North Carolina. Dept. of Public Instruction.

Biennial report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina, for the scholastic years ... [serial] (Volume 1900/01-1901/02) online

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course that it would more than double the efficiency of the
schools. By actual count four-sevenths of the taxpayers in
the fifteen rural townships of the county are assessed at less'
than three hundred dollars worth of property, and would,

XLVI Biennial Report of the

therefore, pay less than ninety cents property tax if the
special tax of thirty cents should be voted for schools.


Per cent of at- This report shows that 69.3 per cent of the

tendance. white school population and 67.2 per cent of

the colored school population were enrolled in the public
schools. 40.8 per cent of the white and 37.3 per cent of the
colored were in actual daily attendance during the term of the
public schools.

Allowance mnst The legal school age limits in North Caro-

£Ts d o e f S.C l ™ ai ' e six «*& twenty-one years. A large
schoo! age. majority of the children either complete the

short courses of study in the public schools and stop for lack
of high school instruction or stop to work before they are
seventeen. Other children of school age, of course, attend
private schools and colleges. The per cent of enrollment and
daily attendance of the public schools, therefore, is more
creditable than might at first appear.
Commendable in- Since 1900 there has been an increase of

me e n a t se an n d e aue nd- 7 " 8 P er cent ™ enrollment and 6.5 per cent
a °ce. in daily attendance in the white schools and 8.1

per cent in enrollment and 3.5 per cent in daily attendance
in the colored schools. This commendable increase is en-
couraging, but with only 7-10 of the children enrolled, and
only about two-fifths of them in daily attendance, the at-
tendance is far below what it ought to be.
Some causes of It may be profitable to call your attention to

non-attendance. some f the causes of non-attendance and to
suggest some of the remedies for it.

1. Ignorance of parents, often rendering them incapable of
appreciating the value of an education. The tragedy of ig-
norance is that it is blind ; that it does not know what is best
for itself, and knows' not that it does not know ; that, there-
fore, it must be saved from itself in spite of itself.

Superintendent of Public Instruction. xlvii

2. Carelessness, indifference, and incompetency of parents
to control the child.

. 3. Laziness, thriftlessness or selfishness of parents that lays
the burden of family support upon the shoulders of the little
children before they are able to bear it.

4. Honest and unavoidable poverty of parents that lays
upon the children the hard necessity of daily toil to keep the
wolf from the family door.

5. Inefficiency of schools and teachers', inadequacy of
houses, grounds, and equipment, indifference of committee-
men and other school officers, and lack of pride and confi-
dence in the school and its work.

6. Favoritism in the selection of teachers.

Remedies for non- There are two general remedies for non-
attendance, attendance: (1) Attraction and persuasion;
(2) compulsion.

Much has been done, much more can be done, to increase
attendance through the attractive power of better houses and
grounds, better teachers, and longer terms. An attractive
school house and a good teacher in every district, making a
school commanding, by its work, public confidence, respect
and pride, would do much to overcome non-attendance. The
attractive power of improved schools and equipment to in-
crease attendance is clearly demonstrated by the statistics of
this report, which show, with few exceptions, the largest per
cent of attendance in cities, towns, consolidated districts,
rural special tax districts, and entire counties that have the
largest school fund, the longest school terms, and the best

The general rule seems to be, then, that at-

Attendance in di- c , ±.1 m '

rect proportion to tendance is in direct proportion to tne emci-
SS sfhtTanl ency of the schools and the School system. I
the school system. ] iave alreadv called your attention to the fact
that with the improvement in the public school houses and
schools, and the increased educational interest during the past

Xi, vill Biennial Report of the

few years, has come also an increase in the per cent of en-
rollment and attendance in the public schools.

Attendance in- Much can also be done to increase the at-

creased by per- -, ,, , -.. , , ,

sonai efforts of tendance upon ihe public schools by earnest

earnest teachers, teachers, who will go into the homes 'of indif-
ferent or selfish parents whose children are not in school,
and, by persuasive argument and tact and appeals to parental
pride, induce many of these parents to send their children;
who will seek out children in homes of poverty, and remove,
through quiet, blessed charity, the causes of their detention
from school. Much can be done also by active, efficient
school committeemen and other school officers who will take
an interest in the school and aid the teacher in finding/ and
bringing in the children.

