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practically ignoring the large population of colored children of school age.
West Virginia, after having struggled, so far successfully, in the establishment of a free school system, seems now to be contemplating its destruction.
Virginia is just putting a free school system into operation, but encountering great difficulties in the lack of means, the want of correct information of what a free school system is, and in the absence of school houses and qualified school officers and teachers.
North Carolina has been struggling for about two years to put a system of free schools into operation; many of its features are excellent, but the inadequacy of means, and the other obstacles encountered have permitted only partial success, more having been accomplished by the instrumentality of the Freedmen’s Bureau and the aid of the Peabody fund, and other charities, it is believed, than by the expenditures of the State. Many reasons combine to render the friends of education more fearful of defeat than hopeful of success.
The friends of education in Tennessee, after seeing the school system put into operation and nearly 200,000 children enrolled, saw their work overthrown by reactionary sentiments, save in the cities of Nashville and Memphis, and the provisions reënacted in accordance with which the pauper schools of the days of slavery had been conducted. The counties of Davidson, Green, and Montgomery had so far come to appreciate the benefits of the free schools they had enjoyed that they have attempted their reëstablishmentunder the present inadequate legislation.
Missouri has a free-school system firmly established.
Arkansas, encountering the obstacles common to the regions where slavery has been abolished, has secured a greater success than a majority of the Southern States.
South Carolina, among the States having the largest percentage of illiteracy, is confident of final success in establishing free common schools.
Florida, although under a most zealous and competent superintendent, now deceased, has hesitated in giving the greatest efficiency to the system sought to be established, and yet presents reasons for anticipating the general prevalence of free schools.
Alabama, after the friends of education had put forth most strenuous efforts, and secured the general opening of schools, with hopes of permanent success in the establishment of free and universal education, now debates the question of advancing or retreating.
Mississippi, although commencing late, is progressing steadily and efficiently in the establishment of a system of free schools, notwithstanding the great and bitter opposition, appointing county superintendents, collecting the school tax, and building school-houses.
The school code of Louisiana, containing some features well adapted to efficiency, and administered with great energy, has encountered an opposition so persistent and fierce that its success outside of the city of New Orleans has been most unsatisfactory to its friends.
Georgia has just passed a school law and appointed a State commissioner, but must wait a year for funds with which to put the system into full operation.
In Texas no school legislation has, so far, succeeded, and no public officers are at work for the organization of schools, her entire population being left to grow up in ignorance, save as here and there a private enterprise throws a ray of light upon the general darkness.
The diverse inquiries necessary to bring out the most recent facts in regard to the schools of the District of Columbia have been so far successful, as appears in the accompanying papers, by the aid of several gentlemen, upon whom varied educational responsibilities rest. General Francis A. Walker furnishes the facts from the present census; George F. McLellan, esq., a member of the board of trustees, and J. O. Wilson, A. M., superintendent, the facts in regard to the white schools of Washington; Mr. A. E. Newton, superintendent, in regard to the colored schools of Washington and Georgetown; A. Hyde, esq., in regard to the white schools of Georgetown, and J. B. Miltberger, esq., as to the schools in the District outside of the two cities.
In this limited territory, directly at the doors of the Capitol, it will be observed that Congress regulates the schools for whites in the city of Washington through the city councils, and a board of education appointed by these councils; a superintendent, nominated by the mayor, and confirmed by the board of aldermen; the appointment of teachers being made by the board of trustees of public schools. The schools for the blacks in this city, Congress regulates through a board of trustees, appointed by the Secretary of the Interior, who appoint a superintendent and the teachers, and add to their responsibilities a corresponding authority over the schools for colored children in Georgetown.
Georgetown, like Washington, therefore, has a double-headed school authority, there being a separate board for the management of the white schools, while the schools of the District outside Congress regulates through the levy court, that.designates a board of commissioners, who appoint teachers and manage the schools.
From materials derived from the ninth census the following table has been compiled : Number of children between six and seventeen years (inclusive) in the District of Columbia.
Number of children in the District of Columbia (excluding the city of Washington) between
the ages of six and seventeen years, both inclusive.
From various sources, public and private, the following items, respect. ing school attendance, have been collated : White pupils in private schools, Washington.
3, 809 White pupils in charity schools, Washington..
1, 795 White pupils in public schools, Washington.
