Livy, Terence). Greek (Herodotus, Plato, Aristophanes). Anatomy and Physiology (Advanced). Civil Engineering. Mechanical Engineering. Calculus. Chemistry.

Physics. Drawing. Politics. Constitutional History. Nineteenth Century Literature (Browning, Tennyson, Arnold).

Figure 6.4 Course of Studies, 1900 Source: F. S. Edmonds, History of the Central High School of Philadelphia (Philadelphia: Lippincott, 1902), appendix

154

COURSES AND

CREDENTIALS

preparatory colors was its flagship, the classical course, which devoted an ostentatious 35 percent of its class time to the study of Latin and Greek. Traditionally, classics have been seen as the symbol of liberal culture and also the most valued form of cultural property, so it is significant that the new curriculum placed such importance on this subject after the practical curriculum had pushed it to the background. Thompson had clear ideas about why this change was necessary. His friend and biographer wrote: Dr. Thompson did not believe that every boy who goes to college should take the classical course, but he did think that the A.B. degree should be the hallmark of a cultural course. He knew well the tendency that had always existed in Philadelphia to insist upon what we call the "practical studies," those that mean preparation to make money. With this insistence has always been the tendency to shorten the course, presumably for the same object. He felt that college education should seek a wider diffusion of sound literary taste and the cultivation of the literary faculty in those who possess it. He would have agreed . .. that the arts course was not intended to teach anything practical (Montgomery 1934, 25-26).

The other reason for enhanced stratification in the 1900 curriculum is that the commercial track was openly vocational, whereas the scientific track had been terminal. Despite catalogue claims that "the Department of Commerce is conceived on a broader basis than that of a mere business school" (quoted in Cornog 1952, 169), 16 percent of class time was spent on acquiring vocational skills. The degree of vocational emphasis was greater than this percentage might suggest, however, because many of the other courses were strongly oriented toward business—with titles like "science (raw materials of commerce)" and "modern industrial and commercial history." Given the status advantage enjoyed by the academic course, it is not surprising that it proved the most popular choice among students. For example, in the class that entered in 1900, only 34.1 percent of the students enrolled in the commercial department, and the high attrition among these students meant that they accounted for only 24.4 percent of the graduates of that class (see table 6.2). Thus, the higher grade levels at the school were even more heavily academic than the lower levels. And within the academic track the Latin-based courses—Latin-scientific and classical—were favored over the modern-languages option by an overwhelming margin. Of all of the academic students in the 1900 cohort who stayed in school long enough to pick a specialty, 51.8 percent chose Latin-scientific, 31.5 percent classical, and only 16.7 percent selected modern languages. The two courses were distinguished by levels of student attainment and student achievement. Academic students were much more likely to graduate

155

Table 6.2 Proportion of Entrants and Graduates by Curriculum, 1890-1920

1900

1890 Academic Commercial Mechanical Industrial TOTAL N Missing

1910

1920

Entrants

Graduates

Entrants

Graduates

Entrants

Graduates

Entrants

Graduates

75.5 24.5

91.7 8.3

75.6 24.4

— — 100.0 72 0

64.7 35.3 — — 100.0 364 36

75.0 25.0

— — 100.0 286 14

65.9 34.1 — — 100.0 540 56

39.1 19.9 10.6 30.3

60.0 8.6 14.3 17.1

99.9 661 29

100.0 175 0

— — 100.0 164 0

— — 100.0 128 6

Source: Student Records. Table 6.3 Graduation Rate and High-grades Rate of CHS Students by Curriculum, 1890-1920

1890

Graduation rate High grades rate3

1900

1910

1920

Academic

Scientific

Academic

Commercial

Academic

Commercial

Academic

Commercial

Mechanical

Industrial

30.6 22.2

8.6 8.7

34.8 10.1

21.7 10.9

41.2 44.2

25.2 26.8

40.7 18.1

11.4 5.1

35.7 16.7

15.0 13.3

Source: Student records. Percentage of students who ever achieved a term average of 85 or more.

COURSES

AND CREDENTIALS

than scientific and commercial students—one and a half times as likely in 1900 and 1910 and three and a half times as likely in 1890 and 1920 (see table 6.3). Predictably, the college preparatory program produced more graduates than the terminal program. And given the analysis in chapter 3 of the effect of grades on graduation, it is equally predictable that the differences in graduation rate between courses would be matched by differences in student achievement. For three of the four years (1890, 1910, and 1920) the academic course had a notably higher proportion of students with high grades than did the other course.8 Significantly, the more popular of the academic courses also drew the high-achieving students: About a fifth of all Latin-scientific and classical students had superior grades, whereas none of the modern language students did. Students in the two tracks also differed in social characteristics. Table 6.4 displays the class distributions of the students in each course from 1890 to 1920. It is apparent that at least in the beginning of Central's college preparatory phase, the scientific and commercial courses were drawing their students from a somewhat different pool of families than was the academic course. In 1890 and 1900 over half of the academic students came from the proprietary middle class, which supplied only about a third of the students in the other courses, whereas only a fifth of the academic students were skilled workers' sons, compared with a third of the scientific and commercial students. These differences were reduced somewhat in 1910 but then re-emerged in 1920 with the arrival of the industrial arts course. The class distributions in each curriculum are transformed into an index of class representativeness in table 6.5. The proprietary middle class was consistently overrepresented in the academic course over this period. The skilled workers were overrepresented in the scientific and commercial courses between 1890 and 1910, but in 1920 this index dropped while the index for the industrial course registered at a high level. At the same time, while the employed middle class had a consistently proportional representation in the academic course, it showed sharply declining interest in the scientific/commercial course and recorded a marked interest in the new mechanical and industrial courses offered in 1920. Thus, when the uniform course was abandoned in favor of electives, students became partly differentiated by social class. The proprietary middle class, which wanted and could afford college for its sons, opted heavily for the academic course while the skilled working class prodded its sons 8. The 1900 cohort, in which the proportions were nearly identical, presents an anomaly; perhaps in the first few years of the commercial program grading was less rigorous than in the academic course, although this did not appear to be the case near the beginning of the scientific course in 1890.

157

Table 6.4

Class Distribution of CHS Students by Curriculum, 1890-1920 (% by year and curriculum)

1890

Proprietary middle class Employed middle class Skilled working class Unskilled working class TOTAL

N

Missing

1900

1910

1920

Academic

Scientific

Academic

Commercial

Academic

Commercial

Academic

Commercial

Mechanical

Industrial

57.4

35.3

52.7

34.9

53.3

50.8

51.9

50.0

49.9

26.1

19.1

26.5

24.3

20.9

24.8

19.5

20.3

12.5

21.7

23.0

21.3

53.3

21.6

30.2

17.1

24.6

18.1

26.7

16.7

37.6

2.2

2.9

1.4

14.0

4.8

10.8

11.7

13.3

100.0 68 2

100.0 172 12

100.0 210 23

5.1 100.0 118 9

9.7

100.0 296 60

100.0 237 22

100.0 120 12

100.0 60 10

100.0 165 35

Industrial

100.0 178 38

Sources: Student records; U. S. Bureau of the Census (1850-1900); city directories. Table 6.5

Index of Class Representativeness of CHS Students by Curriculum, 1890-19203

Proprietary middle class Employed middle class Skilled working class Unskilled working class

7920

1910

1900

1890 Academic

Scientific

Academic

Commercial

Academic

Commercial

Academic

Commercial

Mechanical

1.25

.77

1.15

.76

1.05

1.00

1.17

1.14

1.14

.59

.95

1.31

.98

.84

1.06

.83

1.02

.63

1.09

1.49

.86

1.42

.90

1.26

.85

1.22

.72

1.06

.66

1.49

.71

.93

.26

2.59

.89

.94

.89

.99

1.07

1.22

Sources: Tables 3.2 and 6.4. lndex of representativeness is formed by dividing the proportion of students in a given class for a particular year and curriculum by the proportion of students in that class for all curricula in the same year. a

COURSES AND CREDENTIALS

into the more practical and more realistic scientific, commercial, and industrial courses.9 EFFECTS OF THE NEW CURRICULUM ON COLLEGE AND CAREER

Some of the

effects of the new stratified curriculum can be explored by examining the college and career histories of the school's alumni. Fortunately, the class that entered in 1900, which is included in my student sample, collected and published individual biographies of its graduates at ten-year intervals after graduation. I have coded information from the first and third of these books (gathered in 1914 and 1934) and added it to my student data set (CHS Ten Year Book 1914, 1934).10 One finding is that the new college preparatory high school really did send a large number of its students to college. No less than 60.7 percent of the graduates attended college at some time, 53.3 percent earned a degree, and 23.0 percent earned a graduate degree. Although no direct comparison with the 1850 alumni sample is possible, it is nonetheless worth noting that none of the students in that class planned to go to college immediately after leaving Central. Thus, both the common practical curriculum and the college-oriented curriculum seemed to have the desired effect on the college-attendance patterns of their students. Also as expected, academic students (66.3 percent) were more likely to go to college than commercial students (44.0 percent). The gap grows even wider if the different rates of graduation of the two groups are taken into account. Thus, 18.7 percent of those who first entered the academic program eventually attended college as opposed to only 6.0 percent of the commercial entrants. The following variables affected rates of college attendance: Class: the sons of middle-class employees were the most likely to attend college (69.2%), followed by those of the proprietary middle class (58.3%) and skilled working class (48.0%). Grades: compared to class, grades had a significant but somewhat lesser effect; 67.4% of the top students went to college compared with 57.0% of the others. Of course, these graduates as a group had high grades compared to most Central students. Birth order: an only child (75.0%) or oldest child (66.7%) was more likley to go to college than a middle (51.6%) or youngest child (46.1%). Ethnicity: sons of German immigrants (75.0%) were more likley to attend college than sons of native-born Americans (63.3%) whereas the sons of Russian immigrants were less likley to do so (53.9%). 9. The more complex pattern of curriculum choice shown by the employed middle class is difficult to interpret on the basis of these data alone. 10. Out of a total of 148 graduates of this class, there was information about higher education for 122 men and about careers for 121. 159

COURSES AND CREDENTIALS

The alumni data can also help illuminate the character of the work pursued by graduates of the new curriculum. No less than 38.0 percent of the graduates entered the professions, 26.4 percent became white-collar supervisors or executives, 29.8 percent became white-collar employees, while 5.8 percent were in miscellaneous occupations (mostly proprietary). Once again direct comparisons are not possible with the 1850 alumni data, since the occupations recorded there were the students' first positions out of school. However, one comparison is indicative of the difference in both aims and effects between the curricula of the practical and academic periods in Central's history: almost none of the 1900 graduates went to work with his hands, whereas 30.0 percent of the 1850 graduates at least started out in manual work. As might have been predicted, the largest share of the academic graduates entered the professions (43.6 percent), while the largest share of commercial graduates became white-collar employees (44.0 percent). Other variables that affected the career choices of 1900 graduates included the following: College attendance: predictably, 73.9% of the professionals went to college compared with 59.4% of the supervisors, 52.8% of the white-collar employees, and 14.3 of the others. Class: the class origins of students were not significantly related to their eventual career choice; for example, 35.6% of student from the proprietary middle class entered the professions, compared to 36.0% for the skilled working class. Grades: student achievement varied directly with job status—45.7% of the professionals were top students compared with 37.5% of the supervisors, 27.8% of the white-collar employees, and none of the others. Birth order: becoming a professional was largely unrelated to birth order. Ethnicity: Russians (61.5%) and Germans (50.0%) produced a higher proportion of professionals than did native Americans (35.0%). As promised, Central's new curriculum was quite effective in preparing graduates for college, since fully 60 percent of them pursued higher education. The graduates of the academic course, who were generally better students and who received special training for college, were naturally much more likely to attend college than commercial graduates. But factors outside the school also enhanced the chances for college attendance, including membership in the white-collar-employee class, being an only or oldest child, and having German parents. Meanwhile, the likelihood that Central graduates would become professionals was furthered by the same withinschool combination of high grades and academic training in conjunction with college attendance. Extramural factors had less impact on jobs than

