When the Amish first moved into the Jamesport area in 1953, it was at the schools where their old-fashioned clothing and foreign language soon lost its strangeness. Amish youngsters were readily accepted into the public school system, but when enough Amish families moved into the area they established their own schools.
Amish children were usually taught by unmarried Amish women similar to the country schools that dotted the countryside in the early 1900s. A wood stove heats the o?ne-room building. Girls in black bonnets and unadorned dresses closed at the neck and boys in plain blue shirts and trousers walk to class.
The number of schools operating in the Jamesport community varies (now six). A larger school may have two teachers while the smaller o?nes have o?ne, usually assisted by a younger girl just out of school who is gaining experience so that she may o?ne day teach. Subjects taught are the basics except that no science is included. English is used in the classroom although a Pennsylvania Dutch dialect is often used in the home. German is also taught since it is the language of their Bible.
The eighth grade is probably the highest level of formal education that Amish children get. The discipline during school years is important; it’s when pupils learn obedience and respect for their elders. In 1972, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in a case originating in Wisconsin that Amish children were exempt from laws requiring attendance in school to age 16. The decision noted that the Amish opposed high school education because it placed Amish children during adolescence in a competitive atmosphere with pressure to conform with their peers.
Most Amish complete eight grades of schooling and then join their families in such trades as farming and carpentry. Schools are financed by a "head tax," church membership tax and by land valuation which a family owns. Schools are dismissed in mid-April as older boys help with spring planting.