Page images

in the high school work."' In 1892 Superintendent Morgan, the educational historian of the State, declares that “the present law is inadequate" and suggests a provision for State-aided high schools in separate districts, including graded school districts. In many counties the entire area might be included in one high school district.

During the twenty years following the adoption of the new constitution four gentlemen administered the office of State superintendent of instruction-- Mr. B.W. Byrne, W. K. Pendleton, B. L. Butcher, and B. S. Morgan. In 1875 the teachers' normal institutes seem not to have grown according to the need, although supplemented fairly by a donation from the Peabody fund, with an average attendance of 35 in each and only 210 in the entire State. Superintendent Byrne speaks ont vigorously concerning this important matter as well as of the normal schools. The Peabody educational fund, through its agent, Dr. Barnas Sears, befriended the State to the extent of $18,809 in 1874, almost every considerable town being concerned in the distribution. The first State normal school, established in what has become the flourishing city of Huntington, was followed by five normals, at Fairmont, West Liberty, Greenville, Shepherdstown, and Concord. All save the school at Concord were in operation in 1875 and had sent forth 146 graduates. The State university contained, in 1874, 138 students, and with the usual departments of college instruction combined a college of agriculture and mechanics, with normal classes during the spring term for the instruction of teachers. The State educational association, after a lapse of two years, assembled in August, 1875, and remained in session four days, with an encouraging attendance. In 1875 there were 4 private denominational seminaries bearing the name “college" in West Virginia, containing more than 500 students and several academical schools of superior grade. The reports of the county superintendents were becoming more full and satisfactory with the progress of the years. In 1877-78 Mr. W. H. Pendleton was recalled to the post of State superintendent for two terms. The educational interest of the people seems to have been sustained during his administration, although the word " decrease " appears in several places where its presence is not grateful. The normal schools were not yet regarded a department of the public school system, but were still under the control of a separate board of regents, the State superintendent being ex officio president of the board.

The years of 1874-1876 in West Virginia were characterized by the developinent of one of the most original and notable movements in the country in behalf of the grading of the rural district schools. For a detailed account of this interesting experiment we call attention to an extract from a paper entitled “ Education in West Virginia," prepared at the suggestion of Supt. Virgil A. Lewis in 1892-93, and published in the Report of the United States Commissioner of Education for the same year.

It was characteristic that the State of West Virginia, born amid the confusion and terror of civil war, should not only, as declared by County Superintendent A. L. Wade in 1870, " have accomplished more in the work of building schoolhouses and setting in operation the machinery of the free school system in the last thirteen years than any other State of like territory and wealth ever did in a quarter of a century," but also has been able to claim the honor of inaugurating in 1874 a movement for the improved grading and graduation of pupils in the country district school which attracted the attention and secured the hearty indorsement of United States Commissioner of Education, Hon. John Eaton, in 1878. Commissioner Eaton declares:

Of all plans developed, none has excited more attention than that known as the graduating system for country schools, devised by A. L. Wade, superintendent of Monongalia County, W. Va. It has been reviewed by all the educational jour

[ocr errors]

nals and has excited the attention of the principal school superintendents of the country.

For a detailed account of this achievement the reader may be referred to the interesting volume, A Graduating System for Country Schools, Boston, 1881, prepared by County Superintendent Wade.

According to Supt. B. I. Morgan, in History of Education in West Virginia

The author defines the graduating system for country schools to be simply taking the primary branches as a course of study for graduation and making application of all the plans and appliances of the best academies and colleges to the common schools of the country. It is the application of an old plan to a new purpose. The time in which each advanced pupil ought to complete this course of study is announced. Public examinations of graduating classes are held amnnally at points agreed upon in each county, and common school diplomas are granted to those who satisfactorily complete the course of study.

An alumni association, holding annual meetings for the mutnal improvement of those who have graduated, is organized in every magisterial district.

