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The History of our Public Schools
Wyandotte County, Kansas

1844
2012

 

 

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Published by the State Department of Public Instruction
120 East Tenth, Topeka, Kansas 66612
Copyright June, 1967

We are sincerely grateful to the Kansas State Department of Education for giving us permission to transcribe and provide online the history found in this publication.

Return to Index for Kansas Educational Progress, 1858-1967, by A. F. Throckmorton

The State Department of Public Instruction
1945-1967
| Part II - Division of Instructional Services

Most of the recorded history of education in Kansas deals with the mechanics of operating schools; finding and making available sources of revenue for their support; organizing and reorganizing school districts; codifying school laws; dissecting statisfical data; and wrestling with such problems as tuition charges, school transportation, requirements for teacher certification, textbook adoptions, school facilities,  health standards, and teacher supply.  Comparatively little has been said about the improvement of instruction except as these important concerns indirectly affect the quality of teaching.

Only in recent years has the State Department of Public Instruction had funds with which to employ specialists in curriculum development, and personnel, who can give full time and attention to helping teachers do a better job.  With a few rare exceptions, state superintendents of public instruction have been aware that improvement of instruction is the real purpose to be served by schools but, lacking funds and staff with which to reach this goal, most of their time and energy of necessity have been devoted to keeping the schools in operation.

From the establishment of the first schools in the state, these officials played an important part in the certification of teachers and the supervision of institutes established for the purpose of raising teacher qualifications.  They published courses of study as instructional guides, but it was not until 1915 that elementary and secondary school supervisors were added to the state superintendent's staff.  There were four of these assistants to cover the state until two additional ones were added in 1945.  In spite of this limitation and the inspectorial nature of their assignment, they contributed greatly to upgrading classroom procedures in their dual roles of helping teachers and evaluating schools for accreditation purposes.

A major contribution to the improvement of instruction was made by state superintendents, who prepared and distributed courses of study, teachers guides, and other instructional materials before 1915 when the Legislature first granted specific authority to provide such services.  The better prepared teachers of the 1960's do not need the precise suggestions carried in the early courses of study, but do find helpful the modern instructional guides that include bibliography, results of classroom experimentation, and adaptations to the latest educational philosophy.  The first elementary courses of study that were not based on the textbook were published in 1934 by State Superintendent W. T. Markham.  They introduced elementary teachers to the social studies concept of organizing instructional materials.

The division of instructional services also contributes by making available to teachers and administrators information regarding audio-visual aids, teaching machines, language laboratories, team teaching, and other approaches to good instruction.  In addition to services from the state superintendent's office and instructional equipment available from commercial sources, the teacher of 1967 has decided advantages over her counterpart of 100 years ago with respect to teacher load.  In his annual report of 1868, State Superintendent Peter MacVicar gives some clues to conditions under which teachers of that time carried on their work.  According to his report, Topeka with an enrollment of 695 pupils employed eight teachers, a pupil-teacher ratio of 86; Leavenworth, with 11637 enrolled, employed twenty-nine teachers, a ratio of 56; while Atchison, with 1104 pupils, employed only eleven teachers, a ratio of 100.  These were consistent with other pupil-teacher ratios reported during that period.

Textbook Adoption

The history of instructional programs in Kansas would not be complete without a review of textbook adoption policies and their impact on education over a sixty-year period.  Periodically, the textbook issue became a political football with the educational interests of children disregarded.  The adopted textbooks usually determined the subject matter to be taught as little supplemental material was available to teachers, many of whom were ill-prepared for their tasks.  Soon after World War II higher standards were demanded of teachers, a wealth of instructional material became available, and the knowledge explosion made everyone aware that all knowledge in a given field could not be found between the covers of a textbook.

Uniform statewide textbook adoption was a controversial issue from earliest days of statehood.  State Superintendent Isaac T. Goodnow, 1863-1867, joined most of the superintendents of that period in urging that a law be enacted providing for such uniformity.  However, his successor, Peter MacVicar, took the opposite view and expressed a philosophy that coincided with arguments used by those seeking repeal of such a law eighty-eight years later when he said: . . . "I presented somewhat at length the impracticability of requiring by law a state uniformity of textbooks, and of giving either to a state superintendent, or to a board, the power of deciding what that uniformity should be for a series of years . . . A vast system of state monopoly would be created.  It is doubtless much better that books, like other products of brain and industry, be left free to a healthy competition."  Opposition to such a proposal by men of Superintendent MacVicar's stature was a factor in delaying the enactment of a textbook law until 1897, twenty-six years after he left the superintendent's office.

