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The State is divided into school districts, and all questions relating to the schools are left entirely in the hands of the inhabitants of these districts, whose votes decide whether there shall be a school or not, and whose only connection with the State authorities comes from a provision, that a certain minimum amount of school tax must be raised by each district in order to entitle it to its pro rata share of the school fund.
Persons qualified to vote for State representatives hold an annual meeting, on the first Saturday in April, at two o'clock in the afternoon. Any number of voters constitute a quorum, and their acts are valid. The school-voters decide what sum shall be raised for the ensuing year, by tax, for school purposes, and they then vote by ballot “ for a tax," or "against a tax,” the majority deciding. If the majority of the voters be “ against a tax," the sum so resolved to be raised may be raised by subscription.
The School Committees make assessment lists for their respective districts ; such lists consist of the rates of all white persons over twenty-one years old, of the rates of personal property of all the white inhabitants of the district, and of the clear rental value of all the assessable real estate in the district owned by white persons.
The School Committees furthermore determine sites, provide school-houses, keeping them in repair, and supplying them with furniture and fuel, and provide schools for as long a period as their funds will enable them to employ teachers. They receive, collect, and apply all moneys, appoint collectors for the districts, and annually, at the stated meetings, make a detailed report of their receipts and expenditures. They receive no emoluments, but are allowed by law one dollar per term or three cents per mile, for attendance before the State Auditor.
The law stipulates that the Governor shall, yearly, before the Ist of March, appoint a Superintendent of free schools in each county. Such Superintendents, however, have no real power or duties beyond supplying forms for the collecting of information and reporting to the General Assembly. They receive no pay other than postage and traveling expenses, and so far as we are able to learn the office of County Superintendent exists more in name than in fact.
Notwithstanding the negroes have been emancipated, no pro
vision is made for their education by the State law. A benevolent society called “The Delaware Association for the Moral Improvement and Education of the Colored People," and the Freedmen's Bureau, have contributed materially to the education of the emancipated blacks. The proposed new school law, which was defeated in 1873, made provision for the establishment and maintenance of colored schools.
The School Fund of Delaware is derived from the income arising from the investment of Delaware's share of the “Surplus Revenue" distributed by the United States to the several States, together with a portion of the proceeds arising from certain State fees and licenses. A part of this fund is divided among the counties equally. The remainder is apportioned among the several counties according to the white population, as ascertained by the census of 1830. The amount apportioned in 1872, was about $30,000.
SCHOOL SYSTEM OF WILMINGTON. Wilmington may be regarded as separated from the State, so far as educational matters are concerned, inasmuch as special enactments for her benefit have been passed from time to time, and the city has progressed educationally while the rest of the State has made little advancement. The charter of the Board of Public Education of Wilmington, which would have expired by limitation that year, was renewed by the Legislature in 1872. The public schools of the city are placed by law in charge of this board, whose thirty members are elected by the citizens for three years. Three are chosen from each of the ten wards of the city, one-third of the members are elected each year, a plan which, while it keeps the board in close dependence on the citizens, averts summary changes, and secures the permanence essential to the success of any system. The Board of Education organizes every April, electing a President, Secretary, Treasurer, and Superintendent of the Schools in the city. Wilmington is known as one school district, eleven and a half districts having been consolidated. The old districts are entitled to their pro rata share of the State Fund. There are no district schools; all are graded. Forty-two weeks comprise the scholastic year. There are no libraries connected with the schools.
The school statistics furnished in the public reports of Delaware are very meagre, and inasmuch as the Legislature meets only once in two years, no returns for the whole State have been made public later than for the year 1872. We subjoin some of them :
1863–64. 1872–73. Number of school districts. ...
.... 381 Number of schools in operation ......
306.... 349 Number of months in operation .......
.... 2,563 Number of scholars.......................... 14,756.... 18,780
At the beginning of 1874, the Delaware Association for the Moral Improvement and Education of the Colored People had twenty-five schools under its care through the State. Writing about that time, the Actuary of the Association, Mr. A. C. Peckham, said “ There seems to be greater interest manifested in the education of the colored people of the State than at any time before, and the colored people themselves are more unitedly working for their object.”
