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SUPERINTENDENCE. The plan of county-supervision has been much discussed and seems to be gaining in favor. It is believed, however, that this system, though well adapted to older States, will not, for the present, subserve the educational interests of Arkansas nearly so well as circuit-supervision properly carried out. It is admitted that the latter system has, from various causes, been made productive of but little good, if not of positive evil. So great were the complaints that both political parties in the recent campaign deemed it politic to make special reference to it in their platforms. This failure, however, is ascribed rather to abuses of the system than to the faults of the system itself. It is suggested that the circuit-superintendents be made more directly responsible to the people or to the head of the school-department; also, that the school-law be so amended as to prevent their devoting their time to other business, and to exact more rigidly a thorough and punctual discharge of their official duties. The superintendent remarks that, although the want of efficiency on the part of circuit-superintendents has undoubtedly been one cause of failure in the school-work, still, no energy that might have been put forth by these officers could havo compensated entirely for the severe blow the system received from canses previously mentioned.
The Arkansas Journal of Education, edited by the State-superintendent, has been in existence three years and has proved a valuable auxiliary. Its intluence has been widely felt, creating a public sentiment in favor of the free-school-system and prompting teachers to professional excellence and pride. It has, as yet, received po aid from the State, not even pay for publishing official advertisements. Something in the way of financial aid is needed to make the enterprise successful.
SCHOOLS IN CITIES AND TOWNS.
Fifteen cities and towns have organized under the special act " for the better regulation of schools in cities and towns," approved February 4, 1869. In these several places a board of directors has been elected and the schools put in operation under the provisions of said act. No official reports from these districts have been received, but in most, if not all of them, the schools are believed to be doing reasonably well. In the city of Little Rock, especially, they are pronounced a decided success, though the management by the school-board is regarded by many as extravagant.
ANOTHER VIEW OF EDUCATIONAL EMBARRASSMENTS. Hon. J. C. Corbin, present State-superintendent of public instruction, gives the following additional view of the difficulties under which the public-school-system is laboring. His testimony both corroborates the statements made in the published report of Superintendent Smith and gives later information, his communication bearing date November 15, 1873. He says:
“The condition of the schools generally is not hopeful, and the cause is easily understood. It is as follows: In all cases where the contrary is not directly stated, the word
dollar,' in a statute of Arkansas, means not the old dollar spoken of in our arithmetics, which was equal in value to one hundred cents, but so much State-scrip or treasurer's certificates on bank-note-paper, which, for the last three months, has been worth only from 35 to 45 cents on the dollar. A portion of the State and local taxes is paid in United States currency; but such is the lasity of the laws that when it is paid out it is almost invariably State-scrip. This not only deprives the schools of a large proportion of their legitimate resources, but exasperates the people and impoverishes the teachers, so that those of superior grade cannot easily be obtained or retained, and the effect upon the public schools is almost fatal.”
DISTRIBUTABLE FUND DIMINISHED. “Heretofore, under the law, the State superintendent has twice a year apportioned among the various counties what is usually termed the distributable school-fund.' This fund was composed of the proceeds of the three following items, viz:
“(a) The State tax of two mills on the dollar. "0) Per-capita tax.
"(c) Six per cent. interest paid by the State for the use of the permanent schoolfund.
"The total of these three items, constituting the distributable fund for the last apportionment, amounted to about $210,000, which was apportioned according to the schoollaw. But the last general assembly incorporated in the general-revenue-law' a section denying to the State-auditor any power to draw a warrant for the benefit of common schools on the general revenue of the State,' and the attorney-general decided that this cut off the item 'a,' which constituted about three-fourths of the distributable fund, and left $55,000 in State-scrip, at 35 per cent., as the only amount for which the auditor could draw his warrants. Several of the county-treasurers, as custodians of the apportioned fund, propose to go into the supreme court and apply for a mandamus to compel the auditor to draw his warrants for the full amount apportioned, but with little prospect of success.” “But in reality the paying out of the distributable fund would have been of but little benefit to the schools, as the throwing of $210,000 in State scrip on a market already glutted with that security would have reduced its value to almost nothing, for during the last few months very often there was 'no'sale' at any figures for even so small an amount as two or three thousand dollars.”
PROVISIONS OF NEW SCHOOL-LAW. “ The last general assembly repealed the old and enacted a new school-law. The new law is substantially the same as the old, with but few changes, but these few changes were of a very important character:
"(1) Under the old law the various school-districts had the power to tax themselves as heavily as they chose for school-purposes; the new law fixed the maximum of local taxation at five mills.
