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ABSTRACTS FROM REPORTS OF THE SCHOOL OFFICERS OF STATES,
TERRITORIES, AND CITIES.
DEVELOPMENT OF THE EXISTING COMMON SCHOOL SYSTEM. The oath of office was administered to the members of the board of education on the 24th July, 1868, and thus qnalitied they entered upon the regular business of their
first session under the constitution on the 25th July, 1868. In this constitution the article on education contains the following: “It shall be the dnty of the board of education to establish throughout the State, in each township or other school district which it may have created, one or more schools, at which all the children of the State between the ages of five and twenty-one years may attend, free of charge.” This is the chartered pledge of the State to furnish the means and facilities adequate to the education of all the children of the State. The members of the board of education, fully impressed with the magnitude of the responsibilities devolving on them, under the provisions and requirements of this section of the constitution, devoted careful attention to it, and also to the power which was thereby conferred on it as a legislative body, to deliberate on and to form a code of laws to direct and govern the free public school interest in Alabama.
Previous to the adjournment of the board, in August, 1868, the county superintendents, one for each county of the State, were appointed by the superintendent of public instruction, and their appointment approved by the board, as the law directs. These gentlemen were authorized to appoint three trustees in each township, and school commissioners in the county of Mobile. Here, at the very beginning of the work, the tronbles forth with commenced. The county superintendents, in their endeavors to appoint trustees, met with much opposition, and, in many instances, insult, in a large proportion of the townships in almost every county in the State, so as to delay the operation of the school system. The State superintendent remarks that this opposition would have died away soon, if it had not been for idle politicians and unscrupulous disappointed newspaper editors, whose puny ambition it was to print scurrilous words and railings against the government and those gentlemen who had the manhood to stand firm for the reconstruction of the State and her liberal institutions. But in spite of all these hostile endeavors, nearly fonr thousand free public schools were established in the State of Alabama during the first scholastic year of the system. Surely a gratifying result.
From the reports of the county superintendents it appears that, especially after the general elections in November, 1863, the people, in their native honesty, accepted the situation and finally aided the school officers in their endeavors. The work of getting up the enumeration of the children within the educational ages was nevertheless only accomplished after much delay and difficulty. Another cause of trouble is to be found in the fact that the legislature had failed to appropriate the poll tax for school purposes. The school funds were consequently not sufficient to pay the teachers' salaries, and many of the most excellent and worthy teachers in almost every county of the State had to go without pay for two months and more. Although, as a rule, these teachers have not been clamorons for their pay, it has nevertheless discouraged them and no doubt prevented them from devoting themselves to their work with that energy which the existing circumstances requireil. It is to be hoped that at the next session of the general assembly such measures will be taken as to insure the prompt payment of these teachers, thus removing one of the last remaining obstacles in the way of the working of the public school system. EDUCATIONAL INTERESTS INDIRECTLY CONNECTED WITII THE STATE SCHOOL SYSTEM.
Vormal schools.-As in a system of good normal schools one of the most essential guarantees for the future success of the public schools is to be found. the board of ediication, at their firsi session, passed an act providing for the education of teachers. As yet only a beginning has been made, but the results have been such as to augur well
for the future. In the various portions of the State a number of normal classes have been in successful operation-three at Huntsville, one at Portersville, two at Talladega, one at Montgomery, one at Evergreen, and one at Mobile, making in all nine classes, with an aggregated number of three hundred young men and women, who, after having obtained from the teacher of the class a certificate of competency to teach, bave pledged themselves to teach for two years in the free public schools of the State.
State University. By the constitution of the State, this institution of learning, located at Tuscaloosa, is placed under the control of the board of education, who in this respect act as "régents of the University of Alabama." The first session of the board of regents under the new constitution was held in August, 1868. By act of the board the superintendent of public instruction was authorized to proceed to Tuscaloosa and to procure from the former president, or the person having them in charge, the keys of the university, and to take possession of said university and all property connected therewith.” The demand to give up the keys was at first answered by a refusal, but after they had been given up no obstructions whatever were met with. The new university building--substantial, capacious, and beautiful-was nearly completed, while the professors' houses and grounds were greatly out of repair, and other property of the university, such as the lands of the campus, a common waste. Arrangeinents were made at once to complete the new building and provide the necessary furniture for the rooms, &c., and to repair the professors' houses, preparatory for opening tho university at the earliest practicable moment. By authority of the regents an exhibit of the financial condition of the university was also obtained from its fiscal agent. In his hands the sum of $1,600 was found to the credit of the university. We give here, without any comment, as the numbers will speak for themselves, an outline of the expenditure of the old authorities after the conflagration in April, 1865, and up to the time the regents took posession: Semi-annual installment for August, 1865...
