Schools - Later State Systems
( Originally Published 1907 )
HOWEVER important other educational systems and educational movements may have been, the general trend of the nineteenth century set strongly in the direction of an education under the control of public corporations. There has been another tendency, intimately connected with this. The demand for systems of schools under full public control has carried with it the demand for consecutiveness in our state systems of education, from the lowest grades to the highest. We have been moving toward an ideal somewhat like that of the Einheitsschule. We have found ourselves more or less consciously striving toward the standard set up by Huxley when he said, "No system of public education is worth the name of national unless it creates a great educational ladder, with one end in the gutter and the other in the university." These aspirations have come to their most complete expression in states having state universities — but about two-thirds of the states in the Union are of this class. They are aspirations which have grown up with a new ideal of social relations, a new democracy, which in its full development is peculiar to the nineteenth (and the twentieth) century.
We saw that in the old colony days the need of a middle-grade education, except for those intended for college and for one of the' learned professions, was not generally recognized. Society was still largely organized on distinct levels. People still spoke of " the quality." That is, the difference between the professional and directive class on the one hand and the common people on the other was apparently accepted as qualitative, in a sense that we hardly realize. The colleges, with the grammar schools leading up to them, were for the higher class. The educational provision for the lower classes extended only to schools of elementary grade, and was very scanty and fragmentary at best. Between the two systems there was no organic connection.
The revolutionary period and the years next following saw a gradual breaking up of the earlier social strata, and the rise of a middle class to prominence and influence. The newly recognized educational needs of this class were now met by the academies, especially in such of their courses as did not aim at preparation for college.
With the advance of nineteenth and twentieth century democracy, the social levels of earlier days have been upset. No one speaks of social classes now, unless it be under his breath. Our present-day society knows no levels : we recognize no generic distinction between its several grades. Its extremes may be much farther apart than were those of an earlier age, but the lowest and the highest occupy their several places in one continuous gradation of social differences.
The old grammar schools were for those on the plane a b and for such as were making their way up to that eminence. The earlier academies were for those on this same plane, now represented by the line g h, but were in particularly intimate connection with the restless middle line i j, which has already lost its sense of the horizontal. The high schools belong out and out to this jostling middle line, which at an early day has imposed its own slanting disposition on the other members of the scheme. There is little need to add that the diagram at best can tell but a small part of the story ; or to raise the insistent question of our time : After the line m n, what next ?
This brief survey of social change may help us a little to understand some things which have a bearing on our subject. It suggests one cause of that extreme restlessness which characterizes our modern society. On this social inclined plane, whoever is not on his way to the top is perforce on his way to the bottom. Our systems of education have gradually adjusted themselves to such a state of things. There has appeared accordingly a widespread purpose to link our schools together from the lowest to the highest; to put every kindergarten and primary school on a line which leads, without by-way or break, straight up to the university.
This purpose has come only gradually to full consciousness ; but in the course of a century the ideal proposed in the Indiana state constitution of 1816 has become the characteristic aim of American educational organization : "A general system of education, ascending in regular gradation from township [district] schools to a state university wherein tuition shall be gratis and equally open to all." Such a purpose has found repeated expression, not only in the educational schemes of our statesmen and teachers, but in legislative enactments. A few citations will serve for illustration.
The legislature of Tennessee declared, in 1817, that, "Institutions of learning, both academies and colleges, should ever be under the fostering care of this legislature, and in their connection with each other form a complete system of education."
Thomas Jefferson, replying to the charge that he was pushing university education to the neglect of the elementary schools, wrote to Mr. Cabell:
"Nobody can doubt my zeal for the general instruction of the people. Who first started that ideal I may surely say myself. Turn to the bill in the revised code which I drew more than forty years ago, and before which the idea of a plan for the education of the people generally had never been suggested in this State. There you will see developed the first rudiments of the whole system of general education we are now urging and acting on ; and it is well known to those with whom I have acted on this subject that I have never proposed a sacrifice of the primary to the ultimate grade of instruction. Let us keep our eye steadily on the whole system."
