When the law authorizing the state normal schools was enacted, in 1857, it was believed that institutions for training teachers would be financially successful under private control. Within a few years, however, the legislature began to make lump-sum grants to such schools as were already in operation, and to others as they were opened and recognized by the state superintendent. This policy was adhered to until 1913, when provision was made by the General Assembly to buy out the stockholders of the various corporations controlling the thirteen institutions then in existence.

The princpal reasons for this change in the state's policy were as follows: In the first place, the state, by 1913, had become the owner of the largest equity in the property of the schools, but was represented by only one-half of the membership of each of the boards of trustees. Secondly, the fact that these schools were privately owned by corporations ostensibly organized for pecuniary gain, made appropriations to them objectionable to many people. Thirdly, the fact that the representatives of the stockholders practically controlled the boards of trustees placed many difficulties in the way of developing the institutions so as to render the maximum service to the state system of common schools. Fourthly, the absorption of the normal schools was a logical step in the consolidation of the school system, which has been a marked feature of Pennsylvania's recent educational history. Finally, no satisfactory method of distributing the state appropriation had been discovered, and because of political conditions none seemed likely to be found in the near future.

125 The following data concerning the state aided high schools were given by State Superintendent Schaeffer in 1910:

Year

No. of

Year

No. of

No. of

 

Township

 

Township

Borough

 

High Schools

 

High Schools

High Schools

 

Aided

 

Aided

Aided

1902

66

1907

303

 

1903

1241

1908

311

411

1904

164

1909

341

474

1905

197

1910

3322

5082

1906

235

     

1 Note that this figure does not agree with that given by the Report of 1903, p. viii. 2"Estimated."

Among these five reasons for discarding private ownership and operation with state aid, the first and last are easily the most interesting to the student of public finance. The history of the growth of the state appropriation and the failure of the legislature to distribute it so as to secure the largest gain for the public are illustrative of the difficulties in the way of a successful subvention to private institutions.

The appropriation made directly to the normal schools was usually designated, or at least intended, to be used to pay off the existing indebtedness of the corporation, or to aid it in erecting buildings. *128 The amount paid to each school from the date of its organization to 1898 is shown in the following table:

128 This appropriation should not be confused with the appropriation made to students in these schools.

The Amount Of Direct And Special State Appropriations That Each Normal School Received From The Date Of Its Organization To 6 June, 1898 *1

   

Date of

Amount received

District

Location

recognition

from the state

First

West Chester

1871

$ 212,500

Second

Millersville

1859

262,500

Third

Kutztown

1866

220,000

Fourth

"Wast Stroudsburg

1893

72,500

Fifth

Mansfield

1862

287,500

Sixth

Bloomsburg

1869

282,500

Seventh

Shippensburg

1873

264,500

Eighth

Lock Haven

1877

314,000

Ninth

Indiana

1875

235,500

Tenth

California

1874

214,500

Eleventh

Slippery Rock

1889

192,500

Twelfth

Edinboro

1861

200,000

Thirteenth

Clarion

1887

>

192,500

Total____________________________________________________$2,951,000

1 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1898), p. xxiv.

When we consider that in a majority of cases these appropriations were scattered over a period of thirty-five years, and that the total for all schools amounted to less than $3,000,000, it cannot be said that the state has been lavish in its appropriation policy. In fact, if the grants to these institutions are compared with the amount of aid given to privately owned charitable institutions, they seem small indeed. *129

129 See Chapter IX.