160

COURSES AND CREDENTIALS

on college attendance, for professional status was not significantly related to either social class or birth order. CHARACTERISTICS OF THE NEW CURRICULUM By the beginning of the twentieth century, the curriculum at Central High School had become stratified, academic, proprietary, meritocratic, and class-related. The most striking change from the practical course was the introduction of stratification. In the new curriculum, courses of study were assigned ranks according to the degree to which they incorporated school-based impractical knowledge or community-based practical knowledge. By this standard, the academic track was elevated above the commercial track; and by the same standard, classical outranked Latin-scientific, which in turn outranked modern languages within the academic track. Classics constituted the high ground in the new curriculum because it was the quintessence of impractical bookish learning, whereas business represented the precise opposite. The other characteristics of the new curriculum had all been present in the practical curriculum, but they now appeared in an enhanced form. At the start, the practical course had always tempered its academic content with an ideology stressing public and private utility. Although the course grew more academic over the years, freeing itself from the burden of transmitting community mores, it took the stark stratification of the new curriculum to purify and isolate the academic tendency within a single track and the practical tendency within another. The early course had balanced these two elements in such a way that the high school avoided becoming either work-centered or book-centered, but the twentieth-century high school eagerly sought to become both. In the process of separating academic and practical knowledge into different tracks, the new curriculum assigned a different kind of value to each. The academic course did not offer to prepare its students for life, as the practical course had done, but to prepare them for college. It provided academic skills, not skills for work. As a result, the value of the diploma granted by the preparatory course was not dependent on the utility of the skills embodied in it. Instead these credentials had exchange value, since their appeal was that they could be exchanged for access to college. However, the commercial-course credentials were not exchangeable in the same way; this course offered instead vocational skills that could be put to use on the job—use value. The idea of knowledge as property was present from the very beginning of the high school, as middle-class families pursued high school degrees in order to preserve status. What happened at the turn of the century, however, was that the high school separated exchange

161

COURSES AND

CREDENTIALS

value from use value in its degree offerings and therefore presented families with two different forms of cultural property. Students pursued the commercial course in order to accumulate vocationally useful knowledge, and their diploma simply attested to that accumulation. But students pursued the academic course in order to acquire its credentials, needed for access to college and the professions; the abstract and impractical knowledge they accumulated along the way was simply a means to that end. Central High School had been meritocratic from the beginning and became more so over time, after it abandoned moral education and narrowed its focus to academic performance. As I showed in chapter 3, the new curriculum did not have any noticeable impact on this situation; grades continued to determine graduation after 1889 as they had before. Thompson made sure there was no relaxation of standards in the new regime by instituting a new promotion policy that required a student to pass every subject in one grade level before he could move on to the next. If a student failed fewer than two-fifths of his courses he could be promoted "with condition," but this condition had to be cleared within a year by scoring well in the next class of that subject or by taking an exam. If he failed more than two-fifths, he had to repeat the entire year, including the courses he had passed the first time (Cornog 1952, 78-80). It was inevitable, under these conditions, that large numbers of students were eventually forced to repeat terms. Of the class that entered Central in 1910, 43.4 percent repeated at least one term. Even a third of those high-achieving students who succeeded in graduating flunked one or more times, while seven graduates failed three or more times. The final factor in the equation is class. Once the common curriculum had been stratified, it is hardly surprising to find that social class became an important sorting element. Proprietary-middle-class students were more likely to pursue the academic course at Central, and both proprietary and employed middle-class students were more likely to go to college (even though class still had no effect on graduation chances). Class, of course, was no stranger to the nineteenth-century high school. Founded as an expression of middle-class ideology, the high school served a largely middle-class clientele; but its aim was to provide a common education that would draw citizens together around a shared set of values, experiences, and acquired skills. By contrast, the new high school was designed to accentuate class differences by offering different kinds of credentials to students from different backgrounds. As a result, the emergence of the new curriculum in the 1890s brought with it a new form of comprehensive high school that was quite different from the original model, a school where, as David Cohen (1984, 260) puts it, 'The attendance is common but the education is not." 162

COURSES

AND CREDENTIALS

CURRICULUM IN THE COMPREHENSIVE HIGH SCHOOL To all appearances, the school John L. Haney took over in 1920 was a thoroughly comprehensive high school. Over two decades, three extra-academic curricula were forced on Central: a commercial course, created de novo in 1898; a mechanic arts course, added through the absorption of Central Manual Training School in 1912; and an industrial arts course, added as a result of the takeover of Philadelphia Trades School in 1919. Even when one compares only the academic and commercial courses carried over from the 1900 curriculum, their content seems significantly diluted by 1920. The time devoted to languages in the academic course had dropped from a minimum of 21 percent in 1900 to 16 percent in 1920 (a lower level than even Riche required), while in the commercial course the proportion declined from 20 percent to only 8 percent (see table 6.1). Science declined for both courses, and the introduction of a physicaltraining requirement increased the time spent on "other" for both courses. At the same time, the commercial course showed special growth in English and those vocational and other subjects that do not fit easily into academic categories, accomplished at the expense of history and science as well as languages. In the new courses, mechanic arts had a pattern of time allocations quite similar to commerce, while industrial arts had a pattern that was distinctly vocational—with 42 percent of total instruction devoted to vocational subjects, none to languages, and the bulk of the academic training concentrated in English. Thus, by 1920, the academic course experienced a weakening of its once strong literary and scientific content, and it was surrounded by three other courses that were at least in part obviously vocational in character. In addition, whereas the academic students had dominated the school during most of Thompson's administration, in 1920 they found themselves outnumbered by their non-academic classmates. Only 39.1 percent of the class entering in 1920 were in the academic course, compared to 19.9 percent in commercial, 10.6 percent in mechanic arts, and 30.4 percent in industrial arts. These were not changes that a man with Thompson's devotion to academic tradition would have accepted voluntarily. They were forced on him by a series of superintendents whose actions were based on the most advanced educational thought. During the second decade of the twentieth century the social-efficiency movement swept across the country. Leaders of the movement advocated, among other things, the establishment of comprehensive high schools (offering a variety of programs to a crosssection of the population), a reduction in the time spent on foreign languages and mathematics, and an increase in the time spent on vocational subjects. Central High School during the first part of Thompson's adminis163

COURSES AND CREDENTIALS

tration was the antithesis of the social-efficiency ideal. It was strictly and traditionally academic (in the dominant upper track) and drew its student body from an elite segment of the population. The natural object of attack by the supporters of the new educational ideology, Central was subjected to a series of alterations. However, to a remarkable degree the school's presidents and faculty managed to contain and even occasionally coopt many of these intrusions into its academic goals. The addition of courses provides an example. Central Manual Training School and Philadelphia Trades School merged into the high school, contributing two new courses of study to its menu, but this was purely an administrative move. Both merged schools remained in their original buildings along with their original faculty, while the main building continued to house the academic and commercial courses. By isolating the newcomers, the school succeeded in preserving its traditional form of education; and within the walls of the main building, the academic course was still dominant, with its students outnumbering the commercial students by the same two-to-one ratio that had existed in 1900 (see table 6.4). As well as containing curricular incursions, the high school succeeded in transforming some unwanted additions into a form more compatible with its academic orientation. Although the commercial and mechanic arts courses were by nature incompatible with the liberal-arts focus of the academic course, they were nonetheless made into programs that prepared at least some students for admission to college in business or engineering programs. This meant that only the industrial arts course lacked any college preparatory aim, which served only to isolate the program even further from the academic mainstream of the school (Central High School Handbook 1922,48). Central High School in 1920 thus retained much of its academic character; in fact, the differences in content between the academic and commercial courses were if anything stronger in 1920 than they had been in 1900. And although there was a general decline in the content of both courses in the twenty-year period (as measured by languages and science), the relative position of the academic course was actually enhanced (see table 6.1). In 1900 the academic course required between 5 and 45 percent more language training than the commercial course, but in 1920 it demanded 100 percent more. By the start of Haney's administration, language instruc tion was becoming differentially associated with the academic course of study, and Latin had become its exclusive property. Amid a wave of egalitarian pressures in the first decades of the twentieth century, Central High School managed to preserve much of its academic curriculum by further extending the stratification of knowledge within the school. In 1939, the school board consolidated this position by ejecting all 164

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of the lesser curricula from Central and restoring selective admissions, thus establishing Central as a purely academic school with meritocratic standards. Stratification—between high schools and between tracks within the high school—and a persistent meritocratic ideology had rescued Central and its middle-class constituency from the leveling potential of the comprehensive high school. Nominally comprehensive from 1912 to 1939, Central offered wide access but unequal educational experiences; it provided considerable choice, but these choices carried unequal value in the market. In the face of strong political pressure to expand enrollment and democratize the curriculum, Philadelphia's oldest high school succeeded in holding its market position. Curriculum, Credentials, and the Middle Class To understand the transformation of the curriculum at Central High School and its change late in the nineteenth century, we have to understand the school's relationship with Philadelphia's middle classes. On the one hand, the ideology of the middle classes helped shape this curriculum, as shown by the stress on community, meritocracy, practicality, and character. On the other hand, the middle classes became dependent on the high school curriculum as a unique source of much-needed cultural property. The relationship between the high school and its middle-class constituency was mediated by the market in educational credentials. The strength of this relationship is evident in the high value placed on a Central High School diploma. During most of the Central's first fifty years, the demand for the school's credentials was strong, but the supply was scarce. This market situation led to a cycle of mutual reinforcement: Heavy middleclass demand raised the value of Central's credentials; the increase in value elevated the school's prestige and strengthened its independence; the enhancement of the school's position led to a further increase in credential value; and then these increases in value stimulated demand. Given the neat circularity of this process and the satisfactions it granted to both "buyer" and "seller," it is hardly surprising that Central High School was loath to permit more than minor tinkering with its strikingly successful curriculum. Why fix something that worked so well? However, in the 1880s, the relationship between the high school and the middle classes began to show signs of strain. Critics in the press and on the school board claimed that Central had lost its rigor and its direction, that its curriculum was elementary and outdated, and that it no longer served the needs of its students. The faculty was sharply divided over the issue of change, but in 1887 it voted for a new curriculum, and two years later a