The 1897 act created the School Textbook Commission, which included in its membership the state superintendent as ex-officio chairman with the right to vote on all propositions.  It was the commission's responsibility to contract with publishers, adopt uniform series of textbooks and set prices.  A unique provision of the law foreshadowed later unsavory developments.  No one, except members of the commission was to be present or cognizant of any proceedings of the commission during any time that it was in session and no member was permitted, during any of its meetings, to give information to anyone about what was going on in the meeting.  Although the law did provide for publication of proceedings of the commission after business had been transacted, this probably would not have satisfied 1967 proponents of "the right to know."

Writing in 1937 on the statewide adoptions of textbooks, C. O. Wright, a former executive secretary of the Kansas State Teachers Association, paid his respects to the system:

"Starting with 1897 the profession faced a forty-year period which was largely characterized by political control of textbook selection.  The period from 1897 to 1937 will go down in our history as one where politics played a major role in textbook adoption - politics of book companies, of vote getters, and of patronage distributors.  Except for rare occasions, the children of the schools and the desires of the teachers were pushed to the background.  Throughout the forty years, educational leaders made vigorous protests against the various legislative acts providing for the lay selection of texts and against the way governors, both Republic and Democratic, administered adoption laws.

The notorious legislative investigation of the textbook question in 1932 uncovered gross inefficiency and political influence in the state printing plant, and the investigating committee recommended the abolition of the old School Book Commission."

The shifting of textbook adoption responsibilities from one body to another is one indication of the sensitive issues involved.  The most serious problems developed after 1913 under a legislative act in which elementary textbooks, and some in the high school field, were manufactured in the state printing plant.  With the inauguration of state printing of textbooks, the use of unauthorized textbooks became serious business.  A punitive provision in the law that was not repealed until 1957 stated that any school official who was convicted of adopting, using, or procuring for use in the public schools in the same branch, any textbook as a substitute for an adopted one was subject to a fine of not less than $25 nor more than $100, or by imprisonment in the county jail, or both such fine and imprisonment.  This law, enacted in 1913, antedates by several years thought control programs initiated by the present governments of Russia and China.

Kansas State Printing Office - Topeka, KS - circa 1908

As many contended, state printing probably resulted in cheaper textbooks during early years of the program.  However, by 1953 the nationwide per pupil costs for all elementary and secondary pupils was $3.49, according to the American Textbook Publishers Institute.  The comparable Kansas figure was $8.35 although supporters of state printing in the state plant resulted in lower costs to school patrons  Notwithstanding the cost factor, the system resulted in the use of many inferior textbooks.

The state superintendent was ex-officio chairman of the agencies responsible for textbook adoptions until reorganization of the Department of Public Instruction in 1945.  At that time, a lay state board of education, of which the superintendent was not a member, was assigned the task.  The lay board, operating without professional leadership, often made ill-advised adoptions.  The law did provide for an advisory committee, a majority of whom were teachers and school administrators, but the board often disregarded committee recommendations.

The method used by the board in selecting advisory committee members was a major weakness of the adoption procedure.  During the 1950's, contrary to recommendations of the state superintendent, the board followed a policy of letting each member appoint his proportional share of advisory committee members rather than name them by board action.  Under this plan, eight of the fourteen advisory committee members in 1954 came from the home towns of board of education members making the appointments.

Two incidents illustrate the kinds of unwise decisions that hastened the end of statewide textbook adoptions.  In the 1950's penmanship series were changed so often that some pupils were taught under three different systems before they reached the eighth grade.  On another occasion, the adoption of a modern series of reading textbooks, costing school patrons of the state hundreds of thousands of dollars, was replaced with another series before elementary pupils had completed the first series.  This action was taken over the protests of county superintendents, school patrons, the state superintendent, and other school officials.  Added to this kind of operation were public dissatisfaction with the state printing of textbooks and the demand of local systems that they be permitted to select their own instructional materials.  These unwise procedures led to legislation that abolished the whole system in 1957.

The 1957 legislation also created a State Textbook Review Committee, which twice each year publishes lists of textbooks suitable for use in Kansas schools.  Members are appointed by the state superintendent with approval of the state board of education.  All textbooks submitted by publishers are listed unless, in the judgment of the committee, the books contain subversive material, or cannot be classified under the subject matter area for which a textbook is to be listed.  The committee, assisted by a member of the state superintendent's staff, has operated successfully since it was organized in 1957.  The publishes lists provide a welcome service to school officials, who now make their own adoptions at the district level, and determine when textbook changes are needed.  With the plan in full operation since 1962, following expiration of the 1957 adoptions, the demand for uniform textbooks and state printing of them have experienced a peaceful death.