Attendance in- The compelling power of public opinion will

compelling power ^° mil ch to bring children into the school,
of public opinion. Logically, as public sentiment for education
increases, public sentiment against non-attendance will in-
crease. Public opinion might, in many communities, be
brought to the point of rendering it almost disgraceful for
parents to keep children at home without excellent excuse
during the session of the schools. Self-respecting parents
would be loath to defy such a public opinion and run the risk
of forfeiting the esteem of the best people of the community.
Some parents can It is the tragic truth, however, that there are
not be reached by gome parentg so blinded bv ignorance to the

tne power of at- J °

traction and per- value and importance of education, and others

snasion or the , . ... , , „ .. "

compulsion of so lazy, thriftless or selfish that they can not
public opinion. be reac h e d by the power of attraction and per-
suasion, or the mild compulsion of public opinion.
Such milder Perhaps it would be wisest, however, to

?Tl ^V* reach all that can be reached through these
fully tried before

resorting to the milder means before resorting to the harsher

harsher means of „ 1 ..

a compulsory at- means oi a compulsory attendance law. Ihe
tendance law. £ rg £ means appeal to the higher motives of in-
terest, desire, duty, love. We are making safe and reasonable

Superintendent of Public Instruction. xlix

progress in attendance by the milder means and the ap-
peal to the higher motive. In fact, we are increasing
the attendance almost as rapidly as our present equip-
ment in houses and teachers and our present ability to
increase and improve this equipment will justify. In
many districts, now, the accommodations are insufficient
for the children that attend school. If all the children
of school age were suddenly forced into the schools by a
compulsory attendance law, the school houses would probably
be overrun, the school teachers overworked, the demand for
new houses and additional teachers would probably be greater
than the State with its present small school fund could suc-
cessfully meet. Perhaps, therefore, it is wisest to be con-
tent to progress along the same safe, conservative lines a
while longer, until we shall have done all that can be done
to provide for all the children and to bring them into the
schools by attraction, persuasion and public opinion. After
all this shall have been done, if it shall still appear that any
considerable number of children still remain out of school
without reasonable excuse, public opinion will demand such
legislation as shall seem necessary to compel their parents
to send them.

Considerable sen- There is alreadv considerable sentiment in

timent in the . , ,

State for compal- this State for a compulsory attendance law, and

sory attendance ^ sent i ment seems to - De increasing. There

are many strong arguments in favor of such a law. One of
the strongest, perhaps, is the fact that all the leading coun-
tries of the world, and thirty-one of the forty-five States of
the Union, including nearly all the States except the eleven
original Southern States, have compulsory attendance laws,
and that illiteracy is greatest in those countries of the world
and in those States of the United States that do not have
compulsory attendance laws.

The expediency of A compulsory attendance law, however,
any general legis- ... ™

lation on this would be ineffective without truancy officers,
question at this 7 , i , i -i -i • i i

time doubtful. anc ' to ^PPv them would involve a large m-

L Biennial Report of the

crease in expense. Such officers would probably be out of ac-
cord with the past traditions and the present temper of our
people. I think it doubtful whether it is expedient to under-
take any general legislation upon this question in this State
at this' time. I fear that a State compulsory attendance law
might generate so much friction that the general cause of
education might be retarded rather than advanced. It is
safest not to force public opinion, but to cultivate it and let
it grow normally. It may be desirable to pass a sort of local
option compulsory attendance law, allowing communities de-
siring to vote upon the question, to submit it to a vote of the


o f th f hii- Reports from twenty-three counties in which
dren in cotton cotton mills are located, show, in the cotton
school— three- mill districts a total white school population
fourths of them of 33 980, a total enrollment of 14,449 white

out of school. '

children in the schools of these districts', and
a total average daily attendance of 9,014. Only about two-
fifths of these children, then, ever enter school, and only
about one-fourth of them are in daily attendance. These fig-
ures speak for themselves, — one-fourth of the children of the
factory districts in the schools, three-fourths of them out of
the schools. This is the average. In many districts the at-
tendance was much lower than this.

