Echoes of Oregon History Learning Guide
Committee on Education Report, ca. 1854
Transcript of original document:
The Committee on Education respectfully submit the following report upon the general subject.
Your committee, deeply impressed with the importance of a more widely diffused knowledge of literature and the sciences, would express their regret at the too languishing condition of our Common Schools. Many obstacles lie in the way of speedy progress in this department; and it is to be feared that some of these will be hard to remove. The spareness of the population in the more early settled ru-ral districts, where the "claims" are nearly all held by Sections, renders it difficult to collect together a sufficient number of chil-dren for a school, unless it be in the vicinity of towns. In the more newly settled portions of the Territory, many of the neighborhoods are remote from each other, and the want of suitable buildings, and con veniencies for the accommodation of schools, prevents their establishment in many cases.
But your committee are of the opinion that these impediments will soon be measurably removed by the rapid progress of settlement by natural increase, and annual accessions by emigration. There is evidently a laudable desire on the part of parents and guardians generally, to establish and sustain schools where it is practicable and it is to be hoped that in the revision of our Territorial Code, the laws relating to Education, may be reduced to a practical system, the benefits of which, shall flow out to elevate and bless the rising and future generations of our beloved Oregon.
Lucius W. Phelps, Chairman
When Congress created Oregon Territory in 1849, it gave two sections from each township to the territory to use for public education. In 1850, the territorial legislature established a system of free public schools. An educated population was thought to be essential for the practice of self-government. This committee report details the problems involved in establishing public schools. Chief among them are the sparse population, the distances involved, and the lack of adequate school buildings. The report claims that parents favor establishment of schools and it concludes that the situation will soon improve.
Words and Terms
For Further Discussion
1. What difficulties faced establishment of public education in Oregon?
2. What does the Committee on Education think is the value of public education?
3. Do any of the problems mentioned by the Committee exist today?
4. Why is the Committee on Education optimistic about the future?