A catalogue containing a clear statement of the work of each school is published annually in each county. In this catalogne each school occupies sufficient space to give:

(1) The name of the school.
(2) The name of the teacher.
(3) The number of youths entitled to attend.
(4) The number of yonths in actual attendance.
(5) The number of youths entitled to attend but not in attendance.
(6) The daily average attendance.

(i) The daily per cent of attendance, based upon the number in attendance and the number entitled to attend but not in attendance.

(8) The branches taught and the number studying each branch.

(9) The names of the pupils who have graduated and the dates of their graduation.

(10) The names of pupils who ought to complete the course of study in one, two, three, or four years, making clear the class to which each belongs. Pupils who can not complete the conrse of study in four years or less compose the preparatory department, but their names do not appear in the catalogues.

This catalogue contains also the annual report of the county superintendent, presenting the results of the work of the year and his recommendation for the future; a synopsis of the proceelings of the several alumni associations; the names of officers and the time and place of the next annual meeting of each association, and also brief obituary notices of teachers and graduates and undergraduates who have died within the year.

This system may be introduced into the schools of a State or a county, and can be tested even in à township or district or in a single school.

Superintendent Wade's report concerning the working of his system at its beginning reads as follows:

The time for the examination of graduating classes began to grow near and croakers were busy prophesying that the whole system would prove a failure. Such a thing. they said, as graduating in country schools never has been done and never will. I watched anxiously the effect of these predictions, and I was highly gratified to find that teachers and pupils were already beyond the region of uncertainty, and were only strengthened in their determination to make the plan a success. So far were they from fearing failure, that they requested me to make the examination thorough and public, and as far as possible oral, so that the people could see and hear for themselves. Unwilling to assume a responsibility of conducting those examinations without aid, I secured the services of Prof. H. L. Cox, principal of the Morgantown graded school, Prof. W. R. White, ex-State superintendent of free schools of West Virginia, and Professors Lyon, Purinton, and Owen, of the West Virginia University. I gave notice througlithe press that one or more of these professors would be present to aid me in each examination and to deliver an appropriate address in the evening.

The county superintendent, each evening, after the addresses were ended, in the presence of the audience, delivered to each member of the class who was adjudged worthy of the same, a common school diploma, Two hundred and sixty-one pupils had entered the class of 1876, and of this number 196 had completed the course and received diplomas.

In his annual report of 1877 County Superintendent Wade says:

I organized in each district of the county an alumni association for the benefit of those who had graduated, and gave due notice through the press of the time and place of each meeting. The exercises in each of these meetings consisted of original and select orations, essays, and select readings. No public meetings pertaining to our free school work have elicited more interest or attracted larger crowds than these. In order to secure a permanent organization of the alumni of each district I provided ballats and held an election at each meeting for a president, vice-president, and secretary. A gentleman to deliver an oration and a lady to read an essay at the district examination were also chosen by ballot. These were also elected by the members of the alumni association from its own body,

So far this sketch pertains entirely to the county in which graduation in country schools originated. At the State teachers' association, 1877, a resolution was passed recommending the system be adopted throughout the State.

The National Eclucation Association indorsed the system in 1879. Since this indorsement one-third of the States have adopted the systein entire, others are testing it in single counties, and the plan bids fair to become universal.

In 1881 Benjamin S. Morgan, superintendent of the schools of Monongalia County prepared and had printed the first graded course of study for country schools in West Virginia.

