During North Carolina's colonial era, the task of educating children was left primarily to the parents. For poor, orphaned, or illegitimate children, the systems of apprenticeship and indentured servitude offered some possibility of a basic education. While there was no great agitation for public schools, the concept of education as a public duty lay dormant. However, successive assemblies in 1749 and 1752 defeated bills calling for the establishment of public schools, and a petition to King George II for permission to erect free schools in each county was rejected by England's Board of Trade. Later when North Carolina sought its independence, there was an attempt to make public education a basic function of the state. Along with its call for one or more universities, the Constitution of 1776 directed that ""a School or Schools shall be established by the Legislature for the convenient Instruction of youth, with such salaries to the Masters paid by the Public."" Despite this constitutional mandate, North Carolina moved slowly in establishing a public school system, and the task of establishing and maintaining schools was assumed primarily by the churches and by enterprising citizens. Instead of funding and administering free schools, the General Assembly of the post-revolutionary era granted charters authorizing private groups and individuals to establish academies, hire teachers, and set tuition rates. By 1800 there were about forty private academies in the state, available almost exclusively to white males from wealthy families. Later, in a significant step toward a system of public education, Governor William Miller appealed to the General Assembly of 1816 to provide financial support to a system of public schools. As a result of Governor Miller's efforts, a legislative study committee was appointed under the leadership of State Senator Archibald D. Murphey. The committee studied the best educational systems in the United States and Europe and proposed a general plan of public instruction for all white children, to be supported by a combination of state and local funds. The state's share was to derive from a fund managed by the state board responsible for the administration of the school system. Though Murphey's plan was neither immediately embraced by the public nor implemented by the General Assembly, it is generally credited with stimulating the enactment of the state's first public school law in the following decade. Part of Murphey's plan was instituted in 1825 when the General Assembly created a Literary Fund for the support of common schools, to be a board constituted as follows: the governor as board president; the state treasurer as fund treasurer; the chief justice of the supreme court; and the speakers of the Senate and House of Commons. The fund was to derive income from state-owned bank stocks; state interests in railroad, navigation, and canal companies; taxes on licenses for dealers of spiritous liquors; all monies paid to the state for entries of vacant lands except for the Cherokee lands; and proceeds accruing from sales of swamp lands owned by the state. The board was authorized to invest any part of the fund in any of the state or federal banks located in North Carolina. Though broadly based, the Literary Fund grew slowly as a result of the legislature's ambivalent attitude toward education, the fund's erosion through poor management, and dishonesty on the part of public officials. Early in 1837 the Literary Fund received an unexpected boost, when North Carolina received its share of surplus federal revenue, totaling almost $1,500,000. In a compromise plan, the General Assembly agreed to use all but $100,000 of that amount to finance the purchase of bank stocks, railroad securities, and the cost of internal improvements, including the draining of swamp lands. Because these investments were assigned to the Literary Fund, it and the cause of public schools received most of the state's share. The following year, the Literary Board, under the leadership of Governor Dudley, submitted a plan for a system of public schools based on Murphey's 1817 proposals. In 1839 the first public school law was enacted, dividing the state into school districts with primary schools in each district. Every county was to vote for or against a school tax; if approved, the county would be eligible to receive from the Literary Fund twice the amount raised by the tax. The law also provided for the appointment of from five to ten ""superintendents"" in each county to oversee the schools--forerunners of the local boards of education. By 1846 every county had one or more public schools. In an era of unparalleled growth, North Carolina's ante-bellum educational system gained positive recognition from other states. Critics of the system, however, saw an obvious defect in the system's lack of any central supervision beyond that exercised by the Literary Board as the executive head. In 1852 the General Assembly created the office of the superintendent of common schools, enabling the local school officials to coordinate their efforts with activities and policies at the state level. The superintendent of common schools was to be elected for a term of two years by the General Assembly. The state treasurer was required to furnish to the superintendent an annual statement of disbursements from the Literary Fund to the county schools. Along with various directives, all laws and policies of the state in relation to the common schools were to be compiled by the superintendent, approved by the Literary Board, and distributed to local school officials. In 1855 the General Assembly reestablished the board as the Board of Literature and declared it a ""body politic and corporate"" under the following name: the ""President and Directors of the Literary Fund of North Carolina."" While the governor continued as the board's president, there were to be three directors, appointed every two years by the governor with the advice of the Council of State. The board was authorized to appoint a secretary. All former properties, stocks, and funds were to remain in trust for the Literary Fund. All monies were to be paid or delivered by the treasurer only by order of the board, and certified by the secretary with the governor's