President Henry P. Tappan, of the University of Michigan, presented a statesmanlike report to the regents of that institution, in 1856, in which he discussed the "true position" of the university, " and its relation to our entire system of public education." He said :
"An entire system of public education comprises three grades and can comprise but three grades : the primary, the intermediate, and the university. . . . The primary school comes first... . All human learning begins with the alphabet. .. .
"The second grade occupies the period of youth — of adolescence or growth. This is the period when the foundations of knowledge and character can be most amply and securely laid.. . .
" But let it be remembered that the intermediate grade embraces only the apprenticeship of the scholar. . . . Hence the necessity of universities, as the highest form of educational institutions. . . .
" The highest institutions are necessary to supply the proper standard of education ; to raise up instructors of the proper qualifications ; to define the principles and methods of education. . . .
" Nothing is more evident than that the three grades of education—the primary, the intermediate, the university — are all alike necessary. The one cannot exist, in perfection, without the others ; they imply one another. . . .
" It is to the honor of Michigan that she has conceived of a complete system of public education running through the three grades we have discussed above. Nor do these grades exist merely in name. She has established the primary grade of schools and made them well nigh free. She has laid the foundation of an institution which admits of being expanded to a true university. In former days she had her `branches' belonging to the intermediate grade; and now we see rising up those invaluable institutions, the ' union schools,' belonging to the same grade. We say not that legislation has adequately reached the entire system, or made provision for its development ; but the idea of the entire system is abroad among the people ; it has not been absent from our legislation ; it has appeared in the reports of superintendents and visitors, and in other documents ; and the people, at this moment, unaided by any special appropriation, are organizing above the district school, the best schools of the intermediate grade, less than a college, which have yet existed among us ; and are erecting large, tasteful, and convenient edifices for their accommodation. These ideas, spontaneously working in the minds of the people, these spontaneous efforts to create schools of a higher grade must determine future legislation, and indicate the grand point to which our educational development is tending."
It is this large conception of education as one great public interest, from the lowest schools to the highest, which we need as a background for any consideration of the development of state systems of secondary education. We have already looked into the establishment of those state systems in which the educational unit was the academy. Such systems belong to the latter part of the eighteenth and the earlier half of the nineteenth century. The great movement in the establishment of state systems which make the high school their unit, belongs to the period following the Civil War. But highly important pioneering had been done at a period much earlier than this.
The first general provision for anything answering to our idea of a high school, which has thus far come to light, was contained in the Connecticut law of 1798. Previous to this time, the requirement that each of the county towns should support a grammar school had been in force. This requirement was now discontinued. In its place, a provision was adopted to the effect that any school society (district) might by a two-thirds vote establish a higher school, " the object of which shall be to perfect the youth admitted therein in reading and penmanship, to instruct them in the rudiments of English grammar, in composition, in arithmetic, and geography, or, on particular desire, in the Latin and Greek languages, also in the first principles of religion and morality, and in general to form them for usefulness and happiness in the various relations of social life." This law seems to contemplate, not a high school proper, but rather a mixed institution — an advanced primary or English grammar school for the most of the pupils, and a Latin grammar school for a select few.
A similar provision had been adopted two years earlier for the first school society of Farmington, Connecticut, but Latin and Greek were not included in its list of studies. This was to be a central school, supported by a pro rata assessment on the public moneys assigned to the several districts into which the society might be divided.
In Massachusetts, as we have seen, the law requiring grammar schools in the towns was so far weakened, in 1824, that towns having a population of less than five thousand were allowed to substitute for such school an elementary school, if the people should so determine by vote at a public election. This is the low-water mark of public school sentiment in Massachusetts, with reference to the secondary grade of instruction. In 1826 it was enacted that every town having five hundred families should provide a master to give instruction in the history of the United States, book-keeping, geometry, surveying, and algebra, and every town having four thousand inhabitants, a master capable of giving instruction in Latin and Greek, history, rhetoric, and logic. This act has seen some vicissitudes since its first adoption, but it marks the beginning of continuous provision in Massachusetts for a state system of high schools.
It is difficult to trace the early statutory provisions for high schools in many of the states. At the time when the older schools of this sort were coming into being, special legislation was not held in such disfavor as in more recent times. The high schools, as institutions of the municipalities, were often erected under special statutes and charters framed for each city separately, without reference to any general enactment, or even to any general principle. Their legal history must be sought for in the maze of such legislation. Yet it will not be forgotten that through just such devious ways a general policy of the states with reference to such institutions was gradually built up.
