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Wyandotte County, Kansas




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KCKS Public School System, 1819-1961
by Nellie McGuinn
Copyright USD 500, Feb 1966

Return to Previous Section 1892

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Early in 1893 scarlet fever broke out in Argentine closing the colored and the white schools there.  The whole country suffered from a severe depression and many banks closed.  After the death of young Frank Carlson, the board took action to have the city council check the speed of the electric cars.  The street cars on Shawnee Avenue at the Fifth Street crossing endangered the lives of school children.  School people sympathized with Principal M. E. Pearson and his wife when a young son died.  [Annotation:  Electric cars in Rosedale]

Professor Tullis, a former principal of one of the early schools, visited the city and reported it ten times larger than 1893 than it was at the time of his residence here.  The board had granted a leave of absence to two teachers, Miss Donnelly and Mrs. Slusser to campaign for the office of county superintendent.  Mrs. Slusser won and left the system to take up her new duties.

In January, 1893, a delegation went to Topeka to talk to local legislators about a bill for school relief and library maintenance.  In the meantime the Wyandotte National Bank agreed to carry the board during its present shortage at 6% interest.  The board in return made the bank the depository of all Board of Education funds.  A special levy was made to clear tax certificates.

Superintendent Olin made a recommendation concerning school policies.  Pupils should be required, he said, to do "systematic work in composition and declamation as part of a language course in the intermediate and grammar grades."  The board wavered between six and seven years as a suitable entrance age.

Rules and regulations were revised.  Four kinds of certificates were issued:  Primary, Grammar, Principal's and High School.  Three grades, first, second and third, were in each category.  One year's teaching experience was necessary for a first grade certificate.

Principals in 1893, in order to earn a first grade certificate, had to make a 90% average in the following subjects:  Reading, Orthography and Orthodoxy, Penmanship, Arithmetic, Geography, English grammar, History, Physiology and Hygiene, Music, Theory and Practice of Teaching, Physics, English Literature, Algebra through Quadratics.

High school teachers added to the above:  General History, Rhetoric, Psychology, Botany, Geometry, Latin.

A diploma from a first class institution excused the teacher from all subjects except those in the department in which he taught.  Later the board declared that a State Board diploma and certificate would be honored as a first grade certificate.  The governor appointed Mr. Olin to the Examining Board of the State Board of Education.

The high school presented an entertainment in April, 1893, to raise money for the library.  The Board of Trade gave 25 valuable books to the library.  The board moved the office dictionary to the high school after pleas by teachers for dictionaries to use in high school classes.  Needs for school improvements increased.  Some of the most urgent were:

A ten-room brick for Central
A four-room addition at Morse
A six-room brick for the northeast district
A four-room brick for the northwest district, served by Long
An addition to Barnett, on the recommendation of William Fletcher, Board Member

Even parents wearied of long graduation exercises in hot auditoriums.  The board decided to have the commencement address delivered by an outside speaker the night before.  The essays and orations of the sixteen graduates and the awarding of diplomas would take the time of the second evening.

A "vexed and vexing question" concerning graduates bothered members.  The board told the superintendent to rule as to whether flowers should be presented to the girls on the stage.  Mr. Olin thought the custom should cease, and it was so ordered.  The cost of tickets was raised to 15 cents although some were given free.

Bonds to the amount of $100,000 were needed for a new high school and improvements on present buildings.  The board requested Mayor Barnes to call an election, the first to be held under the new Australian Ballot system.  [Annotation:  Australian Ballot system - A system of balloting or voting in public elections, originally used in South Australia, in which there is such an arrangement for polling votes that secrecy is compulsorily maintained, and the ballot used is an official ballot printed and distributed by the government.]

Opposition was expected, for the money market was unsettled and a special election was expensive.  The Taxpayers League voted against the bonds.  On June 15, 1893, the board asked the mayor to withdraw the election call for the bonds.

Arvin S. Olin was considered an outstanding Kansas educator.  He was a member of the committee appointed by the Kansas State Teachers Association to plan the Chicago Fair exhibit.  The board, however, on June 1, elected Louis Larkin Latney (L.L.L.) Hanks, superintendent, and E. A. Mead, principal of the high school.  Mr. Hanks had been a science teacher in the high school.

The change in superintendents displeased many.  A public meeting was held at the Tabernacle to discuss the high school.  Friends of Mr. Hanks gave him a good character, but patrons and students signed petitions for the election of Olin and Mead.  Mead resigned in July and accepted a position at the University of Chicago.  Mr. Olin later became dean of the Department of Education at the University of Kansas.  All high school teachers except one resigned.  Miss Fee went to the Missouri State Normal at Cape Girardeau as a professor.  Miss Barker and Miss Scott obtained positions at Ottawa and Topeka High Schools.  George E. Rose was elected high school principal.