During the years 1881-1884 the office of State superintendent was held by Mr. Bernard L. Butcher, whose name is appended to the eighteenth, nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first reports of the department. In the report for 1883–84 he opens by the declaration: “ There is substantial cause for congratulation upon the condition of our educational atfairs. Nearly every item that should increase has increased, and nearly every item that should decrease has decreased.” . The reports of Superinten·lent Butcher bear ample testimony to the intelligence and energy with which he entered into the aclministration of his office. His labors were largely devoted to that essential improvement in the common work of the schools which marks the difference between a genuine and a sham system of public education. In his plan for a complete system of graded instruction and examination for teachers, for the increased compensation of city superintendents, for a more carefnl arrangement of testing certificates, and an increase of interest in the teachers' institutes we recognize the spirit of the thorough educator. The teachers' institute at the city of Wheeling was under the direction of several of the most prominent educators of the country and was attended by 20 of the city and county superintendents and 250 teachers, and constituted an era in the working of this department in the State. A school journal had been established. The cause of the education of the colored people found in Superintendent Butcher a firm and generous friend. Under his direction the legislature provided for the norinal instruction of 18 colored students in Storer College, at Harpers Ferry. In 1881 the superintendent declares: “ The outlook of popular education was never brighter in the State."

Superintendent Butcher was among the first of the State superintendents of West Virginia that had appeared at the National Association of Teachers. By his intercourse with the learling educators of the country he placed the educational system in West Virginia in its proper relation to the Union. After serving on the different committees of the National Educational Association he was chosen president of the department of superintendence of that association in 1884.

The election of Mr. Benjamin S. Morgan as successor to Superintendent Butcher in 188.5 was the best assurance that the people of West Virginia were in no mood to fall in the rear of their former achievements. Superintendent Morgan administered the office of State superintendent of public instruction in West Virginia for eight years, with a steady effort toward the expansion and enrichment of the system and its purgation from the defects that attend all new departures of an American coinmonwealth in the training of its younger generation. The enumeration of school population in 1886 was 242,752, the enrollment in schools 172,259, and the average daily attendance 103,890. The schoolhouses were better furnished with every succeeding year. In 1886 1,115 of the 4,925 teachers had attended a normal school and 6,088 persons had been connected with the 58 teachers' associations. There were 2,933 schoolhouses, of which 1,377 had improved furniture in 1886. Three thousand three hundred and sixty-five volumes were found in school libraries. The entire value of school property in 1886 was $1,609,962. But only 21,674 pupils 16 years of age and over were found in all the schools, the average age being less than 10 years. The excess of male teachers continued, 3,240 against 1,685 females, 143 of the teachers being colored, of whom an increasing number were graduates of Storer College. The schools were classed as, common 4,324, graded 98, high 15. The average length of the school term was four months and fourteen days.

Four thousand eight hundred and forty visits had been made by county superintendents, 2,018 by members of boards of education, 15,245 by trustees, 23,079 by parents and guardians, and 52,667 by other persons. The schools were supported in 1886 at an expense of $952,753.44, based on the average daily attendance. This gave $7.76 to each child, $4.66 on enrollment and $3.92 on the entire school population. The tax valuation of the State in 1886 was $159,514,752.62. Two thousand eight hundred dollars had been contributed by the Peabody fund, including the support of the State pupils in the Peabody Normal College, at Nashville, Tenn.

Among the topics enforced by Superintendent Morgan during his administration of eight years were: (1) The irregularity of the payınent of teachers' wages and the general shiftlessness of the business methods of many of the officials; (2) the difference in the length of school terms in different counties; (3) the very important subject of free high schools, in which the State for many years was deficient. In 1885 there were nly 15 high schools in the State, some of the larger towns being destitute. The establishment of six State normal schools in 1892, with an attendance of more than 1,000 students, and of the preparatory department of the State university had prevented the growth of private academies. The State university and normal schools were each under a separate board of control from the common schools, to the great disadvantage of the adıninistration of the system. To this and the cognate subject of a graded course of study for the district schools the superintendent applied his mind during his entire official term, with a success that will appear at a later date. (4) The establishinent of public school libraries. Superintendent Morgan emphasizes the prominent topic, the completion of the educational system of the State, with constant vigor and cogency. As proper subjects for additional legislation he calls attention to laws for the protection of children against employment in factories, mills, and mines; the free supply of school books to indigent pupils; the compulsory attendance at schools, and especially the establishment of schools of manual training.

