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The State Board of Education consists of the State Superintendent, Secretary of State, and Attorney-General, and has the general supervision over the entire educational interests of the State, among other things directing the investment of all moneys received by the State for educational purposes.
County Commissioners, one for each county, take the place of County Superintendents under the old law. The Superintendents received $5 per day pay for every day employed. The pay of the Commissioners depends upon the number of teachers examined by them, number of districts in the county, etc. A Commissioner must possess the qualifications of a competent teacher of the public schools, and be of a good moral character. There are one hundred and fourteen Commissioners in the State.
District Directors, numbering three, and elected for three years, have the government and control of the school districts, making all needful rules and regulations for the organization, grading, and management of the schools, and suspending or expelling pupils for cause. They employ teachers, purchase the necessary school apparatus and furniture, and are required to visit and examine into the condition of the respective schools under their care. The District Boards are vested with the power to borrow money in the name of their districts to the amount and for the purposes specified at the annual meetings. Cities and villages can organize Boards of Directors under a special act.
District Clerks, appointed or removed by the District Boards, keep the record of the proceedings of the latter, and also annually transmit to the County Commissioners statistics, etc.
Teachers are required to hold certificates from the State Superintendent or the County Commissioner, and be qualified to teach orthography, reading, penmanship, arithmetic, English grammar, modern geography, the history of the United States, and civil government. Certificates are generally granted for one year. The teachers are required to become members of the Institutes, and, as far as possible, to attend all regular meetings of the same. One hundred and forty Institutes were held during 1873.
For securing uniformity in text-books, a meeting of the Presidents of the various Boards of Directors with the County Commissioners is required to be held once in four years at every county seat.
The capital of the State School Fund, January 1, 1874, amounted to $2,612,098.74. The income derived from this, together with twenty-five per cent. of the State revenue, is distributed annually according to the number of pupils enumerated. The amount thus distributed March 31, 1874, was $410,269.28. In addition to this are county and township school funds, the revenue of which is distributed in their respective municipalities. Fines, forfeitures, and penalties are added yearly to the capital of the School Funds.
The Normal Schools in the State number four, located at Kirksville, Warrensburg, Cape Girardeau, and Jefferson City. That at the last place is for the education of colored teachers. They are all supported by State appropriations.
Separate schools are required to be established by the school authorities for colored children wherever the number of the latter exceeds fifteen.
It is made the duty of the State Superintendent to establish needed schools whenever the proper authorities fail to do so.
The legal school age is from five to twenty-one. The length of the school day is six hours. The school month consists of four weeks of five days each, and the school year commences on the first Tuesday in April.
There is no compulsory education law.
ADDITIONAL LEGISLATION DURING 1874.
Acts were passed restricting the liabilities of counties, cities, etc., in matters of contracts, and providing manner of making the same. The Normal School acts were also amended.
The public schools of St. Louis are, as a general thing, in a high state of efficiency.
1873-'74. Children in State between five and twenty-one years old....
476, 192.... 485,249 School districts in the State.
7,483 Public schools in the State..
4,840.... 7,829 Whole number of white schools....
7,547 Whole number of colored schools.....
282 Whole number of public school-houses. 4,135....
7, 224 Erected during the year..
548 Whole number of male teachers.
2,982.... 6,281 Whole number of female teachers..
3,395 Average monthly wages, males.....
$39 87 Average monthly wages, females....
$30 36 Whole amount paid for teachers' wages. $641,974 oo....$1,125,605 00 Children enrolled in public schools.... 169, 270.. 391,965 Average daily attendance...
210,962 Cost of education per scholar based on enumeration .....
$3 oo Estimated value of school-houses......
$4,498,640 00 Number of white scholars in State.....
667,574 Number of colored scholars in State....
38,243 Total receipts for school purposes...
$2,117,662 00 Total expenditures..
..$1,638,353 00 Number of school officers. Three Directors in each district, and District
Clerk, besides the County Commissioner.
