The History of Cheney State Normal School

History of the State Normal School
At Cheney
Chapter 10


By Holice, Pam, and Deb

Extra special thanks to Holice B. Young for transcribing book.  The excellent work she does continues to help many researchers!  Thanks also, to Pam Rietsch, for sharing her books with genealogists!


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"The teachers college has come up from below, bringing with it certain traditions which if finds difficult to shale off. As late as twenty-five years ago the chief effort of the teachers college, then a normal school, was directly in line of coaching candidates for teachers' certificates to be secured through county examinations. The matter of the course offered was of eighth-grade rank, with a few subjects reaching up into high-school. The work of the teachers college then came to be of high-school rank. Fifteen to twenty years ago courses of college rank were offered, but the large enrollment in the normal school of that day was found in the high-school department. for many years students enrolled in the normal school came, in the main, from districts where high-school advantages were lacking. These students needed a certain definite line of preparation, which was of secondary character, but which was different from the work done in the ordinary secondary school, due to the fact that the normal-school student was much older than the student found in the public schools. In this connection, it ought to be said, to the credit of the normal school, that it worked faithfully at the task assigned it; but the character of the task was such as to develop in the school a feeling that the work of the normal school need not conform to generally-accepted academic standards. This inheritance has come down to the teachers' college of today and has caused that institution to be viewed with no little suspicion by the so-called old-line colleges.

The foregoing might well be considered a statement summarizing the normal school situation in Washington, but it is far more comprehensive than that. It is part of an address delivered on February 25, 1922, at Chicago, by Thomas W. Butcher, president of the Kansas State Normal School at Emporia. And from it one must infer that the evolution of teachers colleges in Washington has been quite like that of similar institutions in other states. . The problems the State Normal School at Cheney has faced in the past have been faced by normal schools elsewhere; the problems confronting the institution today are not confined to it alone. The teachers college is the product of educational evolution. It has, as President Butcher said, "come up from below," and some time is needed to enable it to shake itself loose from past traditions and to win the confidence of those who now look with jealousy and suspicion.

In attempting to understand why the "old-line college" looks askance at the efforts of the new teachers college to invade the intellectual field that heretofore has been reserved for traditional colleges and universities, it would be well very briefly to survey the history of normal-school development in the United States. Changes are taking place so rapidly that the minds of people

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lag behind achievement, and it is not surprising to discover that many persons today are thinking in terms of something which no longer exists. The colleges are familiar with the status of the normal schools a generation ago, when the normal schools were, from the collegiate point of view, very inferior institutions, and most college men and women have been so intent on doing the work offered by their respective institutions that they have remained unaware of the great transformation which has come over normal schools in recent years. Not realizing fully what has happened, they are naturally suspicious. The problem of the teachers college today is to allay that fear; to "make good" in terms of the academic excellence which the traditional colleges demand. It can be and is being done.

It is a wide gulf which separates the earliest normal school in the United States from the present-day teachers college. Near the middle of the eighteenth century Benjamin Franklin was beginning to see the desirability of establishing an institution that would " qualify a number of the poorer sort of act as school masters," and Thomas Jefferson urged that the "next brightest pupils" should become teachers. It was not until well after the opening of the nineteenth century that many persons were giving serious attention to the subject of careful preparation of teachers for their work. In the early years of that century attempts were made to give such training in monitorial schools in Atlantic coast cities, but they were not successful.

"The first successful school for the training of teachers in the United States, was a seminary established in 1823 at Concord, Vermont, by Samuel Hall. In 1830 Hall took charge of the teacher-training department at Phillips Andover Academy in Massachusetts, and in 1837 of a similar department at Plymouth, New Hampshire. In 1829 Hall's 'Lectures on School-Keeping' appeared--the first book in this country on the subject of teaching. This book was widely used among the teachers in service in the Atlantic states and in Kentucky. It advocated the establishment of separate institution for the preparation of teachers

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and emphasized the necessity of improving the schools by improving the teachers."