The people of West Virginia wisely retained Superintendent Morgan in office during eight years. During his second term he urged the necessity of expert supervision. “ Four-fifths of the schools of the country are without any systematic course of study and practically any supervision at all. The salary attached to the office of county superintendent should be sufficient to command the service of men of good abilities and qualifications, who should be required to devote their entire time to their work. When so qualified the superintendent should be clothed with power to act. There should be an ample course of study for ungraded country and village schools.” The great necessity of compulsory school attendance was illustrated by the statement that of the 196,538 children and youth in the State between 6 and 16 years of age 171,717 only were enrolled in all classes of schools, 25,816 not enrolled in any school. Between 16 and 21 there were 68,793 youth, of whom 43,300 were in no school. A great defect was found by the super

intendent in the policy of taxation for the support of schools. The State tax of 10 cents on $100 and a capitation tax did not pay one-fourth of the cost of the schools. The remainder of their support was by a local tax, levied by a school district. A habit of establishing independent school districts in rich and densely populated portions of the State had grown up, whereby the poorer communities were deprived of local funds.

With the biennial report of Superintendent Morgan for 1891–92 the public connection of this able and fearless official with the Commonwealth closed. He celebrated his retirement from office in 1892 by an important contribution to the educational literature of the State, a “ History of Education in West Virginia." By the aid of his chief clerk, Mr. J. F. Cork, he gave to the public, in a document of more than 200 pages, one of the most valuable State histories of education in the country. While he there does not fail to set forth in the most forcible and persistent manner the defects of the system, yet he claims that no American State has greater reason to be proud of its building for the children in one generation than West Virginia. In 1865 there were 431 and in 1892 5,762 public schools. During the same period of twenty-seven years the number of teachers had increased from 387 to 5,747. The total amount expended for public education had risen from $7,722.90 to $1,436,062.53 and the value of school property from $32,856 to $2,746,234. The enrollment of pupils for 1892 was 174,706 and the average attendance 110,742. Six normal schools had been established, with a total attendance in 1892 of 1,015. A State university had grown from a feeble beginning to an established reputation among similar institutions in the United States. All this had been done by the people, at their own expense, by taxes levied upon property, the State having no general school fund derived from public lands donated by the General Government.

The State University of West Virginia was organized in April, 1867. Rev. Alexander Martin was elected president, with 4 professors. The school was organized with a preparatory department and the usual college curriculum. In 1868 there were 124 students in attendance. In the same year suitable buildings were erected at the expense of $57,000, $:35,000 being appropriated by the State. In 1871-72 a building for the military department was erected, at a cost of $4,000, adopted in 1889 for the use of the agricultural experiment station. Another large building was added in 1874, at a cost of $11,500. In 1875 Doctor Martin resigned the presidency, and in 1877 Rev. J. R. Thompson, A. M., was elected to the position. In 1878 the departments of law and medicine were established, the latter enlarged in 1888 to a school of biology. In 1881 President Thompson resigned, and after the temporary service of Prof. D. B. Purinton was succeeded by Hon. William W. Wilson. During his administration of two years the institution was reconstructed into eight academical and two professional schools. President Wilson resigned in 1883 and two years later, 1885, Hon. E. M. Turner was elected president, which office he retained for seven years. In 1889 coeducation was established, as far as related to college studies. In 1892 additional buildings had been erected, at the expense of $32,000, the entire outlay in building amounting to $175,000. The campus of 18 acres commands a remarkable view of the beautiful country watered by the Monongahela River. By the passage of the act by Congress in 1887 for the agricultural experiment station, the institution received an additional income of $15,000, to be raised eventually to $25,000. The general control of the university is vested in a board of regents, one from every senatorial district in the State, appointed by the governor. Since the organization the university had been served in 1900 by 66 professors and instructors. The attendance in the first twelve years did not reach 166, with an average seldom above 100. Since 1881 it has steadily increased to 229. In 1892 163 had been graduated

ED 1903-26

« PreviousContinue »