Path Home About History 1926 -1950
Jump to navigation

1926 -1950

1926 - The annual state fair sees the formation of the Farm Boys’ Country Life Achievement Club, a precursor to what will evolve into the state FFA.

1927 - Vocational rehabilitation is made a responsibility of the state board and assigned its own division: the Division of Civilian Vocational Rehabilitation. It will remain with vocational education for ten years, when it will become a division directly under the State Department of Education.

• Two new positions (each an area assistant supervisor) are created for the Division of Vocational Agriculture. The first to hold them are Ross Floyd, who is assigned eastern Oklahoma, and James B. Perky, who is given charge of the state’s western portion.

• Vocational agriculture teachers from across the state use the occasion of the annual interscholastic conference at Oklahoma A. & M. College to form the Future Farmers of Oklahoma.

• Under the leadership of Langston University’s D. C. Jones, 13 local chapters comprised of 403 boys form the New Farmers of Oklahoma. Like all of vocational education in Oklahoma (for that matter, like nearly everything concerned with public education at all), vocational agriculture is thoroughly segregated. Thus, the NFO is a club for black schoolboys only. The Oklahoma club will become a charter member of the nationwide (and just as segregated) New Farmers of America when it is formed eight years later.

1928 - Representatives of several states’ student organizations meet together at the American Royal Livestock Show in Kansas City, where they launch the Future Farmers of America (FFA). Oklahoma is accepted as an early member.

1929 - Oklahoma establishes a new State Board of Education to consist of six gubernatorial appointees plus the elected state superintendent of public instruction, who will chair it. In addition to its many duties overseeing every form of schooling except higher education, the board is also designated Oklahoma’s official State Board for Vocational Education for governance under the Smith-Hughes Act. In addition, vocational education is assigned to its own division within the new department.

• The George-Reed Act extends and amends the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917. In addition to increasing the federal support for all of vocational education, the new act gives home economics the status of an independent division (heretofore, it has been under trades and industries), and it assures home economics a fairer share of future federal funding.

• Tulsa Public Schools offers one of the nation’s first programs in what will later be known as distributive education. Called retail selling, Tulsa’s program places high school students with local retailers and complements their work experience with classroom studies.

• Henry G. Bennett assumes the presidency of Oklahoma A. & M. College.

1931 - James Barney Perky replaces E. B. Nelms as state supervisor for vocational agriculture.

1932 - Perky moves his division to Stillwater into facilities that President Henry Bennett has made available on the campus of Oklahoma A. & M. College.

1935 - The George-Ellzey Act replaces the George-Reed Act of 1929. The principal change is to add another half-million to bring the total federal supplement for vocational agriculture and home economics to $3 million each. The law also makes available, for the first time, federal funds to train teachers and to supplement their salaries for what it calls distributive education.

• With the expiration of their teaching contracts on June 30, more than thirty of the state’s best vocational agriculture teachers resign to accept better-paying positions with the federal Soil Conservation Service.

1937 - Oklahoma’s (white) home economics students and their (white) teachers organize the Future Homemakers of Oklahoma. As with vocational agriculture, a segregated, all-black New Homemakers of Oklahoma will also be organized, and this will happen in 1943. The Oklahoma groups will become members of the Future Homemakers of America or of the New Homemakers of America when they are later founded (separately, of course), the FHA in 1944, the NHA in 1945.

1938 - Henry Bennett arranges for federal funds to construct a frame building that Perky and his staff will occupy on Stillwater’s Monroe Street.

1940 - After the sudden and shocking fall of France to Nazi armies, United States Commissioner of Education John Studebaker assembles a small panel consisting of the nation’s most esteemed vocational educators and asks that they plan to train 1.25 million defense workers in the next twelve months. J. B. Perky is one of the few summoned, and the recommendations that he and the rest offer become federal policy in precisely twenty-three days, when the Vocational Training for War Workers Program is created and assigned to each state’s Division of Trades and Industries. J. B. Perky thereupon becomes both Oklahoma’s director for war production training and state supervisor of food production training.

1941 - A new law in April reorganizes the State Department of Education, even though it continues the arrangement of having the State Board of Education perform double-duty in the guise of the State Board for Vocational Education. One change in that respect is that the vocational board is authorized to add two new positions: an executive officer for the board and a director for the state vocational system that it oversees. On June 6, the board fills both positions at once: James Barney Perky becomes state director of vocational education as well as executive officer of the State Board for Vocational Education. While accepting his new responsibilities, Perky also insists upon retaining his position as state supervisor for vocational agriculture.

1942 - Tulsa opens a Douglas bomber plant in the city’s northeast corner, where it will produce 3,138 B-24 Liberators; outfit another 4,000 military airplanes; and produce, pack, and ship 20,000 tons of aircraft parts. Immediately east of Oklahoma City, Tinker Field and the manufacturing plants that surround it begin to build and outfit C-47s and other vital planes. In each case, thousands of highly skilled aircraft workers will be needed, will be trained, and will be hired.

1943 - The Association of Oklahoma Distributors Clubs is officially organized and recognized as the student organization associated with distributive education.

1945 - Distributive education, which has been assigned to the Trades and Industries Division, is separated and given independent status.

1946 - The George-Barden Act more than doubles annual appropriations for all forms of vocational education and alters the formula for their distribution. Despite the significant gains made in Oklahoma (and elsewhere) by industry, the revisions tend to benefit vocational agriculture relative to other programs.

• The State Board of Vocational Education contracts with the United States Veterans Administration to produce a Veterans’ Agriculture Training Program, which is to offer “institutional-on-farm-training” for veterans.

1947 - Distributive Education Clubs of America (DECA) is formed at a convention of state organizations held in Memphis. Oklahoma becomes a charter member.

Jump to content