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From the first annual report of the superintendent of public instruction, dated October 1869, is taken the following
SUMMARY: Entire school population, (1868).....
410,000 Enrollment in school .......
185, 845 Not attending free schools ....
224. 155 Aggregate outlay by the State for two years' educational purposes....... $573,795 74 Number of school-houses built .... Number of sites secured.....
289 Number of school-houses burnt or destroyed ...
61 Number of school-bouses built wholly or partly by the Bureau ...
44 Average pay of gentlemen teachers per month...
$16 to $90 Average pay of lady teachers per month...
$16 to $55 Average number of months school taught...... Average cost of tuition per scholar ....
$1 to $7 50 Average cost in private schools ......
$6 to $18 Funds raised by local taxation for schools for the year.
$131,567 Total outlay for school purposes for the year.....
$299, 641 16 ORGANIZATION OF SCHOOLS. Under the old law of Tennessee the counties were divided into civil districts, which arrangement remains unchanged. There were, by its provisions, no less than ten different kinds of officers concerned in educational matters, viz., the commissioners of the school fund, the State treasurer, who acted as State superintendent, the county trustee, the county court clerk, the county examiner, the county commissioners, the sheriff, the school district commissioners, the school district clerk, and school district treasurer. These officials were so independent of each other that very little practical accountability for their action existed, and matters progressed in a totally unsystematic way, without life, activity, or efficiency.
Under the law of 1867 there were only four kinds of officials, the school fund commissioners, the State superintendent, the county superintendent, and the district or subdistrict directors. Under the former law teachers were employed by the district clerk, examined by the county examiner, and paid by the county trustee. Under the revised law they were examined and paid by the county superintendent on the district clerk's order. The former law contemplated only white pupils between six and twenty-one years old; the revised law applied to both white and colored, between six and twenty, and provided for separate schools for the two races. The title to and control of schoolhouses and sites was vested in the district commissioners by both laws.
The school moneys were raised by interest on the permanent school fund and yearly State tax. Under the former law they were disbursed by the State treasurer to the county trustee, and by him to the district treasurer. Under the revised law the moneys were paid by the State treasurer to the county superintendent. All these were bonded officers.
The schools under the former law received the money of the State, and were also allowed to charge for tuition; consequently those pupils who could not pay were excluded when the State appropriation was spent. Under the revised law they were free to all of legal age, or they could not claim the State's apportionment. Additional moneys needed were to be raised by tax on the district, or any other method not interfering with the freeness of tuition.
From the above hasty synopsis, it will be seen how far superior in simplicity, efficiency, and directness the revised machinery was to the old. ` In addition, the revised law made no discrimination on account of race, and the blacks were lifted out of the ignorance that always makes a population dangerous. The responsibility of all officials and their accountability to each other was much inore perfect under the revised law than the old.
The revised school law was passed March 5, 1867, and the superintendent opened his office October 7, 1867, at the capitol. Many and almost overwhelming were the difficulties encountered at the very beginning of his labors. For example, the preliminary requirements of the act relative to the election of school directors in each civil district, the census of all white and colored youths between six and twenty years, the procuring of school-houses, &c., had been complied with to no extent worthy of mention. There were no records or reports of the older system of schools under the treasurer, nor could any detailed information respecting its workings be obtained. In short, nothing had been done even under the new act, except to collect the school tax provided for thereby, and even the money resulting therefrom had been, in the State's distress, used, like other revenue, to liquidate the State's indebtedness; so that there
were grave doubts expressed by some whether there could be spared the necessary amount for school purposes. There were also numerous objections, founded on the poverty of the people, the destruction of school-houses during the war, and the embarrassed condition of the State's finances, against the immediate organization of the system; and to these was added a bitter opposition from quarters not desirous of tho education of colored children. Even after the preliminary difficulties had been overcome, after county superintendents had been appointed, school-rooms and teachers procured, and schools established, the delay and difficulty experienced in procuring the pay due them disheartened many of the best and truest instructors and superintendents. Many of the teachers declined to reopen their schools, and thus some of the best were lost to the free-school system. In this, as in other occupations, the amounts and methods of payment largely influenco the character, spirit, and efficiency of the persons engaged.