countersignature. Furthermore, the board was vested with full power to order a survey of those state-owned swamp lands that were deemed reclaimable for use and to contract for the construction of canals, ditches, and other works to improve those lands. In separate legislation, the same General Assembly authorized the Board of Literature to appoint an agent to superintend all swamp lands belonging to the Literary Fund, a position which was subject to annual reappointment. During the Civil War years, the public school system deteriorated, and the Literary Fund was virtually wiped out. In 1865 the office of superintendent of common schools was abolished along with the office of treasurer of the Literary Fund. However, the 1866-1867 General Assembly authorized towns to establish tax-supported public school systems, and it provided for local trustees and boards of education. A second law required counties to send all official reports to the Board of Literature, instead of to the superintendent, thus attempting to revive the former centralized system of schools. In 1867 a convention was called to revise the state's constitution in accordance with a congressional reconstruction plan. The resulting Constitution of 1868 declared free education for all children of the state. It also established a State Board of Education composed of: the governor, as president; lieutenant-governor; secretary of state; auditor; treasurer; attorney general; superintendent of public works (a position abolished in 1873); and the newly established elective office of the state superintendent of public instruction, who served as secretary to the board. Like other elected state officials, he was a member of the Council of State. The board was declared the successor to the powers and trusts of the president and directors of the Literary Fund and was authorized to make all rules and regulations for the free public schools and to manage the educational fund. The constitution declared that support of the public school system would derive from taxation and ""ordinary revenue"" of the state, although it authorized the use of funds, such as the Literary Fund, and proceeds from stocks, bonds, land grants, and sales of state-owned swamp lands. It would be thirty-three years, however, before an appropriation of tax money would be made. Under terms of an 1869 act, the constitutional provisions were put into effect and the board was given the following additional duties: to invest public school funds in bonds and securities of the state and federal government; to prescribe courses of study, textbooks, and other instructional materials; and to establish a procedure for examining and appointing teachers. The law designated the state treasurer as the treasurer of the State Board of Education and required the state auditor to keep a separate account of the public school funds. The Constitution of 1868 had also empowered the State Board of Education to elect the trustees of the University of North Carolina, with the university held ""to an inseparable connection with the Free Public School System of the State."" The state board and the president of the university served together as the ex officio members of the university's board of trustees. They also constituted that board's executive committee, along with three other trustees. The constitutional amendment of 1873, however, dissolved the connection between the university and the public schools, and the General Assembly was granted authority to elect the university's trustees. In 1871 the General Assembly revoked the state board's absolute control of the Literary Fund, and required legislative approval for all loans or payments from the fund. However, the General Assembly in 1873 affirmed the state board's authority to invest the fund in United States bonds. Under two separate acts in 1877, the state board was empowered to apportion school funds to the counties and to establish racially separate normal schools for prospective teachers. To improve the preparation and training of teachers, the General Assembly of 1897 authorized the State Board of Education to appoint a Board of Examiners to consist of three professional teachers serving two-year terms, and the state superintendent of public instruction as ex officio chairman. Subsequently, the General Assembly of 1899 directed the Board of Examiners to prepare a course of study for the Negro normal schools of the state. Each normal school was to be visited annually by a board member who would then submit a report to the state board. In 1901 Governor Charles B. Aycock, known as the education governor, instituted a public school program that eventually led to improvements such as more and better-qualified teachers, longer school terms, improved school buildings, and well-selected and uniform textbooks for all schools. The first legislative act of 1901 established a Textbook Commission to consist of the entire membership of the State Board of Education. The law also directed the governor to appoint a sub-commission of no less than five citizens to report to the Textbook Commission with recommendations for an approved list of elementary textbooks. (In 1945 the Textbook Commission merged this sub-commission with a committee, formed in 1919 under the superintendent of public instruction to select high school textbooks. Though somewhat modified in later years, this commission has continued to assist the State Board of Education in selecting textbooks for each grade.) In separate legislation in 1901, the General Assembly appropriated $5,000 for the establishment of school libraries, to be used to match funds raised locally. In 1903, the state board was also affected by legislative changes in the management of public school finances. In 1901, the General Assembly made a direct appropriation of tax funds for operating expenses of the public elementary schools, in the amount of $100,000 for each year of the biennium. This permitted the establishment of four-month school terms in each school district. The old Literary Fund was reorganized in 1903, with $200,000 placed in a permanent account to be known as the State Literary Fund, sometimes called the State Loan Fund. This would be a revolving loan fund to improve the physical plants of existing schools and to