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version of this curriculum was put in place. What had been common was now stratified, and what had been a mixture of academic and practical became a purely academic track and a second practical/vocational track. The curriculum shift took place because of dramatic changes in the market conditions that defined Central's relationship with its middle-class clientele. The success of the high school in the credentials market led directly to growing political pressure for a wider distribution of its valuable benefits. The result was a sudden increase in the supply of high schools offering similar credentials, which, when coupled with a shift in the shape of the demand for these credentials, caused the value of a Central High School diploma to decline sharply. At that point, both the school's officials and its middle-class constituency came to believe that the curriculum should be changed to meet this dramatically different market. THE DEMAND FOR HIGH SCHOOL CREDENTIALS The pressures that made educational credentials attractive to the middle classes in the midnineteenth century intensified by the 1880s. In particular, the threat to the position of the proprietary middle class grew dramatically. From 1850 to 1880, while the proportion of middle-class employees in the male population of the city grew slowly, the proportion of proprietors remained the same. But between 1880 and 1900 the proportion of proprietors decreased and the proportion of business employees shot upward, making the latter the dominant group within the middle class (Labaree 1983, table 3.7). This reduction in the role of proprietors in the city's class structure, combined with the stability of Central's class distribution over the entire period, meant that the proprietary middle class was increasingly overrepresented at the high school after 1880. Faced with declining opportunities for independent businessmen and burgeoning opportunities for business employees, the proprietary middle class shifted its pattern of investment even more strongly than before from economic to cultural property. The question then became, what kind of cultural property would prove most valuable to this class in the midst of its accelerating structural change? Several factors influenced the way in which this question was ultimately answered. First, the social meaning of business employment was undergoing change. At mid-century the occupation "clerk" was an apprentice position leading either to management or to proprietorship. Of the students who entered Central in 1850, 56 percent took clerk-type positions upon leaving the school. In this era, therefore, business employment—especially when combined with highly valued high school credentials—was an alternative route to the proprietary middle class. But by the 1880s, such employment was no longer a temporary stop on the way to proprietorship. For the 166

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first time, the proprietors had to think seriously about the likelihood that their sons would be permanent salaried employees. Being a clerk was no longer a stage in the life cycle but a career. This was not what these middleclass families had in mind for their sons, for it was separated from workingclass employment by only a thin status differential and an even thinner pay differential. What kind of employment would be appropriate for the offspring of the proprietary middle class and help to preserve their social standing? The answer was an occupation option that had always been available but had not appeared so attractive until the last quarter of the nineteenth century: the professions. The professions offered a number of advantages over business employment, including higher prestige and higher income, but their most attractive feature (a feature that also enhanced prestige and income) was the autonomy they granted. The professional was clearly no white-collar wage slave, subject to the authority of the boss. His expertise and his ideology buffered him from encroachments from either management or the market, thus neatly separating him from the twin threats facing the proprietors, proletarianization and competition. Given the attractiveness of the professions to the declining proprietors, middle-class culture in the late nineteenth century evolved into a "culture of professionalism" (Bledstein 1976). On one level this transformation reflects a change in the source of the class's social standing, from the autonomy of proprietorship to the autonomy of professionalism. But on another level it represents an intensification of the class's dependence on academic credentials. Although most professionals in the nineteenth century achieved their position by apprenticing themselves to an established person in the field, the most prominent members of each profession had generally received a degree from a professional school. The proprietors, who had already competed for the credentials offered by Central High School, had learned by experience that the accumulation of symbolic wealth was an important buttress to social position and that academic credentials are a significant part of this wealth. If they were going to pursue the professions, they needed the appropriate academic certification. Thus, in the acquisition of cultural property, the emphasis shifted from the high school to the university. The result was a remarkable boom in the middle-class demand for professional-school credentials beginning in the 1880s. According to Kett (1977, 154), there was a substantial increase in the number of professional students between 1878 and 1899 (988 percent in dentistry, 142 percent in medicine, 249 percent in law, 87 percent in theology), and the most dramatic upsurge took place in the latter part of the period, between 1888 and 1899. By 1889, when Central changed its curriculum, the school's clientele was no longer interested in a terminal program oriented toward business 167

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employment. Instead, they wanted a strictly academic program directed toward meeting the requirements for admission to the university, and this is exactly what they got. THE SUPPLY OF EDUCATIONAL CREDENTIALS The supply side of the educational credentials market also underwent significant change in the 1880s, partly because of the shift in demand. By the end of the decade, Central faced stiff competition for the first time from both newly created high schools and newly invigorated universities. In many ways the success of the public high school (in Philadelphia and elsewhere) was at least in part responsible for both developments. The elements that made Central so attractive— uniqueness, selectivity, and scarcity of credentials—provoked a public demand for more of the same. Before the 1890s Central's enrollment was between five and six hundred. This represented more than 1 percent of the total enrollment in the city's school system during the 1850s, but less than .5 percent by 1880. Under these circumstances, only a fraction of the city's middle-class families could hope to educate their sons at the school. Finally, in 1883, the school board yielded to their demands by establishing a manual training school as an alternative secondary institution, and others quickly followed. Thus, after fifty years of monopoly, Central had its first public competitor. To make matters worse, the new school's curriculum was similar to Central's, for it offered a terminal practical education program whose manual training component represented a more systematic and intensified form of Central's hands-on approach. Thus, to differentiate itself from its secondary competition and restore the value of its credentials, Central had to revise its curriculum. Central had found it could compete successfully with the mid-century college, which suffered from oversupply and underdistinction. But between 1865 and 1890, during the professionalization of the middle class, the university developed into the dominant force in American education (Veysey 1965). The cultural property the university offered, which at the highest level was certification for admission to the professions, was much more attractive than anything that could be appropriated from a high school curriculum. Central had little choice: it could preserve its practical/ terminal curriculum and become useless to those in quest of professional credentials, or it could adopt an academic/college preparatory curriculum and thus subordinate itself to the university as part of the new hierarchy of American education. The growing saturation of the high school market, which was brought about by the political pressure for expansion of educational opportunity, provoked a market response, as Central's constituency rallied to restore its market position. The result was a new curriculum designed to weld a strong link to the ascendant university. 168

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Only the purely academic courses were included in the new college preparatory curriculum, which eliminated all vocational courses and increased classics and science. These changes do not seem very dramatic for an event that caused such a stir in the city, but the reason is that the course of study had been largely academic all along. The practical curriculum was not created de novo by the middle class to reflect its worldview (as the culturalreproduction theorists would have it); instead, it was a body of schoolbound knowledge which was shaped into a practical orientation. The change in the curriculum occurred at the margins, not at the core. The most significant change was in the orientation of the actors rather than in the content of classroom instruction. The new curriculum represented a major turnabout in the perceived purpose of a high school education, from preparation for business to preparation for higher education and the professions. In addition to the change in the content of the curriculum, there was also a significant change in its form. A uniform course of study with no electives was transformed into a menu of choices arranged in a hierarchy. From the start, the academic course occupied the top stratum. After a few years of experimentation the school settled on the course format that further stratified the academic course into areas known (in descending order) as classical, Latin-scientific, and modern languages. Below the academic track came the scientific and commercial courses, and, later, the mechanical and industrial courses. To understand the reasons for the stratification of Central's curriculum, we must look again at conditions in the credentials market. In the 1890s, more people were demanding access to high school, and in Philadelphia (as around the country) high school enrollment rates rose dramatically. As more people acquired the same piece of cultural property (a high school diploma), its market value declined. In a bourgeois democracy it is improper and perhaps impossible to deny a citizen the opportunity to attend an institution as public and meritocratic as the high school. What was needed was a method of opening access to a valued cultural good without undercutting its value for those who already enjoyed it; and the method adopted was the one that American education has employed repeatedly ever since, the method that grew naturally out of meritocratic ideology— stratification. In Central's case it took the two forms that are generally found in the contemporary structure of education, stratification between schools and within schools. As soon as Central adopted a college preparatory curriculum (including the prestigious classical course), it moved to a higher stratum than that occupied by the manual training school (with its practical and terminal course). These two schools were no longer in competition, since they were operating on different planes and with different goals. Thus, a proliferation 169

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of the new manual-training high schools did not threaten the market value of a Central High School education. In addition, the high school was stratified internally, and it is no coincidence that it simultaneously began to expand its enrollment. After fifty years with little change in the size of the student body, Central grew from 561 in 1890 to 1,235 in 1900 and 2,301 in 1910. This surge in the number of students did not swamp the credentials market because that market was now separated into strata according to curriculum track—and these tracks, in turn, were ranked by the strength of their association with the dominant culture of professionalism. A flood of working-class students entered Central's new vocational course (as they did in high schools all across the country in the early twentieth century), but tracking protected the school's long-standing middle-class constituency from the potential leveling effects of this invasion. Predictably, the academic track at Central was the most popular with Central students; but just as predictably, this differential popularity was in part a function of the students' social class. The top track was most popular among the most privileged students, for whom it acted as a special school within the school. The new academic diploma could provide these students with a form of cultural property whose distinction, exclusiveness, and marketability made it a valuable mechanism for preserving class position. Conclusion

Politics and markets shaped the development of the curriculum at the Central High School of Philadelphia in the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries. This developmental process hinged on the complex relationship between the high school's curriculum and its middle-class constituency, a relationship that was structured according to market principles. In the beginning the school offered its students the chance to compete for the right to appropriate its business-oriented but still academic body of knowledge. The early curriculum was shaped by a politically charged bourgeois ideology that was as much concerned with community and character as it was with individual merit and economic utility. But this politically motivated curriculum also proved to be highly marketable, for it provided the school's middle-class constituents with a valuable form of symbolic wealth through its educational credentials. The very attractiveness of these credentials pressured middle-class families to organize themselves around the expectation of extended education. And in the course of this education, they found themselves being molded by an institution whose course of study was more bookish than bourgeois and whose standard of evaluation was limited to academic achievement. 170

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As long as the supply of high school credentials was severely limited and the demand for them remained strong, there was little reason for Central to reform its curriculum. However, by the 1880s, the character of the market changed. Success bred imitation, as the school board began to expand high school enrollment in response to a growing popular demand for access to this exclusive institution. So alternative high schools appeared on the scene, and the middle class began looking beyond a high school diploma to the acquisition of professional credentials. The high school had already succeeded in reshaping middle-class culture into an academic form, and now the university was accomplishing the same end at a higher level. Like the early high school, the university offered a scarce and valuable cultural commodity, which served as a powerful inducement to the high school's old constituency. This market pressure forced Central to revamp its course of study. It abandoned its original political goal of providing a common education with a useful content for all students and adopted a new goal closely linked to the realities of the market: providing different courses for different people and stressing exchange value over content. This curriculum developed from the interaction of two forces: the high school, whose concern was to preserve itself and its academic body of knowledge; and the proprietary middle class, whose concern was to accumulate enough symbolic wealth to serve as a hedge against structural uncertainty. The high school and the middle class needed each other to survive and prosper, and both needed the market in educational credentials that mediated their relationship. There are, of course, a variety of alternative explanations for the changes at Central High School, explanations that are not based on the mediation of the educational-credentials market or the interplay between this market and politics. Let us consider just two theories that are relevant: modernization theory and reproduction theory. In modernization theory, the development of stratification within and between high schools (which I have attributed to the changing supply and demand for educational credentials) is best understood as the result of the larger process of structural differentiation within societies. In this view, as societies (or organizational units within them) develop, they encounter increased density of population and growing demand for structural complexity. Thus, the development of the new curriculum at Central could be seen as a simple extension of this trend toward differentiation. But the order of events is all wrong. Central's enrollment remained steady during the period in which curricular change was debated and adopted; therefore, Central had not been pressed into instituting a multilevel curriculum by the force of numbers. Enrollments increased after the change was put in place, which indicates that the newly stratified curriculum attracted the students 171

