Schools and Colleges of Fannin County, Texas

 

When a person of even ordinary culture is looking for a permanent home in a new country or elsewhere, the first question he invariably asks is, "how about your schools and churches?" What kind of reply could Fannin County make today, or for that matter, what would have been the reply years and years ago? Let the records and accurate statistics show. As the fathers of the Republic and state of Texas slowed such vast interest in the cause of education, is it fair to expect that their successors would do otherwise. Nowhere in the Northern or Eastern states has the cause of education either public or private, received more attention, and nowhere in the South, has it received as much, as in the state of Texas. In addition to the fund provided by the state for this county, the people are so zealously enlisted in the cause of education, that in every town and village, private schools, academies, and chartered institutions are to be found.

The County Judge by virtue of his office is superintendent of the schools of the county, which is laid off in districts called "communities," of which there are one hundred and forty. The average apportionment to each of these communities is fifty-nine pupils. The apportionment of funds for the year 1885, is $5.30 to each child of scholastic age, and by paying the teachers salaries, the public schools are kept going about six months' in the year, on this fund.

The annual apportionment of funds from the state government, keeps pace with the increase of pupils, by reason of accrued interest on the continued sale of the lands set apart for that purpose. Every year the assessor of taxes is required to list the children of the county, between the ages, eight and sixteen, and assign them to the communities designated by the parents or guardians. At any time before the schools begin, which is generally on the first Monday in September, the parent or guardian may have his children or wards transferred to another community.

All the schools are presided over by competent, and many of them by thorough teachers. Applicants for teachership are subjected to rigid examinations; and certificates from third to first degree are granted, when the applicant holds or produces sufficient guarantee of his moral character. The examinations are not con-fined to textbooks, but are extended (and very properly) to the applicant's ability and capacity for imparting knowledge, and to his thorough acquisition of the most improved methods of teaching.

To better qualify the teachers of the common schools for their work, a system of "State Normal Schools" has been inaugurated, the beneficent effects of which are already felt and appreciated. These schools are taught in the summer months, by men of thorough qualifications, appointed by the State Superintendent of public education.

The public school system of the state works like a charm in this county, mainly on account of its simplicity and economy, but to a great extent on account of the local authorities who manage the schools, doing their whole duty cheerfully and conscientiously, though gratuitously. Of course there are those among us who are disposed to find fault, because the laws and regulations governing the schools are not exactly like "our' n back in the old state." But it is with this matter as with all other laws, and if the dissenters were called upon to amend the system, nine chances to one, it would be left in a far worse condition than they found it.

The number of pupils within the scholastic age, enrolled for the next term of free schools, which open in September, 1885, is 8,242, of these a little over 1,000 are colored. Of the 7,128 white children, only 781 do not know how to read; of the 1019 colored children, there are 109 who do not read.

In 1884, a Teachers' Association was formed at Dodd City, to meet at different places in the county, at regular intervals. The main objects of this association seem to have been the perfection of' a uniform method of teaching, and for the mutual benefit and advancement of all teachers in the county.

It is indeed a fact, that the colored children of Fannin County, as a w whole, are advanced in text books, than are the white than are the white whole, are further advanced children of the same age in many other southern localities, and this advancement is not confined to a few towns and villages, but is general through the county. This fact is easily accounted for. The board of examiners are as strict with a colored applicant for teachership as with the white; and consequently none but proficient teachers are licensed. Most of the colored teachers are imported, and many of them are holding first grade certificates, to obtain which, requires at least a thorough academic course. Some of them are graduates of chartered institutions of other states.

The closing exercises of the free schools, academies, and colleges of Fannin County, every summer, are galla days with all classes and races. The usual examinations are followed by exhibitions, the exhibitions by picnics, all through the month of June.

The schools in the extreme northern parts of the county are attended by children from the Choctaw Nation. Teachers say they learn rapidly, are punctual and cheerfully comply with the rules and school discipline.

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