State of Pennsylvania Responsible for Provision of Public Education

16-year-old Helena Muffly wrote exactly 100 years ago today: 

Tuesday, February 13, 1912:  We had an inspector up at school this morning. You can bet I was glad when he had gone. Ruth and I went up to Oakes this evening. I took my Algebra along and Rachel helped me with it some.

Click on the picture to enlarge the words.

Her middle-aged granddaughter’s comments 100 years later:

The previous Friday Grandma wrote that this would be the last week for her teacher and that she’d then get a new teacher.

I suppose that the school inspector visited McEwensville High School to make sure that all was on-course and to prepare for the transition to the new teacher.

A hundred years ago there were many schools scattered across the county. A county superintendent was responsible for making sure that they followed state requirements.

The state, then as now, was responsible for providing public education.  In a 1912 book I found the language in the Pennsylvania constitution:

The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public schools, wherein all the children of this Commonwealth above the age of six years may be educated, and shall appropriate at least one million dollars each year for that purpose.

Source: Pennsylvania Constitution as quoted in The Status of the Teacher by Arthur Perry, Jr.  (1912)

Over the years this provision has been shortened. It now says:

Public School System

Section 14

The General Assembly shall provide for the maintenance and support of a thorough and efficient system of public education to serve the needs of the Commonwealth.

I guess there no longer is a need to indicate that at least a million dollars of state money will be spent on public education. According to Wikipedia the state of Pennsylvania allocated more than $11.4 billion for education-related programs for the 2008-2009 fiscal year. :)

4 Responses

  1. I had to smile about the inspector’s visit after my post on school records last Friday. I can’t remember the inspector’s visit of itself but I do remember the anxiety.

    • Thanks for getting me started thinking about school records. I’m wondering if detailed records might be buried in some government archive somewhere.

  2. [...] I wish that I had a better understanding of how school systems were organized in 1912. Then, as now, the state was responsible for public education. [...]

  3. [...] State of Pennsylvania Responsible for the Provision of Public Education [...]

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