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(not that the increased enrollments forced the curriculum change) and that this change was designed to enhance the school's attractiveness. Therefore, the school was attractive to the proprietary middle class not because it provided a differentiated curriculum that was functional for school or society but because it provided an elite course of study and a highly marketable credential. But according to social-reproduction theory, the transformation of Central's curriculum is an example not of the power of the credentials market but of the power of the dominant class to reproduce itself through the schools. From this perspective, Central's tracking system reflected the existing class structure and was installed to maintain that structure. This is certainly a more parsimonious argument than the one I have presented here, but it fails to account for the evidence from this study. At the functional level, reproduction theory is correct: The school was highly responsive to the needs of the dominant class, and the curriculum changes did indeed work to the benefit of this class. But this explanation overlooks important school processes—for example, how the school operated and how it experienced change—which undercut any notions of inevitability or of ruling-class determinism. For example, the school's aggressively meritocratic pedagogy can be seen as an expression of dominant ideology and as a factor that enhanced the legitimacy of the school's reproductive role; but it also barred a large number of middle-class boys from admission and caused most of those who were admitted to flunk out—hardly the picture of a onesided relationship. The proprietary middle class created Central High School, dominated its student body, and reaped most of its benefits, but the school was not simply manipulated like a marionette. Once the high school was established, its creators needed the cultural property it offered in order to preserve their class position. They had nowhere else to turn (in the public sector) to acquire it, so they had to compete for its honors, submit to its rules, accept its academicized vision of bourgeois knowledge, and endure the fluctuations in the value of its credentials on the open market. The credentials market, then, is a metaphor for the interdependency of the high school and the proprietary middle class. The transformation of the curriculum at Central in the 1880s was accordingly as much a sign of class weakness as it was of class power, a sign of just how much the members of the middle classes had come to depend on the high school and its credentials and of how quickly they and the school had to act in order to preserve the relationship between them when it fell into jeopardy.

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Credentialism in a Falling Market: The Disabling Legacy of the Early High School

This book is a case study in the development of the American high school, and its subject is not a typical high school but one that is exemplary. To the extent that there was a standard pattern for the nineteenth-century high school, Central High School strayed from it in a number of ways. It was founded quite early, for a large number of high schools did not begin to appear until 1890; it was created as a wholly new institution rather than evolving out of the grammar school, as was more frequently the case; it was unusually selective; it was located in a school district that was highly decentralized; it remained all male at a time when most high schools were mixed and most students were girls; and it did so in a school system whose male teachers constituted a tiny and privileged elite. Partly as a result of these special characteristics, Central was more exclusive and more powerful than most early high schools, and this in turn made it an unusually tempting target for democratic reform. In all these ways, Central was distinctive.1 Then, early in the early twentieth century, Central lost much of its special character. The school's prominence had provoked a strong political reaction, and it was remolded into a form that closely resembled the typical comprehensive high school of the period. It is this mixture of the unique and the generic that makes Central High School such a useful subject. Because of its distinctiveness, it was an extraordinarily influential school whose significance lies partly in its educationa 1. One could make many similar points about the representativeness of any other early high school, since this emergent institution did not begin to develop a standard form until the mass production of new high schools began at the end of the century. 173

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impact. It created a thriving market for high school credentials, using this market to govern the school system for nearly fifty years and to preserve some of the system's common-school principles. When it lost this market position and had to abandon these principles, Central abruptly introduced curriculum tracking and school stratification into the school system. The comprehensive high school that then emerged at the beginning of the twentieth century showed signs of the continuing influence of the early Central High School, for the new model contained some elements borrowed directly from its predecessor and others developed as a direct reaction against Central's old-model high school. However, the significance of Central also lies in its generic qualities, for its history vividly highlights many of the continuing tensions that have marked the historical development of the American high school during the past century and a half. These include the tensions between commonality and differentiation, citizenship training and job training, curriculum content and credentials, bureaucratic and local control, teacher autonomy and subordination, open and selective access. I have argued that all these issues are connected with a larger conflict that has characterized American society from its origins to the present, the tension between politics and markets, or, more precisely, between democracy and capitalism. On the one hand, democracy has meant promoting political freedom and the right of citizens to be self-governing; on the other hand, capitalism has meant promoting economic freedom and the right of markets to be self-regulating. Whereas the logic of democratic governance has led to the expansion of political equality, the logic of capitalist markets has led to the growth of economic inequality. From the start, Americans—parents, children, citizens, politicians, and educators alike—have sought to mold the high school into an institution that would serve these contradictory goals. They wanted it to promote the general welfare and also to enhance individual interests, to elevate the poor and also to protect the middle class, to prepare everyone to be president and to train one's own child to get a good job. Founded on these opposing principles, the American high school has fluctuated between the two throughout its history.2 The Central case shows that, in the process of molding the high school, politics and markets were also shaping each other, and the result is the ongoing compromise that forms the core of this institution. The primary 2. This case study provides an unusual perspective on the high school's twin tendencies. While the existing literature focuses primarily on the period after 1890, when the high school was starting to become a mass institution, this study begins fifty years earlier. As a result, I am able to examine the high school when it was a market institution, using its market position to dominate the school system during the period when city-wide political control over schools was weak. 174

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fact about this compromise is that it has not worked very well in meeting either the political or economic goals of any of the parties involved. Because of the attenuation of its democratic goals, brought about by the strong infusion of market aims and behaviors, the high school continually fails to fulfill its promise to serve the public interest. And because of the declining value of its credentials, brought about by the politically induced saturation of the secondary-school market, the high school also fails to fulfill its promise to serve private interests. Let me explore the meaning of this compromise and its implications for an understanding of the contemporary high school. In the early days of Central High School, political goals quickly began to yield to the pressure of the market. Founded as an extension of the common school, its primary goal initially was to promote a community of citizens and strengthen the new republic. But at the same time the new high school held a big-city monopoly on a highly marketable educational commodity. Middle-class families began to compete for the school's credentials as a mechanism for reinforcing their existing status advantage. As a result, Central increasingly became a market institution and its political purposes adapted to this change. The school that Thomas Dunlap (1851, 16) had broadly conceived of as "the School of the Republic . . . the School of the People" came to define its public responsibilities in the narrow terms of meritocratic ideology. It was sufficient that all students had a formally equal opportunity to vie for the special rewards offered by the high school, even though their chances of acquiring these rewards were quite small. However, by the 1880s, Central High School's powerful position in the secondary-education market provoked widespread demand for access to its credentials and substantial resentment over its elitism. While the surging market had subdued the high school's original political aims, the high school's market success eventually stirred a powerful political reaction against this market. The result was a sharp increase in the size of high school enrollment in the city and the subordination of Central to the political authority of the school board. The effect of this intervention was to flood the market and thereby lower the value of Central's credentials. But the response of Central's middle-class constituents was to try to restore this value by adopting a stratified model for the new high schools, ranking both curricula and schools and then claiming the exclusive top stratum for themselves. The compromise between politics and markets that emerged in the Philadelphia school system at the turn of the century contained the basic terms that have characterized the American high school for the past eighty years. Political democracy played a role in the new school that was stronger yet less substantial than the role it had played in the 1850s. By shifting the 175

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emphasis from equal opportunity (for a scarce form of education) to open access, the political reaction had been quite effective at making enrollment more democratic. Yet in the process, the principle of common schooling gave way to stratified schooling, so that students were being offered equal access to a form of high school that granted unequal social opportunity. At the same time, as a result of open access, the middle-class beneficiaries of the high school market suffered from credential devaluation, but they still succeeded in preserving the high school as a status-conferring institutio through the mechanism of market segmentation. The comprehensive high school established the outlines of the enduring accommodation between politics and markets in American education at the start of the twentieth century. Since then the shape of this accommodation has changed according to the relative strength of the high school's two basic components. At any given point in the recent history of this institution, the definitive question has been: Which is the more powerful form of pressure on the high school, the demand for public access or the demand for private advantage? In these terms, we can identify some of the major changes in the character of the high school since the basic pattern emerged. In the 1930s, the collapse of the teenage job market led to a sudden surge in the demand for access to the high school, and this upward trend in enrollment continued into the 1950s. This development undercut the market value of high school credentials still further, but tracking helped to buffer the middle class from much of the impact. More devastating to the students in the academic track was the surge in postwar college enrollments, which began to undermine the exclusiveness of the college degree and of the high school track that prepared them for it. Then in the 1960s and early 1970s came the civil rights movement and the poverty programs, which pushed the political agenda further by seeking to remove educational inequalities due to race, class, and gender. All these changes in some form promoted equal access at the expense of private advantage. In the late 1970s and 1980s came a concerted effort to restore some of the value lost by high school credentials. Reforms aimed at raising standards for promotion and graduation, stiffening course requirements, and stratifying diplomas all served to enhance the exclusiveness of these credentials. The compromise between democratic and capitalist principles that forms the basis for the contemporary high school successfully muffles a major ideological contradiction, but at the same time it severely hampers the ability of the high school to serve either principle effectively. What the early high school offered the public was, initially, a sharply defined republican vision backed by educational practice and, subsequently, a valuable educational credential backed by preeminent market power. In contrast, the high 176

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school today offers a confusing mixture: democratic goals that are undercut by stratification and consumerism, and credentials that are devalued by market saturation. By thus failing to enhance either public or private interests as promised, this compromise satisfies no one, leaving the contemporary high school severely disabled. The contemporary American public high school continues to exert a form of democratic social impact on its students. As Carnoy and Levin (1985) have noted, despite the marked distortions and social divisions that have penetrated the public schools, they still provide students with an environment that is more democratic, less discriminatory, more conducive to self-realization, and less conducive to the reproduction of inequality than they are likely to experience in the workplace. The primary reason is that high schools are under public control and therefore more responsive to public pressure and democratic ideology than a market institution would be. However, this argument is more convincing for elementary schools than it is for the upper grades. Democracy is a highly visible attribute of the contemporary American high school, but the kind of democracy practiced there is quite limited in scope. The high school offers students an extraordinary degree of curricular choice, informal and non-authoritarian relationships with teachers, and a wide range of opportunities to develop personal interests through extracurricular activities. A rash of books in the 1980s have stressed the considerable freedom enjoyed by today's high school students (Cusick 1983; Goodlad 1984; Powell, Farrar, and Cohen 1985; Sizer 1984; Sedlak, Wheeler, Pullin, and Cusick 1986). Thus, if democracy means freedom of choice, the high school can claim to be democratic. Unfortunately, this form of democracy is only a pale reflection of the staunch republicanism that launched the high school as an institution. The contemporary high school is not the "School of the Republic"; instead, it is what Powell, Farrar, and Cohen (1985) call "the shopping-mall high school": students are consumers selecting from the vast array of choices presented for purchase by the school's various specialty shops. This metaphor suggests that the kind of freedom offered by the high school is not self-governance or self-realization but the freedom to bargain for educational commodities. The high school now is less a commonwealth than a market-place, as market forces have transformed republican politics into consumer politics. During most of its early history, the high school was rooted in the market and enjoyed considerable freedom from political control. Although the lower schools quickly filled with students during the nineteenth century, high schools did not begin graduating more than half of them until the 1940s, more than a hundred years after the first such schools began opera 177