"(2) Under the old law the schools were managed by ten circuit-superintendents, who also constituted the State-board of education. The new law provides for countysuperintendents, and makes the board of trustees of the Arkansas Industrial University the State-board of education. The first set of county-superintendents was, under the law, appointed by the governor, upon the recommendation of the State-superintendent; the succeeding sets are to be eleoted by an annual convention of the school-trustees of each county. The salary of the county-superintendents is to be fixed by the countyboards of supervisors, and is to be from $300 to $500, payable, I presume, in county. scrip. Despite the small salary, the county-superintendents are, almost universally, men of high character and, in many cases, of fine scholarship.
"(3) Under the old law a school-trustee received as compensation for his services $2 per day for every day “actually and necessarily spent’in his official duties; under the new the only compensation he receives is being exempted from working on the roads and from serving on juries.
“(4) Another matter affecting the schools very materially was the creation by the last legislature of nine new counties, thereby dividing some fifty or sixty of the old school-districts. Besides this, the boundaries of quite a number of the other counties were changed, by which a still larger number of the districts was affected, as, ander the law, a school district must be entirely comprised in one county. The amount of confusion that has resulted from this cause is almost incalculable.
• (5) The depreciation in the State-securities and the fact that they have almost po market-value abroad render it difficult for even the State-superintendent to obtain such stationery (for instance, school-registers) as, from the fact of its being copyrightproperty, can be purchased only from the owners.
"(6) The difficulty last specified is increased by the meager appropriation for carrying on school-operations, made by the last general assembly. The appropriations were made on the presumption of an advance in the value of State-scrip; but, instead, there has been a material decline.
“It would not, perhaps, be correct to conclude from the above statement that our schools are in an absolutely hopeless condition, as I am satisfied that a large portion of the people of Arkansas are friends of common schools and that the numbers of this class are continually increasing.”
INTEREST FELT IN COMMON SCHOOLS. " The common-school-law and the condition of our public-school-system are attracting a great amount of attention from our best minds, and I confidently hope that our next general assembly will be prepared to act in such a manner as to remedy the defects of the former and insure the prosperity of the latter. Any improvement in the financial condition of the State will produce a corresponding one in the schools, and such improvement is hoped for."
UNIVERSITIES AND COLLEGES. Unlike most of her sister-States in the West and South, Arkansas has hitherto been without a recognized State university. The Industrial University, opened in 1872, gives good promise of usefulness and may become the head of the educational system of the State. Besides this, the only institutions for collegiate culture at present existing appear to be Cane Hill College, Boonsboro', and St. John's College, Little Rock.
At Cane Hill, the professors in the college teach also the students in the preparatory school, so that the instruction is uniform throughont.
St. John's is under the care of the Masonic fraternity and devoted mainly to the edacation of the children of its members. It suffered much from the disastrous influ. ences of the war and is only beginning to recover from these.
The table here given shows the main points reported by the two, illustrative of their condition :
Statistical summary of colleges.
Arkansas College, Batesville, although chartered as a college in 1872, still exists only as a prepo Jatory school.
THE INDUSTRIAL UNIVERSITY. This institution, from its large endowment and fair prospect of continued State-aid, stands so prominently forth above the struggling and enfeebled colleges as to deserve special notice. Established in accordance with an act of Congress, making a grant of 150,000 acres of land as an endowment for it, and in accordance with an act of the general assembly, passed to effect the object of this grant, its leading purpose is to teach such branches of learning as are related to agriculture and the mechanic arts, and thus promote the liberal education of the industrial classes in the several pursuits of life. In its circular for 1873–74, its full aims are said to be: (1) to impart a knowledge of science and its application to the arts of life; (2) to afford to students that may desire it the benefit of manual labor, not so much to lessen expenses as to preserve health and cultivate a taste for agriculture and mechanic employments ; (3) to prosecute experiments for the promotion of both garden- and field-culture; (4) to provide the means of instruction in military science; and (5) to afford the opportunity for a general and thorough education, classical as well as scientific, not inferior to that in the best colleges.
The location of the university is within the corporate limits of the town of Fayetteville, Washington County, within the Pea Ridge region, one of the most salubrious, beautiful, and fertile portions of the State. Here, on an ample domain, bestowed upon the institution by the citizens, buildings have been erected to accommodate 300 students, while contracts have been entered into for a noble permanent edifice five stories high and 214 feet in length, with wings 122 feet in depth. This is to be completed by September, 1875, and will afford accommodation for 700 students.
