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is of any importance, and it is a prime article of their creed that they have always done that which they ought to have done, and have left undone mothing that they ought to have done, and there is abundant health in them. If the city dweller surpasses them, it is because he is “putting on airs” or “showing off.” If he calls them “hicks,” they stigmatize him as “dude,” “cigarette smoker,” “stuffed shirt,” and “smart Aleck.” They are suspicious of him and of most others outside their immediate communities. They pride themselves upon their sturdy independence, and are generally unwilling to listen to new information or to heed advice. Evidently a barrier of misunderstanding, aversion, and even hatred, has been growing up between two groups—the rural and the urban folks— in our common country. And if we are to be a united people, all lines of this sort which tend to divide us as Americans must be removed. Nothing can be more fatal to the strength of the United States than emphasizing such differences as those between North and South, East and West, white and black, Jew and Christian, Catholic and Protestant, rich and poor, urban and rural. Unless we can largely erase these artificial lines in our citizenship, and come to understand and aid each other, our country is doomed. The basal cause of this division between the people of the city and those of the country is the growth of centers of population and the comparative isolation of those people still remaining in the country. We Americans but a century ago were mostly all rural and fared alike, but, with the development of cities, advantages of living came into existence in which those still on the farms could not share. This has put
them out of the race and tended to bind them to the soil and to dull labor, with few of the relaxations and opportunities of city folk. Unless Americans generally can be aroused to the unfairness and inequity of this situation—the conscience of the city man awakened to his duty to share these larger opportunities with his country brother, and the consciousness of the rural man awakened to his plight and lack of equal advantages, we are likely to be divided into two peoples, without understanding and without sympathy. But in many ways the country people are awakening and securing their rights. The advent of good roads, automobiles, telephones, and radios are bringing them into touch with the city and enabling them to obtain many of the comforts and opportunities of urban life. The farm folk now in many cases easily drive into town, buy from the best shops, visit first-class theaters, hear the finest music, listen to intelligent sermons, consult the leading doctors and dentists, and dress in the latest styles. In one respect, however, progress has been exceedingly slow, and that is in the demand for and the establishment of good schools. Much has been accomplished in this direction during the past quarter of a century since our eyes have been opened to the iniquity and un-American plan of affording one type of school for the city and quite a different and very inferior one for the country, but far more remains to be done. Our educational slogan must continue to be “a square deal for the farm boy” until he is given practically the same school opportunities as the lad reared in the city. At present this is still far from being the case. As yet about one-fourth of the total rural school enrollment and 45 per cent of the rural teaching corps are housed in one-room schools of the crudest sort. There are upwards of two hundred thousand of these one-room buildings in the United States, and a fairly large percentage of them were constructed at least forty years ago, despite the fact that school architecture and equipment have been advancing by leaps and bounds during that time. Four-fifths of them have no provision for heating and ventilation, except the old unjacketed stove and the rickety windows respectively, and nine-tenths of the buildings are not properly lighted. In at least 90 per cent the seating is poor and unadjustable, and often where the seats could be arranged to suit the pupil this has never been given consideration. Where in the cities some fourfifths of the teachers have had at least the minimum amount of standard training—that is, two years beyond the high school—in the country less than onetwentieth have so qualified; and the turn-over in rural teachers each year is just about 50 per cent. As a whole, but rarely can the country districts secure any except the youngest, most immature, and least experienced young women for their schools. The better class of teachers, attracted by improved living conditions, assured tenure, larger salaries, professional companionship, and opportunities for growth and promotion, are largely drained off into the cities. As a natural result, scholastic progress in the rural schools is greatly handicapped, and, on the average, children of the same age are at least a year or two behind those in the cities. Moreover, in innumerable instances it is all but impossible for the farm children, however bright, to secure a high school training, for there is nothing of the sort anywhere in their neighborhood and no facilities are available for board or transportation. Probably the saddest aspect of the
DR. FRANK. P. GRAVES