A PENSION-LIST for faithful teachers worn in the service would not be an unpleasant thing. The alumni of Michigan University have proposed an equivalent in one case. They are about to raise a fund of $25,000 to endow a “ Williams Professorship," the object being to make a generous provision for Prof. George P. Williams, the oldest professor in the institution, who must soon become disabled by age from further active duty.
SCIENTIFIC men, as well as theologians, sometimes find it very difficult to avoid the charge of “ambiguity.” An amusing instance is the case of Prof. Huxley, who wrote an “ Essay on the Physical Basis of Life,” which he designed as a protest against Materialism. But the public generally regards it as an argument in favor of Materialism. Was Talleyrand jesting when he uttered his famous bon mot, that the object of language is to conceal thought ?
HON. JONATHAN C. GIBBS [colored), Superintendent of Public Instruction in Florida, was born in Philadelphia, Pa., Sept. 21st, 1831. In 1852 he graduated from Dartmouth College, and from thence went to Princeton, N. J., where he studied theology. He was sent South in 1863, as the accredited agent of the Old School General Assembly of the Presbyterian Church, to organize schools and churches among the freedmen on the Atlantic seaboard. For four years he filled the office of Secretary of State under Gov. Read. In 1872, he was appointed by Gov. Hart Superintendent of Public Instruction for four years. Gov. Hart dying in the second year of his administration, his successor, Gov. Stearns, reappointed Mr. Gibbs.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
IN 1839, six years before the admission of Florida into the Union as a State, a constitution was adopted which provided that the lands reserved for “the use of schools and seminaries of learning ” should be held inviolate, and a like provision was contained in the constitution of 1865. Little revenue however appears to have been derived from the fund created by the sale of these lands, and little general interest was taken in the Common School System until 1869, when a law was passed creating the offices of State and County Superintendents.
Under efficient supervision, and stimulated by the interest in education evinced by all classes, the schools have increased in number and efficiency. The first State Superintendent of Public Instruction was Hon. C. Thurston Chase, who, in 1871, was succeeded by Hon. Charles Beecher, the predecessor of the present incumbent, Hon. J. C. Gibbs.
The principal resources of Florida for educational purposes are, the interest derived from the sale of school lands, a tax of not less than one mill on the dollar of all taxable property in the State, fines collected under penal laws of the State, and twenty-five per cent. on the sales of public lands belonging to the State. Of the school lands, 110,000 acres have been sold, leaving a balance of nearly 594,000. In addition to this, Congress granted over 85,000 acres of land for the support of two seminaries, and about half of this amount has been disposed of.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM. The school law of Florida provides for the establishment of a uniform system of public instruction, free to all residents of the State, between the ages of four and twenty-one years. The following are its principal features:
First.—The officers of the Department of Public Instruction consist of a State Superintendent, a State Board of Education, a Board of Public Instruction for each county, a Superintendent of Schools for each county, local school trustees, treasurers, and agents. The salary of the State Superintendent is $2,000 a year; that of County Superintendents averages $300.
Second.—Boards of Public Instruction and Boards of Trustees, consist of not more than five members.
Third.-Every school officer, before receiving any school money or property, shall give bonds, with two good sureties, for double the amount that will be liable to come into his hands at any one time.
Fourth.—Each county constitutes a school district.
Fifth.-The Superintendent of Public Instruction holds office for four years. He is, ex officio, President of the State Board of Education, which has control of all public school lands and funds, and has power to remove subordinate officers. It consists of the Superintendent, Secretary of State, Treasurer, and Attorney-General.
Sixth. In the Boards of Public Instruction for Counties is vested the title of all school property. They have the power to locate schools, examine candidates, and grant certificates to teachers. A Board has not power to make contracts with any of its members, except for the purchase of school sites.
Seventh.—County superintendents are required to visit each school at least once during a term, and to examine into its discipline and system of instruction. They have power to