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the school directors thereby had the constitutional right to determine what subjects constituted other and higher branches. To the court it was clear that the subjects taught in the high school must be founded upon and more advanced than the subjects that were taught in the elementary school; otherwise, the high school defeated the purpose for which it was created. “Here, then, in the powers of common school directors, is the power to decide what branches of study shall be taught in the high school, what text-books shall be used, and to prescribe necessary rules and regulations for the management and government of the school. 2:15
Finally, the Supreme Court decided that it was constitutional for the officers of cities to levy taxes for the support of common schools under the provision of the general law.
Thus, the court decided that the constitution recognized a graded school as a free common school. A high school then, as the upper part of the graded school, which had been recognized more or less since 1855, was within the spirit of the constitution. Moreover, what constituted a good common school education would be determined from the practice of communities: the wealthier supporting elementary and higher schools, the poorer, only the primary schools. Since all grades of the common school were in existence at the time of the adoption of the constitution which made the establishment of a good common school system mandatory on the legislature, the assembly acted within its rights in allowing localities to levy a tax for the support of high schools.
Older laws gave a legal basis for the subjects of study in high schools. The latter must teach subjects more advanced than the elementary schools else it defeated the purpose of its creation. Although many other litigations have occurred as to the legality of the high school, these decisions may be said to have given that institution its first judicial standing in Illinois as a part of the free common school system.
Not only have these decisions affirmed the legality of the high school as the upper part of the graded common school system, but they have been at least one factor in the growth of secondary education from about 1880 to 1900. The report of the state superintendent for 1869-70 listed one hundred eight high schools but did not classify them. About the same namber were reported for 1880 but the number was doubled at the end of the next decade and increased about thirty-three per cent by 1900. The greatest early increase in high schools was represented by those districts with special charters. The most rapid development from 1880 to 1900 has taken place in cities and villages with boards of education. The following table shows that comparative growth in high schools since the legal decisions that have been cited were made: Years
15 People vs. Martin Van Allen, Supreme Court Rep., 1877, p. 307. 14 Supreme Court Rep., v. 89, p. 297.
1880 1891 1900-02 Township high schools....
21 Special charters ...
34 General law-board
47 137 212 General law-directors
Likewise, the list of accredited high schools has rapidly developed. In 1877, when the policy of accrediting began, six high schools were so recognized; in 1900, there were two hundred thirty such institutions.
A summary of the establishment of the free public high school shows that it developed from township organizations, districts under special charter, and general school laws. The earliest legislation for township organization for high school purposes was enacted in 1857. Princeton followed in 1866, and the school law of 1872 contained the township plan. The township laws of 1905, 1911 and 1917 were enacted for the purpose of making township high schools easier of establishment. By the provisions of these distinctive acts, a variety of high school districts have been legalized and established. A somewhat superior organization in comparison with the ordinary district has been possible through the township plan which began when the policy for granting special charters for union school districts was common.
Following the precedent of granting charters to academies by special enactments, the legislature, to 1870, in special acts sanctioned the creation of certain independent school districts which, in spite of the occasional violation of the general school law, established high schools comparatively early. Since many of the districts with special charters have materially changed in social and economic conditions, the amendment or annulment of these charters would be beneficial.
17 State Supt. Reports,, 1879-80, 1891-92, 1900-02. 18 State Supt. Reports, 1900, p. 76.
The law of 1855 hastened the creation of common schools, but made it possible for private institutions to become public. In the more advanced, thickly populated, and wealthier communities, the upper part of the union graded schools constituted the high school, although the latter term was not used denotatively by State Superintendents until 1867, when about one hundred institutions were reported. The number of high schools that were reported increased very slowly for a decade because the standards of what was, or should be, high schools were rapidly changing. However, general provision was made, în 1872, for the creation of an independent board, when the population of a community reached two thousand, with the power to levy a tax on property to support free schools of all grades.
The free public high school may be said to have been established in Illinois when the Supreme Court decided that certain sections of the laws of 1872 and 1874, which referred to the common and high schools, were constitutional. A township high school was a free school, it was a part of the common school, and a tax for its support was constitutional in the judgment of the highest court. Directors were within the limits of the law in requiring and determining what constituted “other and higher branches”. Moreover, taxes that were levied in cities for the support of common schools were legal, but no litigation over the high schools was found, where the system had been established under special charter.
A Summary of Some Earlier Influences Affecting Later
Development and Practice. The earliest attempts to establish schools in Illinois were wholly individualistic; even the policy of the State to the middle of the nineteenth century was that of laissez faire. Generally, provisions of various kinds were made for academic and common education, but the carrying into effect of most of these provisions was left almost entirely to individual will and caprice. Democracy was conceived as a plan of action whereby each person did as he pleased.
In contrast to that attitude, socialization is more nearly characteristic of the present plan for secondary education. The State has developed a definite policy of making that education possible for all the youth, since the whole State has been made high school territory, either in the form of nonhigh school districts that are required to pay the cost of a fouryear secondary education, in high school areas, or districts that maintain acceptable institutions. Moreover, territorial limits, instead of following certain surveyed or customary lines, are conceived in terms of a community that has sufficient assessable property, and enough prospective pupils to support an efficient high school. Illinois is pre-eminent in the advance that the community high schools are making. But the State will have taken another important step when it requires that all the children who can profit from secondary education are in school. Then will the democratic ideal of equality of opportunity begin to function more truly.
As the State has developed organizing and administrative functions, the position of the church in relation to public education has changed. The colonial Latin grammar school was a sectarian institution, but the academy divorced the church from the denominational aspect, so that, while the latter was founded in many instances by the church, its pupils were freed from subscribing to any creed, mode of worship, or religious test. Thus the academy was the transition institution between the denominational colonial Latin grammar school and the secularized public school. From the discussion of the academy in Part I, both the religious and semi-public aspects in the founding, management, and support of the academy have appeared. When the State in its development had reached the point of public support of education, the cardinal principle of the complete separation of the church and the State was essential.
A necessary feature of free public education is that the wealth of the State shall pay for the education of the children of the State. The academy, of course, was supported by the sale or rents of public land, interest from the common school fund, endowments, and tuition. The public domain in Illinois has practically disappeared but the common schools today receive their share of a fund that was created in part by the conditions laid down by Congress for the admission of Illinois in the Union. Although subsequent provisions have been made for the increase of the fund, Illinois, as most other states has not shown that she really believes in providing the greatest opportunity for her children, because the rate of state taxation has remained practically the same since the enactment of the free school law of 1855. Of course the value of property has constantly increased but probably at a less proportion than the growth of the needs of the school. Because a two mills state tax was levied in 1855 on property, is no justification for the same rate and method of taxation in 1919.
Property in land as a basis for taxation was more equitable when land was easily obtainable by all. Real estate was an acceptable index of wealth, but to use that as the principal method of taxation today, exempts large quantities of wealth in other forms. No logical reason exists to place an increasing burden on the rural districts. For that reason, if for no other, a legislature controlled by agricultural interests strives to prevent the increase in taxation.
More progressive kinds of taxation, such as that levied in proportion to one's ability to pay, would make it possible