Understand how we arrived here
The Charles County Board of Education is hitting its century mark this year. Recorded meeting minutes in 1916 by the commission at the time that was overseeing the school system documented the first references to a “board of education.”
As part of its celebration, the school system is hosting a series of lectures highlighting how the school system has changed in those 100 years. On Sept. 2, the school system kicked off its celebration with its first lecture, “Education: Then and Now” at the Port Tobacco Courthouse. Volunteers in period clothing showed students in attendance what it was like to learn in a one-room schoolhouse and what life was like for teachers at the time.
Students learned that teachers in the era — exclusively women — were not allowed to marry, date or even be seen in public with men that were not the woman’s brother or father, would be responsible for heating the building by lugging in firewood from outdoors, follow a strict dress code and teach the basic three “R’s” — all while earning around $1,000 per year.
Things certainly have changed since then.
But one of the biggest changes happened some 50 years ago, and many people still remember it: desegregation under the Civil Rights Act. As we mentioned in Wednesday’s editorial in the Maryland Independent, the Charles County Fair is well underway. The school system is using this opportunity to host lectures on how the system fair to escape day-to-day doldrums, it couldn’t hurt to take in a session or two of these lectures and learn something valuable from them: history. While Charles County’s rich agricultural history is the undeniable star of the annual fair, it makes sense to highlight another part of the county’s history . . . albeit one that may not have been the happiest or most progressive.
Charles County today is richly diverse and a far cry from the days where a large amount of the land was dedicated to growing the tobacco cash-crop for which Southern Maryland was largely known. And the county school system is among the best in the state, if not in the country, always adapting with technology and changes to keep up with the times. We didn’t get here overnight, but it’s wise to understand how we got here.