The time for action has arrived. In the

The cry of the f acp n f these facts legislation upon this ques-
children must be °

heeded. Legisla- tion should be delayed no longer. JNo human-
ized nTlouger 6 ' hearted man can longer turn a deaf ear to the
cry of the factory children. The strong arm
of the law must intervene. I earnestly recommend, there-
fore, the enactment of a law that shall accomplish the fol-
lowing purposes:

(1) That no child under twelve years of age shall be em-
ployed or allowed to work in any cotton mill or factory of
any sort.

Superintendent of Public Instruction. LI

(2) That no child under fourteen years of age who can
not read and write shall be employed or allowed to work in
any cotton mill or factory of any sort.

(3) That no child under fourteen years of age shall be
employed or allowed to work at night in any cotton mill or
factory of any sort.

Laws regulating Laws restricting the employment of child
employment of labor in factories have been passed in the

child labor in „ ,, . , _ _^ . , ,

twenty-eight following twenty-eight States : it lorida, Khode
states - Island, Washington, Connecticut, Illinois, In-

diana, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Ne-
braska, New Hampshire, New York, Oklahoma, South Da-
kota, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Ohio, Wyoming, Louisiana, New
Jersey, Pennsylvania, California, Maine, Maryland, North
Dakota, Kentucky, Virginia, and probably other States that
I have been unable to secure accurate information about.
This State can not afford to refuse to follow the example of
her sister States and to profit by their experience in this

Law regulating To make fully effective such a law, some

8e\\^ n o d n a of Ce scho r oi8 g legislation looking to compelling these chil-
necessary. dren to attend the schools while in session

ought to be enacted. To take the children out of the mills
and turn them loose in the mill villages in idleness, without
parental oversight, while the grown people are all at work,
might prove a greater evil than light employment in the
mills. The difference between the conditions and surround-
ings, of the mill villages and those of the rural agricultural
districts makes manifest, without discussion, the stronger rea-
sons and greater necessity for a compulsory attendance law in
the former.

Far be it from me to recommend aught that

Industrial devel- mi -it -i t -i • i • i

opment too dear would needles'sly retard the splendid industrial

bJood^ P f r c C hii°d f ren? Progress of the State, but industrial develop-
ment bought with the blood of children is too

LII Biennial Report of the

dear. Dwarfed minds, shrivelled bodies and impoverished
souls are too great a price to pay for anything on earth.

From conversations and correspondence with some of the
leading mill owners' of the State, and from personal knowl-
edge of the fact that some of these have spent thousands of
dollars to provide excellent school houses and facilities for
the factory children, I am led to believe that many of these
mill owners will heartily co-operate with the State in all
reasonable efforts to educate these children.


This report on education would be incomplete without call-
ing attention to certain significant educational meetings and
movements in the State during the past year that have been
potent and far reaching in their helpful influence.
The Raleigh Con- A conference of educators, representing all
tor e 8 n a C nd1t s E si l g- a " tlie educational interests of North Carolina—
nificance denominational, private and state — was held

in Raleigh, February 13, 1902. The character and repre-
sentativeness' of the men taking part in this conference is
apparent from the names signed to the able address against
illiteracy, issued by the conference. This address will be
found as an appendix to this report.

Nobody who took part in this conference, or reads' this ad-
dress and observes the names of the signers, can doubt that
all the leading educational forces of the State are in hearty
accord in this common fight against ignorance, and that illit-
eracy is doomed in North Carolina.