The Curriculum Section

Believing that the curriculum includes all the experiences which pupils have as they participate in and relate to life of the school, this section has attempted to project this philosophy by means of conferences, curriculum guides, and the service of consultants.  One feature of expanded services after 1955 was the addition of specialists to provide leadership and consultative help in fields that many schools had failed to develop adequately.  Organized physical education courses at the elementary level was one of these neglected areas.  Prior to 1955 such programs were non-existant in hundreds of elementary schools where interschool athletic competition, which had gotten out of hand, was thought by many members of the community to meet the physical development needs of children.

In some instances as much as 1/4 of the average day was devoted by members of the team to football, basketball, or some other sport, either in practice or actual competition.  At the height of this movement in the mid-1950's, there were schools in which fifth and sixth grade pupils played eight and ten-game football and basketball schedules.  The teams often traveled long distances on school time in company with teachers, other pupils of the school, and team supporters in order to engage in these contests.  The Legislature had not at that time made elementary school accreditation a condition for receiving state funds.  Some communities rebelled when the state board of education approved regulations, upon recommendation of the state superintendent, to limit such practices.  Even sports writers for the press took up cudgels against such restraints, overlooking the fact that high school and college athletic competition is subject to regulation.

Illustrative of the general attitude toward physical education courses a decade ago was legislative reaction when the state superintendent first recommended funds for the employment of a physical education specialist.  Out of one legislative committee came the suggestion that if such a position were created, it should be on the staff of the High School Activities Association, the organization that rules athletic competition, rather than in the Department of Public Instruction.  Attitudes have changed within the past twelve years.  The Legislature did appropriate funds for the addition of a physical education specialist to the state superintendent's staff.  Under his leadership, and by means of conferences, workshops, community meetings, demonstrations, and the publication of a series of teacher guides, interest in organized physical education developed rapidly.  As elementary schools made physical education courses available to all pupils, the clamor for interschool athletic competition, in which a limited number of pupils could participate, began to subside.  The use of school time for team practice was discontinued or kept within limits.  Not only did organized physical education in schools add to the well-being of pupils, but, by deemphasizing interschool athletic competition, led to improvement of instructional programs in all subjects.

Another major contribution to better instruction in Kansas schools during the 1955-1967 period was the expansion and upgrading of school libraries.  This growth was the expansion and upgrading of school libraries.  This growth, especially at the elementary level, was phenomenal.  The Legislature recognized the value of school libraries as early as 1876, when a law was enacted authorizing school boards to levy from one-half mill to two mills in order to provide funds with which to purchase books for school libraries.  Again in 1925, a law was passed that required school districts to annually expend a minimum of $5.00 per teacher for the purchase of library books from a list approved by the state superintendent.  The 1925 legislation and the Kansas Reading Circle, an enterprise of the Kansas State Teachers Association, resulted in better libraries, but in most small elementary schools, and in some large ones, the library remained the weakest part of the instructional program.

In 1962 the Department of Public Instruction obtained funds with which to employ a school library consultant.  This addition provided a stimulus that led to an unprecedented growth in elementary school libraries, and marked improvement in those at the high school level. Under direction of the consultant, an advisory group, composed of qualified school librarians, was named to assist in preparing a catalog of approved books for school libraries, which was published and distributed to schools.  A materials center, with an ample collection of the latest publications, was established in the Department for the use of school librarians, teachers, and administrators in selecting titles for their libraries.  In order to stimulate interest and support for the school library, numerous conferences, workshops, and demonstrations were conducted throughout the state.

Industrial arts was another field that long had been neglected in many schools.  While increasing emphasis had been placed on vocational education, no state leadership had been provided to give direction to this important subject.  The state organization of industrial arts teachers, sensing the need for such leadership, took the initiative in working for a consultant position in the Department of Public Instruction.  These efforts were successful.  The appointment of a consultant produced results in the industrial arts field comparable to those in physical education and library services when specialists in those areas became active in the Department.  The first industrial arts consultant was appointed in 1964.

Much the same store can be told about the appointment of specialists in other subject matter areas.  Science, mathematics, and modern foreign language instruction took on new life in most high schools when federal funds became available for support of these programs under the National Defense Education Act of 1958.  Other fields of instruction in which Department specialists are currently at work include English, art, music, media, social studies, and general curriculum development.