finance the construction of new buildings. Another act that year required the county boards of education to report data on local tax funds, enrollment, and daily school attendance to the state superintendent of public instruction who, as secretary of the state board, recorded each county's information. The state board was directed to conduct a full investigation of each local board's financial needs and to determine the amount to be apportioned to each district, including the percentage allowed for building school houses. Until 1908 a public high school education was available only in towns with special tax districts. In that year the General Assembly authorized the establishment of rural high schools, with the almost immediate impact of nearly 160 additional high schools opening in 81 out of the state's 98 counties. However, many of these schools operated for only about four months of the year. In 1913 the General Assembly established the State Equalizing Fund to receive part of an annual statewide ad valorem tax. In order to receive distributions from this fund under the direction of the state board, each county was required to first provide from its own funds enough money for a minimum four-month school term. Subsequently, there was a growing movement to consolidate schools, stemming at least in part from the desire of smaller schools to merge in order to qualify for state funds, as well as to be able to offer a wider range of courses at improved schools. A 1915 act required public high schools to submit applications for approval by both the county board of education and the state board prior to receiving aid. The state board was empowered to determine the amount of state aid to be given to each school. In 1921 and 1923, the General Assembly established a State Equalizing Fund to allow all counties to support a six-month school term. The fund was to be apportioned by the state board on the basis of calculations submitted by the state superintendent. A 1923 act authorized the state board to set aside a portion of the fund to assist counties in paying for the transportation of pupils and to regulate such transportation as necessary. During the early twentieth century, the non-financial functions of the state board also underwent significant change. In 1901 the General Assembly designated the state board as an appeals body, with authority to investigate and review decisions when charges were brought by the state superintendent against county school superintendents. In 1903, in a period when the General Assembly appointed members of county boards of educations, the state board was directed to fill vacancies on county boards. In 1917 the General Assembly replaced the State Board of Examiners with the State Board of Examiners and Institute Conductors, and authorized the governor rather than the State Board of Education to appoint its members. However, the State Board of Education was empowered to set the salaries of members of the examining board and with cause to remove any members it had appointed. In two separate acts, the 1921 General Assembly authorized the state board to create city school districts, and placed certain normal schools under the state board's control, including the Appalachian Training School in Boone and the Cullowhee State Normal and Industrial School. The board was empowered to organize these schools, to establish rules and regulations, to control expenditures, and to select principals, teachers, and members of boards of trustees. Local school officials were increasingly plagued by poor school attendance during a period when a growing school population was subjected to a longer school term. In 1923 the General Assembly affirmed the state board's authority, making it a misdemeanor for a local school authority to fail to enforce the compulsory school attendance law. In a different vein, the state board during the same session was authorized to make rules and regulations governing the establishment of public libraries using state aid. It was further authorized to expend the state’s appropriation for rural libraries, to encourage the establishment of county circulating libraries, and to cooperate with the State Library Commission in providing circulating libraries for the schools. In 1927 the General Assembly established the State Board of Equalization and charged that agency with the State Board of Education's previous duties of approving or disapproving payments from the state equalizing fund and directing the administration of school transportation. The new board was also given major responsibility for investigating, studying, and comparing the tax values in each county and the costs of operating the public schools. In 1930, with the depression exacting a great toll on the economic life of the state, Governor O. Max Gardner commissioned the Brookings Institution of Washington, D.C. to propose ways to increase the state's efficiency and improve its economy. The Brookings' study cited a 1920 report of a State Educational Commission to support its own recommendation that all references to the State Board of Education and the state superintendent be eliminated from the constitution, allowing the legislature to establish the necessary agencies--preferably headed by an appointive, not ex officio body, that would be vested with overall authority for the schools. While the 1931 General Assembly did not address all criticisms of the school system and its administration, it did enact unprecedented legislation known as the School Machinery Act that set the stage for reorganization and change in the administration and financing of the public schools. The act embraced the concept of providing a free and uniform education for all children of the state, doing away with the requirement that schools must provide matching funds in order to receive state funds. This legislation was broadened by the 1933 General Assembly to include extending the school year to eight months along with several other key provisions. The state Board of Equalization was abolished and replaced by a State School Commission composed of the governor as ex officio chairman, the lieutenant governor, the state treasurer, the state superintendent of public instruction, and a member from each congressional district as