To carry out the purposes of the conference,
The campaign of J .

education for edu- an Executive Committee, consisting of the
Superintendent of Public Instruction, the Gov-
ernor, and Dr. Charles D. Mclver, District Director of the
Southern Education Board, was appointed. Under the di-
rection of this committee and its very efficient secretary,
Supt. E. C. Brooks, a systematic campaign for public educa-

Superintendent of Public Instruction. liii

tion was planned for June, July and August. After corre-
spondence and conference with County Superintendents and
other interested citizens in various sections of the State, ap-
pointments were made in about thirty counties, and speakers
sent to fill these appointments. Among the speakers were
educators, politicians, clergymen, editors, lawyers, physi-
cians, business men and farmers. The meetings were largely
attended, the people listened gladly, and, in many instances,
the campaign was followed by consolidation of districts, im-
provement of school houses and the adoption of local taxation.
It was a campaign of education for education, such as was,
perhaps, never before known in the State. It is' the purpose
to continue this campaign on even a larger scale next summer.

At Greensboro, Charlotte and Hickory edu-
The Greensboro, , ,,. -it-, j- £

Charlotte, and cational rallies and district conferences 01

Hickory meetings County Superintendents were held. At the
and their results. ■ 1

Greensboro meeting, four thourand dollars

was raised by private subscription by the citizens of the city,
and this amount was duplicated by the General Education
Board, for the improvement of the rural schools of Guilford
County. This eight thousand dollars was placed under the
control of a local board, who are wisely using it to stimulate
self-help and to promote the interests of the rural schools.
Already eight rural districts in Guilford have voted for
schools a local tax of thirty cents on the one hundred dollars
worth of property, and ninety cents on the poll, and consid-
erable sums have been raised by private subscription for new
school houses. One entire township is preparing to vote on
local taxation, and others will probably follow its example
soon. At the Charlotte meeting, the citizen: of that city
undertook to raise by private subscription for the improve-
ment of the rural schools of Mecklenburg and Henderson
counties, six thousand dollars, the amount r» :r ""d to bp dupli-
cated by the General Education Board. The jntire amount
has not yet been raised, though there are assurances that the
balance will soon be secured. One chief purpose of the

lit Biennial Report of the

Hickory meeting was the stimulation of public sentiment for
local taxation. Last year the town voted on the question of
a local tax for its schools, and it was defeated. Soon after
this meeting, the question was submitted to the voters of
Hickory again, and the election for local taxation was carried.
The conferences About fifty County Superintendents attend-

intendents^iT 1 " e< ^ tne mee tings at Greensboro, Charlotte and
these points. Hickory, and were enabled to have helpful
conferences with each other and with the State Superintend-
ent about their common work. These conferences were found
so beneficial, that the Superintendents attending them de-
termined to form permanent district associations of County
The generosity of T]ae Sleigh Conference and the meetings

the Southern Edn- and conferences of County Superintendents at
cation Board* , ,■

Greensboro, Charlotte and Hickory were made

possible by the generosity of the Southern Education Board,
who, through its District Director, Dr. Charles D. Mclver,
paid the railroad expenses of those taking part in them, as well
as the travelling expenses of most of those who participated
in the summer educational campaign. The generosity of this
Board, and of the General Education Board, was' accepted
and appreciated in the spirit in which it was offered, not as
a charity, but as a means of advancing the cause of .educa-
tion in our common country.

The state Confer- By the generosity of the General Educa-
Superinte^ents ^ on Board, that offered, through its General
and its work. Secretary, Dr. Wallace Buttrick, to pay the
railroad expenses of County Superintendents, a State Con-
ference of County Superintendents was held in Raleigh, No-
vember 12th to 14th, 1902. Eighty-four counties were repre-
sented in this conference. It was the greatest gathering of
County Superintendents that ever assembled in North Caro-
lina. These men, upon whom more than upon any others,
depends the success of the public school work, had met for
serious business. They wasted no time in blow and bluster.

Superintendent of Public Instruction. lv

They strove to use every minute in conferring with each
other, in comparing experiences and exchanging ideas about
their common work, and in giving and getting sympathy and
inspiration for their arduous task. It was a great meeting,
great in spirit, great in work, great in results.

