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Demonstration and Experimental Schools at Teachers College
A school for demonstration and experimentation has always been an integral part of the program of Teachers College. The following schools were established in different periods within Teachers College: Horace Mann School, Speyer School, Lincoln School, and New Lincoln School, which are described below. For the purposes of unification of history, information on Speyer School and New College is given at the end of this introduction.
In 1887 - even before Teachers College itself was established - there was in operation the "model school" which later evolved into the Horace Mann Schools and fulfilled the demonstration function through an elementary and secondary school. The pressure of enrollment and other factors led in 1914 to the separation of the Horace Mann School into a lower division, which continued to be co-educational; and an upper division which was split into separate schools for boys and girls. The Horace Mann Girls High School remained in the same building with the elementary division; the Horace Mann School for Boys moved to the campus at Fieldston. This latter school gradually drifted into a semi-autonomous institution, with notable additions to plant and equipment made possible through the benefactions of parents and friends.
In 1917, the Lincoln School was organized with a special grant from the General Education Board for the primary purpose of experimentation in the field of elementary and secondary education. This grant was made to Teachers College, and the school operated more or less under its direction. Teachers College made limited use of the Lincoln School as a laboratory for demonstrations and observation, as well as for experimentation. The grants received from the Board between 1925-1929 in the amount of three million dollars gave Teachers College an opportunity to have two different schools, one mainly for the demonstration of accepted educational practices, and the other for the development of experimental work in the fields of elementary and secondary education. During the years, the differentiation between the Horace Mann and Lincoln Schools grew progressively less.
The depression affected immediately both the Horace Mann School and Lincoln School, and a long series of reports and studies took place regarding them. As a result, on November 4, 1940 it was resolved that Horace Mann and Lincoln Schools be combined into a single laboratory school of Teachers College. This combined school was called Horace Mann-Lincoln School.
Teachers College closed down the Horace Mann-Lincoln School in 1946 after a court case initiated by the parents of Lincoln School enrollees. In 1948, parents established the New Lincoln School at the Central Park North facility to carry on the tradition of progressive, experimental education, concentrating on the individual child, offering an interdisciplinary core program as well as electives in elementary grades, and emphasizing the arts. The New Lincoln School operated until the late 1970s.
Speyer School, on the other hand, was an outgrowth of a ''free kindergarten'' established by St. Mary's Episcopal Church, at 521 West 126th Street. In 1899, the church joined with Columbia's Teachers College to expand the school to include grade-school pupils of what then was a lower middle-class neighborhood. Funded in 1901 by James Speyer, German-born heir to a family banking firm and a member of the city's Board of Education in the 1890's, the school served about 260 pupils through the eighth grade. By 1915, Teachers College permitted the city to use the building as an annex of Public School 43 on 129th Street and Amsterdam Avenue. In 1919, the college leased the building to the city, which continued to be used as a public school, but in 1936 the building became P.S. 500. In 1941, the school was closed for lack of funds. The school building was apparently abandoned during World War II. The Episcopal Diocese of New York owned the building from 1964 to 1977 when it housed many civil-rights programs.
New College had a more different character than the previously described schools as it was a "Demonstration and Experimental Teachers College" that was founded in 1932 at Teachers College, Columbia University. The institution was intended to "break a new way in teacher education and thus provide facilities for observation, experimentation, demonstration, and practice of college teaching in the field of professional education of teachers." The experimental college, however, was closed by Teachers College in 1939 due to financial shortfalls.
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