$12,000 Semi-annual installinents for February and August, 1866.
24,000 Semi-annual installments for February and August, 1867
24,000 Semi-annual installment for February, 1868.
12, 000 State loan for building ...
30,000 Tuscaloosa Scientific and Art Association.
In addition to this sum of expenditure upon the new building, the old board of trustees left upon our hands, with an exhausted treasury, a large New York debt, contracted by the former president of the university after the State had pretended secession from the Union, for materials for uniforms for cadets in the university. Under these embarrassing circumstances a corps of professors was selected by the regents, and the university opened April 1, 1868, with a class of thirty students. The number of students has since then remained about the same. Part of the New York debt has been paid, but in order to pay the installments of the building loan by the State to the university, it will be necessary that the legislature, at its present session, either donate the building loan to the university or extend the time of payment. The former would only be an act of common justice, as the burning of the building in 1865 was but the natural fruits of secession, and as during the war the university had become a military school, in which officers were trained to fight against the government of the United States, that had so handsomely and liberally endowed the university.
Medical College of Alabama. -- This college, situated in the city of Mobile, was "chartered in the year 1860, and by the charter made the medical department of the University of Alabama, with the provision that in the contingency of a dissolution of the corporation, its property should vest in the university." The building is much in want of repair, and the apparatus, which has been sadly neglected, especially in the chemical departmeut, needs to be replenished. It is thought that an appropriation of $15,000, made at once, will put the college on a good footing, and make it thereafter self-sustaining. When the building was erected, the State made the liberal donation of $50,000, and in return for this liberality, the faculty pledged themselves to educate thirty-three needy students, on behalf of the State, free of charge. This pledge is still kept up in good faith. It is to be hoped that, especially since the legislature, in 1868, repealed the tax on foreign insurance companies, thus cutting off the only income of the college, it will soon make the called-for appropriation.
Law school at Montgomery.—“The law school at Montgomery was incorporated in 1860, and made the law department of the University of Alabama, to continue at the discretion of the trustees." The charter of this law school is yet in force, though the exercises of the school are at this time suspended.
Alabama Institusion for the Deaf, Dumb, and Blind.—The superintendent of public instruction is, by law, treasurer of this institution, and it is his duty to make a report on the same, once a year. The progress of the institution has been most satisfactory. The number of pupils in attendance dnring the school year ending July 1, 1869, is 35, viz: 25 mutes and 10 blind. The health of the inmates has been good, and the buildings and grounds are in as good condition as the limited means will allow. The financial condition of the institution may be seen at a glance from the following statement : To the credit of tho institution at the date of last report..
$3, 125 53 Appropriation for 1869.
11, 125 53
By amount of warrants October 6, 1868, February 1, 1869, April 6, July 1,
$11, 125 50
In order to place the institntion on a proper footing, and afford tho means of education to all the indigent mute and blind children in the State, an appropriation of $15,000 will be necessary. This would be allowing $12,000 for sustenance, salaries, &c., enabling the authorities to admit, support, and instruct 46 pupils.
The amount of money appropriated by the State for the free public school service for the scholastic year commencing October 1, 1863, and ending September 30, 1869, with the several sources from whence received, is the following, according to exact form and figures received from the auditor of state: Balance due and appropriated, as per act approved October 10, 1868. $200, 000 00 Amount of interest on $1,710,157 45, at 8 per cent..
136,812 59 Amount of interest on $97,091 21, at 8 per cent.
7,767 30 Amount of interest on $669,086 80, at 8 per cent.
53, 626 94 Amount received from retail licenses
26,514 85 Appropriations, as per section 957, Revised Code
100, 000 00 Total
The precise amount expended for the public school service up to the close of the year cannot, as yet, be stated, but is given below, as far as ascertained : Certified on reports of first quarter...
