Emma F. Bates and J. M. Devine: Superintendents of Public Instruction
A collection of quotes from Emma F. Bates's Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for 1896.
One of the first Progressive Superintendents of Public Instruction was Emma F. Bates. In 1896, she began her report with three citations from the Constitution of the State of North Dakota: 147, 149, 151. These sections espoused an increasingly high regard for the importance of education, the entitlement of the public – rich or poor – to quality, uniform education, and the inherent moral principle of education.
Further into the report, Emma F. Bates, echoed the constitutional sections and highlighted the merits of education and its innate goodness and positive influences on society. Because of these merits, she insisted that though the state should be fiscally responsible in its funding it should support education to the greatest possible extent. To neglect education in the present would only lead to a poor future for the next generations.
Bates's Progressive ideology is further apparent in her criticisms, as she rebuked the process of electing County Superintendents through the general election, a process which only served to incorporate this important office into the “partisan political machinery.”
Perhaps most reflective of Progressive ideology, however, was the enthusiasm and energy that Emma F. Bates who was devoted to the improvement of educational standards in North Dakota. This particular report spans nearly four hundred pages, discussing all facets of the public education system.
An emphasis on educational reform continued strongly into the early 1900s. In 1901, the Superintendent of Public Instruction, J. M. Devine, commented proudly on the progress North Dakota had made in the affairs of public education. He cautioned, however, that though much of the necessary legislature was in place, it still must be properly enforced to truly see the results of the endeavor.