School Uncertainties in 1944 and 2020
With all the discussion about COVID-19 and reopening schools, I have been reminded of another time in our country’s history when going to school was complicated and unsure. During World War II, education suffered. Many students and teachers dropped out of school to enlist in the war effort. According to The Edvocate, high school enrollment dropped from 6.7 million in 1941 to 5.5 million in 1944. In addition to this, only about two-thirds of the pre-war teaching staff were still teaching by 1944. Funding was also directed away from education to our country’s defense.
Despite the challenges, there were some positive outcomes during this time. Women were given more educational training and employment opportunities. Following the war and through the Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944 (G.I. Bill), many veterans gained a college education. History.com estimates that almost 49 percent of college students in 1947 were veterans. The bill gave many working class Americans the opportunity for higher education.
One area of education did improve for all during World War II – geography! As Americans across the nation read their newspapers and listened to their radios for news about the war and loved ones whereabouts, they learned of many places across the world they never knew existed before! What good can we bring out of today’s school uncertainties?
“During the next few days, more and more reports began feeding the country’s insatiable appetite for information, and everyone’s vocabulary changed with place names like Utah Beach, Pointe du Hoc, and Omaha Beach.”
Songbird, Chapter 47