The demand for this kind of service from the Department was evident as early as 1951, when more than 7,000 elementary teachers voluntarily attended forty-six curriculum conferences under the direction of Department personnel.  The subject matter specialists spend about one-half of their time in the field conferring with administrators and teachers on local curricular problems.  A series of curriculum conferences is held annually at conveniently located centers.  While in the office, the consultants prepare teachers' guides for publication, compile lists of instructional materials, and give individual help to teachers who contact the Department for such services.

These specialists serve as consultants in the administration of federally financed programs designed to improve instruction.  The curriculum section also administers Title III of the National Education Act under which federal funds are provided to reimburse school districts for equipment purchased in order to enrich instructional programs in several subject matter areas.

Special Education

The Kansas Society for Exceptional Children, composed of lay and professional persons, was organized in the mid-1940's for the purpose of obtaining legislation to provide special services for the education of handicapped and other non-typical children.  The movement was supported by the Kansas Council for Children and Youth, the Kansas State Teachers Association, the State Federated Women's Clubs, the Congress of Parents and Teachers, the State Department of Public Instruction and other groups concerned for the educational welfare of all children.

[Annotation: Kansas State Federated Women's Clubs - In the early 1900s is when the Kansas Federation of Women's Clubs established traveling libraries throughout the state of Kansas. The Hoxie Fortnightly Club ( Kansas ) served as one of the first libraries by taking advantage of the deal of 50 books for six months for $2.00.]

[Annotation:  Congress of Parents and Teachers - byname Parent-Teacher Association (PTA) - American organization concerned with the educational, social, and economic well-being of children. The PTA was founded on Feb. 17, 1897, as the National Congress of Mothers; membership was later broadened to include teachers, fathers, and other citizens.]

[Annotation:  Kansas State Teachers Association - A teachers' association was formed at Leavenworth March 14, 1863. The State Teachers' Association was organized at Leavenworth September 29, 1863.]

The activities of these organizations, in keeping with nationwide interest in such programs, produced legislation in 1949 which authorized the creation of a special education section in the Department of Public Instruction, and the formation of special classes in school districts. A modest appropriation was made with which to finance the new activity, and the state superintendent was directed to appoint a director and other personnel.  However, the first appropriations for the reimbursement of school districts that organized special classes were not made until 1951

The special education staff functions under the philosophy that the objectives of education for exceptional children do not differ from the objectives of education for other children.  Generally speaking, these objectives are self-realization, human relationships, economic efficiency, and civic responsibility.  The role of the special education section, since its organization in 1949, has been to provide consultative services to schools, and to assist them in establishing programs for exceptional children; develop standards for specialized instruction at the highest possible level of quality; and administer state financial aid to local districts to compensate them for the excess costs of providing educational opportunity for non-typical children.

Special education programs are established by school districts on a voluntary basis, and the enrollment of children in such classes is not mandatory.  The voluntary features of the law account in part for the comparatively slow progress made in organizing classes immediately following enactment of the 1949 legislation.  Other problems faced by this section in its early promotional work were financing at the district level, inadequate space in existing school facilities for special classes, a short supply of qualified teachers, areas of sparse population, an oversupply of school districts, indifference, and in some instances, local opposition.

Supplementary legislation in 1951 made provision for funds with which to reimburse school districts that established classes for the mentally retarded, or provided instruction for homebound children.

In 1953 the Legislature more explicitly defined exceptional children and appropriated funds for districts that provide special instruction for any or all classifications of these children. 

With inauguration of the program in 1949, the statutory definition of exceptional children included those who are intellectually gifted, and extended authority to give such children special full-time or part-time instruction.  The interest in special education for non-typical children continues to grow, and numerous organizations outside the schools are working in the field of mental retardation.  The special education staff members have cooperated with universities and colleges in developing teacher education opportunities in this field, and have worked closely with personnel in the United States Office of Education.

The report of one study conducted by Dr. Marguerite Thorsell of the special education staff, in cooperation with the Washington agency, was released in 1963.  This was an experiment in providing specialized instruction for mentally retarded children in regular classroom settings by teachers, who had no special preparation for such teaching.  The need for discovering effective methods of giving such instruction to handicapped children in regular classroom situations is readily apparent in sparsely settled areas, which are divided into numerous small school districts.  In such instances, there is an insufficient number of children to justify the employment of specially trained teachers, who are in short supply.  The three-year supply was conducted in the western half of Kansas where, in 1957, there were only nine classes for educable mentally retarded children.

