Local news

Jim Kershner’s this day in history

From our archives, 100 years ago

The Spokesman-Review’s Sunday magazine carried a feature on the Spokane Parental School, an alternative school where “boys rule themselves.”

It was evidently a progressive reform school, which was governed as a “junior republic.”

“When a Spokane boy under the age of 14 becomes so adventurous that neither father, mother, nor teacher combined can keep him in school … he is sent to the parental school,” the story said. “At that stage, he is supposed to be beyond the control of educational discipline in the ordinary sense and a doubtful case, generally. Thirty days after entering the parental school, he has assumed the responsibilities of a citizen.”

Why?

Because the school is a “republic of boys,” who make and enforce their own laws, subject of course to review by the superintendent. They go to classes and work on the school farm, and get paid for their work. When there is trouble, it is dealt with by the “boy government” in a “boy court.”

The reporter attended a session of “boy court,” and said the cases were dispatched “more expeditiously” and with more thought and decorum than a real court.

“Hearsay testimony is inadmissible and immaterial matter is discerned with an acuteness that many men of the legal profession do not display,” the story said.

Because they have to make and maintain the law, the boys “quickly grasp” the necessity of enforcing them.



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