Transitions in Texas: the development of secondary science curricula, 1886-1917
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This dissertation reports an exploration of one statewide case in the remarkable expansion of the American public high school in the early twentieth century. Specifically, it focuses on the curricula of early twentieth century secondary school system of the state of Texas. In particular, its development was shepherded, from 1886-1917, by the University of Texas. The vehicle was the university’s program of affiliation with its approval of high schools in the state. Affiliation essentially was a system of accreditation of the state’s high schools. It contributed the first systematic effort to provide guidance for the academic programs, teachers, and facilities for the state’s rapidly developing high schools. A variety of social, political, and economic conditions affected the University’s affiliation system. These conditions external and internal to the state constituted the formative circumstances for the development of secondary curricula in Texas. Mathematics, history, English, and Latin were the primary affiliated subjects during the late 1800’s. Science offerings did not become affiliated subjects in the University of Texas affiliation program until the early 1900’s. This study focused on the development and inclusion of science offerings in the curricula of affiliated high schools. It probed the nature and extent of the science course offerings in the growing number of affiliated Texas high schools. Its findings identify among other matters, the science courses that were offered in affiliated Texas high schools, textbooks used, and laboratory facilities. The involvement of The University of Texas at Austin in establishing high school curricular standards, the reconfiguration of the school day, the redesign of the curricula, the inspection and affiliation process, all provided standards for improvements in school districts that lacked effective state governmental guidance and supervision. This endeavor by the university, assumed by the State Department of Public Education in 1917, clearly influenced the nature of the high schools of the state at the time and for the century to come.