After 1823 interest in teacher-training in the United States increased. Numerous public addresses on this subject were made, articles were published, and petitions were sent to state legislatures. Finally, in 1838, the Massachusetts legislature passed the Normal School Act. The following year two normal schools were opened, one at Lexington and the other at Barre. In 1840 a third institution was established at Bridgewater. Meantime New York was experimenting with a plan for state assistance for academies which were training teachers, and other states took up the idea; but this plan failed wherever tried. In 1844 a normal school was established at Albany, New York, and in 1860 there were fifteen such institution in operation in the United States--in Massachusetts, New York, Pennsylvania, Connecticut, Michigan, Rhode Island, Iowa, New Jersey, Illinois and Minnesota.

Courses of study in these institutions varied from one to three years, but the two-year course eventually became standardized. Subjects, for the mot part, were limited to the common branches, with just a smattering of methods and theory of teaching. In most of these schools students were required to declare their intention to become teachers, to take an entrance examination, and to offer evidence of intellectual fitness.

The normal-school idea grew rapidly after the Civil War, and by 1910 virtually all of the state of the Union had enacted legislation for the establishment of teacher-training institution. The idea has found root in many of the southern states since the opening of the twentieth century. Kentucky enacted such a law in 1906, Alabama in 1907, Tennessee in 1909, and Mississippi in 1910.

With the growth of the idea that teachers need more than a minimum of preparation in order to do their work effectively has developed the idea of the teachers college--an institution with a curriculum designed to meet the special needs of teachers, just as a college of engineering endeavors to train engineers for their profession. In 1890, the year that the State Normal School at Cheney was founded, the State Normal School at Albany, New York, was reorganized as a teachers college, and in 1897 the Michigan State Normal School became the Michigan State Normal College, with the power to confer degrees. Other normal schools followed slowly until the late war gave the movement the added stimulus. There were on January 1, 1918, the following teachers colleges in the United States:

Colorado State Teachers College

Greeley, Colorado

Southern Illinois State Normal College

Carbondale, Illinois

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Illinois State Normal University

Normal, Illinois

Western Illinois State Normal School

Macomb, Illinois

Indiana State Normal School

Terre Haute, Indiana

Iowa State Teachers College

Cedar Falls, Iowa

State Normal School

Emporia, Kansas

Fort Hays State Normal School

Hays, Kansas

State Manual Training Normal School

Pittsburgh, Kansas

Michigan State Normal College

Ypsilanti, Michigan

State Normal School

Cape Girardeau, MO 

State Normal School

Kirksville, Missouri

State Normal School

Maryville, Missouri

State Normal School

Springfield, Missouri

State Normal School

Warrensburg, Missouri

State Normal School

Chadron, Nebraska

State Normal School

Kearney, Nebraska

State Normal School

Peru, Nebraska

State Normal School

Wayne, Nebraska

New Mexico Normal University

Las Vegas, New Mexico

New York State College for Teachers

Albany, New York

State Normal College

Bowling Green, Ohio

State Normal College

Kent, Ohio

State Normal College of Miami Univ.

Oxford, Ohio

State Normal College of Ohio University

Athens, Ohio

Winthrop Normal and Industrial College

Rock Hill, S. Carolina

State Normal School of Univ. of Utah

Sale Lake City, Utah

"During the period of teacher shortage and of small attendance on teacher-training institutions, the forward movement continued. The fact that genuine teachers colleges suffered less in attendance than the two-year normal schools proved a powerful argument for the general raising of standards and the extension of courses to the four-year length. The widespread increase in teachers' salaries also exerted a favorable impulse to the teachers college movement. The efforts of the institutions themselves, especially through the American Association of Teachers Colleges, have stimulated the advance. The Fourteenth Bulletin of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching, largely a survey of the normal school of Missouri by Dr. Learned and Dr. Bagley, has aroused much profitable self-examination in teacher-training institutions and is now profoundly affecting these colleges throughout the country.

"In February of 1922 there was in the United States, according to data gathered by president J. F. Evjen of Mayville, North Dakota, one hundred sixty-seven institutions for the preparation of teachers. Ninety-one of these are giving four years of college work; twenty-four, three years; and fifty-two, two years.

"Leaders among teachers colleges conservatively believe with President Kirk who says: 'The short course normal school, prematurely cut off at the end of the second year above high school, cannot be regarded a permanency. Its inadequacy too often has to be explained by those who love it best. In many states it has been, and in some states it is now, reasonably serviceable. It is representative of a transition stage. It will be outgrown because good teachers cannot be made out of typical high school graduates in two years' time.

