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Thoughts on public education in Kentucky, with special reference to normal schools, the State Agricultural and Mechanical College, and the trusts of Transylvania University : being an extract from a memoir suggested by the study of the International Centennial Exhibition of 1876 / by Robert Peter.
Thoughts on public education in Kentucky, with special reference to normal schools, the State Agricultural and Mechanical College, and the trusts of Transylvania University : being an extract from a memoir suggested by the study of the International Centennial Exhibition of 1876 / by Robert Peter. Peter, Robert, 1805-1894. 400dpi TIFF G4 page images University of Kentucky, Electronic Information Access & Management Center Lexington, Kentucky 2002 b92-88-27380582 Electronic reproduction. 2002. (Beyond the shelf, serving historic Kentuckiana through virtual access (IMLS LG-03-02-0012-02) ; These pages may be freely searched and displayed. Permission must be received for subsequent distribution in print or electronically. Thoughts on public education in Kentucky, with special reference to normal schools, the State Agricultural and Mechanical College, and the trusts of Transylvania University : being an extract from a memoir suggested by the study of the International Centennial Exhibition of 1876 / by Robert Peter. Peter, Robert, 1805-1894. Printed at the Kentucky Yeoman Office, Major, Johnston & Barrett, Frankfort, Ky. : 1877. 16 p. ; 23 cm. Coleman Caption title. Microfilm. Atlanta, Ga. : SOLINET, 1993. 1 microfilm reel ; 35 mm. (SOLINET/ASERL Cooperative Microfilming Project (NEH PS-20317) ; SOL MN02922.06 KUK) Printing Master B92-88. IMLS This electronic text file was created by Optical Character Recognition (OCR). No corrections have been made to the OCR-ed text and no editing has been done to the content of the original document. Encoding has been done through an automated process using the recommendations for Level 1 of the TEI in Libraries Guidelines. Digital page images are linked to the text file. Education Kentucky. Teachers colleges Kentucky. University of Kentucky. Transylvania University. THOUGHTS ON PUBHC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY, WITH SPECIAL REFERENCE TO NORMAL SCHOOLS, THE STATE AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COLLEGE, AND THE TRUSTS OF TRANSYLVANIA UNIVERSITY. It would be of no avail to inculcate the advantages of mod- ern scientific agriculture and the arts, if their teachings cannot be understood by our people: these can flourish only amongst an educated population. More important fact yet: enlightened statesmen have long since taught us that freedom itself is impossible except to the intelligent and educated; who alone are competent to make good constitutions and laws for the government of their com- munities; to understand the necessity and benefit of implicit obedience to them, and able judiciously to enforce them. So that, while despotic or aristocratic governments may ignore popular education, or only provide the means of instruction for the benefit of the ruling class of citizens, it is the absolute duty of the free State or Republic to provide general, or even compulsory, education for its people. THOUGHTS ON 1 To the honor of Kentucky it may be stated that she has done much in this relation. Her Common School system, established by the State Constitution, and endowed with an annual income from public sources alone, approaching to a million of dollars, gave tuition, in I876, according to the report -of the State -Superintendent of Public Instruction, to 448,142 white pupils alone, at the rate of 1.90 to each pupil, which was supplemented by a much larger sum from local sources. How many colored pupils were taught under the Common School system is not reported; but the number was consid- erable. Notwithstanding-this encouraging and favorable exhibit, the educational wants of our growing people, in view of the in- creasing necessity for more thorough training and instruction, to enable them to keep step with the onward march of im- provement in our great country, are by no means/fuily supplied. It may be instructive to compare our State in this respect with our neighboring State of Indiana With an area of ter- ritory nearly as large as ours, and a population only about a third of a million greater, Indiana according to the Census Reports of 1870, had in that year 464,477 scholars at school, of whom 446,076 were in her Public Schools; while Kentucky had 245,139 in all, of whom 2I8,246 were in the Public Schools. Indiana supported her schools with an income of 2,499,51I, of which 2,126,502 were from ppblic funds; Ken- tucky devoted 2,538,429 to her schools, of which only 674,- 992 were derived from public funds. Let us compare our State with that of Massachusetts, as reported in the United States Census Reports for i870, as fol- lows: Massachusetts, with a population of 1,457,351 at that date, had 242,145 pupils in her Common Schools; which had an income from public funds of 3,o6g,o85. Kentucky, with