Monthly Archives: September 2017

The Advent of Lowell’s High School in 1834

Meeting on 3/10/1834

Present:   Theodore Edson, Pastor and School Committee

President

Messr’s. Barnaby, Graves, Merrill, Case, Haven

and Austin

The School Committee voted for Mr. James M.

Graves as Secretary

The School Committee’s business ended with the vote for Miss Esther Lew’s as the Instructress at the Lawrence Primary School in Lowell.  Edson and Austin were given the task of being “a  committee to  make the necessary arrangements.”  Clearly this group was bent on controlling education in early Lowell.  “The town voted to choose a general superintending School Committee to consist of seven (men) and Theodore Edson, James Barnaby, John W. Graves, Joshua Merrill, Eliphalet Case, and Samuel F. Haven were chosen on Tuesday the 4th. day of March.  William Austin was elected to fill the vacancy on the board.”  Samuel A. Coburn, Town Clerk.

In this important meeting, they “Voted that a third grammar school be established, (and) they “adjourned to meet in the Selectman’s Room on Monday next at 2 o:clock. ”  They bought books on 3/17/1834.   Third Grammar School elected Mr. D. Healey Master and Mr. James Whittier as Assistant Master.  At the North Grammar School they elected Mr. James Bean as the Assistant Master to fill out Mr. Healey’s term.

In important news, they appointed “Miss Abigail B.M. Barnaby Assistant for the North Grammar School.”  There were many female teachers in the One Room Schoolhouses of  Lowell, but this was the first female administrator in the town.  It was not yet a city.  They also appointed Miss Mary Sawyer as Assistant for the South Grammar School.”  Finally, they appointed Miss Martha B. Davis as the Second Assistant for the South Grammar School.  Two female appointees for the same school.  In that day, a woman could not be married and serve as a school teacher, much less an administrator.  That was because a married woman was believed to be in danger of getting pregnant and the school district did not want to explain pregnancy to the general public, especially the children.

They agreed to meet “tomorrow morning.”

At that meeting, they appointed “Mr. Austin as the Committee to Provide a Stove for the Third Grammar School room.”   He was supposed to “Make the necessary arrangements for its commencement.”

“They voted that the third Grammar School commence on Wednesday March 24, 1834 at the North Grammar School House.”  They also “voted to proceed to the election of teachers for the Primary Schools.”  Those schools consisted of the “Irish, Suffolk, Swamp Locks, the Baptist Meeting House, Central Street, Hamilton,  Power District, Chapel Hill.” schools.

They also voted at that meeting that the Committee proceed to the appointment of the salaries for the several Instructors.”  A School Master made $600.00 per year, while Assistants made $350.00 per year, female teachers made $175.00 per year, while the mysterious Writing Master made an elegant $400.00 per year.

They appointed Mr. Edson to supervise the North Grammar School, Pound District, and the Merrimack Primary Schools.”  Others were also appointed, while Belvidere  exercised its influence by getting two new schools (Primary) in its geographic area and having their charter state that graduates of the Primary Schools in Belvidere could attend the Grammar and High Schools but they had to make the High School in the Concert Hall on Merrimack Street.

Speaking of high schools, Lowell did not have one at this time.  The Committee was destined to make up for that oversight.  “Resolved as the sense of the Committee that it be expedient to establish a high school according to the laws of the Commonwealth and we will establish such school as soon as practicable.  Adjourned to Friday, April 11th. at  2 o:clock.  It had been a busy meeting and Belvidere got its two schools.

“Voted that Messr’s. Edson and Barnaby be a committee to receive of instructors in the High School.”

In the meeting on 4/14/1834 they fired Mr. Bean and replaced him with Joseph L.J. Crane.  They found that coal for the entire district for the last winter had cost $29.53.  They had to order blinds for the school houses.  Invoices for paying for the teachers salaries were paid for $35 teachers.  The town was growing.

They voted to “suspend the Irish School.”   That occurred on 8/3/1834 and was probably partially due to the insistence by Irish parents that their children attend Catholic schools.