The trustees have made provision for 237 beneficiary scholarships, which will entitle those admitted to them to four years' free tuition. These are to be apportioned to the several counties according to their population.
A normal department, with two courses, one of three and one of two years, is open in the university to male students of 16 and females of 14 years of age, of good character, who can pass a satisfactory examination in the common English branches. Those who will enter into a written obligation to teach in the common schools of the State for the two years succeeding the completion of their course are admitted free of tuition.
The university proper is to embrace four colleges, with thirteen subordinate schools, as follows:
I. The college of agriculture, including (1) the school of agriculture and (2) the school of horticulture.
II. The college of engineering, including (1) the school of mechanical engineering, (2) that of mining engineering, (3) that of civil engineering, (4) that of architecture.
III. The college of natural science, including (1) the school of chemistry-agricultural, technologic, pharmaceutic, and metallurgic-and (2) the school of natural history.
IV. The college of general science and literature, including (1) the school of English and modern languages and literature, (2) the school of ancient languages and literature, and (3) the school of mathematics. This college includes also courses in natural history and chemistry, in history and social science, and in mental and moral philosophy. “A preparatory repartment has been established in connection with the university, with a full course of five years."
Besides the above colleges and schools there will be (1) the school of military science and (2) the school of commerce.
In accordance with this outline there have been appointed, for the year 1873–74, the following professors and instructors: (1) A president and professor of mental and moral philosophy, (2) a professor of ancient languages and literature, (3) a professor of theoretical and applied chemistry, (4) a professor of mathematics and engineering, (5)
a professor of military science and tactics, (6) a professor of practical and theoretical agriculture and horticulture, (7) a principal of the normal department, (8) a preceptress in the same, (9) an instructress of the training-school connected with this department, and (10) a professor of music.
Statistical summary of Arkansas Industrial University.
.... 188 40 $225,000 * $130,000 $130,000 $10,400 $50, 000
* Buildings not yet completed.
ARKANSAS INSTITUTE FOR THE BLIND. Located at Little Rock, five acres of ground have been purchased for the institution, and a substantial brick-building has been erected. The number of blind persons that have received instruction during the last two sessions is 50. . The number in the institation, October 1, 1872, was 41-males 13, females 28. The institution is open to both white and colored persons. The school has a good assortment of apparatus and the pupils are reported as making excellent progress. The school is in a healthy and prosperous condition.
Fifty pupils are reported as receiving instruction in the last two sessions, 41 being on the list at one time, about as many as the building will accommodate. Larger accommodations are called for, as there are 187 blind persons in the State of legal age to be in the institution. All the pupils, embracing males and females from early childbood to foll manhood and womanhood—the white and colored in separate divisions-are taught not only primary and high-school hrauches of instruction, with vocal and instrumental music, but also bandicraft to both sexes. They are taught thus to be a help and comfort to their families, instead of a burden and a care, while their individual capacities for happiness and usefulness are of course immeasurably enlarged.
ARKANSAS DEAF-MUTE INSTITUTE. This school is located a short distance from the city of Little Rock. The number of pupils in 1873 was 72-males 39, females 33. The buildings are sufficient for the accommodation of only about 75, and it is desirable that steps should be at once taken to increase their capacity, as at least twice that number in the State require instruction. The school is in charge of a corps of competent teachers and the pupils are reported to be making good progress.
For two years there has been no change of principal, matron, or teacher, though one teacher has been added to the list.
As a school the inmates are appropriately classified, each class having its own teacher, an arrangement which secures greater attachment between teacher and pupil, as well as greater general progress. Manual labor is taught, together with the sign-language and the usual branches in the public schools, every effort being made to improve, not the mind only, but the character, the efforts often issuing in a gladdening success,
PROPOSED AMENDMENT OF SCHOOL-LAW. At a meeting of the board of education, held January 13, 1873, a committee of four was appointed-the State-superintendent being one-to prepare and submit to the general assembly such amendments to the existing school-law as should be found or thought to be necessary.
PROPOSED NORMAL SCHOOL FOR COLORED PEOPLE. At the same meeting it was resolved that, whereas an industrial university was located on one border of the State, while the colored population was almost exclusively on the opposite border, it should be recommended to the State to establish a normal sebool at some point convenient for the colored masses of the State and for the special benefit of that class of citizens.