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DIGESTS OF STATE SCHOOL REPORTS.
ALABAMA. (From Report of Slate Superintendent Solomon Palmer, 1886-87.) The schools of Alabama during the past year have been in as prosperous a condition as the meagre school revenues permitted. The pressi want of our school system,” says Superintendent Palmer, " is more money, that the public schools may continue a longer period each year, and that our teachers may be paid better salaries. Notwithstanding the fact that the system is sorely crippled in its operations for the want of adequate funds to meet the constantly growing demands upon it, there is no doubt of its increasing popularity and usefulness. The advantages to be derived from a good school system are more keenly felt by the great body of the people of the State to-day than ever before in its history.”
CHANGE IN THE PLAN OF THE REPORT, The statistical tables and summaries of the report include only the country schools. Special reports are given from the cities and separate school districts. These reports, however, are not upon any uniform plan, so that it is not possible to get exact totals for the State except upon one or two points. Alabama is thus placed upon a different plane from the other States as regards her educational statistics, and is not comparable with them. There is no question as to the desirability, for certain purposes, of separating the statistics of the country from those of the city schools in all the States; without so doing, States with a large urban population can not be justly compared in many respects with the more sparsely settled States. But it is necessary to have in addition a general summary for the whole State.
153, 304 Enrolled in colored schools.
98, 396 Total enrolled......
251, 700 Average daily attendance in white schools.
93,723 Average daily attendance in colored schools.
63,95 Total daily attendance.....
157, 718 of the enrolment the attendance was 63 per cent. -of whites 61 per cent., of colored 65 per cent. Number of schools for white.
3,658 Number of schools for colored.
1.935 Total schools taught.........
5,583 Teachers in white schools, males..
2,413 Teachers in white schools, females.
1,237 Teachers in colored schools, males.
1, 264 Teachers in colored schools, females.. Total teachers in colored schools....
1,833 Total teachers employed....
5, 453 These statistics are very near the same as those in last report. If the cities were included in this they would show a gratifying increase during this year. Average monthly pay of white teachers......
$22. 16 Average monthly pay of colored teachers..
21.58 Average monthly pay of teachers......
do..... do. do....
Decrease in white $5.43, and in colored $4.39 since last report. Average paid each teacher.........
$82.83 A decrerse of.....
$29.96 Average enrolment to white teacher..
Last year it was ..
Last year it was ...
511 Average cost of pupil per month, on basis of attendance Last year on enrolment....
454 Last year on attendance..
754 Average length of schools in days, white. Average length of schools in days, colored. Average length of schools in days..
70: Average length of schools in days, white, last year. Average length of schools in days, colored, last year... Average decrease since last report.
164 The marked decrease in these figures, as before explained, is on account of the omission of the cities and separate school districts; were they included there would be but little change since last report.
It might be of interest to note a few changes in the past ten years: In 1876–77, pupils enrolled
143, 571 In 1886-57, pupils enrolled
251, 700 Increase in ten years........
108, 129 In 1976–77, schools taught.
4, 175 In 1886-87, schools taught.
5,583 Increase in ten years
1, 408 la 1876–77, poll-tax collected
$116, 627.41 In 1886-87, poll-tax collected
.... 136, 895.75 Increase in ten years.