ONE of Judge White's law students was a convert at a protracted meeting, but not finding the peace he hoped from his conversion, he waited on his minister, and informed him of his backsliding condition. “Your heart is hardened by your profession,” solemnly said the man of God. “Quit the law office; retire on your knees to your study, and be brought out either a Christian or a corpse."
Hon. J. M. MCKENZIE, the present State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Nebraska, was born in Glasgow, Scotland, October 12, 1830, and early thrown as a waif on the charities of the world. He soon developed a great love of books, and devoured all that came in his way. When of age, he entered the Jonesville Academy, where he remained several years as pupil and teacher. He afterward spent a year at Poultney, Vt., in the school there. In 1855, he entered Union College, but was obliged to leave in 1857, to provide a home for his aged mother. He was elected one of the Professors in Upper Iowa University, Fayette, Iowa, where he remained until 1862. He then went to Nebraska, and was instrumental in establishing the present State Normal School, from the principalship of which he was called to the position of State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Though not a brilliant scholar, he is an enthusiastic and earnest teacher, and is devoting his best efforts toward building up a system of education in Nebraska that shall be thoroughly effective in affording the humblest child an equal chance with those of the most wealthy. His motto is free education, from the primary schools through the University. He is a member of the Methodist Episcopal Church.
SUPERINTENDENT MCKENZIE sends us the following paper regarding Education in Nebraska:
Nebraska was admitted into the Union as a State in 1867. Her population then was not to exceed fifty thousand souls.
The “Enabling Act," as it was called, gave Nebraska in addition to the sixteenth and thirty-sixth sections of land in every township for school purposes, five per cent on all cash sales of public lands within her boundaries, seventy-two sections of land as an endowment for a State University, seventytwo sections for the development of the salt interest, and five hundred thousand acres for internal improvements.
In June, 1869, the sum of $14,661.50 was divided among twenty thousand nine hundred and fifty-six children between the ages of five and twenty years. In June, 1874, $107,763.95 were distributed among seventy-two thousand nine hundred and ninety-one children. In 1869, there were seven hundred and ninety-seven school districts; there are now two thousand one hundred and thirty. In 1869, there were less than two hundred school-houses reported. In 1873, there were eleven hundred and thirty-eight. The value of school-houses in 1869 was less than $100,000. In 1873-4, it was $1,024,383.
Teachers' wages, in 1869, were less than $40,000. In 1873-4, they were $281,000. Thus, Nebraska shows an increase in all her school interests, in the past five years, of from three hundred to one thousand per cent.
Her Temporary School Fund, that is, the fund for annual distribution, is derived from a two-mill tax on the grand assessment-roll, lease of school-lands, and interest on moneys arising from sales of school-lands; also, from fines, licenses, and dogtax. The apportionment is made by the State Superintendent to the counties on the basis of the number of children between the ages of five and twenty-one years.
The present State Superintendent is in the fourth and last year of his term. He is elected for four years. His salary is $2,000. County Superintendents, elected by the people, receive a per diem fixed by the County Commissioners, not less than $3 nor more than $5 for each day actually employed in the work of the office.
There is no State Board of Education.
The County Superintendents apportion one-fourth among the districts having school the prescribed length of time, irrespective of the number of children; the remaining three-fourths are divided on the basis of the number of children.
The city of Omaha has one of the finest public school buildings in the United States; it was erected at a cost of over $200,000, and will accommodate from eight hundred to a thousand children. There are several other school buildings in the State costing over $40,000, and a large number costing from $5,000 to $20,000 each.
The State University, located at Lincoln, the capital, is in successful operation. Dr. A. R. Benton is the Chancellor. The Agricultural College is connected with the University.
The State Normal School, located at Peru, a quiet little village on the bank of the Missouri River, sixteen miles below Nebraska City, is doing a very important work for the State. General T. J. Morgan is principal. The number of pupils in attendance, in all departments, was over three hundred during the past year.
The school law requires the State Superintendent to recommend the text-books to be used in the public schools. A list was recommended in 1870, by Hon. S. D. Beals, which has remained unchanged, and the books have been quietly introduced in most of the schools, especially in the rural districts.
During the past four years no radical changes have been made in the school laws.