CBS ‘Sunday Morning’ Looks at One-Room Schoolhouses

By Mark Walsh — June 02, 2014 2 min read
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The CBS News show “Sunday Morning” took a look at one-room schoolhouses—not just as a historical tradition in this country but the impact of the relative handful that remain.

“Yes, there are still one-room public schools in America,” correspondent Barry Petersen said in the report. “Today, about 200 one-room schools carry on a tradition that’s older than America itself. And while the frontier where they first appeared may be gone, the spirit that they helped create is alive and well in towns across rural America.”

Two hundred actually seems like a lot, until you consider that there were once some 200,000 one-room schools, according to the report.

“There was a time when almost every American child learned in a one-room school,” Petersen said. “In the 1700s, John Adams taught in a one-room school near Boston; Abe Lincoln was educated at a one-room school; and Henry Ford loved his so much, he had it moved to a museum in Michigan.”

For the modern version, Petersen visits the Divide School in Divide, Mont., where in the report teacher Judy Boyle is looking after a total of three students.

""I have teacher meetings once a week,” Boyle tells Petersen. “It’s with me, myself, and I. We get along really well!”

Meanwhile, near Lansing, Mich., teacher Brenda Hydon teaches 18 students ages 5 to 12 in a one-room schoolhouse. Students can work at their own pace, moving ahead to higher-grade work. Parents are happy, and students perform well when they move on to high school. (Both one-room schools in the report are K-8.)

The education pieces on “Sunday Morning” are usually on the soft side—an inspiring teacher, icons like the pencil sharpener or the school bus. They’re usually full of charm, but the show leaves heavier topics to its CBS News siblings.

One example was Sunday night’s “60 Minutes.” Because it’s summer (maybe not officially, but on the TV calendar), even the flagship newsmagazine is in rerun mode. “Shooting at Chardon High” is a report that first aired in February, about a 2012 shooting at an Ohio high school by a student.

Three students were killed by the shooter (which “60 Minutes” declined to name at the request of the community). But thanks to assistant football coach Frank Hall, who defied recommended procedures to chase after the shooter, the toll was likely lessened.

I’m sorry I missed this report the first time around. But these days, with most TV magazine pieces having a second life on the Web, it’s never too late.

A version of this news article first appeared in the Education and the Media blog.