The Encyclopedia Americana (1920)/Education, United States Bureau of

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EDUCATION, United States Bureau of, a bureau under the Department of the Interior since 1868, whose chief activities are given to the collecting and dissemination of educational information. It was originally created a department by act of Congress 2 March 1867. But the opposition of the States was so pronounced against the interference of Congress in educational matters that the newly-created department was reduced to a bureau the following year and its province limited almost altogether to the encouragement of education through the collection and dissemination of educational information. The work of the bureau naturally fell far short of that done by the Department of Education in countries where such bodies are given the direction of educational matters for the whole nation. In 1864 efforts were made by teachers and others interested in the advancement of education for the establishment of a Bureau of Education. But owing to the attitude of Congress and the various State legislatures, which were unanimous in their agreement to leave all educational matters in the hands of the State officials, the Bureau of Education was not taken very seriously by the United States government and its efficiency was hampered by a lack of funds and of freedom of action. The bureau began to make its efforts more concrete and effective by the issuance of ‘Annual Reports.’ In 1870 a series of ‘Circulars of Information,’ dealing for the most part with the, history of educational progress in the various States of the Union, more especially from 1888 to 1903, indicated increased activities. A step in advance was made in 1906 by the institution of the ‘Bulletins’ dealing with a wider variety of interesting educational subjects. In 1910 the bureau broadened the scope of its work still more by the publication of ‘Circulars of Information’ containing digests of current legislation and interesting accounts of new educational features of city and State school systems. The work of the bureau is divided among six sub-departments or administrative divisions and its activities cover higher education, school administration, rural schools, vocational education, kindergartens, home education, immigrant education, civics, education of racial groups, home and school gardening, commercial education, school hygiene, community organization and foreign educational systems. The necessities of the European War increased the activities of the bureau and broadened its field of action. At the close of the fiscal year 1916-17 the staff of the bureau consisted of 76 regular employees in Washington, five in Seattle and 118 special collaborators. The office force included at this date a commissioner of education, chief clerk, specialist in higher education, editor, statistician, specialist in charge of land-grant college statistics, two translators, collector and compiler of statistics, specialist in foreign educational systems and another in educational systems. The Congressional appropriation made to the bureau for the year 1916-17 was $405,500 and for the following fiscal year $431,600, a sum inadequate for the proper extension of its work.

The Annual Report of the Commissioner of Education is issued in two parts. Part one consists of “a comprehensive, interpretative review of the more important phases of the progress of education m the United States and an other countries”; while part two is a statistical summary of the schools and other educational agencies of the United States.

Under the control of the United States Bureau of Education, through its commissioner, is the administration of the schools for natives in Alaska, to the maintenance of which goes more than half the appropriation received by the bureau.

During the fiscal year 1916-17 the bureau collected statistics from 48 States, and 1,241 city school systems, S74 universities and colleges, 530 professional schools, 1,322 training schools for nurses, 278 normal schools, 734 summer schools, 12,003 public high schools, 2,203 private high schools and academies, 912 commercial schools, 397 schools for negroes, 121 State industrial schools and reformatories, 61 institutions for the blind, 159 schools for the deaf and 178 schools for the feeble-minded.

The library of the Bureau of Education claims to be the most extensive library in the United States, devoted exclusively to education. It contained in 1917 about 150,000 volumes and pamphlets; and these were being added to yearly to the extent of 15,000 or more. Consult Report of the Commissioner of Education (Washington, published annually).

John H. Cornyn,
Editorial Staff of the The Americana.