a population of 1,3 2 1,011 at that date, had 2 I 8,246 pupils in her Common Schools, to which public funds contributed 674,992. Massachusetts, in short, gave nearly five times as much for the support of her Common School system as did Kentucky; securing to the pupils a higher grade of education at the ex- 2 PUBLIC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY. pense of the Commonwealth, and thus maintaining in the State a higher efficiency, on the part of her people, in the management of all public and private interests; which doubt- less more than remunerated her for the expenditure, and causes her citizens to be leaders in enterprise all' over the country. If we compare the two States as to relative illiteracy, the contrast may also be instructive, as follows: In Massachusetts there were, in I 870, 114, IOO persons above ten years of age, of whom nine tenths were foreigners, who could not read and write. In Kentucky there were 249,567 persons ten years old or over who could tot read and write, only one fourth of whom were foreigners. As a very large proportion of these illiterates in Kentucky are colored per- sons, the comparison as to the white population would be much less unfavorable to us. Evidently, the educational advantages in the Common Schools of Massachusetts are greater and more profitable to the State than those of Kentucky; and this for the reason, amongst others, that she has provided ample means for the education and training of her Common School teachers in her five Normal Schools, and has established schools and in- struction of higher grades than is possible at present in the Kentucky Common School system. The fact that well edu- cated teachers are absolutely necessary to efficient instruction, and that those teachers may be best and most economically educated at home, is well understood. Massachusetts has five Normal Schools. Kentucky is represented in the Census Reports to have one; but this is not a State institution. STATE NORMAL SCHOOLS. There was a time in the history of Kentucky when, upon the urgent and conclusive representations of the late Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge, then Superintendent of Public In- struction, a State Normal School was established, to which a liberal income was appropriated by the General Assembly of Kentucky. But after two years of successful operation, under what seems to the writer unfortunate opinions as to the con- 3 stitutionality of the appropriation, this useful State institution was abolished by the Legislature. The constitutional objections arose from article eleventh, section one, of the Constitution, which provides that all the public funds devoted to public education, " together with any sum which may be hereafter raised in the State by taxation or otherwise, for purposes of education, shall be held inviolate, for the purpose of sustaining a system of Common Schools" -repeating that they " may be appropriated in aid of Common Schools, but for no other purpose." A strictly literal rendering of this provision would cut off all recent endowments from private schools, colleges or univer- sities; for the several sums donated to them were given -for the purposes of education," and the clause reads that "any sum which may be hereafter raised in the State by taxation, or otherwise, for purposes of education," shall be used to sustain the Common Schools. Evidently the words "by the State" should be understood in this paragraph. The legal difficulty which destroyed our only Normal School is evidently based on the signification given to the term "Common Schools." The Constitution makes no definition of the term; but the General Assembly has said what a Com- mon School in Kentucky shall be, and it has an equal right to amend that definition whenever the public interests may require the change. The word Common means not only low, ordinary, of no rank, etc., etc., but it signifies "belonging to the public; having no separate owner; general; serving for all; universal; belong- ing to all :" as - our common country ;" " our Commonwealth;` "our common law ;" etc., etc. In this sense alone can A be applied to Public Schools; except so far as ii may be technically defined by the legal authorities, and the prefix of this word "common" means no more than would the words State, public, or general, in the same relation, and by no means fixes upon these indispensa- ble instruments of public improvement, the Common Schools, the low grade of utility asserted by some legislators. 