October 14, 2008
Servants of the State
At the turn of the century the New South was in need of change and growth to catch up with the northern states. Women were there to answer the call for reform by redefining their roles as professional women. They became the major players in public school reform. Not only did they create school homes; they inspired town pride and the want to better themselves.
At this time of reform there were many who were against change and said a public school reform as a way for different political groups to gain power or votes. Due to this adversity, young reformers such as McIver, gained support among a generation of young white women who were already taking over the classroom. (Leloudis, 73) Women at this time were eager for the opportunity be included into the male dominated world. (Leloudis, 73) Recruiting women to take up the fight for reform was easy, but gaining the support and funding needed proved to be more difficult. The fact of the matter was that there was a great need for a complete reworking of the public school model. How could we hope to compete with other states and other countries if there are no standards for the professional teacher; “for teaching is the soil that out of which these other professions grow” said McIver. (Leloudis, 76) Women began to be seen as the logical choice to aid in the reform, as it was a period when gender roles were open to experimentation. (Leloudis, 73)
Two young reformers, McIver and Aldderman, took up the task to open the eyes of the state to the need for better teachers and a structured curriculum. They spent three years traveling to every county in North Carolina rally support for this professional teaching college. Their work goes unnoticed now, but gathered the needed support for women and this urge for reform.
After numerous meetings with legislators, the first Normal Women’s College was approved and the ball was rolling. Many cities...