« AnteriorContinuar »
NENT COMMON SCHOOL FUNDS
FLETCHER HARPER SWIFT, Ph. D. (Columbia)
The existence to-day of public schools in most of our states may be said to be due directly, though of course by no means solely, to vast endowment funds provided by previous generations. In view of the part these funds have played in nearly every state, it is surprising that they have received so little attention from historians. The two most widely known histories of education in the United States, Boone's and Dexter's, give almost no information regarding them. Boone limits his discussion to about seven pages and Dexter, his to two pages.
State histories of education are equally disappointing to one seeking information upon this topic. Wickersham's History of Education in Pennsylvania, one of the largest and most comprehensive of state histories of education, contains no organized statement regarding the common school fund of Pennsylvania established in 1831. References to the fund are made here and there, but more space is given to describing the domestic surroundings of various prominent schoolmen than is given to this fund. It is not included in the index, a fact which further emphasizes the small place it occupies in the work. No doubt one of the causes for the silence of the historians is the difficulty of securing reliable information respecting the public permanent common school funds. This difficulty is discussed somewhat fully in Chapter One. The present volume is the first attempt to give a comprehensive account of these funds and their influence. Part One, designed for the general reader, is devoted to a broad survey of the origin, management, loss, and effects of the public permanent common school funds. Part Two is designed primarily for reference. It contains a summary of the origin, condition in the year 1905, and administration of the public permanent common
school fund or funds of each state and territory, arranged according to the alphabetical order of states.
The present work was begun in 1902. No effort has been spared to make it accurate. The original documents have been consulted in every case where possible. Furthermore, every account in Part Two save that of Pennsylvania has been submitted to the state superintendent of public instruction or some other state official for reading and criticism. In some cases the help given has been most valuable. During the six years occupied in completing this work correspondence has been carried on with officials in every state. It was hoped in the beginning that this correspondence and the data returned with it might be added as an appendix, but this has proved impracticable. Into an account as comprehensive as this some errors will almost inevitably creep, and the author will be most grateful to anyone who will call his attention to such. No one can be more aware than the author of the importance of certain topics omitted. Several topics which it was designed to include have been excluded, owing to the limits of space set by considerations respecting publication.
It has proved necessary to omit from publication what was originally designed to be Part Three. This part contained a detailed account of the history of the funds in six typical states: Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Maine, Florida, and Indiana. These accounts were most important as intensive studies to the student of American educational or economic history, and served as a basis for Part One. The more important Tables included in Part Three have been added in an Appendix.
To one who has attempted to gather data covering a large territory no explanation will be necessary as to why the accounts in Part Two are not brought down to the year 1910. Even the federal authorities are frequently unable to get data from states, and it is needless to say that the individual and obscure seeker after statistics encounters many greater difficulties. Certain states must be written to a dozen times before any response is received and then the data is incomplete and incorrect. The laws and regulations concerning the administration of the funds in most states have changed little since 1905. To attempt to revise these individual accounts would be to postpone indefinitely the publication of a work already too long delayed. Moreover, any permanent value of such a work as this must lie chiefly in the account it gives of the origin and history of the funds, as data for any year would speedily pass out of date.
The foot-notes in each part are numbered continuously. Within the same series of foot-notes where the number of a footnote is repeated, the foot-note itself is not.
The author wishes to express his most sincere thanks to Professor Paul Monroe and to Professor Edward L. Thorndike of Teachers College, Columbia University; to Professor Monroe who suggested the subject treated in the following pages and under whose guidance the beginning of this study was conducted; and to Professor Thorndike who, together with Professor Monroe, reviewed the manuscript and made many practical and valuable suggestions. To the superintendents of schools and other state officers from California to Maine most grateful acknowledgments are made for the courtesy, patience, and invaluable assistance they extended.
F. H. S. UNIVERSITY OF MINNESOTA, Minneapolis, Minn.