Imágenes de páginas
PDF
EPUB

by taxation, and by royal endowment. The institution and the church were closely united, and the colony contributed to the support of both. Maryland followed closely in the footsteps of Virginia, first in the sup. port of the Virginia college, and secondly in the support, by taxation, of schools founded by subscription, created by the government within her own territory. These county schools were State institutions according to the definition of the term in those days, and afterward made possible the colleges of Washington and St. John, with their State endowments. Farther south, in the Carolinas and in Georgia, we find the same general plan and purpose of education. The schools were modelled after those of England and were considered to be the charge of the colonial government. But as elsewhere noted the schools did not flourish in the sparsely settled Southern districts as well as they did in the village communities of the North.

The dominant spirit in early colonial education was benevolence. Its whole force was spent on the moral elevation of society and on the support of religion. Theology was taught in nearly every college, and the propagation of the Gospel was an important factor in all education. By those who legislated from across the water in favor of education, the benighted colonists and the rude Indians were viewed in the same charitable light. And yet in every instance in which the colonial gov. ernments touched upon education, they considered it a legitimate function and part of their solemn duty to create schools, control them if need be, and support them when necessary. Particularly was this true of higher institutions of learning. Schools of lower grade might be carried on by the single efforts of individuals under sanction of the government, but the investments necessary to support a school of learning required special control and supplementary aid from the State. To this end it was the policy of colonial governments in general to protect, guide, and assist private benevolence in education. They exempted members of colleges from military duty and from taxation, and, having created colleges, freed their property from taxation and assisted them in their support by levying taxes upon the people. Thus the germs of the later educational policy were gradually developed, although the church and the State, so closely united in early education, have become almost entirely separated.

If in the early records of the colonies we find that the general court has taken the initiative in founding schools, as in Maryland and Vir. ginia, in Connecticut, Massachusctts, and New Hampshire, it must still be remembered that the " affairs of the church and the affairs of the State were subjected to the same general control," ? and consequently the early colleges “ were established and supported by a two-fold agency-of the masses of the people on the one hand, and of private

1 See section on "Virginia."
2 C. K. Adams: Address on Washington and the Higher Education, 6.

benevolence on the other." I " It is worthy of note that the contributions of the colonists were at first more or less voluntary in their nature. The church and the commonwealth were closely allied ; and as all who received the benefit of the former felt it their duty to contribute to its support in proportion to their means, so they were also expected to give in like manner to the maintenance of the latter." 2

GENERAL POLICY OF THE STATES.

After the Declaration of Independence the provisions relating to ed. ucation assumed a more decidedly political tone. Sentiments began to be expressed in favor of universities, created, controlled, and supported by the State. The colonies had received a new political baptism, and the ideas of sovereign States began to grow and the national consciousness to awaken. With this new political awakening came enlarged views of the needs of political education for a sovereign people. To the ideas already existing in favor of education for the preservation of learning, for the social, moral, and religious improvement of communities, there was added a new zeal for educated citizenship. Pennsylvania in the Constitution of 1776 provided for the support of “one or more universities.” North Carolina followed the same year with a similar provision. Many other States adopted the same measure, either by constitutional provision or by legislative enactment. The charters of the older colleges were confirmed with all their privileges guarantied. In the majority of the new States, private and sectarian schools received the aid of the Legislative Assembly through taxation, grants of land, or protective laws.

The principal ways in which the several States have aided higher education may be enumerated as follows: (1) by granting charters with privileges; (2) by freeing officers and students of colleges and universities from military duty; (3) by exempting the persons and property of the officers and students from taxation; (4) by granting land endowments; (5) by granting permanent money endowments by statute law; (6) by making special appropriations from funds raised by taxation; (7) by granting the benefits of lotteries, and (8) by special gifts of buildings and sites. Nearly all of these methods originated among the colonies and were adopted by the States.

GRANTS AND APPROPRIATIONS.

Harvard College was aided by the first six methods; Yale received a permanent tax endowment, and special appropriations of land and money; Columbia College received special grants of land and money; the University of Virginia received grants of land and permanent tax endowments; Georgia was one of the first States to grant a large landed

1C. K. Adams: Address on Washington and the Higher Education, 6.
2 R. T. Ely: Taxation in American States and Cities, 109.

endowment; South Carolina supported her State institution by a permanent tax endowment; and Maryland granted to her first two colleges a permanent endowment supported by taxation.

Other striking examples might be cited, but it is not necessary, as these will show the general trend of legislation, and that is sufficient for our present purpose. There has been a manifest tendency in all legislation to foster learning and favor those connected with institutions of higher education, and it is no small matter that so many of the States of the Union have declared in their Constitutions for the protection and fostering care of higher education.

Nearly every State Constitution has a section relating to the encouragement of science, literature, learning, etc., and out of the thirty-eight States, two have provisions authorizing the establishment and main tenance of a State university, while twenty-four States have established universities by statute laws.

EXEMPTION FROM TAXATION.

One of the earliest methods of favoring colleges was the exemption of college property from taxation, which to all intents and purposes is equivalent to granting special appropriations in the several cases, equal to the amount of taxes on property of equal value. This custom was almost universal among the colonies, and even extended so far as to exempt in several instances the property of the members of the collegeor, university. Thus, Rhode Island formerly exempted all the property of the professors of Brown University from taxation, but when the charter was revised this feature was amended, so that now the property of each professor is exempted to the extent of ten thousand dollars only. The principle of exemption of educational institutions from taxation has been so grounded in the nature of our Government as to represent a practicably irrevocable law.

