As the new school year starts, I thought it would be fun (admittedly I sometimes have an odd view of fun) to look back at how school districts operated a century ago.


Some of the laws, rules and regulations in the territory that would become the home state of President Barack Obama will seem familiar. School districts had superintendents and education boards with commissioners. Kids were required to go school.

BUT... education boards could have only two women. Parents who didn’t make sure their kids went to school could wind up in jail for two months and children who defied their parents and skipped class could be sent to a “reformatory or industrial” school. Parents who refused to pay for school books would find the cost added to their tax bill. Custody of “idle or dissolute children under 18” could be taken by officials of the government or schools. The age of majority for boys was 20 years old but for girls, 18 years old.

Disobedient children — who do not obey “all the lawful and moral commands of their parents, respecting first, as most obligatory, those of the father, and next those of the mother” — could be sentenced to 10 days of hard labor.

You can read the whole thing here.Here are some excerpts, with spelling and grammar as written in 1911:


1. There shall be an executive department to be known as the department of public instruction, which shall consist of a superintendent of public instruction and six commissioners (Sec. 184, Chap. 17, R. L.).


2. The superintendent of public instruction shall be the chief administrative officer of the department, and shall keep an office at the seat of government. The superintendent of public instruction may be referred to in this chapter as the superintendent (Sec. 185)....


5. The governor, in the manner prescribed in section 80 of the Organic Act, shall appoint six competent persons to act as commissioners....No person in holy orders or a minister of religion shall be eligible as a commissioner. Women shall be eligible to be appointed as commissioners; provided, however, that not more than two shall hold commissions at any one time....


17. For the purpose of supervision and inspection, the department shall appoint an inspector general of schools to hold office during its pleasure; provided, however, that no person in holy orders or a minister of religion, shall be eligible to fill such office. (Sec. 197.) It shall be the special duty of the inspector general of schools to make frequent tours of the respective islands and districts; to examine into the condition of the public schools; to inform school officers and teachers of their several duties; and to foster generally an interest in the cause of education. The inspector general may, in the discretion of the department, have the power of appointment and dismissal of school teachers; the arranging and re-arranging of studies to be pursued; and the prominence to be given to any particular branch of learning; to examine the books, vouchers and accounts of the various schoolagents and local school committees; to hold examinations for the purpose of determining the qualifications of persons desiring to serve as school teachers; to give certificates of approval to those found competent; and to do and perform all other matters and things intrusted to his care by the department....

PRINCIPALS, teachers.

21. All schools shall be presided over by qualified teachers. If there shall be more than one teacher in any public school, one of them shall be designated by the department as principal. (See. 203, Chap, 17.)


22. Any teacher shall have power to administer necessary and reasonable punishment upon any pupils while in attendance at schools, and shall not in any way be held responsible therefor. (Sec. 204.)....


24. All schools established and maintained by the Department in accordance with law are public schools. All other schools established and conducted in compliance with law are private schools. (Sec. 206 as amended by Act 40 S. L. 1907.) ....


28. Every private school shall be subject to the supervision of the department. It shall be the duty of the department to require that teachers of private schools be persons of good moral character; and that the premises of such schools comply with the rules and regulations of the department, as from time to time promulgated with regard to sanitary conditions and hygiene. (Sec. 210.)


30. The attendance of all children from six to seventeen years of age, at either a public or private school, is obligatory, and it shall be incumbent upon all parents, guardians, and others having the responsibility and care of children of such ages, to send them to some such school; provided that when a child has reached the age of twelve years and has not completed the fourth grade of the primary school, he shall be eligible for instruction only in an industrial school or vocational school, provided there is such a school within four miles of his home or suitable transportation to such a school has been provided....


32. If any child of school age shall persist in absenting himself or herself from school, any District magistrate shall upon a proper complaint being made by the School Teacher or any other officer or agent of the Department, cause such child and the father or mother, guardian or other person having the charge of such child, to be summoned to appear before such magistrate, and upon its being proved that the person responsible for the child had not used proper diligence to enforce the child’s regular attendance at school, such responsible party shall be punished by a fine in a sum not less than Five and not exceeding Fifty dollars, or by imprisonment for not more than two months. In case the child shall prove the offending party, the Magistrate shall send him or her to a reformatory or industrial school for a term of not less than six months or more than two years, or otherwise sentence him or her to a fine not exceeding Five Dollars....