4 THOUGHTS ONPUBLIC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY. A Common School system being really only a system of education established by the State for the equal benefit of all her people-for general education-of which the poor have more especial need, and in which the State has a paramount interest, the grade and standing of such schools, as well as the means to render them most efficient, would seem to be subjects for legislative action under the Constitution; and if the wisdom of the General Assembly decides that teachers should be educated and trained in Kentucky at public ex- pense, in order to make the public educational system more efficient, and "in aid of her Common Schools," no constitu- tional prohibition appears to stand in the way of such legisla- tion. The grand object proposed is the education of the whole people; an indispensable means for preserving peace, liberty, and prosperity in the Commonwealth. Education of a certain kind being necessary, not only to the peaceful preservation of our rights, common and personal, but to the successful prose- cution of agriculture and the mechanic arts, the schools which provide such education for all are necessarily Common Schools, and of paramount public interest. That Kentucky should have one or more Normal Schools, ' in aid of her Common Schools," is proved by the successful action, in this regard, of almost all the other States of the Union. (See Appendix A for a sched- ule of Normal Schools in the other States.) THE STATE AGRICULTURAL AND MECHANICAL COLLEGE OF KEN- TUCKY. Elementary instruction, in so much of the great body of the natural and physical sciences as is now indispensable to modern improved agriculture and the successful prosecution of the mechanic arts, is provided for in the colleges, "I to pro- mote the liberal and practical education of the industrial classes," established in the several States on the basis of a grant of land scrip by Congress for this purpose. If, as was the fact on the previous occasion, it is found economical of means to estab- lish a State Normal School in an existing University, proper enactments to preserve all public or common interests seem to be all that would be necessary to meet the provisions of the Constitution. 5 THOUGHTS ON In Kentucky, as well as in many other States, the original congressional grant has been largely supplemented by private donations. In the case of our College, the more than two hundred thousand dollars, raised by the energetic efforts of John B. Bowman, Regent of Kentucky University, mostly from citizens of Fayette county, have almost alone provided its ample grounds and the buildings necessary to its location and establishment. Its means of instruction, in apparatus, museum, libraries, etc., etc., having been mainly derived from Kentucky University, to which it is attached, by law and con- tract, as one of its Colleges. In other States, large appropriations have been made from the public funds for grounds, buildings, means of instruction, etc., in aid of the congressional grant for promoting popular education; and in some, an annual appropriation is made for current expenses, repaid to the State in free tuition. But the Legislature of Kentucky has not as yet, probably, appreciated the fact that this beneficent institution may be a most effi- cient "Iaid " to the Common School system of the State, and constitutional objections are made, to any appropriations from public sources to assist in its permanent establishment and maintenance. The provision, however, in the contract with the Curators of Kentucky University, that each legislative district of the State may send two free pupils to this College, shows that it may be considered as the common property of the people, and that it is in fact, if not a Common School itself, a College which may be most effectually employed " in aid of Common Schools," according to the terms of the Constitution. More- over, the terms of the congressional grant make it the com- mon property of the whole State. Our Agricultural and Mechanical College, with the sole income derived from the interest on the proceeds of the con- gressional land grant, and a small sum from tuition and ma- triculation fees and proceeds of the farm, has already been of great utility to our State, having educated, free, during the brief term of its existence, a large number of young men 6 PUBLIC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY. annually, who come from all parts of the State, and who may be centres of enlightenment within their several localities at home. Individual munificence has provided for it a large farm, the magnificent domain lately the home of Henry Clay, together with an adjoining estate, with such buildings only as were constructed for the purposes of resident gentleman farm- ers, and not specially adapted to the wants and requirements of such a College as was designed; and something more is necessary, in this respect, to the permanent establishment of a great State educational institution on the present founda- tion. Other States, much younger and less wealthy than ours, point with patriotic pride to large and commodious buildings for lecture halls, recitation rooms, laboratories, museums and cabinets of instruction, libraries, etc., etc., all of which are indispensable. Many of these Colleges of other States are rich in modern books and apparatus, specimens, models, and other necessary means of instruction. But our College has no special fund by which these very desirable equipments and appurtenances can be supplied. Individual liberality, in its endowment, seems at present to be