20, 268.34 SCHOOL CENSUS-REDUCTION OF THE PER CAPITA. The school census of August, 1887, shows for the whole State a total increase of children of school age (7–21) in two years of 32,614. Speaking of the effect of this increase upon the apportionment of the school revenues, Superintendent Palmer says that "the reduction in the per capita of the colored is larger than that of the whites on account of the liberal appropriations made by the last Legislature out of the fund for that race for the university for the colored people and for normal schools. It should be borne in mind that this reduction in the per capita occurs notwithstanding the additional appropriation of $20,000 to the school fund made by the last Legislature. But for this appropriation the per capita would have been reduced some 4 cents lower than it was. These figures must impress every thoughtful person who desires the prosperity of the State and values the intellectual and moral culture of the young with the fact that, to make our public school system what it ought and must be,
MORE MONEY IS NEEDED. "In point of material resources and natural advantages Alabama is surpassed by no State in the Union. Capital as never before is seeking investment within her borders. The demand of the times is a public school system with adequate funds to place the blessings of at least an elementary education within the reach of every child in the State. Possessed of such a system, no State in the Union would have so bright a future 23 Alabama. But, if in our baste to grow rich, wo neglect our public school system and the intellectual and moral training of our youth, these natural advantages and boundless resources may prove a snare and a curse by enticing to our State a inass of ignorant immigrants who care not for education, who regard not our long-cherished institutions, and who are enemies to a higher and more ennobling civilization. But if we foster our public school system and make it the pride of our citizens, as many of our sister States have done, we will be blessed with a thrifty, enterprising class of immigrants, who appreciate and who have been accustomed to free public schools for their children, and who will invest their money among us and heartily co-operate with us in developing our State and in perpetuating our free institutions. To such a class of im
migrants, a public school system that pays no more than $1 per child, including poll tas; that pays teachers on an average only $21.87 per month; that runs its free public bools only 70} days in the year, and that does not pretend to provide any school buildings, is not very inviting.”
After introducing statistics to show how much more Michigan, Arkansas, and Tensesree are paying for public schools than Alabama, the superintendent continues: *With the foregoing figures before us it is not so surprising that in 1880 the census
shows that Alabama, out of a population of 1,262,505, had 433,447 over the age of 10 years who could not write, while Michigan, with her splendid school system, out of a population of 1,648,690, had only 63,723, and Arkansas, out of a population of 802,525, had only 202,015, and Tennessee, out of a population of 1,542,359, nearly 300,000 larger than Alabama, had only 410,722 illiterates.
“This difference may, it is true, be accounted for in some measure by the large illiterate negro population of the State, but it must be admitted by every one not blinded by prejudice that our meagre appropriations for public schools causes in no small degree this difference so disparaging to Alabama, when compared even with other Southern States.
"One of our wisest statesmen recently said 'that no State in the Union is more deeply interested in the cause of popular education than Alabama.' After citing the fact that more than 96,000 voters in the State could not read the ballots which, as freemen, they are empowered to cast for the weal or woe of their country, he asks with pertinency and much force, 'How can we, with such a mass of ignorance exercising the great privilege of suffrage, hope to perpetuate the life and continued prosperity of our free institutions?'
"How to dispel this dark cloud of illiteracy that hangs over our State, shrouding all in gloom and obscuring our prospects for the future, is the practical question that should engage the mind and stir the heart of every patriot and lover of humanity. There is no better way of rifting this cloud of illiteracy than by letting in the rays of intellectual light into the minds of the young, or of dispelling the gloom that it engenders than by instilling in their young hearts correct principles and habits of living, which can and should be done by every teacher of our public schools. These schools are the available means for the intellectual and moral training of our young, and it is the highest duty of the State to sustain them, but to do this as it should be done, more money is necessary.
“Upon the imperative duty of the State to provide the means for the education of her children, I hope to be excused for making the following apt quotation from a speech of Lord Macaulay, one of the greatest historians, most brilliant writers, and ripest scholars of the past century: “I
say, therefore, that the education of the people ought to be the first concern of a state, not only because it is an efficient means for promoting and obtaining that which all allow to be the main end of government, but because it is the most efficient, the most humane, the most civilized, and in all respects the best means of obtaining that end. This is my deliberate conviction, and in this opinion I am fortified by thinking that it is also the opinion of all the great legislators, of all the great statesmen, of all the great philosophers of all ages and of all nations, even including those whose general opinion is and has ever been to restrict the functions of government.'
"Strong as the foregoing is, it is not stronger than the following from that peerless orator and wise statesman, Seargeant S. Prentiss, of Mississippi, taken from a speech delivered in New Orleans in 1846:
“The principle that society is bound to provide for its members' education as well as protection (protection of person and property), so that none need be ignorant except from choice, is the most important that belongs to modern philosophy. It is essential to a republican government. Universal education is not only the best and surest, but the only sure foundation for free institutions. True liberty is the child of knowledge; she pines away and dies in the arms of ignorance.'