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tion. During that century, the high school was the primary American mechanism for educational differentiation. It was not until the Progressive era that school boards succeeded in placing these selective and marketbased schools under public control. Yet even then, the high school continued to play a differentiating role and retained its strong traditional ties to the job market. In this sense, the high school has always functioned, at least in part, as a market institution, selling its credentials to studentconsumers. The big difference in the late twentieth century is not that high school students have become politically liberated but that they have become market-wise, for they now show their unwillingness to pay hard money for inflated credentials. The key to the problem facing the high school today is its marketability. From almost the first day, the high school has sold itself as a mechanism for conferring exclusive status benefits on the individual credential-holder. In the confident words of a 1960s public-service advertisement, "To get a good job, get a good education." As we have seen, this argument was extremely effective over the years, drawing a flood of students into high school and, more recently, into college as well. The factor that undercut its effectiveness was the sheer size of the student influx, which raised an awkward question: When everyone has a good education, will everyone still get a good job? The answer: Not as long as there are more educated people than there are good jobs. The problem, then, is not overeducation but overcredentialing. Education is a use value which involves the acquisition of knowledge and skill; it is difficult to imagine having too much of it. Credentials are exchange values, which are desirable only as long as they can be traded for something useful, like social position and money. The two forms of educational value can vary quite independently of each other. As we have seen, the value of high school credentials fluctuates entirely according to the pressure of supply and demand. Central's credentials rose under conditions of monopoly, fell with the upsurge in supply, stabilized with the segmentation of the market, fell again with the influx of students during the Depression, and rose again with the restoration of its unique position. Today there are more college graduates than there are college-level jobs, which undercuts the value of the college degree and leaves the high school diploma in even worse shape. Terminal high school students face the prospect of being stuck with a credential that is common currency, shared by three-quarters of their cohort; what is more, they face the likelihood of having to compete with college graduates for the better non-college jobs. College preparatory students can look forward to acquiring a diploma that has little value except as a means of access to a college degree, and the value of this degree, in turn, is declining. 178

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The days when the high school dominated the education market are gone. The value of the high school's credentials were once high enough to prod students into paying a heavy price—in competitive effort and academic investment—for the right to acquire them. But in the bleak market conditions surrounding the contemporary high school, teachers and administrators have little to offer their students that might motivate them to work for its devalued diploma. In such a market, it is only logical that educators have converted the high school into something akin to a shopping mall, for they must convince the reluctant buyer to invest a piece of intellectual change in their fire-sale credentials. The consequences for the quality of learning have been nothing short of cataclysmic. One is the bankrupt form of classroom interaction that Sedlak, Wheeler, Pullin, and Cusick (1986) call "bargaining." Dealing from strength in their position as buyers in a buyer's market, students bargain with teachers to attain a good price for the acquisition of individual credits leading to the diploma. Such a deal means achieving the most credits for the least investment of time and effort. In this thoroughly commodified educational exchange, students, acting as market-wise consumers, trade away the content of education in order to acquire the piece of paper certifying the completion of education, using inflated intellectual currency to pay for an inflated educational commodity. If the only purpose of high school is to get people good jobs and if its ability to deliver on this promise weakens, then students are fully justified in seeking better terms. Another consequence of the decline in credential value is that the public's confidence in the high school has been undercut. When schools do not produce jobs, they must not be working right. If this in itself were not enough reason for concern, the public needs only to look at some of the highly visible effects of the "bargain" on school learning. A series of highly publicized reports in the 1980s have shown that both curriculum requirements and achievement levels have been dropping, which simply reinforces the impression that schools are not doing their job properly and that something needs to be done about it. Most reforms have focused on the interrelated goals of restoring public confidence and raising the value of high school credentials. The main aim of these reforms has been to make it more difficult to achieve a high school diploma, through such mechanisms as requiring students to take more academic courses, raising the standard for promotion from grade to grade, and raising the standard for graduation. The effects include a public perception that schools are becoming more rigorous, an increase in the dropout rate, and, as a result of both factors, a slight increase in the value of the high school credential. These reforms do nothing about the basic conditions in the education market, since the democratic tradition of open access prevents reformers from directly cut179

C R E D E N T I A LI S M IN

A FALLING MARKET

ting back on the number of people permitted to graduate from high school and college. Nor do the reforms do anything about the problem of student disengagement from learning or the process of bargaining in the classroom. Although overcredentialing has seriously weakened the American high school in general, there are exceptions. Just as some investors can make money in a bear market, some special high schools have managed to preserve their elevated positions in the face of general decline. When high school credentials become too common to be of much value, demand develops for special kinds of credentials, which are offered to a selective clientele in reduced volume and thus acquire a higher exchange value. As we have seen, market segmentation is a time-honored tradition, which the supporters of individual high schools have used whenever market saturation threatened their school's position. No school benefited from this process as frequently and effectively as Central High School. Central ran into difficult times in the late 1970s and early 1980s, as its enrollment declined along with the achievement level of its entering students. The middle-class families that constituted its historic constituency were abandoning the Philadelphia public schools, sending their sons to private and parochial schools (the Philadelphia archdiocese operates the seventh-largest school district in the country), and moving to the suburbs. Central's position as an elite academic school was in jeopardy. As one teacher put it, "Our real worry was that we would be made a neighborhood school" (Mezzacappa 1986). A court order in 1983 mandating the admission of girls helped (although it had been vigorously opposed by the school's supporters), but the key was the market-based strategy adopted by the school's new president, Sheldon Pavel. He initiated an aggressive recruitment campaign, started to enforce the old admissions standards, and, in a dramatic public move, dismissed four hundred low-achieving students. The word went out that Central was once again a selective and academically rigorous school, and students from the old constituency began to return, many of them directly from private schools: in 1983 only 16 percent of the freshman class came from private and parochial schools, but in 1986 the figure reached 37 percent. Once again the supporters of Central High School succeeded in restoring it to its traditional position at the top of the Philadelphia school system, and they accomplished this by means of the traditional marked mechanisms. They recreated a scarce educational commodity by making admissions and retention more selective, and then they used this distinctiveness to spur demand. This is not a strategy unique to Central. The 1980s have seen urban school systems establish or reinvigorate a variety of special high schools, including academic schools like Central and magnet schools orga180

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A FALLING MARKET

nized around special subjects or themes. Some have been able to establish a special market position using techniques similar to those used at Central, although very few have Central's historic resources to call on. Yet these entrepreneurial efforts to elevate the credentials of isolated high schools have little effect on the larger picture. Market strategies, by nature, are exclusive. They can be effective for individual schools but not for the high school as an institution. Market saturation and the resulting decline in credential value have had a devastating impact on the contemporary American high school, severely undercutting its ability to educate its students and satisfy the public. However, the market is an educational problem only if the high school is seen as a commodity. That is, the high school is vulnerable to market pressures only if the public demands that it act like a market institution, whose success or failure is to be measured by its ability to produce credentials that buy good jobs. In contrast, as a political-use value, the high school is impervious to market conditions, for then its worth depends on the social utility of its educational content and is thus independent of the number of students who acquire this content. From the market perspective, political equality has destroyed the high school's value. But from a democratic perspective, open access has provided the country with a great opportunity to educate its citizens, an opportunity that has been undermined by the market demand for credentialing rather than teaching. When it comes to education, Americans, as Goodlad (1984) has pointed out, "want it all." They want schools to promote both democracy and differentiation, to spread equality and also provide a personal edge over the competition. In general, schools have responded to this contradiction through stratification—pursuing democratic goals in the lower levels of schooling, where enrollment is universal, and promoting status attainment in the upper levels, where the processes of selection and self-selection can proceed unimpeded. During the course of its history, the high school has functioned at both of these levels, starting out as a very selective institution and then gradually growing into a comprehensive school with compulsory attendance. As a result, the high school has become the upward extension of the old common school. However, the credentials market prevents it from growing into this new democratic identity by continuing to lure people away from egalitarian goals with the promise of individual advantage. By the logic of the marketplace, any form of schooling that is common is worthless to the educational consumer. Therefore, in order to be rescued from this fate, the high school must be remolded into the institution it once was—exclusive, meritocratic, and status-enhancing. Given the current saturation of the education market, any attempt to 181

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restore the high school to its early glory would be doomed. Besides, such an effort would be like trying to make a sow's ear out of a silk purse. For as a market institution, the contemporary high school is an utter failure; yet when rechartered as a common high school it has great potential. The common high school would be able to focus on equality rather than stratification and on learning rather than the futile pursuit of educational credentials. Stripped of its disabling market concerns, the common high school could seek to provide what had always eluded the early selective high school: a quality education for the whole community.

182

Appendix A: Student Data Methods

THE STUDENT SAMPLE The student data used in this study were drawn from records housed at Central High School. The sampling plan called for the selection of all students in the first four entering classes (from 1838 to 1840) and then all those who entered in the fall of 1850, 1860, 1870 and 1880. Census years were chosen in order to facilitate linking to census records. In 1890, class sizes started to rise sharply, so in order to maintain cohorts at about the same level, 50 percent of the students were selected that year and only 25 percent were selected in 1900. (Also in 1900, the graduates not selected in the first pass (N = 114) were placed in a separate sample for later use in analyzing alumni behavior.) I drew samples in 1910 and 1920 that were about three times the size of the earlier cohorts because of the much greater complexity of the records available for those years. This meant taking all the students entering in 1910 and 60 percent of the larger number that entered in 1920. The sample sizes and sampling fractions for each year are shown in table A.I. Table A. 1 Sampling Plan by Cohort Date Admitted

Fall 1838to fall 1840 Fall 1850 Fall 1860 Fall 1870 Fall 1880 Fall 1890 Fall 1900 Fall 1910 Fall 1920 TOTAL

Sample Size

246 85 142 128 130 150 144 (+114) 396 413 1,834 (1,948)

183

Sampling Fraction (%)

100 100 100 100 100 50 25 100 60

APPENDIX A

LINKING TO CENSUS MANUSCRIPTS Once the student sample was coded, the next step was to attempt to locate the families of these students in census manuscripts. For some years this was not practicable: the census before 1850 is aggregated by household and is thus unusable in an individual-level analysis; the 1890 manuscripts were lost in a fire; and at the time the coding was done, no census later than 1900 had been released in manuscript form. This left five years in which student data could be linked to the census—1850, 1860, 1870, 1880, and 1900. A group of student coders under my supervision linked Central students (and those from three other schools) to the census. The work was carried out using the hard-copy manuscript pages (reproduced from microfilm) and locating mechanisms generated by the Philadelphia Social History Project (PSHP) at the University of Pennsylvania. The linkage procedure was unusually successful for Central students. While the other three schools registered linkage rates of between 65 and 73 percent, Central families were located 84 percent of the time. I see two reasons for this. The records at Central were more complete and the coding of them more accurate than at other schools. Also, Central's constituency was markedly more middle-class than the other schools, and middle-class families are easier to locate than those farther down the social scale. Linkage rates by year are shown in table A.2.