dormant; the funds and property of the other Colleges of the University, given all in trust for general educational purposes, have been mainly appropriated; and hence the State, to which this College be- longs, and to which will always belong the beneficial uses of its valuable real estate, as long as the the College exists in its present location, should come to its assistance, in an effi- cient mann er, suited to the great wealth, magnitude, and elevated character of our Commonwealth, and place it per- manently, by a wise and liberal legislation, on the basis of great and general utility to our people, for which it was de- signed. The greatest advantage to us of the study of the Centen- nial Exhibition is from the comparisons we are enabled to make with other States and other countries. Statistics from other sources are naturally sought to aid us in drawing the comparison. The United States Commissioner of Agricul- 7 THOUGHTS ON ture, in I873, gives, in his report of that year, the following very significant statement: "All the States, with the exception of a very few, have added something to the congressional land scrip grant. These additions have generally been made in buildings, lands, and apparatus, yet several of the States have contributed largely in money." "Besides all these donations (by individuals and corpora- tions), large sums have been given annually by many of the States to defray the current expenses of conducting the Col- leges." "s By comparing the value of the property derived from the land scrip received from the National Government with that derived from other sources, it will be seen that for every ioo given to these Colleges by the Government, the people have contributed 69, or more than two thirds as much." These Colleges are peculiarly the people's institutions, and are the common property of the whole community. They are in fact Common Schools, or to be used in " aid of the Common Schools," in a liberal rendering of the expression; and the pub- lic, by their representatives and in their individual capacity, should, at all times, cherish and preserve their interest in them by placing and keeping them in a' condition of the highest ef- ficiency; more especially because they are designed for that modern and practical education, particularly in the natural and physical sciences, etc., etc., which our advanced civilization and our free political institutions require in our people. (See Appendix B for endowments of these Colleges by the several States, by corporations and by individuals.) TRANSYLVANIA UNIVERSITY. The late Rev. Robert J. Breckinridge, in his report for i85o, as Superintendent of Public Instruction in Kentucky, says, page .21, what is matter of history: "It (Transylva- nia University) was received (from the State of Virginia) as a State institution from the earliest existence of the State of Kentucky, and has been so considered and treated by the Legislature to the present day; and it is the only institution 8 PUBLIC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY. of learning in the State of which these facts are true." This statement, made before the establishment of the State Agri- cultural and Mechanical College, was practically acknowl- edged shortly afterward by the General Assembly, by the establishment in it and endowment of the State Normal School. Indeed, the State, as the statute-books show, has more than once interposed its paramount authority over the trusts of Transylvania by reorganizing its Board of Trustees, without the petition of that body, and, in one instance, by placing them under the control of, and accountable to, the District Court of Fayette county. It has, moreover, frequently endowed it for the sole purpose of public education; and, almost up to the time of its consolidation in Kentucky University, the Leg- islature has appointed, at each of its sessions, committees to visit it and report to the General Assembly as to its condition, wants, and progress. All the rights and interests of the State and of the people in this our first and venerable University, acknowledged and established before the present State Con- stitution was adopted, were carefully preserved in the act by which it was united with Kentucky University, and consequently the Legislature, having never relinquished its paramount con- trol of its trusts, which were all devoted to the purposes of public or general education alone, without respect to sect or party, is just as much bound, in the maintenance of public interests, to appoint its regular visitorial committees, to examine and report on its condition and progress, and to watch over its trusts and property, as it ever was; and the rights of this institution to the protection and patronage of the State Gov- ernment, handed over to Kentucky by the State of Virginia when the former was made a State-rights and privileges which were established and acknowledged long before the existence of our present Constitution-no doubt remain to this day, unaltered and intact. A very condensed exhibit of the facts in the history of Transylvania