In some instances a measure drawn in the first place for a single community found so great favor that it was made the model for -statutes framed for the benefit of other communities, or even for general enactments. For example, the "Akron law," passed by the Ohio legislature in 1847, provided for a graded school system in the city of Akron, including a " central grammar school," which was in reality a high school. The provisions of this act were immediately extended to the city of Dayton, and in 1848 to every incorporated town or city in the state, whenever two-thirds of the qualified voters should petition the town or city council in favor of such extension.
In 1848 the third district in Somersworth, New Hampshire, was empowered by the legislature to establish and maintain a high school. Later in the same year, the provisions of this act were extended to all school districts which might adopt it in regular form; and it was further enacted, "that any school district, when the number of scholars should exceed 100, might vote to keep such high school or schools as the interests of education might require."
Other general enactments appear at a comparatively early date. They were, however, permissive in their provisions, and not compulsory as was the Massachusetts law. State Superintendent Benton, of Iowa, recommended graded or "union " schools in 1848; and legal permission for the organization of higher grades in the public schools of that state was granted in 1849. In 1857 more ample provision was made for the higher schools, " provided that no other language than the English shall be taught therein, except with the concurrence of two-thirds " of the board of education. The general school law of 1858 authorized county high schools .
The first school law of California, adopted in 1851, provided for the establishment of high schools by any city, town, or village having more than four hundred scholars, on petition of two-thirds of the legal voters within such district, or by two school districts which might unite for this purpose while remaining separate in other respects. Not more than one-fourth of the state and county moneys received by any district might be expended for the support of such high schools. Districts were authorized also to tax themselves for the support of schools of this grade, but might not expend for this purpose more than one-fourth of the whole amount raised by local taxation for schools. High schools were required under this act to teach, in addition to the studies of the grammar schools, " bookkeeping, surveying, drawing, music, political economy, Greek and Latin, equal to that what [sic] is required for admission into college, Spanish and French." These provisions were soon supplanted by others less liberal in character, but the early school legislation of the state generally made a way for public schools of this grade.
In New York the general school law of 1864 authorized the board of education of any " union free school district to establish in the same an academical department whenever, in their judgment, the same is warranted by the demand for such instruction." Such academical departments were made subject to the board of regents in all matters pertaining to their course of education, and were to enjoy such privileges in the university as had been granted to the academies. Provision was made for the formal adoption of existing academies by boards of education, and the transference of institutions so adopted from private to public control.
In Maryland the old state academy system was swept away by a law of 1865, and a system of county high schools substituted for it. But the change was too radical to be fully carried out. Later legislation provided for the renewal of state aid to academies, which continued to exist alongside of the system of county high schools.
While such early and liberal enactments may be found in a few of the states, in others high schools were established in large numbers without explicit warrant of law. The school law of these states commonly provided in general terms that the studies to be pursued should be determined by the local board of school trustees or directors. A minimum list of studies was sometimes prescribed in the statute ; and it was commonly held that the school board might provide for the teaching of other subjects, including such as were distinctly of secondary grade.
Objection was made repeatedly to this practice. As was seen in the history of the school system of Virginia, the secondary school is the one grade of instruction which has the most precarious hold on public support. The question as to the authority of local boards to establish high schools without express statutory provision for such schools, was finally decided in the affirmative by the supreme court of Michigan in the case of Charles E. Stuart et al. vs. School District No. 1 of the village of Kalamazoo, commonly known as the Kalamazoo high school case. Inasmuch as this case established the precedent for similar cases in other states, while setting the question at rest for the state of Michigan, it is of great importance in the annals of our secondary education. The opinion of the court was prepared by the eminent jurist, Thomas M. Cooley. The right of a school board to employ a superintendent of schools was involved in the case, and this also was affirmed by the court. The decision in this case illustrates admirably the strong tendency which we have noted, in our educational history, toward a complete system of schools, largely supported by taxation, and under public control. It seems fitting for this reason that space be devoted here to the following somewhat extended passages from the opinion rendered by the court :
" The hill in this case is filed to restrain the collection of such portion of the school taxes assessed against complainants for the year 1872, as have been voted for the support of the high school in that village, and for the payment of the salary of the superintendent. While, nominally, this is the end sought to' be attained by the bill, the real purpose of the bill is wider and vastly more comprehensive than this brief statement would indicate, inasmuch as it seeks a judicial determination of the right of school authorities, in what are called union school districts of the state, to levy taxes upon the general public for the support of what in this state are known as high schools, and to make free by such taxation the instruction of children in other languages than the English."
