The more things change….
Just for fun, I found this in a 1909 Chicago Guidebook:
The public school system of Chicago consists of graded schools, high schools, evening schools, corporate or county schools (industrial schools, reformatories, orphan asylums, etc,) the Chicago Normal School, Yale Practice, and the Parental Schools. In the list of High Schools in Chicago those offering special instruction are the Crane Manual Training School, the Hoyne Manual Training School, South Division Manual Training School and the Lane Technical High School, the latter just completed in 1908. The total number of high schools in the city is 19 and of graded schools 281. New school buildings constantly are being added to the large number in the city yet complaint frequently is heard of the inadequacy of the accommodations. (What? Chicago parents complaining they want more schools?!) The total enrollment of pupils in the schools for the year 1906-7 was 286,766. Public school instruction, as already noted is also provided for the blind, deaf, crippled, and delinquent.
The entire system is under control of the Board of Education whose headquarters are in the Tribune Building, Dearborn and Madison Sts. It embraces every phase of school life, from kindergartens and truant schools to high schools, academies, and institutions for advanced training in the arts and sciences.
A compulsory school law is enforced by a corps of truant officers. All children under 14 are compelled to attend school, except in special cases where permits are issued to allow them to work. Free evening and vacation schools are maintained by the city which are largely attended by young men and girls employed during the day. The total number of teachers employed is more than 6,000. The annual expenditure for the maintenance of the Chicago Public school system is approximately $8,000,000.
(If the $8 million seems low, as a point of reference, the guide book says that a room at the Palmer House hotel went for $1.50 a night. The price for a ride in a 1-horse vehicle was 1-2 people for 50 cents/mile, and a streetcar ride was 5-10 cents.)
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