A Brief History of GSE&IS
One of eleven professional schools at UCLA, GSE&IS consists of two academic departments: the Department of Education and the Department of Information Studies. UCLA is the only major research university in the country that combines departments of education and information studies. It is also home to the UCLA Lab School, the only university-based pre-kindergarten through sixth grade laboratory school in the country.
The roots of what is now UCLA can be traced back to 1882, when the Los Angeles branch of the State Normal School, the usual term for an institution devoted to teacher education, opened its doors for instruction. Students who wanted to be teachers were the first to attend what is now one of the world’s pre-eminent universities.
In 1880, Los Angeles was a gaslit pueblo with a population of 11,000. Leaders of the expanding city were trying to convince the state to establish a second State Normal School in Southern California, to resemble the original one existing 300 miles to the north in San Jose.
In March of the following year, the State Assembly approved the school. Over 200 citizens contributed between $2 and $500 and purchased a site less than a mile from the city’s main business section.The school and its children’s school rose from an orange grove which today is the site of the Central Los Angeles Public Library. On August 29, 1882, the Los Angeles branch of the State Normal School welcomed its first students, all destined to become teachers for the children of Los Angeles.
By 1914, Los Angeles had grown to a city of 350,000 and the Normal School, whose enrollment far exceeded its capacity, moved to a Hollywood ranch off a dirt road that later became Vermont Avenue. In 1917, Ernest C. Moore, the Harvard transplant and new Normal School Director, proposed that it become the first branch of the Berkeley-based University of California. On May 23, 1919, the Governor signed the necessary legislation. That year the “Southern Branch” offered a two-year program in undergraduate instruction to 1,125 future teachers. In 1922, a four-year Bachelor of Education degree program was added. In 1927, the Southern Branch earned its new name: University of California, Los Angeles, soon to be known as UCLA. In 1929, UCLA moved to Westwood, and in 1939 the Graduate School of Education was founded.
On July 25, 1930, the Los Angeles City Librarian wrote to the University of California President and a local Regent, urging the establishment of a library school at UCLA. Not until December 1958 was the school finally authorized, joining schools then at the University of California, Berkeley in the north and the University of Southern California in the south. On September 18, the day before the initial class of 50 (selected from more than 500 applicants) was to report, the School of Library Service was officially inaugurated. It was housed in what is now Powell Library and dedicated to serving the needs of UCLA’s undergraduates.
Stressing the word “service” in the School’s name, the new Dean and UCLA Librarian Lawrence Clark Powell characterized librarianship as “an act of giving.” Powell believed that outstanding teaching could be expected only from persons who had been seasoned in library work, and he brought together outstanding professionals as the first faculty. The library and education schools merged in 1994, forming the Graduate School of Education & Information Studies.
What is today the UCLA Lab School began in 1882 when the Normal School began. It has been part of UCLA ever since. In the 1930s and 1940s, under the leadership of Principal Corinne A. Seeds, a student of John Dewey, the school emerged as an outstanding example of progressive education. In 1947, what was to become the Corinne A. Seeds University Laboratory School (UES) moved to its current home on the UCLA campus.
As GSE&IS’s laboratory school, the UCLA Lab School is a source of research and professional education and serves as a model and a resource for public schools.Through workshops on early literacy, primary resources, information literacy, technology integration, and school reform, the UCLA Lab School's teachers work closely with Los Angeles area schools to improve instructional practice.
For over a century, UCLA has been preparing outstanding teachers for the schools of Los Angeles. Today’s Teacher Education Program (TEP), offered by GSE&IS’s Department of Education, is a two-year graduate program leading to a Master’s of Education and an elementary or secondary teaching credential. All students prepare to teach in culturally diverse elementary, middle, and high schools. Based on a social justice orientation and a commitment to the integration of research-based theory and practice,TEP enables its students to study and teach successfully in low income urban schools in Los Angeles. Since its inception,TEP’s goal has been to prepare teachers who are dedicated to providing a high quality education to students in the lowest performing schools. Each year,TEP places 150-180 new teachers into local schools that fit this criterion.
What began more than 100 years ago as a small teacher education school built on an orange grove has grown to become one of the top universities in the nation. UCLA has far exceeded Ernest C. Moore’s expectation. In doing so, it has retained its early emphasis on and excellence in education and library and information services.Today, GSE&IS excels at producing future generations of scholars, teachers, information professionals, and institutional leaders. It is widely respected for its scholarship for and about the education and information professions, and it is valued for sharing its findings with practicing educators and information professionals through classes, seminars, and workshops offered at UCLA and in the community. Ernest C. Moore and those early Angelenos would be very proud.