Table A.2

Linkage of Students to Census Manuscripts, 1850-1900 Students in Sample

Students Linked

Linkage Rate(%)

1850 1860 1870 1880 1900

85 142 128 130 264

61 117 112 108 228

72 82 88 83 86

TOTAL

749

626

84

184

Appendix B: Social Class Categories

MIDDLE CLASSES The two middle classes used in this study—proprietary and employed—correspond quite closely in practice with the old middle and new middle classes used by such social historians as Robert Wiebe (1967, 111-32) and Mary Ryan (1981, 182-83), although the definition of their classes is quite different from mine. They see the old middle class as having consisted of those occupational groups that constituted the middle class before the advent of industrial capitalism and that found their positions threatened by its rise, whereas the new middle class consisted of those groups that arose with and prospered under industrial capital. Since the former were mostly proprietors and the latter mostly employees, this categorization is functionally akin to mine, with one exception: professionals are included in the new middle class by Wiebe and Ryan, whereas I place them in the proprietary group. I feel that my class system is on theoretically firmer ground than its generally similar alternative because the distinction between old and new middle class is not defined in theoretical but empirical terms. Apart from the fact that they both flourished under industrialization, professionals had little in common with the white-collar employees who constituted the bulk of the new middle class. By contrast, I define the difference between the two middle classes as a function of the social relations of production, distinguishing those who worked for themselves from those who worked for someone else. Moving the professionals to the old middle class and redefining it as a self-employed class permits a sharper interpretation of the meaning of both this class and its employee counterpart. VALIDATING THE CLASS CATEGORIES The meaningfulness of these class groupings can be empirically validated in several ways. First, where property data exists (in the cases of students linked to the 1860 and 1870 census), the four 185

APPENDIX B Table B . 1 Wealth of Central Parents by Class, 1 860 and 1 870 Combined Class Proprietary middle Employed middle Skilled working Unskilled working

Mean

N

S.D.

$26,310 15,728 6,127 2,084

(63) (13) (23) (10)

42,471 37,896 7,881 3,604

Sources: Student records; U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population Schedules (1860 and 1870). Table B.2 Occupational Distribution of Household Heads, CHS versus Philadelphia, 1 880 Central High(%) Proprietary middle class Proprietors Masters/manual Professionals Employed middle class White-collar employees Government employees Clerks White-collar supervisors Skilled working class Unskilled working class TOTAL N Missing and other

28.9 10.5 6.1

45.6

12.7 7.2 3.2

27.2 8.7 9.6 6.1 2.6

23.7 3.5 100.0 114 16

Index of Representativeness

Philadelphia (%) 23.1

2.3 1.5 1.9

7.6 2.6 1.5 3.0 0.5

39.9 29.5

2.0

3.6 3.5 6.4 2.0 5.2

0.6 0.1

100.1 114,196 27,911

Sources: Student records; U.S. Bureau of the Census, Population Schedules (1880).

classes form into a clear hierarchy of wealth. Table B.I shows the mean property holdings (both real and personal) by social class for parents of Central students in those years. Second, the occupational groups within each class showed relatively similar degrees of interest in attending the high school. Table B.2 shows the distribution of occupations at Central and in the city as a whole in 1880, along with an index of representativeness, which is computed by dividing the Central percentage by the city percentage for a given occupation. (This year was chosen because it is midway through the period under examination and because data on the distribution of household heads in the city are available.) With regard to representativeness, the self-employed middle class was quite homogeneous, with a rate of overrepresentation ranging from 1.5 to 2.3 around a mean of 2.0. The employed middle class shows a more scattered distribution of this index; but with a range of 2.0 to 6.4 and a mean of 3.6, the occupational groups which constitute this class (with the sole exception of clerks) were sharply differentiated from the proprietary class in degree of representativeness.

186

Appendix C: Multiple Classification Analysis

The primary technique used in analyzing student achievement was multiple classification analysis (MCA), a form of multiple regression using categorical predictor variables (called factors). MCA constructs a beta for each factor as a whole rather than for each level of this variable as is done in regression with dummy variables. There is one assumption of both regression and MCA which was violated routinely during my analysis, the assumption of homoscedasticity. My primary dependent variable, graduation, is not interval-level but dichotomous: a student was assigned a one if he graduated and a zero if he did not. Under these circumstances the variance of actual scores around the regression predictions will not be equal. The consequences of this are twofold: (1) the regression equation no longer provides the best linear estimate (its variance is not minimized), and (2) tests of significance are no longer unbiased. Kousser, Cox, and Gelenson (1982) have asserted that these are sufficient grounds for not using MCA with dichotomous dependent variables, but I disagree. First, as Bohrnstedt and Carter (1971) concluded in their study of the effects of violating regression assumptions, regression is a remarkably robust procedure. Second, although I report the results of significance tests along with the MCA tables, I place very little weight on them. I do discuss the mean rates of graduation predicted by MCA for each level of the factors, but I use them to stress the differences among these levels rather than to make precise predictions of student behavior. The statistics I rely on most heavily are the betas, which I use as a rough measure of the relative impact of each variable (as opposed to each level) on student graduation. Thus the fact that the predicted means are not as efficient as those produced under conditions of homoscedasticity does not undermine the conclusions I come to using MCA. Third, the findings of the analysis were quite consistent, both across different 187

APPENDIX C

models and across time. The central conclusion was that grades mattered most and class mattered little in explaining student attainment. This held true when I used interval-level dependent variables, terms in school, and highest grade level achieved in place of graduation; when I shifted data sets from general sample to census sample to performance sample; and when I examined each cohort separately over an eighty-year span of time.

188

Appendix D: A Close Look at the Multiple Classification Analyses of Graduation

THE GENERAL SAMPLE, 1850-1920 The strongest model for explaining the variation in graduation rate over this period contained five factors and no covariates. The dependent variable is coded one if a student graduated and zero if he did not, and thus the mean of this variable can be read as an average graduation rate. Class is measured in five levels, the four already discussed plus a fifth for cases with missing or unclassifiable occupations. Grammar-school frequency places a student into one of five categories according to the number of boys in the whole sample who attended the student's grammar school, thus providing a crude measure of the effect of previous school. Age refers to age at the time of admission to the high school. The grades factor records whether or not a student achieved a high average at some point during his stay at the high school. The final factor is cohort. Table 3.6 shows the results of an MCA using these factors. Clearly, grades were by far the most powerful predictor of graduation rate with a beta of .50; at the other end of the scale, class was statistically insignificant in its effect with a beta of only .03. Multiple R2 is .307 with grades as a factor and only .081 without this factor—a difference of .226. This means that grades alone "explained" 23 percent of the variance in graduation behavior, or, to put it another way, grades accounted for 74 percent of the explanatory power of the model as a whole. The grammar-school-frequency factor was significant but not very strong with a beta of .09. Students from schools in the highest three frequency categories tended to graduate at a rate three to ten points above those from the low-frequency schools. As a group, high-frequency students appear to have little distinctive about them—their grades, for example, are average—except a higher rate of graduation. To put it another way, their primary distinction is that they came from grammar schools that succeeded in both enrolling and graduating a disproportionately large number of Central students. 189

APPENDIX D

There are at least two possible explanations for the influence of this factor. One is that the most common previous schools for Central students would be those nearest the school. The second possibility is that the high-frequency schools were the longrun winners of the competition for high school admission, a status they achieved by preparing their students for Central's exam and, by implication, for its curriculum, better than other schools. Whereas grades measure the performance of the student, this factor may measure the performance of the grammar school as a preparatory school. If this is true, then the full impact of this factor is being masked by the presence within it of a simple proximity effect. Age at admission had a stronger impact on graduation than either the class or school variables with a beta of. 16. Except for the oldest category, there appears to be an inverse linear relationship between age and graduation, with adjusted graduation rates rising from 17 percent at sixteen to 51 percent at age twelve. The main reason younger students graduated more frequently is that they were better students. More than 34 percent of those under the age of fourteen at admission received a high grade average (85 or over) at least once—compared with only 9 percent of those over fifteen. Yet there is more to the effect of age than this, since MCA controls for high school grades. It turns out that younger students performed better than average in grammar school as well. A variable in the twentieth-century sample records the number of pre-high-school grade levels that a student flunked and skipped. Although students under fourteen represented only 17 percent of the total number of students in this sample, they accounted for 78 percent of all those who skipped grades in elementary school. This strongly suggests that age is a proxy for pre-high-school academic performance. Thus grades, age, and grammar-school frequency constitute a cluster of variables that measure three different components of individual merit: high school achievement, grammar-school achievement, and grammar-school preparation. Although the cohort factor statistically controls for the effect of year of entry, the MCA of the whole general sample obscures a number of year to year differences—particularly the relative strength of the factors over time and the relative power of the model over time. Therefore the same model (minus cohort) was run for each year from 1850 through 1920. The result was that the fullsample MCA prove quite stable over time. The high-grades factor had the highest beta in every year and was also the only factor that was statistically significant every year. Class had the lowest beta five times and reached a minimum significance level only twice. The adjusted R2 values for the individual cohorts rose from 1860 to a peak in 1890 (where the beta for grades reaches .71) and trailed off quickly to their lowest level in 1920 (where the beta for grades is only .38; Labaree 1983, table 3.15). THE CENSUS SAMPLE, 1850-80 AND 1900 The census sample presents the opportunity to strengthen the model for explaining graduation by the addition of several family variables. After a considerable amount of experimentation, the model displayed in table 3.7 emerged as the strongest and most theoretically interesting alternative. It consists of eight independent variables (five factors and three

190

APPENDIX D

covariates), including three family variables not used before—parent's birthplace, siblings, and sex of family head. The result is a more powerful model than the previous one, with an adjusted R2 of .401 compared with .307 for the earlier version. However, the impact of student grades on graduation was unchanged by the addition of the new variables. The beta for grades is a hefty .52 (versus the earlier .50). If grades remain strong in this model, class appears to gain some strength— achieving statistical significance and a beta of .12 (versus .03). After adjusting for the seven other variables, MCA projects that proprietary-middle-class students and those with missing occupation codes had higher than average rates of graduation, while employed middle and unskilled working class boys had lower than average rates. I have already shown that the two middle classes had somewhat different rates of graduation, but the difference is exaggerated here (with adjusted rates of 31 percent for the proprietary middle class and 19 percent for the employed middle class) because of characteristics of particular cohorts included in the sample. (Out of the nine cohorts overall, 1850, 1870, and 1900 had the widest gap between the two classes, and all three are in this sample.) However, the case of semiskilled-unskilled workers is of more substantive interest. Students from this class were strongly identified with characteristics that fostered high graduation rates. Students from the unskilled working class were the youngest of any class, had the highest grades, and 100 percent came from families headed by males. (Only 6.5 percent of students from female-headed families graduated.) Clearly, the Central student from the semiskilled and unskilled working class was a very unusual boy with a number of special advantages—hardly a typical representative of his class. His class constituted only 6 percent of the student body, although it accounted for between 25 and 40 percent of the city's population. He was much more academically talented than the other high school students, moved through grade school at a relatively rapid pace (as evidenced by his young age of admission), and enjoyed the economic security afforded him by a male breadwinner. Thus, on the one hand, a laborer's son with proven ability could enter the high school, and once in, he had as good a chance of graduating as anyone else. On the other hand, the laborer's son at Central was clearly more meritorious than the average student, which meant that he should have graduated at a higher rate than the others. The students in the missing and other category had the highest graduation rate after controls in spite of having the lowest such rate before controls. These students appear to have come from middle-class families, with mean property holdings in the 1860 and 1870 census at about the same level ($16,396) as the employed middle class ($15,728). Fully 57 percent of these families had a female head (which was why they had no listed occupation), and in addition their sons scored low in school frequency and high in entering age. All three tendencies are strongly associated with a low rate of graduation. To oversimplify the situation somewhat, these students were poorly prepared for high school, had a poor performance record in grade school, and were under economic pressure to leave school early to enter the