Again, another difficulty and embarrassment was the immediate necessity for instructors of some sort or other, without any time or opportunity to train them for the discharge of their duty. The State, prior to the war, had had no institution, public or private, which devoted itself to norinal instruction, and during the war the soldier, and not the schoolmaster, had been abroad. Examinations of applicants by the county superintendents, county teachers' associations, teachers' libraries, and such like methods, were speedily adopted to remedy this deficiency, as well as to subserve other obvious ends. In the meantime efforts were made to bring the legislature to appreciate and provide for the professional education of teachers in normal schools; tbe Rev. Dr. Sears, agent of the Peabody fund, offered assistance; the Hon. William Bosson, chairman of the house committee on common schools, introduced a bill providing for the establishment of three free pormal schools, one in each grand division of the State, to be associated with some organized institution of learning; and the State superintendent also prepared a bill for the establishment of normal institution by one or two schools for that purpose. Both of these schemes provided for a normal school board for the regulations of these institutions, the admission of students, their education and training by these and other means. Unfortunately the State took no action. But the great demand for teachers of experience and training called forth efforts to supply it by the schools, academies, and colleges of the State; and as the result of these endeavors, public and private, the standard of efficiency among the instructors rose very decidedly.
Another very grave hinderance was the general destruction and damage of schoolhouses and property during the war. Many parts of the State had no rooms of any description, owned and used for school purposes. Other districts had accommodation for only a portion of the number who desired to attend, and this generally of the most inadequate description as regards furniture, outbuildings, ventilation, light, &c. The general lack of proper information on this subject aggravated the difficulty.
REVERSAL OF THE RECENT SCHOOL POLICY.
Since the pnblication of the report above referred to the main features of the school law existing prior to the secession of Tennessee from the Union has been restored by the last legislature. With this radical change State supervision was abolished and education left to county action. Under this reëstablishment of the old law Davidson County has elected a county superintendent, and two other counties, Greene and Montgomery, have established schools. The cities of Memphis and Nashville are conducting schools under special laws for those respective cities.
Table, showing the statistical details of schools in Tennessee by counties, copied from the Stato report 1869.
Humphreys... | Jackson.....
39 | 1,593
50 1, 260
3,652 09 15, 981 72
4, 744 22
TEXAS. The constitution of Texas, adopted November 30, and December 1, 2, and 3, 1869, provides in article ninth that the legislature shall “make suitable provisions for the support and maintenance of a system of free public schools, for the gratuitous instruction of all the inhabitants of this State, between the ages of six and eighteen years." It also provides for "a superintendent of public instruction, who, after the first term of office, shall be elected by the people; the first term of the office shall be filled by the appointment by the governor, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate." The superintendent to hold office four years, with a salary of $2,500 per annum. The legislature was not only directed to establish a uniform system of public schools throughout the State," (section four,) but, "at its first session, (or as soon thereafter as may be possible,) shall pass such laws as shall require the attendance on the public free schools of the State of all the scholastic population thereof, for a period of at least four months of each and every year, (section five.) The constitution also provided for the basis of an ample public school fund, and for district taxation for school purposes.
With this highly favorable constitutional action by the people, it became the duty of the legislature to inaugurate a system of public free schools. The governor nominated a superintendent of public instruction early in the session. Unfortunately the senate could not agree upon the nomination, and it was rejected. The Hon. E. Pettit, A. M., chairman of the senate committee on education, reported a school bill, which, however, failed to pass. On the day previous to the adjournment of the legislature, August 13, 1870, Mr. Pettit wrote to the Bureau as follows: “I have labored hard to perfect the bill, (for public free schoc's,) and have gained something, I hope. I shall commence again early next session. I undertook to have commissioners appointed to visit other States on educational matters, but failed. Our next session will commence in January, when we hope to do better. I wish Congress would take the whole matter of popular education in hand.”
From other sources we learn that the action of the legislature has disappointed tho friends of education in Texas.
The annual report of the Hon. A. E. Rankin, late secretary of the board of education gives the following among its
Increase of average attendance for year nearly 10 per cent.
56,565 76,759 74, 140
2, 833 55, 744 1,593
760 3,089 4,269 2, 943 859
1, 326 $348,563 88
$57, 794 07 $153, 229 76 $500,000
A LADY VIGILANCE COMMITTEE AS A REMEDY FOR ABSENTEEISM.
Hon. A. E. Rankin, advises the appointment of a vigilance committee, composed of Jadies, who should visit schools, have the care of the buildings and their contents, see that neatness and order are observed, inquire into the matter of attendance, and urge upon parents and children the importance of regularity and promptness, “and many other little things, as we say, but upon which the success of any school depends;" duties which now fall to the lot of prudential committees, “and which they so studiously and assiduously neglect.” It is a work which will remain undone, unless done by women. Men, by nature and by education, are averse to this kind of work; unfitted