The board ruled that salaries were to be graded according to certificates.  In many instances the board previously had not carried out this rule and court action had been threatened.  Only one member of the board appeared on July 26 at a meeting called to elect teachers.  Thomas W. Heartley, a former board member residing in Cleveland, wrote other members that he wished to be present.  The local paper wondered if his way would be paid as it was on an earlier time.

The city outgrew Dunning's Opera House as a meeting place and held large gatherings at the Bancroft Tabernacle.  The population had reached 40,000 and a new hall was needed.  "At the Tabernacle," said one citizen, "Brother Bancroft's arrangement of hanging his pictures gives some people the fidgets."

Mid-summer, 1893, brought less than the activity usual in other years.  Colored people from Cypress Yards and the Third and Fourth Wards pleaded for facilities.  Painters worked at a few buildings.  Wooden steps were erected at the southwest corner of Huron Place, so that children no longer would have to climb the muddy embankment.  A Mr. Osborne demonstrated his "fire alarm torpedo" to warn of fires in schools.  Girls of eighteen would be permitted to teach, and seventeen-year olds could substitute for one and one-half months.

The board confirmed the names of Mrs. M. Wells, Mrs. Kate S. Hughes, and Mrs. F. R. Slusser for members of the Board of Managers of the Public Library.  The Federation of Literary Clubs had appointed them.  Mr. John Cruse represented the Board of Trade.  Other attempts to establish a public library had failed.  With the passage of a recent bill, the board received permission to spend one-half mill of the school dollar, amounting to $6,000 a year, for the support and maintenance of a public library.

Teachers organized a City Institute and elected Superintendent Hanks president.  Professor Lewis was secretary and Miss McKinley, George E. Rose and H. W. McKean made up the Executive Committee.  The board bought a gasoline stove to make school ink in order to save money.  School enrollment increased 1200 with 80 additional students in high school. 

Plans for exhibits at the Columbian Exposition in Chicago were carried out at state and local levels.  The Women's Columbian Day Club of Wyandotte County ordered two paintings to send to the fair.  A portrait of Mrs. C. I. H. Nichols and another entitled "Pioneer Woman" were painted by George M. Stone of Topeka.  As a pioneer teacher, editor, lecturer and leader in the fight for women's rights, Mrs. Nichols was representative of the club women of the city and county.  The Columbian Ladies hoped that the two paintings would form the nucleus of a free art gallery here.

L. C. Wooster, as Superintendent of Exhibits for the state, had been allotted a sum of $6,000, or about five cents for each child in Kansas.  Many cities had their own funds which added another $6,000 for expenses.  After exhibits were returned to the donors at the close of the Exposition, almost $3,000 remained.  This money was set aside to inaugurate a permanent educational exhibit at Topeka.

Kansas exhibits in Chicago were at the Liberal Arts and State Buildings.  Over 400 bound volumes of class work were on display.  Of these Kansas City sent nine.  Other types of work were mounted on 380 straw boards on the walls of the east wing of the State building.  The city received educational awards for outstanding work in elementary and high school divisions.

The report of the state committee said that many citizens believed "we were on the threshold of the new education, from which are to come the skilled hand and cultured brain and heart.   The exhibit showed that science and industry had not outstripped schools in the race of progress."   Kansas City teachers judged the fair for themselves.  Reduced rates permitted them to attend over weekends, even at Institute time.

Other eyes were more critical.  Carleton Beals in his "Kansas at the World's Fair" wrote that while Kansas "believed strongly in education, they were new at the game of culture."  Their exhibits probably occupied more space at the Exposition than any other state.  One exhibit, that of natural history, was outstanding.  There was too much of the scientific mixed with the purely sentimental.  Beals goes on to say that the Chicago Fair was a "grandiose monstrosity" built in an age of ostentation.

In October, 1893, Armstrong became once more a school in its own right, not an annex to Riverview, when a school was opened in the building with Frank Colvin as Principal.  A room in the Bishop Block on Seventh near Tauromee, rented for $8 a month, was designed Annex Number 2 for Central School.  High school students and the principal found the hours too long, but were refused a half-hour's cut in time.

"Lady patrons" of Barnett School and J. W. Tarwater, a colored man, testified before the board that two boys attending the school were colored.  The "Rhodes boys" were immediately excluded.  More complaints were made to the board later of colored children going to Barnett.  Thompson's System of Free Hand Drawing was adopted, with a promise from the company to furnish an expert drawing teacher.  Eight A pupils would attend school in their own buildings, thus leaving space for high school expansions.  Previously classes had been held in the high school.

Next Section   1894

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History Site created on December 02, 2002
Page last updated: 02-Jan-2012

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