The first school in what has become Texas was established by Stephen F. Austin in San Felipe in 1824.

Austin proposed that a “A study seminar be established in San Felipe and it endowed the proposal with six leagues of land”. He hoped for a brick building.

An educator by the name of TJ Pilgrim was employed to “Establish a permanent school in San Felipe and raise sufficient funds for a brick school building that can accommodate around 100 students”.

Continuing unrest between Texas and Mexico has diverted Austin’s attention to his project “seminar”’Pilgrim’s school did not become a brick building but a rudimentary log cabin that would house only 40 students, mostly boys.

A book, Education in Austin County, pre-1885 era, published by the Austin County Historical Commission in 1997, describes the early educational history of Stephen F. Austin’s namesake county and early Texas. The book chronicles the decades it took to permanently establish a public school system.

Teacher Pilgrim, along with Isaac Pennington, the Kenney family, and dozens of other Texas early teachers, found these early schools hampered by harsh living conditions and generally low regard for public education. Schools have been slow to develop in Austin’s own colony as well as new communities in Texas.

The book details that “Texas, in declaring its independence from Mexico in 1836, accused Mexico of neglect in providing educational opportunities for the children of the settlers. Mexico retaliated, saying the accusation was unfair and unfair because they (Mexico) had expressed their willingness to establish an education system by providing public land and other financial resources for school purposes to a poor population. and poor.“They continued that,”for settlers who wanted and could afford a private education schools provided the answer; others would remain uneducated.

The First Congress of the Republic of Texas “made no mention of public schools.“Throughout the Republic, private schools have sprung up, most of them lasting only a few weeks or months. It would be the President of the 2nd Republic Mirabeau Lamar who focused on schooling. Education Legislation of 1839 and 1840 provided for large tracts of land for the development of schools. Besides the land declaration, adequate funding for the construction of schools on the land was lacking.

Again, he was left with the attempt to create private schools for the education of young Texans. Many communities have turned to their religious buildings as classrooms during the weekdays. It was complicated by the search for poorly paid teachers. These teachers generally found the boarding school at the parents’ homes.

In the aftermath of the Civil War, the State Constitution of 1869 created a “highly centralized school system funded by a high tax program that came at a time when the state and counties were beginning to recover. ordeals of war ”. This plan was not replaced by the school law of 1873.

Again, the School Act of 1873 was repealed. A law on public schools passed in 1876 stated that “Cities incorporated by majority taxpayer vote could take sole control of their schools and also levy a tax in support of them, and caused many cities to incorporate for school purposes only. “

The practice of incorporating (cities) for school purposes to gain additional income (for schools) has become popular. This practice of providing tax revenue has evolved into the public school system of today.

Written by Betty Dunn, Two Rivers Heritage Foundation. See www.tworiversheritagefoundation.org for more information and membership.


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