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are elected by the people, and are required to enforce the laws, resolutions, and recommendations of the Board of Education They receive a salary to be determined by a Committee composed of the clerks of the several township trustees of their respective counties.
Township Boards consist of three township trustees, elected by the people. They contract for teachers, and make reports to the County Superintendent of school property, moneys, etc., within their jurisdiction. Every city and incorporated town, by an act approved December 2, 1869, was constituted a school district, and placed under the management and control of a board of not less than three nor more than nine trustees. In 1872, however, the office of school director was abolished.
The School Fund comprises the proceeds of United States land-grants, escheated estates, special State appropriations, bequests, and of moneys paid for exemption from military duty. In addition, an annual appropriation of one-fifth of the entire revenue is made, and a poll-tax of $1.50 is imposed for the maintenance of public schools. The School Fund for 1873 was $524,452.40, and for 1874, $352,673.92.
Trustees are required to provide separate schools for white and colored children, unless parents and guardians consent that they shall be taught together.
Schools are divided into first, second, third, and fourth grades, according to the branches pursued. The school day comprises not less than six hours, and the school month all the days of the calendar month, except Saturdays and Sundays.
County Superintendents may appoint suitable persons in various parts of their respective counties to examine teachers for public schools. No text-book can be adopted without first receiving the approval of the State Board of Education.
December 14, 1872, the Board of Education passed an Act instructing superintendents of education and township trustees to close all free public schools where the necessary funds for the payment of teachers were not provided. The State Superintendent in his last report, spoke of many schools having been closed. “The financial depression,” he says, “experienced by all branches of State Government for the last year (1873), has been specially embarrassing to the Public School System.” It is stated that this untoward condition of affairs is due to the fact
that the State has devoted to other purposes $1,250,000, belonging to the School Fund.
LEGISLATION DURING 1874. The State Board of Education at its last session-last winter -passed a number of acts, of which the following are the main points:
First.-County superintendents can be removed by the State Superintendent for malfeasance in office, incompetency, immorality, or drunkenness.
Second.—County superintendents shall receive three dollars per day, pay when employed.
Third.—The day of holding the General State election is declared a legal holiday for teachers in free public schools.
Fourth.-Hereafter the scholastic month is to consist of twenty school days.
Fifth. The members of the Board of Regents receive three dollars per diem, for not more than eight days a year.
In addition to the above, provision was made for establishing a State Normal School and University for the education of colored teachers and students at Marion.
Inasmuch as Alabama kept no general educational statistics during the war, it is impossible to indicate by figures what progress has been made during ten years. Furthermore, the statistics for 1873 are incomplete, omitting many things of interest. The number of white children in the State is given at 235,600 ; colored children, 169,139. The pay of County Superintendents amounted to $4,500. The amount apportioned to Normal Schools was $9,750. The school statistics for 1872–73 are as follows: school population, 403,735; number of white children enrolled, 61,942; number of colored children enrolled, 41,673; average attendance of white children, 45,521 ; average attendance of colored children, 28,406; total teachers for white schools, 1,820; total teachers for colored schools, 830; total number of schools in State, 2,561,
J. C. Corbin, State Superintendent of Public Instruction in Arkansas, was born March 26, 1833, in Chillicothe, Ohio, and graduated from the Ohio State University at Athens in 1853. He at one time edited the Colored Citisen in Cincinnati, and was employed on the Little Rock Republican newspaper when elected State Superintendent in November 1872. His term of office is four years.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
ARKANSAS was admitted into the Union as a State in 1836. Her first Constitution contained a clause to the effect that the General Assembly should provide by law for the School lands, and “encourage intellectual, scientific, and agricultural improvements.” The State received 886,460 acres of land for Common Schools, and 46,080 acres for a University. Still no system of Public Schools was inaugurated in the State, and educational matters remained in a backward condition. In 1854, eighteen years after Arkansas had been admitted into the Union, there were only forty Public Schools in the entire State, and the then State School Commissioners complained of “the indifference that pervaded the public mind on the subject of education." Because of this indifference and defective and fraudulent legislation, the land grants from the General Government were sadly mismanaged, if not squandered, so