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North Carolina. Dept. of Public Instruction and C. H. Mebane (Charles Harden), 1862-1926
Biennial Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction of North Carolina, for the Scholastic Years 1898-'99 and 1899-1900
Raleigh: Edwards & Broughton, and E.M. Uzzell, State Printers., 1900.


The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction's Biennial Report for 1898-1900, written by state superintendent Charles H. Mebane to governor Daniel L. Russell, begins with an explanation of the deficiencies in public education across the state. Mebane recommends a variety of institutional and procedural changes, including better teachers; an improved system of consolidation, accrual, and disbursement of funds; and compulsory education. The remainder of this extensive document provides specific data relating to funding, staffing, and resources in public instruction throughout North Carolina.

The report includes proceedings and transcripts from the Second Annual Meeting of Supervisors (superintendents of county schools). In addition, Mebane presents student enrollment and attendance statistics; teacher certification and salary statistics; an 1899 report from a summer school for African Americans; and pertinent official letters to and from principals and county superintendents. Mebane also lists statistics and includes letters from other states regarding textbook policies and school funding options. Of particular interest are reprints of North Carolina Supreme Court decisions, such as the rulings that race-based taxation for schools is unconstitutional and that funds from criminal fines should be allocated to schools without exception.

Mebane also lists private institutions in the state and reprints letters addressing the status of North Carolina's African American schools. One section of the report is authored by Dr. Kemp P. Battle and includes brief biographical sketches of the presidents of the University of North Carolina, a list of closed schools, and a list of outstanding educators before 1850. Though there is no table of contents, a brief topical index at the end of the work is helpful for locating information within the document.

Monique Prince

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