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A SERIES OF MONOGRAPHS
PREPARED FOR THE UNITED STATES EXHlBlT AT THE
NICHOLAS MURRAY BUTLER
Professor of Philosophy and Education in Columbia University
Spontaneity is the keynote of education in the United States. Its varied form, its uneven progress, its lack of symmetry, its practical effectiveness, are all due to the fact that it has sprung, unbidden and unforced, from the needs and aspirations of the people. Local preference and individual initiative have been ruling forces. \Vhat men have wished for that they have done. They have not waited for state assistance or for state control. As a result, there is, in the European sense, no American system of education. There is no national educational administrative machinery and no national legislative authority over education in the several states. The bureau of education at Washington was not established until 1867, and save in one or two minor respects, its functions are wholly advisory. It is absolutely dependent upon the good will of the educational. officials of the states, counties and municipalities and upon that of the administrative officers of privately-conducted institutions, for the admirable and authoritative statistics which it collects and publishes year by year. That these statistics are so complete and so accurate is evidence that the moral influence and authority of the bureau of education are very great, and that it commands a co-operation as cordial as it is universal.
But the national government has, from the very beginning, made enormous grants of land and money in aid of education in the several states. The portion of the public domain hitherto set apart by congress for the endowment of public education amounts to 86,138,473 acres, or 134,591 English square miles. This is an area larger than that of the six New England states, New York, New Jersey, Maryland and Delaware added together. It is a portion of the earth’s surface as great as the kingdom of Prussia, about seven
National government and education