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The Utah Public School System
BY A. C. NELSON, STATE SUPERINTENDENT OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION
While it is our province to write of the present condition of the public school system, and not of the history of education in Utah, it will not be out of place, as a prefatory remark, to
that in Utah there have always been schools. Our schools began whe Utah began and they have grown as Utah has grown.
An examination of the history of thirty-eight towns shows that in e very
instance school opened during the first year of their history. The second act of the first legislative assembly, which convened three years after the arrival of the first settlers, was the passage of a measure providing for the establishment of a university. The planting and cultivation of crops and the building of homes necessarily claimed first attention, but the estab
lishment of schools HON. A. C. NELSON, STATE SUPERINTENDENT
was soon begun, and OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION, UTAH
from then until the present time there has been a gradual and consistent educational growth.
TESTS OF EFFICIENCY Judged from the standpoint of literacy, Utah stands among the first of the states; measured by the ten tests of efficiency, ap
plied to the state school systems by the Division of Education of the Russell Sage Foundation, Utah holds a position of honor; regarded from the achievements of its students and the character of its citizens, it merits a full share of credit and distinction.
For many years Utah has stood third or fourth in the sisterhood of states in point of literacy. Only two and one-half per cent of its population over ten years of age are unable to read and write. These are found almost exclusively among the foreign element in the mining camps, where also are found a large percentage of college graduates governing the great mining industry for which the state is universally noted.
The ten tests, applied by the Division of Education of the Russell Sage Foundation, to determine the efficiency of a school system, are as follows:
1. The number of children in school
6. School attendance.
Judged from these ten tests, Utah stands fourteenth among the forty-eight states of the Union.
When the work of the schools has been exhibited in competition and passed upon by educational experts, the results have been most favorable. At the St. Louis Exposition, held in 1904, the grade schools of Salt Lake City received a gold medal, placing them in the second rank; the high school a silver medal, placing it in third rank; the State Normal Training School received a gold medal. The grand prize, the highest award given to any school was secured by the State School for the Deaf, Dumb and Blind.
The credits of the State University are accepted at their face value by the highest educational institutions of the land. The State Agricultural College ranks with the best. The president of that institution, himself a Utahn, is recognized everywhere as an authority on the work of his chosen profession.
In regard to the achievements of some of Utah's students, the attention of the reader is directed to the following brief excerpt taken from the Journal of Education, January, 1913, published in Boston by Dr. A. E. Winship, a venerable educator who is recognized throughout the nation as an authority on conditions which best promote the educational welfare:
"Today one little county in Utah has in the world's arena, some of the best artists, sculptors, singers, and instrumentalists in America, more,
probably, than any state of ten times its population. In Boston, alone, last year a Utahn won the highest prize in sculpture, musical composition, and on the
One of the prizes of the National Federation of Musical Clubs goes to a Utahn.”
Not only is this true of art and of music, but it is also true that Utah has produced writers and actors of note. In history, in law, in science, and in government, our students have made marked progress. It is a matter of common knowledge that Utah students who enter Harvard, Johns Hopkins, Columbia, Chicago, Wisconsin, and similar universities, often excel in their classes. The excellent standing of these students is due largely to habits of sobriety and right living. With the students, so with the teachers throughout the state, practically all of them refrain from the use of tobacco and intoxicants.
ATTENDANCE AND EXPENDITURES
Today, in the public school system of the state, 95,000 children between the ages of six and eighteen years receive instruction. There are 115,000 school children in Utah, but several thousands of these attend private schools. The children are taught in 700 school buildings, the value of which is $8,000,000. The expenditure for school purposes has now reached the sum of $4,000,000 per annum, which means an expenditure of $35 for each pupil of school age, or an annual tax of $11, to each person in the state.
UNITS OF ADMINISTRATION-REVENUES
Utah has three units of administration in its school system. One is to be found in the first and the second class cities; one in the consolidated districts of the first class; the other in local common school districts. A city of at least 50,000 population belongs to the first class; a city between 5,000 and 50,000 to the second class; school districts of the first class must have a population of at least 2,000 children of school age.
The schools in cities of the first and the second class, five in number, are governed and controlled by their respective boards of education. A board of education in a city of the first class consists of ten members, one-half of whom are elected biennially for a term of four years; a city of the second class has a board of education consisting of five members, one of whom is elected every year for a term of five years. In cities of the first class, school boards are authorized to levy a tax of six and one-half mills for general maintenance and one and one-half mills for building purposes; boards in second class cities with an assessed valuation