For organization and wise co-operation, for a fuller knowl-
edge about the common work and its needs, at least one such
gathering of County Superintendents should be held every
year. Realizing the benefits that they had derived from the
conference, and the desirability of a permanent organization,
the Superintendents, at this meeting, organized themselves
into a permanent "State Association of County Superintend-
ents," and provided for the organization of five Disrtict Asso-
County Boards of Upon their present small salaries, many

Education should County Superintendents could not afford to

be authorized to K. L

pay railroad ex- attend the annual meetings of the State Asso-

tendrats Janna- ciation. In view of the great benefit that I
al meeting. am sure was derived by all from the recent

State conference, and of the benefits that I believe will result
from such a meeting every year, I desire to urge that the
school law be so amended as to require County Boards of
Education to pay out of the county school fund the railroad
expenses of County Superintendents attending the annual
meeting of the State Association of County Superintendents.
The total railroad expenses of the eighty-four Superintend-
ents attending the recent meeting in Raleigh were only $620.
The average was less than eight dollars to the county. No
better investment of a small amount for the good of the
schools of the county could be made by any Board of Edu-

lvi Biennial Report of the


The popularity One important aim of all true education is

"^uSifbrV to cultivate, along with the acquisition of
ries and the wis- knowledge and the love of it, the reading habit

dom of continuing , , . ,

appropriation for and the love oi good books, tor, after all, it is
true that the real university is a collection of
books ; it is true that the world's great books are the real store
houses of knowledge and inspiration. Old John Milton once
said, and. said truly, in his own inimitable way, "that a good
book is' the precious life blood of a master spirit, embalmed
and treasured up, on purpose to a life beyond life." No edu-
cational equipment can be complete, therefore, without a li-
brary. A library of well selected books, even though limited
in number, will double the efficiency of the work of any
school, will be a breath of fresh air or a gleam of glorious
light in any community, will quicken ambitions and arouse
aspirations' and set in motion forces, the power of which no
man can estimate. I hail with joy, therefore, the inaugura-
tion of the rural library movement. I deem it proper that
we should lend it our heartiest support and exert ourselves to
secure for every public school in North Carolina a collection
of good books. I rejoice to be able to state that of the five
hundred rural libraries made possible by the $5,000 appropri-
ation, 429 have been taken by the rural districts, leaving only
71 to be taken. The entire five hundred would have been
taken long ago, if the maximum limit of six had not been
placed upon every county. I shall be greatly disappointed if
every one of the five hundred libraries is not taken before the
meeting of the next Legislature. I shall be greatly disap-
pointed, too, if that Legislature does' not do what it can to
strengthen and extend the rural library movement. I am
profoundly grateful to the State Literary and Historical As-
sociation of North Carolina for their valuable services in this
movement, I invite your careful attention to the statistical
report on rural libraries, found elsewhere in this report.

Superintendent of Public Instruction. lvii

These books have gone into many a bookless home, and
brought joy and light and inspiration to many a parent and
elder brother and sister. I can think of no more effective
means of stimulating a taste for good reading among all our
people, old and young, than by sending into our homes,
through the children, by the blessed instrumentality of these
rural libraries, these great masterpieces of the master minds
and souk of the world. I urge, therefore, the continuance
of the special appropriation of five thousand dollars for the
establishment of new libraries and a reasonable appropriation
for the enlargement and maintenance of the libraries already

city schools.

City schools and I desire to call your special attention to the
their work reports of the superintendents of city schools,

appearing elsewhere in this report. These schools
are a part of the public school system of the State, and it is
proper that reports from them should appear in the report of
the Superintendent of Public Instruction. From my per-
sonal knowledge of their work and of the character of the
men at the head of them, and of many of the teachers em-
ployed in them, I am prepared to believe that these schools'
will compare favorably with the public graded schools of the
cities and towns of any State in the South. They are a
standing object lesson in the wisdom and advantages of local
taxation, competent supervision, efficient teachers', and ade-
quate school equipment. The number of such schools has
rapidly increased in Xorth Carolina within the past few

Online LibraryNorth Carolina. Dept. of Public InstructionBiennial report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina, for the scholastic years ... [serial] (Volume 1900/01-1901/02) → online text (page 5 of 46)