$53, 472 50 Certified on reports of second quarter
176, 180 4:3 Certified on reports of third quarter..
154, 739 48 Certified on reports of fourth quarter
59, 830.93 Normal school expenses..
5, 371 85 County superintendents' salaries
52, 662 00 Total
502, 257 19
NUMBER OF CHILDREN ATTENDING SCHOOL. As yet it has not been possible even for the State superintendent to give complete and reliable statistics with regard to this fact. Dr. Sears, in his fourth report as agent of the Peabody educational fund, estimates the total number of children of school age in the State at 336,000, of whoin 160,000 are in the public schools.
A special correspondence of the Chicago Republican, dated Montgomery, June 6, 1870, gives the following statistical items : * In Alabama, ten years ago, there were taught 61,751 pupils in 1,903 schools. This year there have been taught nearly 160,000 pupils in 3,804 schools. Eleven years ago the total number of children in the State was 185,348. One year ago a number equaling that enjoyed the privilege of schools. This is what might be called the lesson of the decades. It contrasts the two years of the free schools of Alabama with the two years most saliently opposed to them. For one main element of this progress, we must contemplate the present educational law of the State-a law which is, without doubt, the best in the South, and perhaps among tho best in the United States."
From the fourth report to the general agent of the Peabody educational fund from July 1, 1860, to January 19, 1870, we glean the following:
*The school commissioners of Mobile made the following communication: All the swholars of the primary grade, which embraced the entire number of colored children, were tanght free of charge for tuition. It is the wish of the board to take another step in advance and make the intermediate grade free.' On condition that the primary and interinediate schools be made free, $2,000 were granted.
“A similar sum was ranted at Selma. In this city the citizens had raised by subscription the sum of $10,705, instead of the $4,000 to which they stood pledged; 508 pupils were educated, costing about $21 per pupil for the year; whereas the samo number of pupils, educated at a cost of $75 each-the average rate of tuition before the free schools were opened-would have cost $38,000, thus making a saving of $27,295 to the city.
"In Girard an appropriation of $1,000 was granted. There are in that city 1,248 children of school age. Its share in the public school fund was $1,488, by means of which tive schools, with an attendance of 461 pupils, were carried on for a fow months.
"A donation of $400 was made to the public schools of Greensboro, having 450 children of school age, of whom 175 attended school.
" In Huntsvillo and vicinity the number of children of school age is about 2,000, threefifths of whom are colored. If the two districts of the city, which itself covers the confines of two townships, could be united, as the people desire, there would be no difficulty or hesitancy on the part of the people in accepting the following proposition, which was left with the parties concerned for their consideration, viz: “If the trustees of the public schools of Huntsville, or the city government, will appropriate $7,000 for the support of said schools, with an attendance of not less than 500 white children and 700 colored, the trustees of the Peabody educational fund will pay $4,000 for each class of schools, making the whole expenditure not less than $5,000. A similar proposition has been inade to the city of Montgomery, which, it is believed, will be accepted.
“To Opelika, at a meeting of the principal citizens, was prottered the sum of $1,000, on certain specified conditions, and arrangements were made looking to the accomplishment of so desirable an object."
EDUCATION OF THE COLORED PEOPLE.
(From the eighth semi-annual report on schools for freedmen, July 1, 1869, by Rev. J.
W. Alvord, general superintendent of education, Bureau Refugees, Freedmen and Abandoned Lands.)
The schools in Alabama have more than recovered from the condition last reportedthe increase during the year having been 13 schools, 35 teachers, and 3,913 pupils; and from the lowest point reached, six months since, there has been an increase of moru than 7,000 pupils. The entire results of the year have been most satisfactory to all concerned. The examinations have developed wonderful zeal and ability on the part of pupils, and the fact that they are in no wise inferior to white children of the saine age and opportunities.
Incompetent teachers.-- Alabama shares, in common with other States, the rant of competent teachers; and a number of cases are reported where they have been dismissed for utter incompetency and immoral character, thereby making the discontinuance of the school a necessity;
Normal classes.—The educational board of the State has made provision for the organization of normal classes at different points in the State. These have been well patronized by colored youth, though as yet no class has been attended by wbite pupils. Hopes are entertained that with a year of such labor the most pressing needs of the country will be supplied. These colored teachers go into the reniote districts, to places where white teachers cannot be sustained, and labor with most marked success.
