|A Rural Survey of Morgan County, Missouri (1916)||<Previous|
Under direction of Superintendent Witten, Morgan county has a good system of public schools. However, in only a few of the seventy-five districts are there modern school buildings. The schoolhouses are, with few exceptions, of the old square type, but there is an apparent tendency, as new buildings are needed, to have these of a more modern style of architecture, better suited to the health and comfort of the pupils. Practically all of the buildings are frame structures. However, there are six schoolhouses built wholly or in part of concrete, two modern brick buildings, and one log schoolhouse. One of the brick buildings is in Versailles, the other in Stover. A few of the schoolhouses are old and some are in poor repair. The average age of all the schoolhouses is a little more than twenty-two years. Eight schoolhouses have been built since 1910. One built in 1860 is reported as "old, weather-beaten and patched, and pierced by bullets of the Civil war."
With one or two exceptions, all the rural schoolhouses are heated by stoves. In forty-five of these buildings the stove is in the middle of the room, and in only a few of these are the stoves properly placed and jacketed so as best to distribute the heat. As furnaces and less expensive and generally satisfactory heating systems are introduced in the country, their value is sure to be appreciated, and with the enterprise characteristic of the people, it is safe to predict that within a few years more satisfactory systems of heating than those now in use will be employed in districts that are able to bear the expense.[p.14]
The average size of the school ground is approximately one acre. In twenty-one instances the location of the schoolhouse is in the center of the grounds, rather than at one side, where it would afford more opportunities for an ample playground. In only sixteen districts are the school grounds fully fenced, but in forty-three districts some effort has been made to beautify THC grounds and to make the more-than-half-year home of the boys and girls more attractive. Surely this is worth while, for, as has been stated by Prof. O. J. Kern, "Our boys and girls absorb environment."
There is no school district without some kind of library. It is true that in many instances the start made has been small, yet where the books are properly selected and cared for the effort toward building up a district library has been found well worth while.
Morgan county seems to have made better provisions for good drinking water at the schoolhouses than has been made in a number of other counties. Forty-nine districts report a well or cistern in the schoolyard. Of these eighteen are known to be drilled wells, and it is probable that a very much larger proportion are wells of this kind. In six districts springs are depended upon as a source of water supply. Inasmuch as Morgan county has many springs of clear, cold, pure and sparkling water, especially in the southern part of the county, this source of water supply is probably as good as could be had in the districts referred to. In twenty districts no provision has been [p.15] made for a water supply, but the water is carried from farm houses or from springs located some distance from the schoolhouses. In several districts drinking water for the school is carried from 100 to 400 yards, and in a few, from a quarter to a half mile.
The statement frequently has been made that as a large per cent of the teachers are young men and women (and especially the latter) from towns and cities, they know little or nothing about rural conditions and are not in sympathy with farm life. This does not seem to be true of Morgan county. Of the 87 teachers who state whether they were born in the country or in town, 69 are from the country and only 18 from town. The average salary paid the teachers of the county is $45.98 per month; that of teachers born in town, $46.50. The proportion of women teachers is perhaps somewhat less in Morgan county than in other counties of the state. Information on this question shows 27 men and 61 women engaged in teaching. The salaries of the men average $52.04; those of the women, $43.16. The number of native-born teachers in the county is relatively large, fifty-five teachers stating that they are natives of Morgan county.
The average age of the teachers in Morgan county is 24 years and 6 months. Twenty-eight teachers are under 21 years of age, while but five are over 40 and only two more than 50 years of age. The average salary of those under 21 years of age is $41.51, while the average salary of those over 40 years of age is $46. The average number of terms taught by all the teachers [p.16] is 5.1, while 28 teachers have either had no previous experience or have taught but one term. Of the latter, the average salary is $40.08.
Fifty-two teachers have taught two or more terms, and these receive an average of $50.36. Twenty-one teachers have taught six or more terms, and these are paid an average salary of $55.36. Ten teachers have taught ten or more terms and receive an average salary of $59.52.
The size of the district seems also to have much to do with the salary. Taking the county as a whole, there are 27.4 farms to a district. Ten districts, each having 40 or more farms, pay an average salary of $52.80. In each of five districts the farms number 12 or less, and these pay their teachers an average salary of $35.70. In 33 districts the length of the school term is eight months or more. For the county as a whole, the average school term is 7.4 months.
Practically one-half the teachers in the county have had some normal school training. While this training has in many instances been limited to one or more terms during the summer session, it speaks well for the spirit of the teachers. It is also interesting to note that while the average salary of all the teachers in the county is $45.98, the average pay received by the forty-one teachers having some normal training is $51.04. Apparently the county has an appreciation of the preparation made by the teachers. It seems, also, that there is a greater tendency to retain the teachers who have made good in the district than is the case in most counties. In other words, there is less "rotation" among teachers, the result being that a number of teachers have continued to work in the same district for period of years.
Of the pupils who have recently finished the rural school course and then failed to continue their studies elsewhere then are 294. Those who have completed the rural school course and have continued their studies in some high school number 173.
From the rural districts there have gone to colleges and universities 203 boys and girls. Of these only 106 have returned, the others seeking employment or locating elsewhere. Just how large an influence those who failed to come back to the old home might have had had they chosen to help solve local problems and assisted in local leadership is hard to estimate. In common with practically every other county, Morgan is suffering a loss because of the failure of those who are among the best equipped of its young people to come back home and assist in community upbuilding and betterment. The great need of the average rural community is local leadership, and in this the communities in Morgan county are no exception.
Missouri State Board of Agriculture Monthly Bulletin Vol. XIV, No. 2 (February, 1916): A Rural Survey of Morgan County Missouri. Digital version © 2001 Peter Binkley; permission to reproduce for non-commercial purposes is granted.