Female Teachers and
Coeducation in Secondary Schools
As the school systems grew, a shortage of teachers developed for primary and secondary schools. In 1833, the shortage rose to over 30,000. At the time most of the schoolteachers were male. It was hard to find more male school teachers when there were many opportunities for them that paid better than a school teacher's wages. Though there was some reluctance it became clear that hiring female teachers was the solution to the shortage. Many were reluctant because this would mean a great deal of women would begin working outside the home and skeptics claimed about a female teacher would not be able to control the rowdy male students. In the end the shortage was relieved because they were women who were eager to teach and Superintendents were now able to more than double the amount of teachers without having to raise their budgets as female teachers were paid as little as 1/3 of what male teachers made.
At the Seneca Falls women's rights conference in 1848, the women called for coeducation in public schools. There were many debates about coeducation, but in the end it became the norm because it was cheaper. By 1860, most states had set up public school systems which grew rapidly. Most were coeducational and included both primary and secondary schools.
The switch from private to public schooling in the late 1800’s also created a transformation in private schools. While previously the private schools had served both the middle and upper class, now private schools became much more elite and only the wealthy could afford to send their children there.
Private girl’s schools were commonly called finishing schools until the 1870’s. They were called finishing schools because most girls who attended did not continue to college so this was the end of their education. Most finishing schools were designed to prepare students to be suitable wives.