They appointed Mr. Egan as subcommittee of the high school.  They started, in 1834, centralized testing and “That the Secretary publish the time of examinations in the Papers of the Town.”  Then they adjourned.

When they met again they stated that “Each of the above examinations will take place at 2 o:clock PM.”  There were ten Primary Schools  examinations.  The Irish School was back but it was relegated to hold its rent stipend to $80.00 per year and not to exceed that amount.  They voted that the High School room in Concert Hall on Merrimack Street “be used for no other purpose than for the High School.”  They even paid a carpenter named Mark Rogers for desks and seats at the high school.  The high school was not lightly dealth with.  “William D Dauncey be admitted to (give) examinations for admission to the high school.”   Custodians at the high school were paid fifty cents per week  “for sweeping and cleaning the stoves in the high school.”  In curriculum, “Approved rhetoric and review be used in the high school.”

The high school would become a major educational magnet in certain circles.  It was noted by the board that there were seventeen schools requiring twenty eight instructors.  In comparision Charlestown had 9,400 inhabitants wheras Lowell had 14,000 inhabitants.  Charlestown had 1,581 students to Lowell’s 2,300 students.

Lowell petitioned in early 1834 with the state to certify their new high school which was located in the Concert Hall on Merrimack Street.  Massive work was done to the Concert Hall to make it into a high school.  At one point the School Committee was forced to admit that “The High School had been closed since January last for lack of funds…to open the High School as soon as they should be able to save money enough to carry it through the year.”  {John W. Graves – Secretary Lowell School Committee, July 23, 1834}.

Again, you can check my conclusions by taking out the School Committee Minutes from 1834 to 1838.  It is available in the Memorial Library Research Room.  In my opinion, and based on my readings, the High School did not exist until 1834.  There was a three year high school educational program  which might have explained a graduation late in 1834.  All you needed at the time to be a teacher was a 7th. grade education.  A High School education was frosting on the cake.  A college education was unheard of at the time.  Even lawyers were not required to go to college.  They  just studied under other lawyers.  Thus, we have come a long way.

Cawley Site Makes No Cents

I spent twelve years working as an auditor and accountant.  I took accounting courses at UMASS-Lowell, as well as Suffolk University.   I do not talk about it because I loved teaching, but did not care for my previous work.  But I think I can use my experiences to make a simple statement about the Cawley site.  It makes no sense.

We have a useful building for a high school.  The 1922 building by itself is worth millions of dollars if used as an academic building.  The 1893 building further accents the argument.  It is in very good structural shape, and is a useful academic building.  The problem is that we are, if we choose another site to build on, throwing out the baby with the bath water.  Now, that saying comes from an old Pioneer custom, hot water on the Plains was hard to come by, so the first bath went to the head of the household.  After he was done, the second bath went to the mother.  As the water slowly cooled down the third bath went to the oldest child, and that continued until the water was so dirty that the baby was the last one washed in it.  It was easy to lose the baby in the muddy water.  He or she was the last one to use the by then, muddy water.  Losing the baby in the bathwater was a real possibility.  Thus the saying.

The baby in the high school argument is the 1980 building, it is perfectly useful but not currently in great shape.  That will come if we choose the right option.   It  will end up empty if we choose the Cawley option.  The 1922 building is the mother using the father’s dirty water.  She has to be utilized or the bath was a waste.  Finally, there is the 1893 building.  It can handle students but gets closed down while being perfectly useful in its handling of students.  The Freshman Academy is just out there.  Nobody wants to move it but it cannot, with the Cawley option, stay in the educational loop.  Each building can be used, we have just given up on them.  I know more about the history of those buildings than most people.  There is no logical reason to throw them out.  They are useful and pragmatic.

We are asking too much of the Cawley building.  It cannot do all of the things the current high school can do.  It will be too small and we are going to have to put in multi-millions of dollars to make it useful.  As is, it is too small for a swimming pool.  We have to be prepared for the building failing.  Millions are going to be spent to keep the aging building, and it will be aging in just a few short years.  It will not be new for long, because the constancy of  being like the 1980 building is great.  Leaky roofs are probably being factored in by the earliest architects. The Cawley will have problems from the beginning.  John McDonough  has a bunch of sheets on which are the need for maintenance of every school, including the newest ones, and the list is massive.  The Cawley building will be old before its time.  That is not being pessimistic, that is being realistic.