Certain bearings of the case, which are of local rather than general interest, are discussed at considerable length. The court then continues :
" The more general question which the record presents we shall endeavor to state in our own language, but so as to make it stand out distinctly as a naked question of law, disconnected from all considerations of policy or expediency, in which light alone we are at liberty to consider it. It is, as we understand it, that there is no authority in this state to make the high schools free by taxation levied on the people at large. The argument is that while there may be no constitutional provision expressly prohibiting such taxation, the general course of legislation in the state and the general understanding of the people have been such as to require us to regard the instruction in the classics and in the living modern languages in these schools as in the nature not of practical and therefore necessary instruction for the benefit of the people at large, but rather as accomplishments for the few, to be sought after in the main by those best able to pay for them, and to be paid for by those who seek them, and not by general tax. And not only has this been the general state policy, but this higher learning of itself, when supplied by the state, is so far a matter of private concern to those who receive it that the courts ought to declare it incompetent to supply it wholly at the public expense. This is in substance, as we understand it, the position of the complainants in this suit.
" When this doctrine was broached to us, we must confess to no little surprise that the legislation and policy of our state were appealed to against the right of the state to furnish a liberal education to the youth of the state in schools brought within the reach of all classes. We supposed it had always been understood in this state that education, not merely in the rudiments, but in an enlarged sense, was regarded as an important practical advantage to be supplied at their option to rich and poor alike, and not as something pertaining merely to culture and accomplishment to he brought as such within the reach of those whose accumulated wealth enabled them to pay for it. As this, however, is now so seriously disputed, it may be necessary, perhaps, to take a brief survey of the legislation and general course, not only of the state, but of the antecedent territory, on the subject."
The review of the educational history of Michigan which follows is full of interest. It includes a consideration of the educational provision contained in the ordinance of 1787 ; the act of 1817 for the establishment of the " Catholepistemiad or University of Michigania ; " the university act of 1821, which repealed that of 1817, but instituted a university with power " to establish colleges, academies, and schools depending upon the said university ; " the act of 1827, "for the establishment of common schools," which followed very closely the early state and colonial school legislation of Massachusetts ; the law of 1833, which neither required nor prohibited the establishment of a higher grade of school ; the constitution of 1835, which provided for a state university with branch schools, and " contemplated provision by the state for a complete system of instruction, beginning with that of the primary school and ending with that of the university ; " the proposal of State Superintendent Pierce for a system of public instruction based on the systems of Prussia and New England, and intended to furnish in the common schools " good instruction in all the elementary and common branches of knowledge, for all classes of [the] community, as good, indeed, for the poorest boy of the state as the rich man can furnish for his children with all his wealth; the discontinuance of the branches of the university, and the growth of the union schools, which in some measure took their place ; and finally, the constitution of 1850. Of this last-named document, the court remarks that,
" The instrument submitted by the convention to the people and adopted by them provided for the establishment of free schools in every school district for at least three months in each year, and for the university. By the aid of these we have every reason to believe the people expected a complete collegiate education might be obtained. . . . The inference seems irresistible that the people expected the tendency towards the establishment of high schools in the primary-school districts would continue until every locality capable of supporting one was supplied. And this inference is strengthened by the fact that a considerable number of our union schools date their establishment from the year 1850 and the two or three years following."
The opinion of the court as to the legality of the high school is finally summed up in the following words:
"If these facts do not demonstrate clearly and conclusively a general state policy, beginning in 1817 and continuing until after the adoption of the present constitution, in the direction of free schools in which education, and at their option the elements of classical education, might be brought within the reach of all the children of the state, then, as it seems to us, nothing can demonstrate it. We might follow the subject further and show that the subsequent legislation has all concurred with this policy, but it would be a waste of time and labor. We content ourselves with the statement that neither in our state policy, in our constitution, or in our laws, do we find the primary school districts restricted in the branches of knowledge which their officers may cause to be taught, or the grade of instruction that may be given, if their voters consent in regular form to bear the expense and raise the taxes for the purpose."