appointed by the governor. The State Board of Education and the State School Commission were directed to establish a uniform salary schedule for all teachers and principals. However, the State School Commission, rather than the State Board of Education, was given broad authority to expend the school fund, allot teachers, control the transportation of students, and approve various actions of the local school units. The act also designated the county as the basic administrative unit and abolished all special charter school districts. Later in the decade, the 1939 General Assembly enacted an amendment to the School Machinery Act, providing for the administration of a permanent, uniform eight-month school system, but without the levy of an ad valorem tax as had been advocated by some citizens and legislators. During the 1930s the State School Commission performed duties that previously had been assigned to the State Board of Education, although in theory the State Board of Education retained its constitutional mandate for the administration of the public school system. Additionally, the 1937 General Assembly directed the State Board of Education to establish an adult education program and to provide corresponding rules and regulations. However, two years later the General Assembly authorized the continuance of the State School Commission and its powers and duties as granted previously, and further required that county boards of education elect local superintendents subject to the approval both of the commission and of the superintendent of public instruction. In 1941 the General Assembly enacted legislation calling for a constitutional amendment to restructure the State Board of Education. As approved by the electorate in November 1942, the new board was to take office in April 1943 and be comprised of the following: the lieutenant governor, the state treasurer, the state superintendent of public instruction, and a member from each congressional district as appointed by the governor. Appointive members were to serve four-year terms and were subject to confirmation by the General Assembly in a joint session. A majority of these appointments were required to have training and experience in business and finance, with no formal connection with the teaching profession or with any ""educational administration"" of the state. The elective office of state superintendent of public instruction was to continue as secretary of the state board and was charged with supervising the public schools. The board was to elect its own chairman and vice-chairman. Furthermore, ""the general supervision and administration of the free public school system, and of the educational funds provided for the support thereof"" were to be vested in the state board itself. The state board was declared the successor to the powers and duties of the president and directors of the Literary Fund, although it was no longer authorized to invest state funds throughout the state and was to continue to make all necessary rules and regulations and to regulate the grade, salary, and qualifications of teachers. The constitutional amendment also provided for the office of a controller appointed by the state board, subject to the approval of the governor, with the primary duty of supervising and managing the board's fiscal affairs. In a related act in 1943, the General Assembly formally abolished the State School Commission, the State Textbook Commission, the State Board for Vocational Education, and the State Board of Commercial Education and transferred their powers and duties to the State Board of Education. The same legislature amended the School Machinery Act to provide for a nine-month school term. In 1944 voters approved another amendment to the constitution specifying that the eight appointive members of the state board were to come from eight educational districts subject to alteration from time to time by the General Assembly (rather than from the state's congressional districts as required in the 1941 amendment). Previous qualifications for appointive members were deleted, and the successors of the first group of appointive members were to serve terms of eight years, effective April 1945. In 1945 the General Assembly enacted the corresponding legislation to this amendment and further affirmed the board's role as the state's central educational authority. It defined the duties of the superintendent as secretary to the State Board of Education, as well as the controller's duties under the direction of the board. As secretary to the board, the superintendent was charged with the following duties: to organize and administer a Department of Public Instruction in accord with instructional policies established by the board; to inform the board of developments in the field of education; to advise the board of problems and needs within the state; to collect information on the public schools to be used in making reports to the board; to communicate to all school administrators the state board's procedures and policies; and to keep minutes of the board's meetings. Also under the direction of the state board, the controller was given fiscal management responsibilities in the following areas: certifying to each administrative unit its teacher allotment as determined by the state board; and budgeting and auditing all educational funds (including those to maintain statewide a nine-month school term, to rent or purchase textbooks, to make loans to county boards of education for school building and repair purposes, and to maintain vocational education programs and other secondary education programs). Under the direction of the state board, the controller was to maintain a current record of the status of the State Literary Fund, as well as all building funds. The controller was also to act under the supervision of the state board to procure through the Division of Purchase and Contract various school supplies and equipment. These purchases applied also to all replacement school buses, which the controller was responsible for allocating to the various local administrative units. In an additional legislative act in 1945, the state board was authorized to make the final selection of textbooks from a recommended list supplied by a re-created Textbook Commission.