38. The department shall furnish all necessary books required for the use of pupils in their respective grades, charging therefor their cost price. All pupils must be supplied by their parents or guardians, or other persons having the custody or care of such pupils, with books requisite for their use. And in case pupils shall not be so supplied, the Department may furnish such books, and require the parents or guardians to make payment therefor. If such payment shall not be promptly made the Department shall notify the tax assessor of the district in which the school is located, who shall enter the amount due as a portion of the tax to be collected of such parents or guardians, and the payment of such amount, together with interest and costs, shall be enforced as in the case of delinquent taxes. In cases of extreme poiverty, the cost of all books may be remitted by the department; provided, that in such cases the use only of such books shall be authorized, and when the pupils shall have finished the use of the same, the books shall be returned to the Department. (Sec. 219.) ....



43. It shall be lawful for the department of public instruction to include agricultural and industrial pursuits among the branches of instruction taught by the public schools of the Territory. (Sec. 224, Chap. 18.) ....


47. All net profits arising from agricultural and industrial pursuits, under this chapter, shall belong to the teachers and pupils actually engaged....


55. The said District Magistrates, Circuit Courts and Circuit Judges, on the representation of any member of the department of public instruction, its agents, the attorney-general or his authorized deputy, the high sheriff or his deputy, or a, sheriff or deputy sheriff, shall have power to hear and determine any case, and to sentence for any term within their minority to some industrial and reformatory school, any child under eighteen years of age, who lives an idle or dissolute life, whose parents are dead, or if living, from drunkenness or other vices or causes, shall neglect to provide suitable employment for, or exercise salutary control over such child. (Sec. 236, amended by Act 150, S. L. 1911.)....


60. It shall be lawful for the department of public instruction, or its agents, if authorized by said department, to bind out as apprentices, with their consent, all children over ten years of age, who shall be committed or surrendered for their minority, and who shall have been admitted at any industrial and reformatory school, to such useful trades, employments, or occupations as shall be suitable to their years and capacity, and as in the judgment of the said department will tend to the future benefit and advantage of such children’. (Sec. 241.)


69. All male persons residing in this Territory who shall have attained the age of twenty years, and all females who shall have attained the age of eighteen years, shall be regarded as of legal age and their period of minority to have ceased. (Sec. 2285, Chap. 148.)...


70. It shall be the duty of all children within the years of legal majority to obey all the lawful and moral commands of their parents, respecting first, as most obligatory, those of the father, and next those of the mother; and if adopted, as by law allowed, the lawful and moral commands of the parents by adoption; and in default of natural or adopted parents, the lawful and moral commands of the guardians appointed according to law; and in case of continued, wilful and obstinate disobedience on the part of a child, it shall be lawful for any district magistrate, upon complaint being made by any parent or guardian, to cause the said child to be arrested and brought before him; and should it appear to the said magistrate that such child is guilty of continued, wilful and obstinate disobedience, he shall sentence the said child to imprisonment at hard labor for a term not exceeding ten days; provided, however, that no child under ten years of age shall be amenable to the provisions of this section. (Sec. 2289.)


72. Any child under fifteen years of age who, except in case of necessity, shall go or remain on any public street or highway after seven o’clock in the evening and before four o’clock in the morning, unaccompanied by an adult person, shall be punished by a fine of not more than five dollars, or bv imprisonment not exceeding ten days at the Reform School.

(Sec. 2291 Amended by Act 34 S. L. 1907.)




[To take effect September 1, 1911.]

(1) The schedules herein contained shall not be considered in the nature of contracts between the teachers and the department. They may be altered or suspended at any time if the department deems it necessary.

(2) Schools shall be classified and salaries fixed each year before the beginning of the regular school year.

They shall be classified as Elementary, High, Normal and Special Schools. These special schools shall include Lahainaluna, boys’ and girls’ industrial schools and any other industrial or agricultural schools that may be established from time to time.

(3) Assistant teachers obtaining normal diplomas will begin at $60.00 per month, and receive their maximum salary after seven years of actual service.

Teachers having completed the two years collegiate course in the normal school shall begin at $65.00 per month, receiving the maximum salary after five years of actual service.

(4) Teachers shall be designated as Supervising Principals, Principals, Vice-Principals, Assistants and Special Teachers....


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