One of the most notable decisions following the finding of the Michigan court in this case was that of the supreme court of Illinois in the case of H. W. Powell et al. vs. the Board of Education, etc., which virtually established the position of the high schools of Illinois in the public school system of that state.
About the time when the Kalamazoo case was in the courts, some of the later state systems of secondary education were beginning to take definite shape ; and long-established systems began also to take on new activity. Before turning attention to the systems then newly organized, it will be well to note the later developments in Massachusetts and New York, for in their different directions these states have taken the lead in the movement of recent times.
Massachusetts has led the way in the making of such provision that an education of secondary grade is open, free of charge, to every boy and girl in the commonwealth. Other states have followed Massachusetts in this matter, and it appears that one of the most distinctive marks of the high school system-making of the past few years, is the conscious effort to make free secondary education accessible to all. The Massachusetts law making this liberal provision dates from 1891. The extension of high school privileges has run parallel with the consolidation of the less populous school districts, and the extension of regular supervision to all portions of the state.
According to a recent report (1898) there were 353 towns in Massachusetts, of which number 185 had each a population large enough to bring it under the legal obligation to maintain a high school of its own. Seventy others maintained high schools, though not required to do so by the education act. All others, not maintaining high schools of their own, were required, under the law of 1891, to pay the tuition fees of qualified students, living within their limits, who should go elsewhere for instruction of high school grade. The school authorities of such towns were further authorized, but not required, to pay the cost of transporting such students to and from the schools which they might attend.
In order to carry this scheme into effect, it was found necessary to extend aid to the poorer towns from the treasury of the state. The distribution of state moneys appropriated to this use is conditioned upon a direct inquiry into the educational facilities of different portions of the state by agents of the Board of Education. So it happens that this board, which in the days of Horace Mann sustained an advisory relation only to the schools, has seen a considerable increase in its administrative powers.
The high schools of the state are required to maintain each a four-year course, of forty weeks to the year. They must prepare their students for admission to the state normal schools, and to higher scientific schools and colleges. According to the report of the Board of Education presented to the legislature of the state in January, 1902, there were 261 of these high schools. In them nearly 1,500 teachers are employed. All but nine of these schools were kept from nine to ten months in the year, but many of them fell short of the full ten months. In 1897 Massachusetts paid $12,390,638 for public schools, of which amount $2,400,000, or 19 per cent, was for high schools. The total municipal tax in the state that year was $15.23 on each $1,000 of property valuation. Of this, $4.72 was for public schools, $0.91 of which was for high schools. These figures include the cost of school buildings along with the current expense for school maintenance.
If the University of the State of New York had a rather vague existence in the earlier days, there has been no doubt of its place among the actualities in more recent times. The spirit of organized activity has been at work in the institution, with all the stirring, straining, and collision of diverse purposes which commonly attend that spirit's operation. The strongly centralized administration which this unique establishment embodies has been railed at and glorified, but it has gone on organizing, and organizing still more, until it has become a force to be reckoned with in the making of our higher grades of instruction. It can hardly be doubted that this university now presents the most thoroughly organized state system of secondary education which has yet been developed on American soil.
Five of the six departments into which the work of the university is divided may be disregarded in a study of secondary education. We are here concerned only with the high school department, which has to do with high schools and academies, and the interests of secondary education generally.
The college and the high school department of the university are under a single department director. He is assisted by nine inspectors of schools, one of whom is employed as an inspector of apparatus, and by a large staff of examiners. On the basis of reports made to this department, the regents distributed in 1901 a total of $292,311.81 to the secondary schools of the state. Formerly a portion of the money distributed by the regents was apportioned on the basis of credentials obtained by pupils in the schools who had passed regents' examinations — a method, that is, of "payment by results." The report of the director of the high school department for 1898 says of the examinations ;
" In June, 1898, the secretary`stated to the regents that 10 years' experience had confirmed his views, given to the board in 1889, that examinations have the highest educational value and that the small minority which would abolish them are extremists. It is believed, however, that these tests would be more valuable if they were used for their educational value and not at all as a guide in distributing public money. Inspection will enable us in most cases to determine satisfactorily without regents' examinations whether a school is maintaining a standard deserving aid from state funds."