Bitter feeling.-In business relations a bitter feeling of the whites toward the freedmen is already manifest, with occasional outrages, indeed; but that a material and beneficial change has taken place is plain to every one. General tranquillity is the rule and not the exception. As an example of this improved state of public sentiment, in one county where twelve months ago human life was considered most insecure, now, (as reported,) “no more peaceable community can anywhere be found.”
From the statistical report it appears that there were on July 1, 1869, regularly reported 80 day and night schools, with 103 teachers and 5,531 pupils; 39 Sabbath schools, with 214 teachers and 3,213 pupils; making a total of 119 schools, 322 teachers, and 8,744 pupils. Irregularly reported: 60 day and night schools, with 75 teachers and 6,000 pupils; 10 Sabbath schools, with 30 teachers and 2,000 pupils; making a total of 70 schools, 105 teachers, avd 8,000 pupils. Grand total, 189 schools, 427 teachers, and 16,744 pupils. Of the regularly reported day and night schools six are graded; one is a high, or training school.
The number of pupils paying tuition is 623; the amount paid, $1,248 95--an average of a trifle more than $2 per pupil. This report of tuition, as in some other States, is incomplete, teachers in many cases failing to report the whole amount paid.
In the alphabet there are 1,149 pupils ; 2,707 spell and read easy lessons; and 1,628 are advanced readers. There are 1,522 studying geography; 2,616 arithmetic; and 554 higher branches. The average attendance is 4,357–78.7 per cent. of the total numboi enrolled.
The freedmen sustained, wholly, or in part, 56 of the schools; they own four school buildings. The bureau furnished 66 buildings for educational purposes. The total expenditure reported for the six months has been $4,187 45.
Colored teachers.-Lieutenant Colonel Edwin Beecher, superintendent of education, remarks in his report:
“Will the colored race make good teachers ? I can see no good reason why they should not. Not long since I met a young colored man teaching in Jackson County. Probably the whole time he had spent as a scholar would not exceed twelve months. His former instructor assured me he possessed the art of communicating what he knew better than any person he had ever seen. During the last months of his attending school he was placed in charge of a class, and for the last three months has had a school in Madison County. So general is the satisfaction given that the snperintendent of the county is unwilling to allow him to go into another county the coming year, but insists on his remaining where he is. He assured me this was one of the best schools in the county, and that the statements made to me of the capacity of this young man were not overdrawn. I have not bad an opportunity of visiting, personally, many of the schools taught by colored teachers, but the reports are all favorable, and I feel assured they are the ones we must look to for the future education of their race.”
Through the kindness of General 0. O. Howard we are furnished with the following later statistics of the freedmeu's schools in Alabama, dated January 1, 1870:
FREEDMEN'S SCHOOLS REGULARLY AND IRREGULARLY REPORTED. Total enrollment in day and night schools...
7, 110 Total number of pupils in regularly reported Sabbath schools.
1,393 Number of pupils in industrial schools..
50 Total enrollment in all schools..
8,553 Number over sixteen years of age.
162 Number aged sixteen and under.
1,948 Number in alphabet.
351 Number writing..
750 Number spelling and reading easy lessons.
847 Number of advanced readers...
901 Estimated number of pupils in day aud night schools.
5,000 Table of statistical details of schools in Alabama, by counties, for 1869. Hon. N. B. CLOUD, superintendent of public instruction, Montgomery.
4,361 $6,333 70 3, 011 4, 699 90 2, 269 3, 754 96 9,976 13, 169 92 3, 231 4,577 20 4, 193 5, 426 60 8,954
11, 714 32 5, 765
7, 480 50 5, 153
6,945 97 5, 945 7,734 00 5, 196
6, 835 20 4, 549 6,428 63 2, 612 4, 634 87 3,918 5, 301 60 3, 448 4,737 CO 3,049 4, 308 80 3, 190 4, 605 60 5, 417 7,500 40 2, 273 3, 171 56 5, 658 7, 5222 93 6. 007 7, 883 40 10,963 16,788 47
3,614 99 5, 227 7,578 0 1, 461