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normal school was opened with Miss Lucilla E. Smith as principal, which has done an excellent work in training teachers for the city and District schools. The present high school was organized in 1882. Meantime a system of common schools for the colored children of the city had been organized. There were schools for the education of the children of free colored persons in the District before the war. Mr. George F. Y. Cook, the present superintendent of colored schools, estimates that in 1859 1,200 colored children were being educated in the private schools of Washington and Georgetown. But in 1862 the abolition of slavery in the District of Columbia, with the great number of contrabands arriving from the seceded States, added largely to the list of those demanding to be taught, and the first free school for colored children was organized under the auspices of the American Tract Society. This first school was opened in the buildings known as Duff Green's Row, north of the Capitol grounds. A month later a second was opened as a night-school, in the basement of the Union A. M. E. Church, on M Street North, which, in a few months, became a day-school also. During the autumn of 1863, and the first few months of 1864, five more similar schools were established by the Freedmen's Relief Association of the District of Columbia. In response to appeals various religious and benevolent societies and char. itable individuals at the North forwarded such pecuniary aid that the managers were able to report in the spring of 1864, II schools with 21 teachers and 1,000 pupils; in 1864-5, 27 schools with 61 teachers and 1,000 pupils; in 1865-6, 40 schools with 72 teachers and 3,930 pupils; in 1866–7, 55 schools with 75 teachers and 3,427 pupils; in 1867–8, 21 schools with 21 teachers and 1,200 pupils. After 1867-8, all the societies except one, withdrew their aid, and the existence of the schools as charitable institutions practically ceased. They were, however, soon merged in the public schools. During their existence $150,000 had been contributed for their support, and hundreds of devoted men and women had given their services as instructors.
In this same year, 1867–8, there were in the cities of Washington and Georgetown 41 public schools for colored children, with 41 teachers and 2,300 scholars, which had grown up under a law of Congress, enacted May 21, 1862, which provided that ten per cent. of the taxes collected in the two cities from people of color should be set apart for the purpose of initiating a system of primary schools for the education of colored children. This act was amended by another which passed Congress in June, 1864, providing that such a proportion of the entire school fund of the two cities should be set apart for colored schools, as the whole number of colored children of school age bore to the whole number of children in the two cities, thus putting them on the same footing with the whites. In 1874-5 the colored schools had grown under this provision to 75, with 89 teachers and 5,489 scholars, and in 1886-7, to 168 schools and 176 teachers and 10,345 scholars.
With this historical summary of the public school system of Washington, it will be interesting to make a brief inquiry as to its present status and personnel. This is believed to be equal to that of any city of the Union. Washington City (and County) has now 568 schools, in which 33,418 children, white and colored, are enrolled, under the care of 614 teachers. The system comprises, first, a normal school, for the education of teachers; second, a high school; third, grammar schools, of four grades, from the eighth to the fifth, inclusive; and fourth, primary schools, of four grades, from the fourth to the first. The normal school has 5 instructors and 40 pupils, and is largely recruited from the high school graduates. The high school has 827 pupils and 29 instructors. Of the grammar schools there are 150 in the city, and of primary schools 194. For convenience in supervising, the entire territory is divided into six districts, called divisions, each division being in charge of a supervising Principal, and the whole under the direction of a Superintendent of Public Schools. The colored schools have their own superintendent, their normal school with 20 pupils, a high school with 276 students, and grammar and primary schools organized in the same manner as the white schools.
During the school year ending June 30, 1887, manual training was introduced, and has become a marked feature of the system. In 1887, Congress appropriated $5,000 for this work, which was supplementary to a small appropriation made as an experiment the preceding year. With this, schools of woodwork have been established in several localities for boys of the seventh and eighth grades, and cooking-schools for the instruction of girls of the same standing; and in the high-school building a school of metal-working, including iron and steelforging, molding, and turning, is in successful operation at the present writing—November, 1888. All
girls of the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades receive instruction in sewing, 1,300 girls of the seventh and eighth grades in cooking, 1,800 boys of the seventh and eighth grades in woodwork, and 125 boys of the high school in ironwork.
Six night-schools—three white and three colored -form a part of the system. In school accommodations the city is sadly deficient. For the 400 schools under Superintendent Powell, there are but 331 rooms, and 55 of these are pronounced to be dark, small, and inconvenient, without proper means of ventilation, and entirely unfit for school purposes. In the colored schools the rooms are equally inadequate. This is due partly to the rapid growth of the city, but largely to the culpable negligence or refusal of Congress to pass the necessary appropriation bills. Some of the school buildings erected in recent years are models of their class. Jefferson, on Sixth and D Streets Southwest, has 24 rooms, and desks for 1,200 pupils. Franklin, on the corner of Thirteenth and K Streets Northwest, cost $225,000, and took the prize as a model school-building at the Vienna Exposition. The Sumner (colored), corner of Seventeenth and M Streets Northwest, was erected at a cost of seventy thousand dollars. At its session of 1887 Congress provided for seven new buildings, four of which were filled by the increase in population during that year. And at its session of 1888 it provided for the erection of eleven additional school-buildings, all of which are models of convenience and in their provisions for light and ventilation.