"The American Teachers College is in the making. Its progress of the past ten years is almost unbelievable. It is to make a record history during the com-

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ing decade if the normal schools see fit to accept the task of having a definite part in constructive education instate and nation."

On February 27, 1922, the committee on teachers colleges reported to the National Council of Education that the "movement to convert two-year normal schools into four-year teachers colleges is sound in policy and should be encouraged by all the friends of public education."

Briefly summarized, the conclusions of this committee were as follows:

That this development is in complete harmony with the general advancement of organized education; that the movement as yet has not passed beyond the experimental stage; that the spirit of rivalry between normal-schools and college and universities should give way to a policy of co-operation; that normal schools should take the name of "teachers colleges" as rapidly as they get on a collegiate basis; that teachers colleges should standardize their courses to "square" with college standards.

Attention is called by the committee to the fact that normal schools were created in New England "for the definite purpose of furnishing teachers for the elementary schools." In other parts of the country, however, where normal schools were created at the same time the state colleges and universities were established, a different condition obtained. "While unquestionably it was conceived that their function primarily was to serve the elementary schools, the situation in which they found themselves drew them into a broader line of activity. The colleges and universities were not meeting the need for trained teachers for the high schools, and normal schools were called upon to supply the demand; consequently, without any predetermination on their part, they extended their curricula of training into the secondary field, and, as a result, in the middle west the normal schools from their beginning have trained a fair percentage of the teachers who have gone into the secondary schools. What has been true of the middle west has been true largely of the west and south"

One of the chief reasons for the transition of normal schools to teachers colleges has been the economic. Teachers are drawn very largely from families of modest means. It is estimated that instruction in a normal school for a year cost more then sixty per cent as much as a year of instruction ina university. Consequently, by extending the scope of normal-school activity, it becomes possible for more person to fit themselves adequately for the teaching profession. Furthermore, normal schools have found it a difficult matter to sustain faculties of a high degree of educational attainment with a limited course of two yeas, and the lack of the influence of the upper-classmen on the campus has been greatly felt. Two years are not sufficient for the development of the true college spirit and ideals. Lastly, but not least in importance, has been the number of high-school graduates has flooded the colleges and the universities, and no longer are officials of these institution standing in the way of

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further development of the normal schools." Such developments, they are beginning to feel, will relieve, to a considerable extent, the present congestion in colleges and universities.

"It will probably be a surprise to many to learn that during the last ten years teachers colleges in the group reporting have conferred 6,440 bachelor degrees, and during the past five years, 4,409, and in 1920-21, 1,228, and that in the current year there are enrolled 12,061 students in the four-year courses. The figures bear convincing testimony to the service teachers colleges are rendering in supplying college trained teachers to the school system of the state."

Agitation for teachers colleges in Washington is of late origin. It was not until 1917 that provision was made for the advanced collegiate courses, and the fourth year of work was not established until 1920. With the establishment of three courses, and the evidence of a desire on the part of many students to complete them, the logic of events has demanded that the normal schools become teachers colleges in name as well as in fact. Need of adequately trained teachers was demonstrated during the war no less in Washington than in other states, and the congestion in the University of Washington after the war was as great as in the universities of other states. Hence we find a sympathetic attitude on the part of University of Washington officials when the proposal is set forth to confer upon the normal schools of the state the power to grant degrees to those who have completed the four-year course."

Despite the "wave of economy" which was sweeping over the state, and the danger of misunderstanding on the part of those who were unfamiliar with the normal-school problem, it was deemed wise by friends of the normal schools of the state to pay the matter of normal-school degrees before the eighteenth (1923) regular session of the Washington legislature. The governor, however, referring tithe problem of normal schools in his message to the legislature, had intimated that he would not approve any plan to advance the normal schools to the rank of teachers colleges. He said:

"In 1917 the legislature, in providing a course of study for the institutions of higher learning, provided a three-year course for our normal schools, and also authorized an advanced four-year course effective in 1920. The autumn enrollment for the three normal schools, as reported by the board of higher curricula, shows that in 1920 there were enrolled in the third-year course seventeen students and in the fourth-year course three students. In 1921 there were fourteen students in the third-year course and none in the fourth-year course. And in 1922 there were thirty-one in the third-year course and two in the fourth-year course. It would therefore appear that there is no great demand for the advanced third and fourth-year college work in our normal schools"

