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Rise of Public Education in Arkansas
How public education started in Arkansas
Arkansas saw vehement opposition to the education that was considered most essential in view of the political and economic factors. A group consisting of only a few campaigned for education. The supportive factors in favor of education got weaker during the period of 1819 to 1860. The cultivator class normally wanted education of their children in their residences. The costs of private instructors were very high and due to shortage of instructors it was not possible to provide sufficient teachers to the private institutions as per the demand. Supposedly, Caleb Lindsey evidently was teaching in a school running in Lawrence County cave. The payment to teachers was being determined by the ability and performance of the teachers. The tutors were residing in the hired accommodations in towns or in log cabins in the rural areas. Some of the teachers had no adequate qualification to be teachers. The incentives to teachers in financial terms were quite low and there also were problems to add with.
The wide name and fame of the educational institutions, recognitions sometimes bestowed by legislations are due to the devotion of the teachers. The success achieved by the Jesse Brown for instituting his first school of Little Rock during the year 1823 is an example in this regard. The school accommodating both boys and girls engaged in education for eleven months in a year in different fields of study continued for twenty years. The reputation of Brown was so high that he had to serve as City Major during 1838-40. The period of 1901 to 1981 was characterized by the progressive movements the history of United States. This was movement for transformation initiated by the youth of post Civil War period. The ideologies of Progressive Movement were also prevalent in Arkansas however, with little progress up to the demise of Jeff Davis. Even though the Progressive Movement in Arkansas was quite belated yet it continued longer, up to 1920s. The financial resources allocated for the purpose was very low. Classes used to be postponed and lower wages used to be paid to recoup the cost of construction of buildings. 1
There were no recognized teacher's training schools in Arkansas. Revival of the educational schooling system in Arkansas started during 1880s. The Southern Regional Education Board was formed with the efforts of Donaghey, a pioneer advocate of education, in order to improve the educational values of the State. Brough born in Mississippi, an alumnus of Mississippi College in Clinton had studied in Johns Hopkins under Herbert Baxter Adams. He completed degree in law in 1902 and pioneered the Mississippi Historical Society. He was appointed as lecturer in the University of Arkansas in 1903. There he founded the Arkansas Historical Association and become a reputed lecturer and orator. His popularity voted him to be the President of the Arkansas State Teachers Association in 1913 and became famous for his deliberations on Chautauqua Circuits. His urge for construction of a wall around Arkansas and diversity of resources resulting in the survival and prosperity of the Arkansas was considered as the most impressive contributions. 2
An association of old students all over the state was formed by him during 1916 this ideology was expended to 70 countries. He urged for enhanced investment in the education sector. The Progressives advocated education by stating it as panacea for all the evils that is anti-national. According to them fostering of mankind without education was a misdemeanor against the civilization. The Report of the Superintendent of Pubic Instructions of 1903-04 outlined various problems of the educational system of Arkansas. A negligible amount at the rate of $4.33 per student was spent by the State and also the optimum utilization of the investment is not ensured.
Establishment of number of tiny schools, low paid and inefficient teachers, their short tenures, discrimination, preferential treatment, and the like, resulted in unproductive utilization of funds. An average pay of $34.46 per month was awarded to the teachers that of $59.80 in Western States. This resulted in little motivation of the teacher to continue in the teaching occupation. However the return was much higher in this sector. Depicting the experience of the problems attached to the educational system a student pointed out there were ten individual teachers in his thirty months of schooling and all belonging to male sex and were under graduates. There was no specialized training school for teachers in the Arkansas. The teachers if imparted with training were in summer institutes. The summer training courses were of duration of seven weeks and the teachers were attending the courses under compulsion in pain of cancellation of their licenses. 3
The advocates of education reform were urging for a recognized and specific teacher's training school. It was in 1907 that legislations were made for establishment of a teacher's training college in Conway. The course duration increased to four years by the end of 1920. This institution is presently known as the University of Central Arkansas. A definitive limit on property taxes by the Constitution constituted one of the reasons for low investment of the educational institutions of Arkansas. Of course an attempt was made for collecting the millage under the McFerrin Amendments in 1906; however the oppositions of the voters could not be avoided. Four District Agricultural High Schools were established by the Farmers' Union during 1909 at Jonesboro, Russellville, Magnolia, and Monticello imparting teaching on courses of four years duration. Formation of the Agricultural Department in the University of Arkansas during 1905 was also pioneered by the Farmers' Union. 4
Legislations were made during 1909 for making school attendance compulsory. However, it was left to the influences put forth by the localism and it was so strong that many did not implement it. Many High Schools were established by 1911 and was running with grants-in-aid by the State Board of Education. During 1917 Federal Government assisted the state for Vocational education. State approved fundamental text book on Law for universal application. It was observed that the teaching group constituted prime advocate for education at the time Progressive Movement. During 1900 there were only 150 members in the State Teachers' Association and it was increased to 1500 within the next five years forming the teachers' association as the largest consistent association of the state. The education system was thus considered to be mighty during the Progressive Movement. 5
Dwight Mission being founded on 1819 by the missionaries of Cherokee was considered to be one of the oldest institutions. The institution was pioneered by the Cephas Washburn, the missionary minister. There were some resistances to these women however they could keep it on with their dutifulness. The growth of Sophia Swyer's school in Fayetteville was hindered by the intolerance towards Indians. The Ozark Institute was instituted by Robert M. Mecklin. The Presbyterians, Whigs and merchants were the contributors for establishment of the Ozark Schools. The Dunbar High School dedicated for superb education to the African, American Students from the city of Little Rock as well as students from each and every part of the State. During 1929, as the Negro School of Industrial Arts, Dunbar Junior and Senior High Schools and Junior College were established. The School was instituted to the South of Little Rock.
The unique feature of Dunbar was pioneering the conventional vocational program considered as confinements of the blacks. From the point-of-view of its contribution to the educational history of Arkansas and the design in consonance with the contemporary architectural concepts made the Dunbar Junior High School remarkable. Until 1955 Dunbar was the core educational institution for the Blacks of Arkansans imparting education at junior high school, high school and junior college level. The social elegance was given stress to by the dominating planting class of the southwest. The Spring Hill and Washington were regarded as two oldest hubs. Drawing benefactions from the planters the Spring Hill Female Academy, was made functional in 1836 at a cost of $5,000 being pioneered by Miss Elizabeth Pratt of New York. The establishment of Spring Hill Male Academy effected during the following year. However, the School was demolished during 1843 with shifting the patronages to the Washington Academy instituted during 1842. 6
How public education ended up being considered unconstitutional by the United States Supreme Court.
In the realm of educational reformation of public schools in Arkansas, the quality of education has been an important objective for the state and the local population of the state. State Governments keep on fighting with formulating systems of finance for government schools that will endure the analysis of the justice system. From the year 1983, nine states have been losing financial lawsuits in the State Supreme Court. Besides, that subsequent compliance proceeding has been lodged. 7 states have been victorious in the case related to finance at the state Supreme Court, but subsequent cases have been increasing. Proceedings are going on and a decision of lower court has been delivered, but…[continue]
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