LOCAL TAX EECOMMENDED. “In my former reports I have frequently expressed the hope that a sentiment favorable to local taxation for school purposes might be awakened in the minds of the people of the State, and earnestly urged its importance as the best available means of securing sufficient funds to make a public school system efficient. But in this my hopes were blasted by a decision of our Supreme Court in a case brought up from the separate school district of Cullman, in which the Supreme Court held that such a tax was in violation of our constitution. The only chance to increase our school fund by means of local taxation is to have our fundamental law amended. This should be done, as we can not hope to make our school system what it ought to be without local taxation. As may be above seen, Michigan derives more than one-half of her ample school fund from local taxation. But a change of our fundamental law is not only uncertain, but at best its accomplishment requires time, and we can not afford to wait for this to be done."
In addition to the district of Collman, mentioned by Superintendent Palmer, many communities, small towns, and country neighborhoods, says the Montgomery Advertiser, asked and obtained from the Legislature a special act authorizing them to levy a local tax for schools. These special acts were declared unconstitutional by the Supreme Court, as above stated; but the fact that they were called for is conclusive evidence of the strong public sentiment in favor of free schools, and of the willingness to support them by voluntary local taxes, in addition to the State apportionment.
STATE TAX PREFERABLE TO AN APPROPRIATION. "Our only hope, so far as the State is concerned, is to increase the direct appropriation from the State. The people of the State have manifested a willingness to do this, as has been repeatedly expressed by their representatives in the Legislature by an increrise of the appropriation for schools within the past few years from $130,000 to $250,000. It is confidently hoped that by the time our next Legislature convenes that the values of the taxable property of the State will have so increased that an additional appropriation for school purposes may be made without risk of impairing the State's credit
. A better plan still, in my judgment, would be to levy a special tax of say three mills on taxable values, to be used exclusively for public schools. I believe in this way the people would more willingly pay this tax, knowing that it could never be diverted from the sacred purpose for which it was raised, and that it would be returned to them ten-fold in the enhanced valuation of their property, and better still, in the education of tbeir children free of cost.”
POLL TAX. "There was no material difference between the school funds of the two preceding years' except in the amount of poll tax collected. There has been a very decided falling off in the poll tax, both in the amount of assessments and collections, but especially in the latter. The poll tax collected for the year ending September 30, 1886, was $144,962.37, while that for the past year was only $135,572.34, a falling off of $9,390.03. There was a failure on the part of the collectors in Elmore and in Sumter Counties to pay over to the county superintendents all the poll tax due the school fund in these counties, but this only amounts to a few hundred collars and will not account for this difference. * * * By an examination of preceding reports it will be seen that the collections of poll tax are no more than they were several years ago. It is true that this failure to colject polls is chiefly in the black belt,' as it is sometimes termed, where the colored race are most numerous; but I feel sure that by greater vigilance on the part of collectors, and more rigid scrutiny on the part of commissioners' courts, much more poll tax could be collected to increase the school revenues of the State than has been done the past year. By an act of the last Legislature the collector is charged with the collection of the insolvent polls of the preceding year, a much better plan than that of turning the lists over to the justices of the county, as required by the old law. The aggregate of errors and insolvencies allowed the past year amounts to $72,782.63, nearly one-third of the entire assessment, and more than half as much as was collected. This is not creditable to our people and does not manifest the interest in education that should be shown by those who so sorely need the blessings of a public school system.
