NPR has an interesting piece up about one-room schoolhouses in the segregated South, called Rosenwald Schools after the man who funded them. An economist, Dan Aaronson, conducted a study on their impact:
“He and other economists used this data to compare communities that had a Rosenwald school with communities that didn’t. It turns out these schools had a big impact on kids in the area.
“First and foremost, they got more education,” says Aaronson. But that’s only the beginning. Students who went to Rosenwald schools had higher IQ scores than kids who didn’t. They made more money later in life. They were more likely to travel to the North as part of the Great Migration. They lived a little bit longer. The women delayed marriage and had fewer kids. And crime rates in the area of the schools went down.”
There are no doubt multiple reasons for this significant impact, but there’s a clue that stood out to me as very relevant here:
“These so-called Rosenwald Schools had the best architectural designs of the time, with big windows to maximize sunlight — there was no electricity — good sanitation and good ventilation.”
Could it be that the physical design of Rosenwald schools played a role in the significant long-term positive outcomes associated with these schools?