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JIM: Professor Huffaker on the importance of education

One hundred years ago, as now, the emphasis was on attaining higher levels of education. Prof. Tobias Huffaker was Superintendent of Adair County Schools. Barksdale Hamlett was State Superintendent of Education (Hamlett was one-time owner of the Adair County News and the father of long-time News editor Edward C. Hamlett.). In 1914, the goal for progress was a six old increase in the number of High School students in Adair County.
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The December 5, 1914 edition of the News, carried a lengthy open letter to the public school teachers from Adair County School Superintendent Tobias Huffaker. In the closing paragraph, Prof. Huffaker expressed his views about the importance of education:
"There is a great need for more boys and girls to stay in school till they complete the eighth grade of the common school course. Then there is an urgent need for more boys and girls in the County High School [better known as the upper grades of the Columbia Graded and High School]. There ought to be at least six times as many pupils in the County High School as there are. [An anecdotal report earlier in the school year reported 37 pupils in the High School.] Let the people awake to the importance of keeping their children in school till they secure an education that will, in a measure, fit them for the duties of life. We must have more children in regular attendance at school."
The same letter outlined the procedure, as outlined by Barksdale Hamlett, Sr., the state Superintendent of Education, for determining which students in the county common schools would be eligible for free tuition at the High School:

The county Superintendent was to draw up "a set of questions covering the Common School course of study, and to mail to each teacher a copy of this set." The teachers were then to keep the questions sealed until the specified dates (December 16 & 17 in Adair County), when the teachers would "give a written examination to those pupils only that have completed the seventh and eighth grades of school work."

The teachers were strict orders to score the exams and forward them the Superintendent, along with written recommendations to the Superintendent for "only such students as [the teacher] deems competent to pass on the basis of the pupil's answers..." Students who received a recommendation and who scored the required averages on the exam would "be awarded promotion cards showing that they have completed the common school course...In order to pass a pupil must make a general average of not less than 75 per cent, and must not fall below 60 percent on any one branch."

Compiled by JIM

This story was posted on 2014-12-01 02:05:05
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