We have a full campus at the existing high school.  If you placed an educational value on the current high school, it would be in the hundreds of millions of dollars.  Let’s say 250 million dollars.  If you add the 336 million dollars offered by the state, we could have one heck of a building adding those two sites together and keeping the Freshman Academy where it is.  The minimal value would be 586 million dollars.  We would have a new high school for slightly over a half a billion dollars.  That means that the new building, which will cost approximately 336 million dollars, will be one heck of a building.

As I said, I was an auditor at Wang.  I once, working by myself for a day, found one million dollars for the corporation in maintenance costs which were not being billed.  That is one million dollars per year.  If Wang was still in business, and simply had that one audit intact, times twenty years since the inception of the audit, Wang would have an extra 20 million dollars.  We have some City Councilors who pride themselves on being able to add and subtract.  They should spend a lot of time adding and subtracting the cost of having Cawley as the high school.  I think that they would  be as surprised as I  was when I decided to determine the cost of not using the current buildings.  It is very sobering.

That is just my take on it.   I am using life experiences to come up with my arguments.  But they are good experiences.

I Am Tired of the President at This Time

I have had it with Donald Trump.  Charlottesville was my final spot.  “The many…” outdistanced the few.  Pence got it right the next day when he said that the United States was too grand for neo-Nazis, and racists.  Trump said no such thing.  According to his book, Konrad, Heiden stated that Hitler realized he was speaking to “The Aryans and anti-Semites of France.” {Der Furhrer” by Konrad Heiden, published by Houghton Mifflin Company, Boston  in 1944.}  At some point this President has realized how important to his political future are those who espouse facism.  His reluctance to condemn an act that was horrific was hopefully based on the idea that the act was vile and murderous, but it says an awful lot about where this man is emanating from, and how far he will go to maintain his power base.

A year ago, I got the chance to watch Trump in action at a rally in Tyngsboro, Massachusetts.  Our camera was there capturing Trump as he worked a crowd estimated at four thousand for one and  one-half hours.  Much of what he said was repetitive, to the point that my editor threw out an hour of his recording.  When I irately asked why he left so much on the edit room floor, he told me that he was just leaving that recording that was a repetitive statement by Trump.  In other words, my editor took it upon himself to leave an hour’s worth of Trumpisms on the floor.  What was Trump calling for at that time?  A wall in America paid for by the Mexicans.  He did not ask the Mexicans if they would pay for it.  He just assumed that they would.  He wanted to beef up our defensive strategy and that played well in a town that had had losses to defense contracts.  He said anything he could to get the largely blue-collar audience to cheer for him.  By sixty minutes, I was also pretty tired of the repetition.

I think the thing that people do not understand is how frightening the Russian hacking, if it in fact took place, was to the voting patterns in the United States.  No one would argue that Hilary Clinton was hurt by her own mistakes.  But, if there was collusion with the Russians and Trump knew about it, and we have no proof currently that he did know about it, he should be impeached.

Mr. Trump has a nasty habit of speaking down to his audiences.  The press, when he disagrees with it, which is a daily occurence, is guilty of spreading “fake news.”  But he speaks at a fourth or fifth grade level.  We are trying to “Make America Great Again,” but great for who?  I think the United States of America is pretty great presently.  We have a nation that states that natural-born Americans are equal to anyone else in the country in multiple ways.  Ways that are sometimes off of the spectrum.  I did not believe the Republican Party was able to do it but they have succeeded in separating White from other ethnic groups.  Two-thirds of America’s white men voted for Donald Trump.  Over one half of the white American women voted for Donald Trump.  How that could happen with that tape on the bus is well beyond me.

