Oklahoma City School Board members will go back in history Monday night to find out what their peers thought about the future of local education more than a century ago.
During Monday night’s school board meeting, at 900 N Klein, members will join interim Superintendent Dave Lopez and several students, taking turns reading a letter from school district leaders of 1913. The letter has not been opened since it was unearthed in April.
“It’s a neat part of history,” Lopez said Friday. “I’m glad we’re going to get students involved.”
The letter was part of the contents of of the Century Chest, which for 100 years had been encased in a concrete tomb in the basement of the First Lutheran Church of Oklahoma City.
The chest and its contents were turned over to the Oklahoma History Center after being opened April 22, 2013.
Related items, including another letter from then-Superintendent William Brandenburg and correspondence from the Patrons Club — a forerunner to the PTA — already have been opened, said Chad Williams, director of research for the Oklahoma Historical Society.
In that letter, Brandenburg predicted the superintendent in 2013 would be making $10,000 annually, up from $3,600, “and he will be earning his money too; he will have many more supervisors and they will each be paid better.”
In 1913, there were 410 teachers in Oklahoma City serving 13,000 “different pupils,” Brandenburg wrote.
Today, the city district is the largest in the state, with 46,000 students being taught by 2,700 teachers.
While Brandenburg couldn’t predict the future, he was right about one thing: preparing students of both genders for the workforce.
“In our humble judgment there will be introduced into the public school curricula courses of a most practical and vocational nature,” he wrote.
“Vocational and trade schools will be established, where not only boys and girls will be taught the various trades and vocations, but where grown men and women shall have an opportunity to continue to better qualify themselves for the duties and responsibilities of life,” Brandenburg wrote.