In accordance with this recommendation the method of payment by results has been discontinued and apportionments are now made as follows : (a) $100 is allowed to each school approved by the regents without regard to its size or special attainments ; (b) a sum not exceeding $250 for the purchase of approved books and apparatus is allowed to each school raising for the same purpose an equal amount from local sources; (c) the balance of the fund is distributed on the basis of total attendance of academic students, provided that each student whose attendance is so counted must hold a "regents' preliminary certificate" for admission to the school, or the school must have been approved by two university inspectors, as having a higher entrance requirement than the minimum prescribed for the preliminary certificate. Of the $350,000 appropriated for this purpose under the present laws, about 20 per cent will be distributed under item (a), about 15 per cent under item (b), and about 65 per cent under item (c).
Regents' examinations are held in January and June in seventy-three subjects, covering all the courses in the high school curriculum, and in March in twenty-six subjects only. In 1901 these examinations were taken by 699 of the 741 secondary schools in the university. Each diploma issued by the regents to a graduate of a secondary school shows on its face the subjects in which its holder has passed regents' examinations. These diplomas are accepted in lieu of entrance examinations in the subjects which they cover by institutions of higher education not only in New York state but also generally throughout the United States. As the regents' preliminary examinations furnish the standard for admission to the secondary schools, their influence ex-tends to all the lower grades, and large numbers of pupils from the ungraded rural schools take these tests in the neighboring high schools and academies.
A syllabus is issued by the regents for the guidance of instruction in university institutions. There is free consultation between the officers of the university and the instructors in the schools with reference to the contents of this syllabus. An annual university convocation, in which the representatives of all divisions of the university meet for public discussion, forms one of the notable educational gatherings of the country.
One of the first state systems of secondary education to be organized after the Civil War was that of Indiana. This, however, was virtually an " accrediting " arrangement, the administration of which was turned over to the state authorities. It may more conveniently be considered when we come to an examination of the rise of the accrediting system.
The Wisconsin system of free high schools was established in 1875. It provides for the maintenance of high schools by towns, incorporated villages, cities, or school districts containing incorporated villages or two-department graded schools within their limits. Two or more adjoining towns, or one or more towns and an incorporated village, may unite in establishing and maintaining a high school. These schools are managed by local high school boards, which are commonly, but not always, identical with the boards for elementary schools. They are supported primarily by local taxation, but a district is entitled to receive from the general fund of the state a sum not exceeding one-half the amount actually expended for instruction in the high school of such district, and not exceeding five hundred dollars in any one year ; provided the school has been kept in accordance with certain requirements prescribed by law, and provided further that the total amount paid from the state treasury for this purpose in any one year shall not exceed $100,000.
Such a school is under the direct inspection' and oversight of the state superintendent. To receive state aid, a school must establish and maintain a course of study prescribed, or at least approved, by that official; and must be taught by teachers whose certificates he has approved. The state superintendent issues a manual for the guidance of these schools, containing general suggestions, courses of study, an outline of subjects and methods of instruction, and the text of the high school law. He is assisted in the visitation and supervision which the law prescribes by an inspector of free high schools, whom he appoints.
An effort has been made in Wisconsin to encourage the building up of township high schools in the less thickly settled portions of the state. This undertaking has thus far met with only a moderate degree of success. In the cities and towns of Wisconsin, the high schools are going steadily forward, under the system of state supervision. Within the past few years many of them have been housed in fine, new buildings, which are provided with excellent laboratories for instruction in the natural sciences. Important beginnings have been made also in the equipment of schools for courses in manual training. State aid, to the amount of $250 a year for any one school, is extended to such courses under special provisions of the high school law. There are now (spring of 1902) eight schools receiving such special aid ; while the whole number of state-aided high schools in the state is 222. Of these forty-eight have a three-year course, and the remainder a course four years in length.
