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Tuesday, September 4, 2012

“More Life and Less Latin”: The GEB, Model Schools, and Vocational Education

By Nancy Adgent @2012. All rights reserved by the author.

Frederick T. Gates,
   GEB Chairman
Several researchers have studied the General Education Board’s work in the rural South, yet little attention has been given to the GEB’s initiatives elsewhere. Established in 1903 by John D. Rockefeller to aid education in the U.S. "without distinction of race, sex or creed," the Board’s primary purpose was to improve the South’s agrarian economy by educating poor rural children, especially blacks; however, the GEB funded education projects and institutions countrywide. In the early 20th Century, as states mandated school tax support and attendance, student populations increased, producing a corresponding rise in expenditures, causing taxpayer outcries, and forcing states to seek private aid and ways to economize. One popular solution was to consolidate schools, particularly in rural areas. New requirements for teacher certification, building standards, and inclusion of vocational courses added to burgeoning costs. GEB records trace these shifts in philosophy and document the Board’s role in shaping contemporary education.