University will demonstrate that it is just as See Appendix C. 9 THOUGHTS ON much a State institution now-just as much the property of the whole people-as when it was first handed over by Vir- ginia, and that there is a peculiar propriety in its present union with the Agricultural and Mechanical College of Ken- tucky. It was instituted and endowed with a grant of public lands by the State of Virginia while Kentucky was only a county of that State. Its first charters, the main provisions of which remain yet in force, given in 178o and 1783, made it "A Pub- lic School or Seminary of Learning;" in other words, a "Com- mon School." This character, stamped upon it by the mother State, in its first organic laws, has been carefully preserved, by special enactments, in all its varied fortunes, down to the pres- ent day. All of the numerous endowments, made to it by the States of Virginia and Kentucky, by the city of Lexington, by other corporate bodies, and by individuals at various times, have, without exception, been devoted by the several donors to this great general purpose-7public education, without regard to sect or party, and " the promotion of learzing and science." Conse- quently, the General Assembly of Kentucky, in'its paramount control over all public trusts, and in its special guardianship of this State institution, the first of our Common Schools, can justly claim and enact that all its property shall be applied to common, popular education alone, and not to the special uses or advantage of any sect or party whatever. Taking all these facts into consideration, and an examina- tion of the records will fully establish them, our State is not so verylfar behind other States in her means- which can be employed "in aid of her Common Schools," and in the pro- motion of popular education of a higher order, as might ap- pear from the ordinary exhibit of her Common School system. There is really no alteration or diminution of the rights of the State, or of the people at large, in the property of Tran- sylvania University, or in the State Agricultural and Mechan- ical College, because of their union in the present Kentucky University. IO PUBLIC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY. In the tripartite contract by which the three institutions were consolidated, "all the trusts and conditions" of each were carefully preserved; and although in the charter of the original Kentucky University there is a clause which requires that two thirds of the Curators shall be members of a single religious denomination in Kentucky, yet they hold none of the University property in fee, to do with it as they please; but hold it only in -trust; and are obliged, by the charters under which they act, to control and apply it "I to the purposes for which it was donated" only, viz: for general, public educa- tion, without regard to sect or party. Being thus strictly accountable to the State for the faithful performance of their trust. The records of Kentucky University proper show, moreover, that a large proportion of her own peculiar endowments were made for purposes of general and public education of a higher order; to build up a great liberal educational institution for general instruction; without any special appropriation of their uses to any sect or party, although under the auspices of a religious denomination. Considering all the foregoing facts in a calm and unbiased spirit, the friend of the enlightenment of the masses of the people of Kentucky cannot but feel hopeful and encouraged as to the future progress of improvement in our State. The people of our State have always'manifested a most lively so- licitude for popular education, and have gone in advance of our politicians in freely taxing themselves for this greatest of public interests; and although adverse decisions of our Court of Appeals, based probably on a technical definition of what a Common School in Kentucky was intended for the time to be, may seem to bar all efforts to secure a more elevated system of Common School education in our State, yet definitions of popular rights must change as popular interests and necessi- ties vary; and, as advancing civilization necessitates a higher and more modern training of the youth of our Commonwealth, our Common School system will undoubtedly be elevated and improved, until Kentucky is placed on an equal footing with I I THOUGHTS ON all our sister States in her means for the cultivation, elevation, and enlightenment'of her people. The principal objection to the use of public funds for higher educational purposes seems to be that the many are taxed for the benefit of the few; but, " as the government of our people cannot possibly be a pure democracy, it necessarily results that a few are constantly selected to perform all the practical functions, of government for the benefit of the many, and it is just as necessary for the many to provide the quali- fied few, for the proper control and direction of public affairs, as it is for them to provide public buildings, public highways, c., in all which the people have