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Very little in the 1930s goes far in its discussion without mentioning the Great Depression. Education in the time period is no different. Essentially, at the start of the 1930s, education, which had enjoyed a great support from big business and industry which made sure that schools produced a ready and able work force, experienced massive retrenchment like much of American society. The Great Depression cast its net wide, and laws regarding education were passed on to the state level, as the federal government had its plate filled with what to do about the crippled state of the United States. Local business people pushed for schools to become for profit centers, abandoning universal access for free education. Some areas slashed the teacher workforce, while others passed laws that closed schools, entirely. Local ordinances were passed regulating the pay that teachers received. Most of the focus in the classroom, where there was a classroom, was on producing students who had trade skills or possessed basic competencies that could translate into some hope of work, though that was difficult to find. One of the most interesting developments of the time period in education was the political action of the teachers. The 1930s represented the first moment where Progressive teachers demanded that political action involving the voices of teachers be taken to both the political and social level. Teachers broke out of the "red schoolhouse" mode and actually became dynamic laborers who stood with other unions in seeking to have their voices heard on issues by both elected official and the society, at large. With the recent demonstrations in Wisconsin over collective bargaining, this fight still is on- going.
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