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"The report of the board of high curricula shows that last year, besides those taking a general course with the expectation of receiving a teacher's diploma, there were enrolled and majoring in educational theory and practice in the University of Washington three hundred nine students and in the Washington State College one hundred thirty-three. All of these have the advantage of the full four years of college work. If the third and fourth-year advanced courses are continued in normal schools, it means the changing of these schools into teachers training colleges, conferring degrees, and adding all of the extra expense and cost of the advanced college work. Until it is made to appear that the university and the state college are unable to successfully and properly care for the teachers-training college work, we ought to retain our normal schools as normal schools for the preparation of elementary teachers. I therefore recommend the repeal of that part of Chapter X of the Laws of 1917 authorizing the advanced third and fourth-year courses in our normal schools."

The recommendation of the governor was not received with much favor by the teachers of the state, and when Senator E. J. Cleary of Whatcom County introduced a bill authorizing the normal schools to confer degrees on graduates of the four-year course letter urging the passage of the measure came from all section of the state. The Spokane Chamber of Commerce, after a careful consideration of the matter, urged the passage of the bill in the general interest of education.

But the measure was not passed. It died in the rules committee of the senate, whither to had been send following a divided report of the senate committee on educational institutions.

The "degree bill," Senate bill No. 201, Sessions of 1923, was as follows"

"The degree of bachelor of arts in education may be granted to any student finishing one of the advanced four-year course of study in the state normal schools in the State of Washington: Provided, said course of study is authorized in accordance with the prescribed law and represents four years of advanced work in teacher training.

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As a companion measure Senate Bill No. 202 designed to amend certain sections of Chapter X, Sessions Laws, 1917, to provide that the "Major line of the professional training of teachers, school supervisors and school superintendents may also be offered and taught in the state normal schools." An amendment was also made in the wording of the 1917 law so that there would be no doubt about the limitation of graduate work to the University of Washington, and to the State College of Washington. Furthermore, the monopoly of training teachers for the elementary schools, which had been conferred upon the normal schools in 1917, was to be taken away by this bill. But Senate Bill 202, like the degree bill, failed to get a place on the senate calendar.

When the legislature adjourned in March, 1923, the normal school situation remained unchanged. The third and fourth years of work were not abolished, but nothing more had been done to help the normal schools to get on a real collegiate basis. Then the question of the extent of the authority of the board of trustees in such matters was raised, in Seattle, on May 5, 1923, it was voted unanimously to authorize the conferring of degrees upon the graduates of the four-year course in June, 1923. However, at the suggestion of the governor, the question was later referred to the attorney-general, who ruled that existing statutes do not confer upon normal-school boards of trustees, even by implication, the power to confer degrees upon students who have completed the prescribed normal-school course.

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The ruling of the attorney-general prevents the normal schools from granting degrees before the legislature of 1925 convenes. Undoubtedly, the matter will again be presented to the legislature at that time, and educators of the state are expected to be virtually unanimous in supporting it. Meantime, although a steady growth may be anticipated, the three and four-year courses of the Normal School cannot hope to attain their greatest importance. Unless a four-year school course leads to a degree, the public will not understand. The magic of a degree is a powerful lure and can be justified to the extent that it is an incentive for professional improvements.

With the power to grant degrees must also come a new name for the Normal School. The very name "Normal School," in the minds of the people at large, carries the implication of something inferior--a sort of second-rate institution where poorly-prepared students are turned out at a terrific speed to fill the school-teaching positions of the state. Even though the normal school course may be approved by reputable institutions as meeting the requirements for graduate work, and even though the degree-granting power may be conferred, if there is no change in the name, the institution will continue to work under a handicap. A teachers college, although meaning no more so far as the course of study is concerned, is much more "dignified" than a normal school. The new name will inspire confidence.

That these changes will come within a few years seems evident. The tendency of the times is toward the teachers college. Washington, ever striving

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to be at the head of educational affairs, will not delay long in doing what has proved to be good in other states. Just when the change will take place, however, nobody can say. Perhaps it will come in two years; perhaps in six. When the public becomes thoroughly convinced of the desirability of the change agitation will assume such proportions that the legislature, seeking to give expression to the collective will and judgment of the people of the state, will provide for the transition as a matter of course. It is in such ways the orderly process of change goes on with in the body politic.




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