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Research Publications of the University of Minnesota
STUDIES IN PUBLIC SCHOOL FINANCE
THE MIDDLE WEST
with a Supplement on
PREFACE In the last analysis a large proportion of the educational difficulties existing in the majority of our states today are financial and are due fundamentally to antiquated systems of school finance. Methods and policies inherited from colonial times are still followed in many of our states, despite the fact that their inevitably disastrous effects have been pointed out again and again by students of school finance. Rapidly growing demands for vastly increased expenditures make reform imperative, but before we can undertake to formulate and adopt new laws and new policies, it is necessary to know those now in force and to discover the effects of the same. Nevertheless, at the present time, such knowledge is exceedingly difficult to obtain. Indeed, there are states in our Union in which not a single official report shows the total expenditures for public schools and in almost no case is there any presentation of the principles upon which the system of finance employed is based.
In school finance as in other fields of human endeavor, procedure, to be sound, must be based upon scientific principles. Such principles in the present case can be formulated only on the basis of a complete and detailed knowledge of systems of school support in a considerable number of individual states. With a view to making such knowledge available the writer began as long ago as 1915 the preparation of a series of studies of the systems of school support employed in certain selected states. Since that time he has completed a considerable number of such studies, and graduate students under his direction have made others.
The studies presented in the following pages constitute Volume III of a series to be published in four volumes by the University of Minnesota, as follows: Volume I. The West: School Finance in California and Colorado; Volume II. The East: School Finance in Massachusetts, New York, and New Jersey; Volume III. The Middle West: School Finance in Illinois, Minnesota, and South Dakota, with a Supplement on School Finance in Alaska. Volume IV. The South: School Finance in Arkansas, Oklahoma, Alabama, and Tennessee.
The three states included in the present volume offer many interesting contrasts to the student of school finance. All three were carved out of the public domain and consequently, upon admission to the Union, received from the Federal government, among other land grants, princely endowments for public schools : Illinois, section 16 in each congressional township; Minnesota and South Dakota, sections 16 and 36.
The management and subsequent history of these school endowments afford an opportunity for comparing important public policies. Illinois from the beginning until now has regarded these school lands as the property of the individual townships. The losses growing out of this decentralized form