Friday, January 14, 2011

When Teacher's Pay Was $350

October 1967

  "Miss Maude Delish:
Yours of 10th is at hand. I have talked with other members of the Board except one and they are in favor of offering you the position, and the odd one, I am sure, will fall in line, so I think you will be safe in making arrangements to come here next year.
Respectfully Yours,
John F. Jackson, Director"
  John Jackson was apparently a man of few words, as evidenced by the terse, one-sentence letter he wrote as director for the Board of Education and superintendent of the Rochester Water Works. He wrote the above letter in 1907. It and scores of other letters are preserved as carbon copies in a bound volume now owned by his grandson, Jim Jackson of Washington Road. Jim is currently writing much of the material going into the Rochester Centennial History book that is to be in print next year.
  John Jackson failed to separate the business letters of the water works and the school board. One page threatens a homeowner with turning off the water in his home because he owes 43 cents in back bills. The next page contains a letter to a principal in a Detroit school asking about a truant Rochester lad who supposedly is enrolled in Detroit.
  When the superintendent, A.L. Croft, resigned and the board apparently talked with several applicants, Director Jackson notified the winning applicant thusly:
  “Mr. Frank Wheaton, Yale, Mich.
  Dear Sir: You have been elected superintendent of the Rochester schools for the year 1907-08 at a salary of $900 for 10 months of school and also an allowance of $45 for moving expenses. Will send contract in a short time.”
The principal that year was earning $550 while the average teacher was paid $350. The journal is crammed with letters to “order houses” such as 100 boxes of crayons for $6.50 and six 14” feather dusters for $1.30.
  The next time you hire a painter, you might read him this letter written to a Mr. Wader in 1906:
  “Your proposition for painting the schoolhouse is hereby accepted as follows: Outside paint, two coats of white lead and oil with inside ceiling of five school rooms and two classrooms and library… and replace any broken glass, glass to be furnished by the district, all for the sum of $60 payable upon completion of the job.”
  JOHN APPEARED to be having a serious running-in with both the Avon Township treasurer and Oakland County treasurer over $75. In a letter to the county commissioner of schools he complained that by the time the homeowner finally paid up the delinquent tax at the Township treasurer’s office, the Township treasurer had turned tax rolls over to the county. But neither the Township nor the county ever gave the school its $75. “We have been held up the last two years, John complained, “and probably will be this year too unless we can get the matter straightened out.”
  Somehow John found out that a few Rochester teachers never showed up for the Teachers Conference in Detroit. Apparently the problem was not new. On October 23, 1905, John Jackson penned a letter to Supt. Croft which made no direct reference to the absence of teachers at the sessions. But again, John never wasted words. It read: “For purpose of allowing teachers to attend Teachers Institute October 27-28, you are authorized to close the schools. Teachers not desiring to attend will be expected to be in their respective room on that day as usual!”
  One can assume that the truant teachers got the message.