SCHOOL LANDS. "It will be seen that there has been collected, during the year, on claims for school lands, the sum of $8,855.79. It is to be regretted that the records of this office are so defective, caused, no doubt, by the confusion resulting from the Civil War, that it is impossible to ascertain, with any degree of certainty, what particular subdivisions of school hands were purchased by those persons against whom the State holds claims; and, in many cases, parties claim that they have made full payment for school lands when the record fails to show any payments; and in some cases, lands were sold before the war, and there is no evidence in this office of any such sales. It is very desirable both for the State and for the persons claiming these lands that the question of title should be settled, and patents issued to those entitled to them, and the claim of the State enforced against those who have not paid for the school lands claimed and used by them. During the year there has been constant inquiry about title to school lands, caused, no doubt, by the fact that these lands are becoming more valuable. It is to be hoped that county and township superintendents will take advantage of the favorable opportunity offered by the demand for these lands to secure settlements of these old claims held by the State. In many cases parties have been in the adverse possession of these lands for twenty and thirty years, claiming that the purchase money has all been paid, and yet there is no pretence that the State has been divested of her legal title to them. In such cases the interest of the claimants demands that they should have these questions settled, and should secure a patent from the State under compromise act, approved March 1, 1881. Quite a number of settlements nnder this act have been effected during the year, and considerable money certified into the State treasury to the credit of the school fund of the townships in which the land lies."
ARBOR DAY. “In compliance with a request made by the Southern Forestry Congress, and in accordinner with a beautiful custom that is prevailing in well nigh every State in the Union, I requested the schools of the State to observe the 22d of February, George Wash
ington's birth-day, as Arbor Day, by planting shade trees and shrubbery on their schoolgrounds, and dedicating them with appropriate ceremonies to the memory of those they love.
"Notwithstanding the fact that the appointed day was most unfavorable, by reason of heavy rains, hundreds of schools observed the day, and thousands
of trees were planted and dedicated amid the songs of the joyous children."
"That the day may continue to be observed until such results are obtained, I hereby designate the 22d of February as Arbor Day, and request its proper observance by all the schools of the State."
For other information relating to education in Alabama consult the Index.
The following rules and regulations were issued by the Secretary of the Interior on June 15, 1887:
RULES AND REGULATIONS FOR THE CONDUCT OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION
IN THE TERRITORY OF ALASKA. By virtue of the power conferred upon the Secretary of the Interior by the Act of Congress of May 17, 1884, authorizing him to make needful and proper provision for the education of children of school age in the Territory of Alaska, without reference to race, until such time as permanent provision shall be made for the same, the following rules and regulations for the government of the public schools in Alaska are hereby promulgated:
1.-General Management. Sec. 1. The general supervision and management of public education in Alaska is hereby committed to the Commissioner of Education, subject to the direction and control of the Secretary of the Interior.
SEC. 2. There is hereby organized in the Territory of Alaska a board to be known as the Territorial Board of Education, to whom shall be committed the local management of the schools in that Territory, subject to the general management and supervision of the Commissioner of Education.
The Governor of the Territory, the judge of the United States court for the time being, and the general agent of education in Alaska shall constitute this Board of Education, and the general agent shall be secretary of said board and shall keep a record of its proceedings.
SEC. 3. The regular meetings of the Board of Education shall be held, at such times as said board may appoint, in the town of Sitka, in said Territory.
Sec. 4. The Territorial Board of Education shall have power, subject to the approval of the Commissioner of Education'
(a) To select and appoint the teachers of the public schools, to prescribe their duties, and to fix their salaries;
(6) To provide general rules for the government of the schools and the attendance of the children;
(c) To prescribe the series of text-books to be used in the public schools and to require all teaching to be done in the English language;
(d) To select the location and supervise the erection of the school-houses, to provide plans for the same, and to lease houses for school purposes.
Sec. 5. Requisitions for all materials for the erection of school buildings, articles of school furniture, supplies of books, stationery, and other necessary materials for the use of the schools must be made by the Territorial Board of Education upon the Commissioner of Education, and when such requisitions are approved by the Commissioner they will be transmitted to the Secretary of the Interior for his approval, and, when approved by him, the supplies will be purchased by the Commissioner of Education, and paid for as hereinafter provided.
SEC. 6. The Board of Education, at least three months in advance of the close of the scholastic year, shall submit to the Commissioner of Education detailed estimates of the probable necessary expenses for the support of the Territorial schools for the next fiscal year, including therein the erection of school buildings, the pay of school officers and teachers and other employés, travelling expenses of the general agent and the district superintendents, rents, fuel and lights, furniture, school books, apparatus, and all other necessary expenses for the maintenance of the schools.