I have a sticker with a picture of former First Lady, Hilary Clinton which has two words on it which show how misguided she was in her effort.  That saying is “Madame President.”  Just a little premature, wouldn’t you say?  Hilary Clinton lost this one because of plenty of mistakes.  Included in those mistakes was the assumption that she would win, and kissing off the battle-ground states of Michigan and Ohio.  Another mistake  was not allowing her strong Democratic foe, Senator Bernie Sanders of Vermont, to speak to his supporters at the convention.  He could have delivered a marvelous speech ending with his promise to support Hilary Clinton.  His people would have brought their incredible skills and practices to the election.  How do I know that?  Well, I am Senator Paul Tsongas’ brother-in-law and in 1992, I was asked to speak at various functions, and at the end, when we had clearly lost, Bill Clinton called Paul Tsongas to tell him that he would not have him  speak to his supporters at the convention.  Paul played hard-ball and told Clinton that he would be activating his delegates to vote for Tsongas  on the first vote.  They would force Clinton to win on the second vote, a major embarassment.

That would have placed Clinton in the unenviable spot of being the presidential candidate who could not control his delegates.  He quickly changed his mind and allowed Paul to speak to his many delegates.  Niki stood at his side as he spoke.  I watched on television.  Paul was a better man than Clinton, I believe.

So, Hilary Clinton made the mistake her husband did not make.  She shut out Bernie Sanders.  That was her major mistake.  Her other major mistake was not taking on James Comey, the FBI Director who shot her campaign through the chest and nobody was there to demand the man’s resignation.  Obama should have done that, but the assumption was that Trump could not win and the shot was not mortal.  It was mortal.

Those are just my opinions on the mistakes of Hilary Clinton.  I have a card in my wallet that I keep just to maintain my composure.  It says, “2016 Presidential Leader” with a picture of a smiling Hilary Clinton.  That is obviously not how it worked itself out.    Too much was assumed.

“Fake News” is now in our lexicon.  We say it.  It was started by Mr. Trump to excuse poor press releases.  He even coaxed, apparently, the American people to overlook bad press.  He wanted, it is said, loyalty.  As a Democrat, I refuse to be loyal to a man who denies the maxim of fairness.  He was said to have stated that the Boy Scouts of America praised him in some way.  The Boy Scouts denied it.  He was said to have stated that the Mexican President gave him credit for some act.  The Mexican President said that the conversation never took place.  In this case I believe the Mexican.  In most cases, I would believe the American, but the Boy Scouts are supposed to be sworn to telling the truth.

I believe that Mr. Trump is  sorry that he won.  Why does he keep on sending out “tweets” when his top five advisors have left him?  Why use “tweets” anyway?  Is it the Trump equivalent of FDR’s “Fireplace Chats,” given every Saturday morning on the radio?  I believe it might be in that genre.

I do not believe that this man thinks that beating up his own party supporters is a good idea.  But he seems to do it, especially to John McCain.  The two are not friends.  But, if I was not a Democrat I would be voting for Mr. McCain when he ran for President.  A man with his track record and time spent in the Hanoi Hilton, deserves respect and quiet admiration for his contributions.  The fact that Trump is attacking him as he is ill is not even American.  My mother and father taught me to respect those who are ill.

My father used to take me to the Veteran’s Hospital in the city next to ours.  There I saw Veterans in wheelchairs and guerneys brought to morning Mass.  The image of those WWII and Korean veterans still is etched in my mind.

Well, I have pretty much said what was on my mind.  I am scared for this country.  We are at a crossroads, and we have to live by the Constitution and its Amendments.  It is very difficult to get an Amendment through, so we should not be afraid of Amendments.  Obamacare is no longer and I am taking lethal medication for five ailments.  My drug prices are on the rise, thanks to Donald Trump who obviously had no idea how to fix Obamacare.  But blame it on the Democrats and the media.  The visceral, or deeply embedded, sensations will overtake you.  I do not watch CNN, or WNBC.  I come to my conclusions on their own.  I am very bothered by this President, and I remember having high hopes for him.  His conservation stance is enough to rattle me.  His other stances will apparently not pass the Congress.  We have a lame duck President who could serve eight years.  It is scary.