that, what should have been a permanent School Fund, amounting in 1870, to between two millions and three millions of dollars, aggregated only $35,192. During and immediately following the war, the educational interests of Arkansas were almost wholly neglected. The presence of contending armies and the impoverishment of the people acted as an embargo against intellectual growth and development; most of the literary institutions were closed; many of the buildings had been destroyed, and altogether the educational outlook was decidedly discouraging. So far, however, from giving themselves over to despondency, the people shared in the new spirit and vigor which characterized the Southern States after the war. Governor Murphy wrote in his message to the General Assembly in 1866, "No State in the Union is at present behind Arkansas in educational provision ; but never in the
history of the State, have the people indicated a stronger desire for the establishment of a thorough system of School Education at the public expense. The people are beginning to feel that ignorance is a crime, deeply injurious to the peace and happiness of society, for which, not only parents, but the Government also, are responsible.” Two years later (1868), a new Constitution was adopted, making it the duty of the General Assembly to establish and maintain Free Schools; to provide for the improvement and conservation of all educational land grants to the State, and to provide for a State University with an agricultural department. The new Constitution further made it obligatory on parents to send their children to school at least three years—between the ages of five and eighteen years, or to instruct them at home.
REMODELING THE SCHOOL LAWS.
In accordance with these provisions of the Constitution, the Legislature during the next year (1868-9), inaugurated a new School System. After a two years' trial the State Superintendent reported that the new system had operated admirably. The work of organizing School Districts had progressed until most of the townships contained one or more. Vigorous efforts were being put forth on every hand to build suitable schoolhouses, secure increased school facilities, and to keep schools open for a longer period than three months during the year. Two years later, however, or at the beginning of 1873, the same Superintendent reported that the Free School System of the State so auspiciously inaugurated, and so successfully carried forward during the first two years of its history, had been seriously embarrassed and well-nigh destroyed by the mistaken policy of the Legislature in limiting the amount of local school tax that might be levied in country districts to one-half of one per cent.; and in cities and towns to three-fourths of one per cent. on the taxable property of the district. The Legislature had likewise authorized the issue of interest-bearing certificates and made them receivable for school taxes; as a consequence, the School Fund, both State and District, was paid in paper with half its par value. This depreciation, with the curtailment of local taxation, so crippled a large portion of the school districts that it was impossible for them to support even a three
months' school. Teachers paid in scrip, which they could not dispose of except at a ruinous discount, became disgusted and left the State.
The Superintendent added, “there are other influences or agencies which have contributed to hinder and embarrass the school work during the past two years, but those mentioned have operated most disastrously. From a condition of vigorous growth of popular sentiment in favor of the system, there has come to be a sickly, feeble, and hesitating state of feeling among the people in respect to the Free School enterprise."
THE PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM.
The Legislature of 1873-4 responded to the appeal of the Superintendent and others, and passed a new school law repealing all other acts, and expressly stipulating that a per capita tax of one dollar should be assessed on every male inhabitant over twenty-one years of age in each county, and paid into the State Treasury as a revenue for the support of Common Schools. The other features of the new Act are as follows:
The State Superintendent is elected for four years, and receives an annual salary of thirty-five hundred dollars in State scrip. His duties are similar to those of other State Superintendents.
The State Board of Education consists of the Trustees of the Arkansas Industrial University and the State Superintendent, who is the President. This Board is empowered to legislate and make all needful rules and regulations respecting Common Schools, and the general educational interests of the State. All such acts may be altered, amended, or repealed by the Legislature. The Board is required to make the necessary provisions for establishing and maintaining separate schools for white and colored children. The Constitutional provision for.compulsory education has never been carried out.
The County Superintendents number seventy-three, and receive an annual salary in scrip of from two hundred to five hundred dollars, according to the population of the county. They are elected for one year by the School Trustees of the respective counties. They are required to be persons " of literary and scientific attainments, of moral character, and skilled in the art of conducting schools," and to take an oath "that they will