History books hardly mention this, but, in 1951—six years after the war ended, the day after Labor Day, give or take—a kind of tide swept over America.
That was the day the first wave of Baby Boomers broke on America’s schools. H. Stephen Glenn noted the first grade classrooms that averaged about 15 students in 1950 were jammed with more than 30 in 1951. Thus, the first day of school was bedlam in many places.And why wouldn’t it be? Imagine thousands of six year-olds standing against the walls of their classrooms at eight o’clock in the morning; the first day of school ever for them. There are too few chairs, too few pencils, too few teachers…. Maybe you don’t have to imagine. Maybe you were there.
The biggest surprise is, no one saw them coming. They were six years old for crying out loud! They were ready for first grade. First grade wasn’t ready for them.
It was a moment of crisis in education and child development. The response to this flood of students seems to have been Make More Desks, Build Larger Class Rooms—fast! Just like that, from sea to shining sea, too many students and too few teachers, became the norm.
from Raising Adults by Jim Hancock