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HON. JOSEPH PERRAULT, Superintendent of Public Instruction, was born at Belleville, Upper Canada, in 1845, and educated at St. Mary's College, Montreal. He came to this country and was engaged in mercantile pursuits until appointed Comptroller of Idaho by the Governor. The Legislature subsequently added 'the duties of Superintendent of Education to those of the Comptroller, without, however, increasing the remuneration. Mr. Perrault's term expires January, 1875.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
IDAHO was incorporated as a territory by Congress, March 3, 1863. It was formed from portions of Nebraska, Oregon, Utah, and Washington Territories, but its boundaries were changed at the following session of Congress, and a portion of the original Territory was included in Montana. A public school system was organized in Idaho soon after its incorporation as a territory. The school law provided for a State Superintendent of Public Instruction, a County Superintendent for each county, and for Trustees of School Districts. The year after the enactment of the school law, the whole number of persons in the territory between four and twenty-one years of age reported was one thousand two hundred and thirty-nine. Returns, however, were not received from two counties. The Superintendent of Public Instruction estimated the whole number of children of school age at fifteen hundred. In 1866, eight counties reported in the aggregate fourteen schools, with seven hundred and ninety-two children between five and eighteen years of age, four hundred and thirtysix of whom were registered as attending school. The amount of money raised by these counties that year for the support of schools, was $6,605.19. During the following year and a half, some advance was made in erecting and improving schoolhouses, and an interest in educational matters gradually developed. The funds available for school purposes were not sufficient, however, to carry on the work. There was not, for example, funds to defray the necessary expenses of furnishing blanks for the use of County Superintendents and teachers, so that the Superintendent of the Territory was powerless to perform duties imposed upon him by law, for want of money. The Governor, in his message to the Territorial Legislature, which met December 5, 1870, said “ The present school law is an outrage upon an enlightened people. In many of the counties and school districts, where school-houses are built, no school has been held during the present year; these structures stand empty, and in silent mockery, it might be said monuments of inadequate legislation.” According to the census returns of that year (1870), there were four hundred and sixty-six persons attending school in the territory, of which fifty were foreign born. The white scholars numbered four hundred and fifty-eight, of whom two hundred and forty were males, and two hundred and eighteen females. The colored scholars numbered eight, four males and four females. Three thousand three hundred and eighty-eight persons in the territory, ten and over ten years of age, were unable to write, of whom three thousand two hundred and fifty were foreign born.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM.
Impelled by the demands for a better educational system, and influenced by the above language of the Governor's message, the Legislature of that year, 1870 and 1871 (the Legislature meets only biennially) passed an “ Act to establish a common school system, and to provide for the maintenance and supervision of common schools.” This bill did not meet the Governor's approval. It was, however, repassed, notwithstanding his objections, and became a law. Among other things it required County Superintendents to exercise a general supervision over the schools. This school law did not, however, work satisfactorily, and accordingly the Seventh Legislative Assembly, held during December and January, 1872 and 1873, remodelled the law, which, as changed, is now in force. The following are its main features:
The Superintendent of Public Instruction holds the position ex officio for two years, the amendments of 1872 and 1873 hay. ing made the Territorial Comptroller ex officio Superintendent. He prepares and publishes instructions and forms for school officers, apportions the school money, exercises a general supervision over the public schools, and is required to make a biennial report to the Legislature of their condition, prospects, etc. He
is paid as Comptroller, but receives no salary as Superintendent of Instruction.
County Superintendents, numbering nine, one for each county, are elected for two years, and receive an average annual salary of $250. They examine teachers and apportion the school money in the county treasury, on the following basis: Twothirds is distributed equally among the organized districts of the respective counties, regardless of the number of children. The remaining third is then distributed, per capita, among the several districts, in proportion to the number of children in each, as shown by the last school census. The State Superintendent says in a recent communication, “ In several of the counties the office of County Superintendent is merely a name—a misnomer -as the Superintendents rarely or never visit the schools, and the office might as well be abolished. Altogether, as far as practical results are concerned, the success of the schools depends more on efficient county-superintendence, inspection, and management, than on any other one instrumentality.”