whole matter is that many have come to view the objectives of the country school as being quite different from those of the city school. Realizing the hardships in rural life and fearing lest the youth may gravitate to the city, some people hold that the country school should make it its business to retain children on the farm, whatever their abilities, interests, and needs, and others that as soon as possible it should begin to prepare them for the pursuit of farming. Consequently, they insist that all rural schools should be built in the open country in a purely rural environment and have the course thoroughly ruralized, with rural arithmetic, rural geography, etc., so that the child shall be forever tied to the farm community and not be lured away. And they would even in the elementary grades have him trained in agronomy, stock breeding, dairying, poultry raising, horticulture, and other agricultural arts, and from the first would make him as vocationally efficient as possible. In either case little is likely to be done to fit him for membership in society at large; and the larger life, richer satisfactions, and broader social view open to those educated in the city become almost impossible for him. His life is predetermined and he is fettered by a class system as fixed as that of Europe. This is absolutely opposed to our American ideals, for we believe that in modern democracy the rural child should have the same rights as every other child. He should not be bound to the soil, like a peasant or serf under a caste organization of society, but, as President Butterfield has put it, ‘‘the door from the country to the city should swing wide.” Rural elementary education should not differ from elementary education in the city, except possibly in the matter of approach. Thus for over a century the growing concentration of population in urban centers has been breeding an unfair contrast between the educational facilities of the city and those of the country. For almost as long a period educators have been calling attention to the comparative ineffectiveness of the rural schools; and, since statistics, tests, surveys, and other forms of measurement have come more into vogue, it has been clearly shown that the country schools have not only fallen short of a reasonable standard of efficiency, but that they have cost far more for each pupil. The fundamental difficulty in this whole state of affairs is, of course, the need of a larger unit of organization. The existing weaknesses can never be overcome as long as the small district with its sparse population and consequently meager wealth back of each child exists as a separate and independent entity. The unit must be greatly enlarged and the schools consolidated, and, wherever necessary, the pupils transported, if the available resources and the educational conditions are to approach those of the
city. Of course this effort to produce a larger school population for each unit will not alone be sufficient, as the rural districts are still too poor, even when their money has been equalized and economically expended, and the state must, therefore, step in and provide more substantial and better equalized subsidies for them all. No one has yet devised a plan that will secure good buildings and equipment without money, and all the special training of rural teachers in the world will not help the situation if the salaries and other conditions are not such as to attract them to the country. Clearly the start must be made through consolidation. This we have been recognizing more and more during the past quarter of a century. There has been a constantly increasing tendency to organize larger units in administration and to secure the enactment and improvement of consolidation and transportation laws. The movement began a generation ago in New England, and has gradually spread throughout the country. It has leaped from state to state through the zeal of educational reformers and missionaries and the force of example. The number of small schools and weak districts has now been substantially lessened through statutory provisions in most states and the best ways for increasing the size of the unit have been carefully worked out. Some commonwealths, like those of New England, New Jersey, Michigan, Ohio, and Indiana, have adopted the township basis, while county control has been generally utilized in the South and in Utah, and the community or enlarged district plan in Illinois and other western states; but, while the county will often be found to form the most effective unit for both administration and support, the exact method is not so im. portant as the general idea of consolidation and undoubtedly various ways will be most effective in different states. In some forty of our commonwealths public funds may now be used for transportation, and in most of them the amounts are carefully reported. The only states in which the principles of consolidation and transportation have as yet had relatively little recognition are New York, Texas, Arizona, and Nevada. These four commonwealths should remove themselves from the black list as soon as possible, and the improvement in method should everywhere be continued. Our efforts must, however, be patient, though persistent. Rural people cling with great tenacity to the old colonial right of each little district to administer its own school and to the outworn machinery of the small district system, and they will not readily be benefited against their will. Moreover, there are always selfish and bigoted outsiders, sometimes with considerable influence and even journalistic and political backing, who appeal to the suspicions and prejudices of country folks and to their outworn devotion to the “little red schoolhouse.” But the policy of centralization is bound to win in time through its own merit and in proportion as its value becomes known by trial. It can no longer be regarded as a mere experiment or fad; it has won a permanent place in practical school administration. But, it has been argued, the country people as a whole do not demand or wish any better facilities in education. This is indeed the pathetic part of it—that those who are the victims have not more generally realized their own situation. Progressive movements, however, have never come about through the request of those who need them most, particularly when their suspicions and resistance to
outside suggestion have been aroused through isolation, provincialism, and prejudice. A sin-stricken world did not demand Jesus nor did the Gentiles seek after the gosepl of Paul, and the outlying nations of to-day do not cry out for the missionaries. The peasants of France did not seek their civic rights, the serfs of Russia their freedom, nor the negroes of America their emancipation. The perils of typhoid, malaria, yellow fever, and hookworm have not been curtailed through any request of the districts afflicted; and the drunkard and dope fiend of to-day do not ask to be delivered. Emancipation, relief, and progress have come only when some outside agency, with steady vision and intelligence, has had the courage to insist that it is not a question of what the people wish but of what will help them.
