Creating Modern Day Schools
By the 20th century, more suburbs were emerging in Montgomery County. With more students and government involvement in education, the number of one room school houses diminished. Many communities joined each other to make larger public schools.
Norristown High School Class Ring, HSMC Collection
After World War II, Pennsylvania was one of many states to consolidate local school districts. The goal for consolidation was to eliminate small schools that could not keep up with a standardized curriculum. Since much of the funding for public schools comes from local taxes, smaller and poorer towns were unable to obtain enough tax revenue to support a school. However, some small districts like Jenkintown had enough financial resources to meet the state's requirements to remain independent.
NHS Pin from Collegeville-Trappe High School, HSMC Collection
When the county boards of school directors made plans to eliminate small districts, some people opposed it. Fears that consolidation would raise taxes reduce community spirit, and bring African Americans from the city to the suburbs were some of the reasons people opposed this plan.
Segregated Powell Street School in Norristown, HSMC Collection
Until the 1954 case of Brown v. Board of Education, Blacks could legally be segregated in schools. Such discrimination caused civil rights protests in places like Norristown and Abington. Such protests even convinced Lower Merion School District to close the Ardmore Avenue Elementary School in 1963. Although legally segregation is not allowed, many local schools are still divided heavily along race and poverty lines.
Ardmore Avenue School, Photo credit: Lower Merion School District
Types of Schools in PA Today Exhibit Home Page Funding, Segregation, and Education Inequality