Historically, no more settled and constant policy has ever been adopted by so many States in regard to higher education. In the majority of the States either constitutional provision or statute law exempts property in actual use for educational purposes, while several go further and exempt the productive funds also. It would be difficult to estimate the number of millions of dollars thus expended during the history of our country for the support of higher learning; for it is assumed that an exception in favor of property invested in educational institutions must necessarily increase the taxes on other property, which is equivalent to voting a tax for the support of education.

According to the Report of the Commissioner of Education for the year 1885–86, the total amount of productive funds of three hundred and forty-five colleges and universities situated in forty-three States and Territories in the United States was $49,687,378. The total valuation of unproductive property (college grounds, buildings, and apparatus) amounted to $43,565,413, and the total appropriations for higher education by the several Legislatures were $862,580. Had the unproductive funds been freed from taxation there would have been voted for higher education the additional sum of $1,306,962. If the productive funds had been also exempted, this amount would have been increased to the sum of $2,797,583. Compared with the work to be done this seems but a small item of assistance, yet it means the education of some thousands of young men yearly, a constant factor in the encouragement of higher learning. A careful consideration of this subject will show how universal has been the policy of the several commonwealths in encouraging learning in all its forms, in appreciating the necessity of advanced education, and in supplementing and encouraging private benevolence.

1 See Appendix A.

There is still another principleinvolved. The State not only recognizes the absolute necessity of superior education for the moral, social, and political well-being of its subjects, but it acknowledges that private and sectarian schools are performing work that otherwise would legitimately devolve upon the Government. To this common policy there is one ex. ception. The comparatively new State of California, upon the principle that all property ought to be taxed, levies upon the property of institutions of learning. Having established its own university by the aid of the Federal Government, it recognizes no others as necessary to the well-being of the State, but regards them all as private business enterprises and requires them to assist in the support of the Government by direct taxation. It is a remarkable instance of the reversal of a timehonored policy which has taken deep root in the constitution of educational society. I say reversal, because soon after California became a State the Legislative Assembly granted aid to non-State institutions. An historical retrospect of the relation of the State to education may be presented in a few propositions, as follows: (1) in colonial times State, private, and church benevolence worked together; (2) subsequently private and church schools were prominent, still being aided by State appropriations; (3) the gradual cessation of State aid to private and church schools, and the growth of State universities. On the other hand, freedom from taxation continues, with more guarded provisions; the privileges of members of the non-State schools are growing less, until a State on the Pacific coast taxes education and taxes benevolence.

We may infer from the foregoing facts that there is a tendency of States, not to do less for higher education, but to do more, and to do it in a methodical way for a particular purpose. There is a wider differ

'In every State except California the unproductive property is freed from taxation to a greater or less extent, and the productive funds of colleges are exempt in many States.

2 In the same year $1,568,433 were received from tuition fees, and from all other sources not named above the sum of $1,739,723. The total number of students in attendance was 67,642.

entiation of State and non-State schools than formerly. There is a wider separation of church and State in matters of education. The old classical school is supported by the church, while there is a growing tendency on the part of the State to build universities for educational and industrial purposes.

The policy of early legislation is about to be realized concerning State institutions. A review of the history of the State universities, particularly of the West and South, for the past ten years will show a progressive tendency. At the present outlook it seems that there will be one well-established State institution or its equivalent in every State, for the promotion of those studies which pertain directly to the political and industrial sides of education. But this does not imply that nonState institutions should not receive assistance, encouragement, and protection. Every class of citizens should receive due representation, and when a very large proportion demand educational institutions constituted after their own manner of thinking, it is not only the privilege of the State to sanction by its laws the creation of such institutions, but its duty to at least see that no injustice is done, and that its attitude is in every respect encouraging. So long as these institutions make for a better citizenship, a higher learning, and a general improvement of the people, it is absolute folly for the State to tax their efforts. It is to “tax the light” and discourage private benevolence. 66 Noth. ing yields so large a return to the tax-payer as this exemption of edu

Mi cational institutions from taxation.

Education is not a money-making business; it is either a benevolence or a public defence. There is not an institution of advanced learning that can pay its way by tuition. There has been a sacrifice by the people at large through the State, or by individuals, or by organizations and associations. Referring to two of the foremost political economists, Adam Smith and John Stuart Mill, we find that their doctrines oppose the practice of the taxation of institutions of leårning. Adam Smith's fundamental law of taxation seems to bear directly upon the question, when it declares that “The subjects of every State ought to contribute toward the support of the government as nearly as possible in proportion to their respective abilities, that is, in proportion to the revenue which they respectively enjoy under the protection of the State.” 2 Who ever heard of an institution of learning enjoying revenues as stock-owners in a railroad company enjoy dividends? Does any one ever hear of educational institutions of higher learning declaring dividends to individuals ? Education is on an entirely different basis. When a college or a university gets money, it buys books, builds libraries, purchases apparatus, employs extra teachers, or erects a new building, that the youth of the country, the best wealth of the State, may be better fitted for the duties of citizenship and for life.

IR. T. Ely: Taxation in American States and Cities, 345.
2 Wealth of Nations, Book V, ch. 2.

« AnteriorContinuar »