And in rural education the necessary aid does at times require not only courage but a spirit of sacrifice. One state superintendent has recently failed of reappointment by the Governor largely because he undertook to lift the country districts out of their slough, and a superintendent in another state was defeated for reëlection by the candidate who took as a slogan, “Back to the oneroom school.” But so have others suffered in the past and will again in the future, and one may be proud to fall in so good a cause as education. “Where do you wish my detachment to take its stand?” asked a subordinate of General Stonewall Jackson. “Go where you will,” was the reply; “there's good fighting all down the line.” There have been great victories in the administration of rural education of late, fellow superintendents, but we must be ready and eager to press constantly forward on all sides. We may well have high hopes of ultimate victory. “The mills of the gods grind slowly, but they grind exceeding small.”
STRATTON D. BROOKS, LL.D., President University of Misosuri
Stratton D. Brooks, who entered upon his new duties as president of the University of Missouri at the beginning of the present school year, is widely and favorably known as a successful educator and administrator. He has had an unusually wide and varied experience in public school work, having served as principal of high schools, assistant superintendent and superintendent of schools and also in collegiate work as professor and college president. He has now returned to his native state to assume the presidency of the University of Missouri, one of the oldest and best organized of our higher institutions of learning west of the Mississippi.
Dr. Brooks was born at Everett, Missouri, in 1869. He spent his early years in Michigan, graduating from the high school at Mt. Pleasant and from the State Normal College at Ypsilanti. From this latter institution he received the degree of Bachelor of Pedagogy and later the degree of Master of Pedagogy. He graduated from the University of Michigan in 1895 attaining Phi Beta Kappa rank. He took a master’s degree at Harvard University in 1904 and was granted an honorary LL.D. by Colby College in 1912 and by Kingfisher College in 1920.
Approximately one-third of his teaching service has been in high schools as principal at Danville, Illinois, La Salle, Illinois, and Adrian, Michigan; and for three years as high school visitor and assistant professor of education for the University of Illinois. Another third has been devoted to public school supervision—for four years as assistant superintendent and for six years super
intendent of the Boston public schools and for a brief time superintendent of schools at Cleveland, Ohio. In 1912 he became president of the University of Oklahoma, leaving there on July 1, 1923, for the presidency of the University of Missouri.
During the war he was Federal Food administrator for Oklahoma, secretary of the State Council of Defense, member of the Fuel Administration, first state chairman of the Four-Minute Men, and first state chairman of the Boys’ Working Reserve. He has been trustee of the Massachusetts Art Museum, executive officer of the State Geological Survey of Oklahoma, member of the State Board of Vocational Education. He is a member of the National Education Association and was at one time president of the N. E. A. Department of Superintendence. He has also been president of the Scientific Society for the Study of Pducation and of the State Teachers Association of Oklahoma. He is joint author of Brooks and Hubbard Composition and Rhetoric, Brooks English Composition and has also issued a series of readers.
The University of Missouri is a coeducational institution established in 1839 and opened in 1841 and has an enrollment of over 4,000 students. It comprises colleges of arts and science, agriculture, school of education, law, journalism, medicine, engineering, mines and metallurgy and a well organized graduate school. Under the direction of Dr. Brooks there is every prospect that this institution will maintain its present commanding place among the higher institutions of learning of the land.