Because of limitations that could not be eliminated, the overall purpose of the study was not substantiated by analysis of the data collected through the evaluation program.  However, much was learned about the problem of providing special education services in sparsely populated areas, and the need for continued investigation of the possibilities was clearly demonstrated.

Guidance and Counseling Services

The use of guidance and pupil personnel services in Kansas schools is a recent development.  In the 1946-47 school year, only 21 of the state's secondary schools had at least one person assigned as much as one hour a day for such work and only 222 non-administrative personnel were assigned to such guidance duties as recently as 1957-58. The first leadership supplied by the State Department of Public Instruction in this field was provided in 1956 with the employment of one guidance counselor.  The first standards for certifying counselors were filed with the Revisor of Statutes by the state superintendent in 1957.

It cannot be said that guidance services expanded in Kansas as a result of popular demand, as illustrated by an unfortunate incident that occurred in 1959. Because of resistance to certification standards for counselors, a legislator was persuaded, in the closing hours of the 1959 legislative session, to introduce a resolution revoking adopted standards for such certification.  This misunderstanding was not cleared up until the 1961 legislative session at which time the 1959 action was nullified.

Counseling and guidance activities have expanded rapidly since the National Defense Education Act became operative in 1959.  In that year there were only 85 full-time counselors in the state, who qualified under standards incorporated in the state plan and agreement with the United States Office of Education.  When federal funds became available under provisions of the federal act, the guidance staff was enlarged to include three counselors, in addition to the director, who had been appointed in 1956.  Since 1959, the number of full-time counselors employed in public schools has increased to 161, and the number of part-time qualified counselors has shown a comparable growth.

Members of the Department guidance staff serve as consultants to local school counselors, organize and hold conferences for counselors and school administrators, make studies regarding drop-outs and high school students who enter college or take employment, cooperate with institutions of higher education in developing training programs for counselors, publish and distribute numerous bulletins, and exercise general supervision over a state testing program.  Details of administering this activity have been assigned by the guidance staff to the testing service of the Kansas State Teachers College in Emporia.  Aptitude tests have been given to ninth and tenth grade students annually since 1959-60.  Results of these tests are made available to schools in which the students are enrolled, and may be used for research purposes under special arrangements with the guidance section of the State Department of Public Instruction.

Titles I and II of Public Law 89-10

Titles I and II of Public Law 89-10, the Elementary and Secondary Education Act of 1965, are administered by two sections in the division of instructional services.  Title I was not designed to give general aid to schools, but to provide federal money with which to finance projects that will improve educational opportunity for culturally deprived children from families living at the poverty level.

Appropriations to fund these programs were not made until late in 1965 for the school year 1965-66, which meant that a very small staff had to plan quickly to schools during that term.  Of the 10.8 million dollars allocated to Kansas, only about 9.8 million were approved for use in the schools because the money was appropriated to late in the fiscal year.  Obtaining personnel to man the projects that were approved was a difficult task.  In some instances, projects were revised to place an overemphasis on the purchase of equipment and materials in the absence of qualified persons to handle the original projects.

In allocating the limited funds available under Title II of the act, top priority was given during the first year to elementary schools.  One hundred thirty-five non-public elementary schools enrolling more than 26,000 pupils benefited under provisions of this Title.  Evaluation of projects under Titles I and II were not completed until late in 1966.

[Annotation:  The Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) was enacted in 1965 to provide guidance and funds to K-12 schools.  On January 8, 2002 President George Bush signed the No Child Left Behind Act. This act reauthorizes and amends federal education programs established under the Elementary and Secondary Education Act (ESEA) of 1965.

  • Title I - Improving the Academic Achievement of the Disadvantages
  • Title II - Preparing, Training, and Recruiting High Quality Teachers Principal
  • Title III - Language Instruction for Limited English Proficient and Immigrant Students
  • Title IV - 21st Century Schools
  • Title V - Promoting Informed Parental Choice and Innovative Programs
  • Title VI - Flexibility and Accountability
  • Title VII - Indian, Native Hawaiian, and Alaska Native Education
  • Title VIII - Impact Aid Program
  • Title IX - General Provisions
  • Title X - Repeals, Resignations, and Amendments to Other Statues

For complete information on how your school district implements the Title Programs, please contact your school district directly.   Federal Programs for the Kansas City, KS Public Schools may be reached at (913) 279-2146.]

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