My mother’s first class in 1931.

In the 1930s USA, with devaluation of property and/or taxes often unpaid, many school districts were forced to cut corners by paying teachers less, charging tuition or shortening academic terms. Additionally, parents often couldn’t afford clothing, supplies, and textbooks their children needed to attend school. These difficulties were amplified by existing class and racial barriers.

In 1933 there were 200,000 unemployed teachers; 2.2 million children out of school; and 2000 rural schools in twenty-four states failed to open. Many, including the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, maintained that America could no longer afford universal public education and advocated closing schools or restricting curricula to vocational training.