Education.In Kansas education is compulsory. It became so by the law of 1874, which made it the duty of every parent or guardian, having control of any child or children between the ages of eight and fourteen years, to send such child or children to a public or private school, taught by a competent instructor, for a period of at least twelve weeks in each year, six weeks of which time should he consecutive, unless such child or children were excused from such attendance by the board of education. Lack of wearing apparel and ill health were the conditions upon which a child could be excused. In 1903 this law was revised and made more stringent, and provision was also made for incorrigible children. In 1905 laws were passed requiring the education of the deaf, mute and blind.
In 1907 the legislature created truancy districts, each under the charge of a truancy officer whose duty it was to investigate the cases of delinquent children and see that the mandates of the educational act are obeyed. By this method many children with careless parents or with small inclination for study received benefit from the school where otherwise they would not. Provision was made for healthy children in the general schools, and for the afflicted and abnormal children in special schools, both of which are maintained by the state thus in Kansas education becomes a necessity insisted upon for the betterment of the state.
The value of education was recognized by the first settlers, who came from communities in which the free schools had a high place, and who appreciated the power of a good public school system in the making of a state. These pioneers had been preceded by missionaries who entered the West to assist in civilizing the Indians through the combined agentsreligion and educationand who taught what white children there were in the vicinity of the missions, but until Kansas became a territory there were few white children to teach. The real beginning of educational life in Kansas was made in 1855, after the great influx of pioneers had begun. Small schools were organized in towns like Lawrence, Wyandotte and Leavenworth, and maintained by public subscription. Although a territorial superintendent was appointed in 1857 to oversee all the schools of the territory, very little was done in an educational way until 1859. On Jan. 1 of that year not more than five school districts had been organized in Douglas county, which was in better circumstances than any other in the territory. But before June of the same year the number had been increased to thirty districts. On Jan. 4, 1866, Mr. Greer, then superintendent of schools, reported 222 organized school districts. School was taught in 138 districts and 2,087 persons were enrolled. In 1908 there were 8,689 districts and 507,827 persons of school age. (See Public School System.)
The state constitution contains important sections relative to education, one of which provides that no distinction shall he made between the sexes. This principle has been observed in all the public schools and the state university. The men and women of Kansas have the same opportunity for learning. The public schools of the state have enlarged and developed into a permanent and effective system of education, that touches every section of the commonwealth, every phase of activity. Each county is divided into districts, the pupils completing the elementary work enter the high schools, the high schools are accredited to the higher institutions of learning, the university, the state normal school, and the state agricultural college.
The instructors, of common and high schools are involved in the system by way of normal institutes and teachers' associations, and those who have completed courses in the higher institutions of learning, as well as those who have not, are organized into county, district and the state associations for the purpose of supplementing their training and improving the work in the schools. The higher institutions of learning perform a great duty in penetrating all districts with their messages and help. The university conducts an extension department, thereby sending the benefits of the institution to those people who cannot go to it, by lectures, by its professors, through correspondence courses and its public welfare department. The agricultural college, through lectures, through the experiment station bulletins, and through the farmers' institutes, does its part toward the improvement of the state, and the state normal school by sending out well-trained teachers contributes its quota. At the head of all is the state board of education, consisting of the state superintendent of public instruction, the chancellor of the university, the president of the normal school, the president of the agricultural college, and the others appointed by the governor.
The course of study given to the public schools is broader than in early days, and embraces more departments. The high school gives the same grade of work the college used to give, and many high schools present a collegiate courseembracing literature, history and languagesa normal course, and a business course. The introduction of industrial training into the schools marks the beginning of a new kind of education. To develoop[sic] the hand as well as the brain assists in bringing together the world of theory and practice and presents a more complete education. An indispensable adjunct of the school is the library, and this source of education has been developing accordingly. In 1855 the schools had scarcely enough text books for the pupils to learn their lessons, in 1910 the school libraries of Kansas owned 497,142 volumes. Another important factor in education is the Aplington art gallery (q. v.) which is sent to any part of the state by the request of any school or club.
The public school system is supplemented by denominational schools located at various points throughout the state. There are nearly 200 of these schools, many of them small, but they do very good work. The business college also has come to stay and assists in fitting students for direct entrance into the business world.Pages 563-565 from volume I of Kansas: a cyclopedia of state history, embracing events, institutions, industries, counties, cities, towns, prominent persons, etc. ... / with a supplementary volume devoted to selected personal history and reminiscence. Standard Pub. Co. Chicago : 1912. 3 v. in 4. : front., ill., ports.; 28 cm. Vols. I-II edited by Frank W. Blackmar. Transcribed May 2002 by Carolyn Ward.
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