White pupils in Washington, total
* The following extract from the last annual report of the board of trustees of the public (white) schools of Washington, will show how they account for the large ab-. sence from any schools noticeable by comparing these figures :
“It appears from this, that all but 5,136 of the white children of proper school age are : at school. Of the number enumerated in the census, 3,858 are from fifteen to seventeen years old. In consequence of the necessity of seeking employment, most of the children are withdrawn before reaching the first of those ages, so that but 405 remain in the public schools after that time of life. Making allowance for the probable number over fifteen years old attending private schools, less than 2,000 under fourteen remain to be accounted for. Moreover not a few of those of thirteen and fourteen are more or less regularly engaged in various pursuits. Taking into account these facts, and considering the number of children of parents who are unwilling to send them to school before they reach the age of seven or eight years, and those also who from disease are unable to attend, it will appear that very few youths who can be at their studies are unprovided for. Even this number is reduced by taking from it those who are attending seminaries and colleges elsewhere. So that the number of the habitually idle must be comparatively insignificant, were it not that even one child, growing to manhood: without education, threatens to become an element of evil in the body politic.”
White pupils in public schools of Georgetown.
White pupils in District, total...
Colored pupils in private schools, Washington.
138 3, 500
From the figures, it would appear that there are in the District-White children not attending school.
7,854 Colored children not attending school...
The capacity of the public school buildings seems to be utterly inadequate. In Washington City, in the public schools, the number of seats for pupils is 6,856,* while the number of different pupils enrolled during the year ending June 30, 1870, was 8,118; the permanent colored public school buildings in Washington and Georgetown seat about 3,000. In other words, the white public schools of Washington can accommodate about one-third of the white school population, and the colored public schools about one-half of the colored school population. Comments, as to the sufficiency of the public school system under these circumstances, are hardly necessary.
There is no high school ; there is lack of steady growth in the completeness of gradation; there is an inadequacy of means and a danger of too frequent change in control. Yet these all can be directly remedied by Congress. And whatever has been the sentiment of the people of the District in the past, it is manifestly growing rapidly in favor of free public schools, elsewhere so successful. Among its citizens, in its corps of teachers, and its school officers, there have been some of the most
Report on school-rooms, ages of pupils, 8-c., Washington, D. C., May 31, 1870.
1, 759 1, 865 1, 821 1, 411
85 107 140 183 183 163 155 146 129 69 Second..
54 1201 205 222 251 196 191 167 118 56 36 Third.
78 156 166 183 238 205 229 182 132 54 19 Fourth
63 77 141 154 195 146 150 149 87 57 18) Total..... 6, 856 280 460 652 742 867 710 725 644 46C 236 102
Ardent and competent friends of education. Their endeavors are worthy of commendation. They have encountered the struggle so common where the sentiment of slavery has ever had supreme sway. The differences of opinion with regard to the necessary measures are, indeed, an impediment, but how slight compared with the power of the legislative wisdom of the nation to overcome it.
The right and duty of Congress to take action cannot be questioned. Many special considerations enforce the duty. First, the influence of a model here would be beneficial everywhere else in the country, and especially in the South, now struggling for the establishment of efficient school systems; second, the Government is the largest owner of property here; third, 28 per cent. of the scholars enrolled in the public schools last year belonged to the families of those in Government employ.
I am indebted to George F. McLellan, esq., an active member of the board of trustees, for the following comparison of the cost of public schools on every hundred dollars of cash valuation for the last year:
New Haven, 10 cents; Boston, 15 cents; Chicago, 16 cents; Louisville, 18 cents; Cincinnati, 19 cents; Cleveland, 19 cents; Baltimore, 22 cents; Washington, (estimated,) 36 cents.
Value of school property on each hundred dollars actual valuation : St. Louis, $1 32; Cleveland, 97 cents; Cambridge, 80 cents; Chicago, 76 cents; Washington, 72 cents; Boston, 72 cents; Louisville, 61 cents; New Haven, 50 cents; Pittsburg, 44 cents; Providence, 43 cents; Detroit, 42 cents; Albany, 37 cents.
According to this, the present endeavors made by the citizens of this city compare well with those of others. If this is correct, and there still remains a lack of school-houses and instruction and a lack of means for these purposes, is it not fair to infer that the responsibility rests upon Congress? How shall it be met?
Over the vast territorial domain of 1,619,353 square miles, already supposed to be occupied by a population of 495,310 whites and 318,042 Indians, the National Government has, in education as in other matters, exclusive responsibility.
Great efforts have been made to secure the fullest and most authentic information in regard to the condition of schools and the means of education. The result presented, though inadequate and unsatisfactory, enforces the necessity of effort in this direction and adds assurance of its success. Why should not the National Government know and tell the people annually exactly the condition of education in these regions? Why should not these pioneers have the benefit of the moral influence of such knowledge upon the public mind? The great social and civil organizations and institutions to receive and control the hundreds of thousands of people in the future are now in embryo, and all legislative, administrative, judicial, and military action in reference to them is absolutely and exclusively under the direction of the Government at Washington. The commonwealths to rise there and take their positions in