191

APPENDIX D

workforce. Under these circumstances it is remarkable that as many of them graduated as did. Although social class emerges from the census sample as a factor with an independent impact on graduation, it is important to recognize that its impact was felt only in the marginal cases. After correcting for sampling error, it is only the unskilled and missing categories that exerted an influence on student persistence. The unskilled workers' sons saw their chances of graduation lowered despite their superior ability because their families urgently needed to put their newly acquired whitecollar skills to work. At the same time, the boys from middle-class female-headed families (the largest group in the "other" category) saw their graduation rate raised after controls because of their dogged persistence in the face of multiple disadvantages. What is most interesting about these class effects is that the first was strictly economic (quitting early to go to work because of relative poverty) while the second was strictly cultural (staying in school despite lost earning power out of a commitment to the value of a high school education). The first occurred in spite of high merit while the second occurred in spite of lesser merit. Yet for the bulk of the students, the determining factor was merit alone. The birthplace of family head factor had a beta of. 10. Overall, 30 percent of the students in the sample had a head of family who was foreign-born. After controlling for other variables, students from the Irish, German, and British families had only slightly lower graduation rates than those from the native-born families. However, Russian Jews graduated (after controls are considered) at a slightly higher rate of 32 percent, while in the Northern European and "other" category the rate was highest of all at 48 percent. Before controls, the proportion of the Russians that graduated was an extraordinary 70 percent, largely accounted for by this group's high grades. Unlike the Russians, the success of the Northern Europeans was not because of but in spite of grades, for only one of the twenty-three students in this category (4 percent) ever achieved recognition for high grades. The experiences of these two groups have strikingly different implications. For the Russian Jews present a model of meritocracy triumphant, with the sons of religious refugees achieving the high school's highest reward, the diploma, because of their proven superior ability. However, the Northern European students represent a countermeritocratic tendency because of their capacity to acquire that diploma without having to demonstrate the same level of worthiness. However, the same point could be made about ethnicity that was made about class: it is a variable that exerted very little influence over graduation chances except in two marginal categories, which contain between them only 7 percent of all students. If class and ethnicity are combined, it turns out that 80 percent of Central students came from the middle or skilled working classes and from native, Irish, German, or British ethnic groups. For these students neither class nor ethnicity had much effect on their chances for achieving graduation; instead, their own performance in school (as measured by grades) was overwhelmingly the most important factor. The siblings factor, with a beta of .09, is a composite of two earlier variables that were found to be highly intercorreiated—student's birth order and dependency

192

APPENDIX D

status of siblings fifteen years and older (at work, home, or school). The six categories of this variable are as follows: (1) youngest child, with one or more older siblings at work; (2) youngest child, with older siblings at school or home; (3) middle child, with older siblings at work; (4) middle child, with older siblings at school or home; (5) oldest child; and (6) only child. Though not a powerful factor, the siblings variable did exert an independent effect on graduation. The highest graduation rate was 31 percent, for students who were the oldest child. By contrast middle children had a rate of 26 percent, youngest children a rate of 22 percent, and only children 24 percent. This pattern is counterintui tive. One would expect that, from the perspective of the family economy, it would be less of a financial strain to support a son all the way through to graduation if he had older siblings contributing their earnings. Thus one would predict that youngest sons would be in a better position to finish school than oldest sons. Apparently, a high school degree was not something that these families sought for their sons only when the flow of income made it feasible. Instead, they sent their first-born to the high school and frequently kept him there until graduation. Either money was no worry or they assumed that education was too important to be deferred. However, as sons moved down the birth order their chances of graduating declined. For middle sons this drop was not caused by the family's need for the student's earnings, since students in the middle of the birth order had the same graduation rate whether or not they had older siblings at work. Apparently, middle-class families simply felt it was more important to acquire advanced education for their oldest sons than for their younger sons. Yet these families were not immune to money pressure, for the chances of a youngest son graduating from Central were dependent on the presence in the family of working siblings. THE TWENTIETH CENTURY SAMPLE, 1910 AND 1920 In the third subset of the data on Central High School students I have dropped the earlier cohorts and the census variables in order to focus on a number of important variables that were not available for students from the nineteenth century (table 3.8). These variables all focus on measures of student academic behavior—including rate of progress through elementary school, absence, lateness, curriculum choice, and grade point average. In the now familiar pattern, class is the weakest factor (statistically insignificant, beta = .06), whereas the grades factor is by far the strongest. The conclusion is clear: neither shuffling a variety of factors in and out of models nor switching from one subsample to another can disturb the considerable power of student performance to explain the pattern of graduation at Central High School. Unlike the earlier models, the grades variable in this model is a true grade point average (GPA), calculated from individual course grades coded for every fall term of the student's career at the school (up to a maximum of five). These averages were clustered into seven categories from A to F and the adjusted graduation rate for each is shown in table 3.8. The results are quite similar to the bivariate results. With few exceptions, all the A and B+ students graduated, compared with most of the

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APPENDIX

D

B- students, some at the C+ level, and none with averages of C—, D, or F. A small gap in GPA, between a B- and a C+, leads to a very large difference in graduation rates, between 60 and 27 percent. This suggests that Central professors were not using grades as an interval-level scale for ranking students according to incremental differences in their graded performance. Instead, it appears that they used grades to categorize students and then, in turn, used these categories as criteria for differential treatment. Despite the small differences in their averages, it appears that B- students were strongly encouraged to stay on until graduation, whereas most C+ students were encouraged to leave. In terms of outcomes, it seems that one category was labeled "good student" and the other "mediocre student," and that these labels had as much effect on graduation chances as the averages themselves. These labels were assigned to students shortly after arrival at the high school, and they served to differentiate individual student careers. Among those who would eventually graduate, 57.7 percent earned A or B averages in their freshman year (compared with 27.7 percent of the non-graduates), and then these students actually raised their averages over the course of the next three years. At the same time, non-graduates not only had lower grades to start, but their averages declined over time. This pattern suggests that the high school was both fostering high academic performance among meritorious students and promoting failure among those students who did not display early signs of academic merit. A new variable did prove significant, with a modest beta of .08. This measures the student's average rate of progress through elementary school by dividing his number of terms in school by the number of half grade-levels achieved. A rate of one therefore represents normal progress at one grade per year, while a rate of less than one means that a student skipped and a rate of more than one means that a student repeated. Even after controlling for high school GPA, this factor exerted some impact on a student's chances for graduation, ranging from 26 percent for a student who flunked during elementary school to 37 percent for those who skipped ahead. This variable—along with the age factor that helps predict it—may have acted as a grade-school ability label. Success in grade school may have provided the student with a sense of academic empowerment that encouraged him to persist at the high school even when his grades may not have been encouraging. In like fashion gradeschool failure may have been able to undercut high school success for a student. These good-student/bad-student elementary-school labels may also have influenced the perceptions that high school professors formed of their students, reinforcing the high school's own ability label. Another new factor in this equation is the number of absences per term, intended to be a measure of student attentiveness to studies. On average, as expected, graduates had 3.9 absences and non-graduates 5.8. However, the predicted graduation rate for students with no absences turned out to be quite low, simply because threequarters of these students had dropped out during the first term in school. Putting the "none" category aside, students with between three and thirteen absences per term had above average predicted graduation rates, while this rate declined for those with more than thirteen absences.

194

APPENDIX D Table D. 1 Graduation Rates of Central High School Students by Curriculum, 1910 and 1920 (weighted) Graduation Rates 1910

1920

N

%

N

%

Academic Commercial Mechanical Industrial

233 127

41.2 25.2 — —

259 132 70 201

40.6 11.4 35.7 15.0

TOTAL Missing cases

360 36

Curriculum

662 28

Source: Student records.

Cohort had a significant effect on graduation. Before adjustments, 34 percent of the 1910 students graduated compared with only 25 percent of those entering in 1920. I noted earlier that the 1910 rate was unusually high for a school that graduated an average of only 27 percent between 1838 and 1920. The explanation derives from curriculum: students were graduating more often because the school was becoming more college preparatory in character. The reason for the dramatic decline in graduation rates between 1910 and 1920 also involves curriculum, as table D.I illustrates. Although academic students continued to graduate at a high rate in 1920, the rate for commercial students fell sharply and the rate for the newly added industrial students was quite low. Thus the cohort effect here is partly a proxy for curriculum, which had to be excluded from this model because it interacts with both class and grades. When MCA takes into account the other variables, however, the effect of cohort on graduation reverses, producing adjusted rates for 1910 and 1920 of 29 and 35 percent, respectively. The reason for the switch is that at the same time that curriculum changes were depressing graduation rates, grade point averages were falling even faster—from 2.42 in 1910 to 2.06 in 1920. Thus, if grades are held constant, students in 1920 graduated at a higher rate than those entering in 1910. In a twocohort sample it is difficult to explain why GPA declined so sharply. The new courses were not the cause, for the averages of academic and commercial students were lower in 1920 as well. The most likely explanation is that grades were high in 1910 for the same reason that the graduation rate was so high that year, because of an infusion of unusually able students into the high school's college preparatory curriculum. The two covariates in this model added little to its ability to predict graduation, contributing only .006 to the R2. Number of latenesses per term was not significant, while school frequency was barely significant with, as usual, a mildly positive effect.

