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Jun 05

[ARCHIVED] Kansas Educational Reform in 1913

The original item was published from June 5, 2020 1:56 PM to December 22, 2021 2:24 PM

1913-Kansas Education Reform 
by Donna Casement
(link to cited newspaper articles and photos at bottom of Blog)

The year 1913 was a significant year for educational legislation. W.D. Ross, State Superintendent of Public Instruction in his Nineteenth Biennial Report, 1913-1914, outlined nine important laws passed by the 1913 legislature, which affected Kansas public schools. They included:

  • The publication and distribution of schoolbooks by the state and the establishment of the State School Book Commission.


  • Creating the State Board of Administration, which had authority to manage the state institutions of higher education.


  • Provided for a uniform pupil examination for common school diplomas.


  • Authorized the state board of education to employ assistants in the preparation of obligatory course studies for rural schools.


  • A county teacher’s certificate law amended the required additional examinations and certification for teaching in grade schools.


  • The state continued aid to “weaker “school districts and appropriated $40,000 each for 1913 and 1914.


  • School district boards and boards of education authorized to establish night schools as part of the public school system.


  • Authorized the use of schoolhouses for community purposed under the regulations made by local school boards.

The “text book law” or senate bill 50 appropriated $225,000 for the purpose of enlarging the state printing plant and purchasing the rights to desired text books for use in the common and high schools of Kansas. This bill established a book commission composed of the governor, state superintendent of education, secretary of the board of agriculture, chancellor of Kansas University, president of the state normal school, the state printer and two other members appointed by the governor. The commission is empowered to write textbooks for Kansas schools or to purchase state rights to the copyrights of textbooks. (#1-The St. John Weekly, March 6, 1913)

Some individuals insisted that legislation was enacted without consulting the educators in the state. Superintendent L. W. Mayberry of Wichita said, “The peculiar action of our legislature on matters educational is an indirect result of the agitation in the muckraking magazines which have been criticizing the public schools unjustly.” (#2-The Daily Gazette, Lawrence, March 14, 1913)

The system of separate boards of regents for institutions was abolished with the advent of the new, three member state board of administration. They met for the first time the third week in March and admitted to having a full time job until July 1, when they took over active management. “President Hackney stated last night that: the members of the board would be on the job all the time from now until the first of July, when it takes over the active management of the schools. It is too early to say now what our action will be. There is a great preliminary of work to be done.” He believed that the new method of managing schools would prove more than satisfactory after it has been given a fair trial. (#3-The Topeka Daily Capital, March 21, 1913)

Free Public Night Schools, a headline in a Ft. Scott paper concerned the establishment of night school within the public school system. “One of the most interesting of the many laws passed by the recent legislature is Senate bill 641, providing for the establishment of free public night schools, wherever necessary, either in country districts or in the cities. Night schools free to the public have long been needed, for there are many young people anxious to secure an education who are in circumstances that they must work during the day.” (#4-Fort Scott Tribune and the Fort Scott Monitor, April 8, 1913) The article went on to say night school attendance was not compulsory, yet it would be open to free attendance to anyone who is fourteen years of age, or over, and who is not required by law to attend the day school.

The Topeka Industrial Council met the first week of April 1913 concerning the matter of night school. “An interesting paper on the subject was read by Arthur Capper, who recently has made some investigations as to the methods pursued in cities where such schools have been in operation, and Prof. C.C. Starr, superintendent of the Topeka schools, gave the result of his study. It seemed to be the general sense of the meeting that night schools could be undertaken in Topeka with great profit to those who are now, by reason of age or circumstances, unable to take advantage of the regular day schools.” (#5-The Topeka Daily Capital, April 6, 1913)

1913 School Facts

  • In the one-teacher schools, 6,840 pupils received diplomas. There were in operation 7,795 one-teacher schools in which the enrollment was 165,236. This was 7,010 below the enrollment of 1912. The number of teachers employed in these schools in was nearly 54 per cent of the entire teaching force of the state, while the pupils were 42 percent of the enrollment for the whole state.

Linn Co District 57                                                Linn Co., District 57, built 1872

  • In two (or more) teacher schools, the enrollment was 106,058, an increase of 3,198, in one year. The number of teachers in grades and high schools was 3,380, an increase of 184 in one year. In high schools maintained by school districts, including cities of the third class, the enrollment increased to 16,786. Graduation from high school was 5,062, an increase of 533 over 1912. The number of high school teachers increased from 769 in 1911 to 975 in 1913. There were 393,992 pupils enrolled in public schools.

  • In 1913, Kansas had 12 private institutions accredited as colleges. The enrollment in private colleges and academies was 7,031, and 632 graduated in that year, with instruction by 560 professors and teachers. The value of the buildings, apparatus and libraries amounts to $2,917,034 and expenditures for the year was $510,041.

Richardson Hall                                 Richardson Hall, Southwestern College

There were 9,685 students enrolled in the state institutions, The University the Agricultural College and the Normal schools had 1039 graduates; the number of professors and instructors, 547; and the expenditure, $1,633,861.

Fort Hays Normal School Ag Building           Agricultural and Home Economics building, Fort Hays, Kansas Normal School

School facts from the Nineteenth Biennial Report, 1913-1914, W.D. Ross, State Superintendent of Public Instruction)

View articles cited here and jpgs of photgraphs appearing here at State Library of Kansas' KGI Online Library

View 19th Biennial Report: Kansas Department of Public Instruction, 1913-1914