Trustees, three for each school district, are elected annually. They employ teachers, fix their salaries, have charge of all school property, furnish all things necessary for the schools, and make a semi-annual report to the County Superintendent. No trustee shall be pecuniarily interested in any contract made by the Board of Trustees of which he is a member, and any contract made in violation of this restriction shall be null and void.
Teachers, before obtaining a certificate from the County Superintendent, must pass a satisfactory examination in reading, spelling, writing, arithmetic, geography, grammar, and history. No books, papers, tracts, or documents of a political, sec. tarian, or denominational character can be used or introduced in any school,
The legal school age is from five to twenty-one years. The school year commences on the ist day of September, and closes on the 31st of August. There is no compulsory education. There are no Normal Schools in the territory, One Teachers' Institute was held during 1874.
At a meeting held at Boise City, in June, 1874, Governor Bennett presiding, the necessary steps were taken for the establishment of a University. There are now in Boise City three private schools, one under the direction of the Episcopal Church, the other two are under the control of lady teachers. There is a fourth school under the direction of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, where French alone is taught.
The Public School Fund is derived from the sale of lands donated to the territory for school purposes, from escheats, legacies, one per cent. of the gross proceeds of all franchises, and from ten per cent. of the gross receipts of all moneys paid into the treasury for territorial purposes. The County Commissioners likewise levy an annual school-tax of not less than one mill nor more than five mills on all the taxable property in the various counties. All fines for violating any of the penal laws of the territory are also set apart for the support of common schools.
State Superintendent Perrault wrote us, July 16, 1874: “ The Legislature meets biennially, and will meet again next December. We expect the school law will be entirely changed, as the law is now very defective."
EDUCATIONAL PROGRESS. The territorial school fund amounted, in 1871, to $3,626.82, and in 1874 to $3,855.03. The number of pupils enrolled in the schools was 1,596 in 1871, and 3,473 in 1874. The total receipts for school purposes for 1874, were $3,855.03 :
1869. 1873-74 Number of children between the ages of five
and twenty-five years—boys, 1,657 ; girls, 1,556.......
3,233 Number of children enrolled in schools..... 724
2,196 Average attendance. ......
891 Number of school districts............ Number of school-houses......... Number of schools. Number of school-libraries....... Number of volumes in school-libraries......
198 Paid for teachers' salaries...... ........ $7,331 10....$19,446 44 Total expenditures for school purposes.....$14,119 63....$27,181 60
HON. S. S. STEPHENS, Cherokee Superintendent of Public Instruction, was born in the Cherokee Nation in 1837, his parents dying when he was very young. He is part Cherokee, and received whatever education he obtained among that people. He has taught school in the Nation for six years, and held the important position of Auditor of Accounts for a corresponding time. For three years also he has held an office under the Federal Government. He has been elected Superintendent of Instruction for four successive terms by the National Council of the Cherokees, and is deserving of no little credit for his efforts in behalf of education.
THE INDIAN TERRITORY lies west of the Mississippi River, west of the State of Arkansas, and north of Texas, and forms part of the Louisiana purchase of 1803. It embodies a tract of country set apart by the Government of the United States, as a permanent home for the aboriginal tribes removed thither from east of the Mississippi as well as those native to the Territory. They are allowed to live to a certain extent under their own laws, follow their own customs, and to indulge in their own modes of life. According to the latest statistics the Indian communities in the Territory number together sixty-eight thousand five hundred and five souls, having a reservation of forty-four million one hundred and fifty-four thousand two hundred and forty acres, of which two hundred and four thousand six hundred and seventy-four are improved. The following table shows the relative strength of what are regarded as the civilized tribes in the territory. Cherokee .....
....... 2,438. Miscellaneous.....
........... 1,219. The Cherokees, Choctaws, Creeks, Chickasaws, and Seminoles, each provide by law for the establishment of district schools, as well as others of a higher character. There is a Superintendent of Schools elected or appointed in each nation, which is divided into districts, having School Boards, etc.
THE CHEROKEES, Under their present Constitution, are governed by a national Committee and Council, elected for two years by the eight dis