195

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204

Index

Absences per term, 60, 1 94 Academic achievement, 5, 27, 30, 36-37, 49-50 Admission to high school, 6, 27, 30. See also Entrance examination, high school Age at admission, 56, 190 Alumni, occupations of, 21, 139-40, 15961 American Association for the Advancement of Science, 138 Association of American Geologists, 138 Autonomy of Central High School, 4, 7, 8892 Bache, Alexander, 28, 35, 62, 83, 108; background of, 12, 137-38; founding of Central, 12-15, 17; on meritocratic pedagogy, 26; on practical curriculum, 137-39, 141-43, 150 Baldwin, Matthias, 138 Bargaining, 179 Barnard, Henry, 68 Bernstein, Basil, 136, 141 Biddle family, 49 Birthplace of family head, 60, 192 Board of controllers of Philadelphia schools, 13,20 Bohrnstedt, George, 187 Boston English High School, 10, 16 Brooks, Edward, 86 Broome, Edward, 90 Brumbaugh, Martin, 85-86 Bureaucratic control of school system, 64, 93, 121, 130; growth of, 77-88 Bureaucratic governance. See Goverance of high school: bureaucratic Bureaucratization, 66, 97-98, 1 15

Carnoy, Martin, 177 Carter, Michael, 187 Case study method, 2-3 Census manuscripts, linking students to, 1 84 Centralization of control of school system, 67-70 Central Manual Training School, 47 82, 163-64 Character, 3, 17-19 Chanty schooling, 10 Citizenship training, 13-16, 19, 28 City College of New York, 84 Civic virtue, 14, 23, 29 Class, social, 189, 193, categories defined, 39-40, 185-88, distribution at Central, 40-44, 48-49, effect on graduation chances, 51-52 See also Employed middle class, Middle class, Proprietary middle class, Semiskilled working class, Skilled working class. Unskilled working class. Working class Classical course, 15-16, 21 Cohen, David, 1, 162, 177 Cohort, 190, 195 Collection code, 136, 149 College attendance, 1 59-60 College degrees, high school granted power to award, 109-10 College preparatory course, 6, 20, 48, 135, 150, 152, 169 Colleges in relation to high school, 7 1 Collegial governance of high school See Governance of high school collegia! Committee of Ten on Secondary School Studies, 153 Common schools, 4, 23, 26, 181-82, movement, 9-13, ideals of, 16

205

INDEX

Comprehensive high school, 7, 162-63 Contest mobility, 93 Cornog, William, 62 Counts, George, 45 Cox, Gary, 187 Credentials, high school, 67, 83, 128, 161; related to purposes of high school, 4, 6-8; related to market control of schools, 3 1 , 33; tied to meritocratic pedagogy, 38, 4748, 61-63; related to curriculum, 13537; use value of, 137, 162, 178; exchange value of, 161-62, 178; supply of, 16870; devaluation of, 176. See also Credentials market; Cultural property Credentials market, 1-2, 7-8; basis for power of high school, 31-35, 37, 93-96; role in reshaping curriculum, 165-72; disabling legacy for high school, 173-82 Cultural property, 4-5, 33-34, 37, 162, 172. See also Credentials, high school Cultural reproduction, 28. See also Social reproduction theory Curriculum, for the elementary grades, 78 Curriculum, high school, 3, 5, 14-16, 68; shift to college preparatory, 115-16; changes in, 1 34-72; effects on careers, 139-40, 159-61; privatization of, 14248; academic and commercial courses compared, 152-59; class differences by, 157-59; in comprehensive high school, 163-65. See also Classical course; Collegepreparatory course; Elementary course; Industrial course; Mechanical course; Practical curriculum; Principal course; Stratified curriculum Cusick, Philip, 179 Davey, Ian, 45 Democratic politics and the high school, 36, 1 34, 1 70; tension with market pressures, 1, 3, 5, 8, 10; related to origins of high school, 23, 26; related to market control of schools, 64, 79-80, 95-96. See also Markets and the high school Differentiation of function within high school, 70-72 Diploma. See also Credentials, high school Discipline, 17-18, 29, 141 Dunlap, Thomas, 11, 13-14,26,28 Edison, Thomas, 143 Edmonds, Franklin, 9 1. Edwards, Richard, 121 Elementary course, 1 5 Elementary school progress, 194

Employed middle class, 31, 41-44, 47-48, 52, 191; defined, 39-40, 185-86 Entrance examination, high school, 4, 6, 27, 31,1 30; role in market control of schools, 67-68, 70, 73, 78, 80-82. See also Market control of school system Exchange value. See Credentials, high school Faculty meeting. See Professors, high school Faires' Classical Institute, 49 Family structure, 60 Farrar, Eleanor, 177 Female head of family, 1 9 1 Founders of Central High School, 1 3, 28 Framing, 135. See also Collection code; Integrated code Franklin, Benjamin, 12, 126, 142 Franklin Institute, 1 38 Galenson, David, 187 General Electric Company, 142 Girard College for Orphans, 12, 138 Girls High School, 67, 73, 82, 85, 90, 99, 105-06 Girls Normal School, 72. See also Girls High School Goodlad, John, 181 Governance of high school: bureaucratic, 122-25; collegial, 6, 108-17, 120-25, 137; internal, 5,97 Graded schools, 70-7 1 Grades, student, 5, 17, 27, 141, 189, 191, 193; effect on graduation, 52-60 Graduation, high school, 3, 27, 157; analyzing chances for, 51-60, 189-95 Grammar school frequency, 189-90, 195 Grammar school masters, 4, 27, 68; status of, 99-106 Grammar schools, 27, 30, 32, 56; relationship with high school, 68-72, 78-80, 1 30 Hamilton, Ontario, 45 Haney, John, 62, 124-25 Hart, John, 13, 28, 30,62, 112, 122, 141, 143; on moral education, 17-19; on practical education, 19-21; response to opponents, 35; promoting market control, 68, 72-75 Harvard University, 17, 75-76 High school, failure of American, 175-82 High school attendance, 38-51 Hogan, David, 70, 92 Houston, Edwin, 142

206

INDEX

Ideology: embedded in the early high school, 9, 12-13, 17-23, 27-30, 33; integrating the high school curriculum, 1 3639, 141-43, 148 Industrial course, 7, 157 Integrated code, 136, 141, 148

Meritocratic pedagogy, 4, 7 in the early high school, 13, 19, 23, 26-32, reflected in student achievement data 36-38, 5164, persistence of, 62-63 Meritocratic principle 92 107 See also Market principle Meyer, John 131-32 Middle class, 4, 7-8, relationship with early high school. 12, 15-16, 21,27-31, impact of meritocratic pedagogy on, 36-38, 40-41, 45, relationship with later high school, 165-72 See also Employed middle class, Proprietary middle class Modernization theory, 127, 171 Moral education in early high school, 3, 13, 16-19, 23, 29, end of, 140-42 Multiple classification analysis, assumptions of, 187-88 Multiple classification analysis of graduation, 55-60

Johnson, Henry, 116, 120-22, 150, 152-53 Journal of the Franklin Institute, 1 38 Kaestle, Carl, 12 Katz, Michael, 45, 67 Kousser, Morgan, 187 Lancaster, Joseph, 1 1 Larson, Magali, 120 Latenesses per term, 195 Levin, Henry, 177 Linking students to census manuscripts, 184 Loose coupling, 90, 112, 131-33 Lortie, Dan, 112 MacAIister, James, 148 Maguire, Nicholas, 112-13, 120, 132, 141, 143 Market capitalism, 12, 23, 33 Market control of school system, 4, 65, 6676; attack on, 77-80; mixed with bureaucratic control, 80-84. See also Bureaucratic control of school system; Credentials, high school; Credentials market; Entrance examination, high school; Market position of the high school Market position of the high school, 2, 6, 8, 32, 77; decline in, 1 1 6-20; effect on curriculum, 130-31, 134-35, 1 65. Seealso Credentials, high school; Credentials market Market principle, 50, 60. See also Meritocratic principle Markets and the high school: tension with politics, 1 — 10 passim; impact on early high school, 13, 23, 26, 28; connection with meritocratic achievement, 36, 50, 60; impact on professors' status, 64-65, 93, 95-96; impact on curriculum, 134, 170-72; legacy, 173-82. See also Democratic politics and the high school Massachusetts, 10 Mechanical course, 7, 1 57 Meritocracy, 3, 5, 36-37, 130 Meritocratic achievement. See Meritocratic pedagogy Meritocratic contest, shaping the, 92-96 Meritocratic ideology, 26, 50, 60, 1 14. See also Ideology

Pattison, Robert, 8b Pavel, Sheldon, 180 Pennsylvania laws law of 1819 76, law of 1834 l l , l a w o f / S 3 6 10-1 1, 76, law of 1867 76-77, law of 1905 76, 85, law of 1911 76,85-86,95 People's College, 21,23 Perlmann, Joel, 45 Philadelphia schools, organizational history of, 65-96 passim Philadelphia Social History Project, 184 Philadelphia Trades School, 89, 163-64 Politics See Democratic politics and the high school Powell, Arthur, 177 Practical curriculum, 3, 5-6, 48, in the early high school, 13, 19-23, 29, abandoned, 115-16, 134-40, 143, 149-50, 169 President, executive authority of, 108, 1 1213 Principal course, 15-16, 20-22 Principal, high school See President, executive authority of Professions, 167-68 Professors, high school, 4-6, 18, 68, 97133, autonomy of, 98, 107-17, 120, sta tus of, 98-106, 116-17, recruitment of, 106-07, 1 17-20, divisions among, 11516, subordination of, 1 15-33, impact of changes on, 126-31 Progressivism, 85-88 Proletarianization, 33, 98, 125-26 Proprietary middle class, 3, 52, 60, 191, connection with early high school, 31, 33-

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INDEX Social reproduction theory, 50, 172 Sources, 2, 38. See also Records Sponsored mobility, 93 Steel, Edward, 82-83 Stratified curriculum, 6-7, 169-70; shift toward, 148-53; institutionalization of, 153-59; characteristics of, 161-62 Student attainment, 36, 51-60 Student sample, 38, 183 Subordination of high school, 85-88

Proprietary middle class continued 35; defined, 39-40, 185-86; proportion of student body, 41-46; special role of, 46-48; interest in curriculum, 162, 166-67, 172 Protestantism, 3,5, 13 Pullin, Diana, 179 Purposes of high school, public vs. private, I, 3, 5, 9, 13, 19. See also Democratic politics and the high school; Markets and the high school Qualifications for office, 72-73 Records, 73-74. See also Sources Republicanism, 3, 5, 13-14, 16, 29 Restoration of high school's position, 66, 90-92. See also Market position of the high school Rice, Wilbur, 142 Riche, George, 62, 113, 115, 122, 143, 148, 150, 152 Roosevelt, Theodore, 86 Rowan, Brian, 131-32 Rudolph, Frederick, 16 Ryan, Mary, 185 Sedlak, Michael 179 Semiskilled working class, 39-40, 191. See also Unskilled working class Sex of head of family, 60 Siblings, 192-93 Silver, Harold, 2 Skilled working class, 41-44, 52, 186; defined, 39-40 Smithsonian Institution, 138 Smyth, Albert, 107

Teachers. See Professors, high school Thompson, Robert, 62, 87, 122, 153, 162 63 Thomson, Elihu, 142 Thorpe, Francis, 107 Troen, Selwyn, 45 Turner, Ralph, 93 United States Coast Survey, 1 38 University of Pennsylvania, 12,87, 122, 138, 184 Unskilled working class, 41-44, 52, 191; defined, 39-40, 186. See also Semiskilled working class Vaux, Roberts, 1 1 Veysey, Laurence, 16 Vocationalism, 5, 22-23, 163, 170 West Point, 12, 17, 137 Wheeler, Christopher, 179 Wicbe, Robert, 185 Working class, 41, 60. See also Semiskilled working class; Skilled working class; Unskilled working class

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