Carroll County school system has come a long way in 148 years [Commentary]

The beginning of the Carroll County school year is less than two weeks away. Stores are advertising back-to-school sales as folks prepare for the end of summer vacation and the first day of school on Aug. 26.

This news is greeted with sadness for those of us who relish every minute of summer. But guess what? New teachers reported to work last Friday.

The history of Carroll County schools dates back to the end of the Civil War. Carroll County first formed a public school system on Aug. 7, 1865.

Five years later, there were 86 male and 34 female teachers in Carroll County, according to the "First Annual Report of the State Supt. of Public Instruction for the School Year ending September 30, 1870."

Contrast that with today. According to information on the school system's website, "Approximately 3,500 people are employed by the school system. … The system is made up of twenty-two elementary schools, nine middle schools, eight high schools, two career and technology centers, one special education center, and the Gateway School …"

"In 1920 Carroll County owned 125 school buildings and rented fourteen more. Of the 139 school buildings operated by the county, 107 had only a single teacher. There were 13 schools where two teachers taught and only nine schools had three or more teachers," according to research by historian Jay Graybeal for the Historical Society of Carroll County.

At that time, Graybeal reports, "Teaching the nearly 7,500 students was a faculty of 208; 181 taught elementary school and 27 were high school teachers. The teaching profession in 1920 was by far an occupation for single women. Of the 158 female teachers working in the county, only nine were married. The School Board's strong preference for unmarried female teachers is reflected in a resolution adopted during the 1928-1929 school year that barred married women from teaching, except in special cases …"

As a matter of fact, "PTA Magazine," published in 1915, according to "Schoolbells and Slates," authored by Joan Prall, gave these rules for female teachers. … "No smoking of cigarettes, No loitering around ice cream stores. No dressing in bright colors. … No marrying during the term of the contract. No going out between eight o'clock in the evening and six o'clock in the morning."

Moreover, Graybeal notes, "Maryland schools were also segregated. Carroll's 1920 student population included 6,852 elementary students of which 456 were black. Six local high schools taught 571 students all of whom were white. Teaching at these six high schools were thirteen teachers at Westminster, six at Mt. Airy, three at Taneytown, four at Union Bridge, three at Sykesville, four at Hampstead and one at Manchester…"

Today, more than 27,000 students are enrolled in Carroll County Public Schools, making Carroll the ninth largest school system in Maryland, according to information on the school system's website.

When he is not reminiscing over old high school yearbooks, Kevin Dayhoff may be reached at or @kevindayhoff on Twitter.

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