an equal interest. "' But for the educated men of our communities public in- terests would greatly suffer. These must be educated or they are not fully qualified. The practical question then is, shall the people be governed only by those who are 'rich enough to pay fully for their'own education, or shall the State, by its assistance afforded to the poor man's son, give him an equal chance to become a manager of public affairs, by means of taxes to which the rich must contribute It seems that in this sense the public support of institutions for higher education is more democratic than throwing the whole cost of such train- ing on the pockets of the individual, and that the latter course gives an undue influence to wealth in our Republic." Quoted from a letter by the present writer, published in the Courier-Journal. 12 PUBLIC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY. 13 APPENDIX A. OF STATE NORMAL SCHOOLS. From the Report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1875. Number of Number of Number of Appropriat'n STATE. Schools. Instructors. Students. by the State (annual) for 1874. Alabama .. ... . . . . .. . . 2 7 199 9,000 Arkansas . . . . . . .. . . . I 2 58 California.. . . . .. . . . . I I0 390 17,500 Connecticut. . . . . . .. . . I 8 175 12,000 Delaware and Georgia.... . none. none. none. none. Illinois.. . . . . .. . . . . 2 25 603 43,987 Indiana. . . . . . .. . . . . I . .. . . . . . .. . Iowa . . . . . . . . .. . . . none. none. none. none. Kansas . . . i .... . . . . . 3 20 699 24,26x Kentucky and Louisiana .. . none. none. none. none. Maine. . . . . . . . .. . . . 4 19 548 I4,899 Maryland . . . . . .. . . . . 2 13 453 16,000 Massachusetts. . . . . . .. . 6 62 I ,189 55,000 Michigan . . . . . . . .. . . I 13 411 17,200 Minnesota .. . . . . . .. . . 3 24 782 31,000 Mississippi.......... . 2 9 351 9,000 Missouri.. . . . . . . .. . . 5 50 1,407 35,000 Nebraska. . . . . . . . . . . 1 7 282 12,000 New Hampshire ....... . 1 9 155 5,000 New Jersey .I.... . . . .. I 10 269 15,000 New York . . . . .. . . 8 ii6 3,233 Iio,832 North Carolina, Ohio, Oregon. none. none. none. none. Pennsylvania.. . . .. . . . . 10 121 3,869 35,000 Rhode Island .I.... . . . . I 19 159 10,000 South Carolina.I..... . . . I 4 39 10,000 Tennessee. . . . . . . .. . . 1 5 . .. . . . 10,000 Vermont .. . . . . . . . .. . 3 22 482 45,000 Virginia. . . . . . .. . . I I8 243 10,339 West Virginia. .... . . . 5 24 560 7,500 Wisconsin. . . . . . . 3 35 847 35,120 District of Columbia and Utah.. none. none. none. none. 14 THOUGHTS ON APPENDIX B. SCHEDULE OF ENDOWMENTS BY THE SEVERAL STATES, BY CORPORA- TIONS, AND BY INDIVIDUALS, OF THE COLLEGES ESTABLISHED BY CONGRESS. Extracted from the report of the Committee of Education and Labor, made to the House of Representatives, 43d Congress, 2d session, February xsth, 1874. NAME OF INSTITUTION. IBy State or By Individ- I Corporation. uals. Agricultural and Mechanical College of Alabama ...... Arkansas Industrial University..... .. .. .. . .. University of California .............. . . . Georgia State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts . Illinois Industrial University ............... Purdue University .................... Iowa State Agricultural College and Farm . ...... Agricultural and Mechanical College of Kentucky ..... Louisiana State Agricultural and Mechanical College . . Maine State College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts . Maryland Agricultural College .. .......... Massachusetts Agricultural College ............ Massachusetts Institute of Technologyl.o ........ Michigan State Agricultural College .......... University of Minnesota.. .............. Agricultural and Mechanical Department Alcorn University . University of State of Missouri, Agricultural and Mechanical College and School of Mines, etc. ............ New Hampshire College of Agriculture and the Mechanic Arts Rutger's Scientific School of Rutger's College, New Jersey . Cornell University, New York k. ............ Ohio Agricultural and Mechanical College ......... Corvallis College ............ . Pennsylvania State College ................ Tennessee Agricultural College .............. Agricultural and Mechanical College of Texas ....... University of Vermont and State Agricultural College .... Virginia Agricultural and Mechanical College ....... Hampton Normal and Agricultural Institute ........ West Virginia University ................. University of Wisconsin ................. Worcester County Free Institute of Industrial Science.... 2,700 82,ooo luite largely. 25,000 685,300 10,000 119,000 45,000 411,435 461,396 135,500 105,000 260,545 27. 000 300,000 10,000 100,000 20, 000 130,970 40,000 50,000 100,000 200 3,400 i85,ooo 21 ,385 210,012 14,000 29,751 511,026 1,250 87,000 93,000 I, I02,500 24,215 II7,699 13 1,o85 49,359 i 6, 683 250,376 53,000 495,940 1 PUBLIC EDUCATION IN KENTUCKY. 'S . U CU U Ca Ca. - s Ca - CaCU CU a) a)Hus o us)Ca Ca. U) Ca 5- Ca. Ca a) 0o .2 .Caa) a) Caa) 2Ca E a) a)- Ca.Ca Ca - CCaU 0 U 2 Ca. 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