A large proportion of the schools having four-year courses are accredited to the University of Wisconsin. The accrediting system was introduced by the university in 1878, and is carried on independently of the state system of inspection. About a dozen of the largest and strongest high schools in the state are not included among those receiving state aid.
The courses of study in these Wisconsin schools are commonly designated as the English, the general science, the modern classical, and the ancient classical course. A given school will ordinarily establish the English course at first, and add the others from time to time in the order in which they have been named.
Wisconsin took an important step in the passage of an act in the winter of 1901–02 providing for county schools of agriculture and domestic economy. These are to be secondary schools, having at the outset a two-year course of study. State aid to the amount of $2,500 is to be granted to each school established under the provisions of this law and approved by the state superintendent. Two such schools will be organized in the fall of 1902.
" A line of work in elements of agriculture may run through the entire two years ; another line in manual training for the boys, covering the use of wood-working tools, elementary blacksmithing, and including some work in the architecture of farm buildings will be given. Such high school studies as will be most profitable, and as can be carried in connection with the other subjects will also be taken. For the girls, a line of work in domestic science will run through the entire two years. They will also be given some manual training, and some instruction in horticulture and floriculture. They will take the same academic studies as the boys."
Minnesota has maintained a state system of high schools since 1881. At the head of this system stands the State High School Board, consisting of the superintendent of public instruction, the president of the University of Minnesota, and a city superintendent appointed by the governor. This board appoints a high school inspector and a graded school inspector. Any public high school in the state may become a state high school. Such schools, to the number of not more than seven in any one county, are entitled to receive each the sum of $1,000 annually from the treasury of the state.
A state high school must admit students of either sex from any part of the state without charge for tuition, must provide a course of study covering the requirements for ad-mission to the University of Minnesota, and must be subject to the rules and open to the inspection of the high school board. This board determines, on the basis of the reports of its inspector, what schools are entitled to the bounty of the state. Provision is also made for state graded schools, of lower rank than the state high schools; and for the promotion of such schools to the rank of state high schools when they have attained a suitable degree of advancement.
The state high school board conducts annually a written examination of classes in the schools. The taking of this state examination is ordinarily optional with the school, and no grants of money are based on examination results. The state board may, however, require a school to take an examination as part of the annual inspection. " The main purpose of state examinations," as set forth by the inspector of high schools in his report for 1898, is not to test the students, but to promote the general efficiency of the schools." All state high schools are fully " accredited " by the university and the normal schools of the state, whether they have taken the examination or not.
One interesting provision of the Minnesota law is that under which laboratory apparatus for the high schools is made at the state prison and sold to the schools at cost. But perhaps the most significant thing about the whole system is the encouragement it gives to high schools in the smaller towns. Communities all over the state tax. themselves freely to supplement the bounty distributed by the state high school board. There are now (spring of 1902) 129 of these high schools. The number is steadily increasing, and is expected to come near to 140 by the close of the current school year.
Other state systems are slowly taking form. Already there are noteworthy enactments relating to secondary education in the statutes of Maine, New Hampshire, Vermont, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Louisiana, Illinois, Nebraska, Kansas, California, and several other states. From the simple provision, usually found in state school laws, that the school authorities in districts of sufficient size may extend the course of instruction in their schools beyond the range of the elementary branches, various states are going on to encourage the establishment of the higher schools by larger administrative units, and by union districts entered into for this express purpose by contiguous smaller districts. Special state funds are made available for the reinforcement of local enterprise in this matter ; and with the distribution of state funds goes some form of state inspection. Special provision is making for the encouragement of instruction in " domestic science " and in commercial and technical branches. Care is taken that even the more sparsely settled regions shall have schools which prepare students for admission to normal schools, colleges, and universities. The requirement of high qualifications on the part of teachers who aspire to high school positions, still lags behind other lines of this forward movement, but even in this particular progress may be noted.
Massachusetts stands nearly if not quite alone in its requirement that high schools shall be established in all towns having a specified population. Such a requirement, however, is now of minor importance when communities all over the land are showing great zeal in the establishment of such schools apart from any legal prescription. The later requirement in Massachusetts that free secondary instruction shall be made accessible to every boy and girl who is ready for such instruction, has set up a new standard for all of our states, the influence of which may be seen in much of our recent legislation.