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Minco worked for free education
Saturday, 08.13.2011, 06:41pm (GMT-5)

By Cassie Cranshaw

Contributing Writer

This week students will return to school in Minco. Parents will spend money on new school clothes and supplies. Yet, the cost of the education that children receive is free and open to everyone in the district.

Free public education has not always been a reality to everyone in Minco.

It took many years from a committed community to make free public education possible.

In 1890 Miss Meta Chestnut opened a school known as “Sunny South” because it was housed inside of Sunny South Christian Church. At the time in Oklahoma it was very common for schools to be housed in tents, dugouts, churches and homes. This school later turned into El Meta Christian College.

While it includes college in the title, it also offered education to students in elementary through high school. It was primarily a boarding school for Indians.

Incidentally, others living in town could send their children to El Meta if they paid tuition.

It did not take long before the people of Minco Indian Territory wanted a school of their own.

On July 14, 1893 the town held a meeting to elect trustees to start a school. Trustees were given the authority to hire a teacher, set tuition rates and make other necessary arrangements for the function of the school. Now that Minco Indian Territory had its own school, the population still faced problems when it came to tuition rates.

The government offered assistance to the Indian population, but all others were on their own. Another encumbrance faced by the townspeople was that of the harvest.

Many farmers felt if their children were old enough and big enough to attend school, they were also capable of helping with the harvest. As a result attendance was scattered and school performance was inadequate at best, leaving many illiterate.

To address the tuition problem in 1899 citizens created Minco Academy with the goal of one day being able to offer free public education.

Minco Academy was a stock company school in which citizens who purchased a share of the school became shareholders to cover operating costs.

Grade school teachers made $15 a month while a high school teacher made $20 a month.

Minco Academy was lodged in a two-room frame building on the current school site.

As time passed, the shareholders felt that progress toward a free public school was not being made fast enough. In 1902, an election asking Minco voters if they wanted free public education. Overwhelmingly, the town agreed that they wanted this for the children of Minco.

Oklahoma had not yet achieved statehood, and Minco Indian Territory was not able to support a school on its own, so the shareholders agreed to make Minco Academy a subscription school until a free public school could be provided. Subscription schools were funded by a monthly tuition paid by parents of pupils. The money went directly to the teacher who was then expected to find a location to meet, pay rent and oversee other tasks associated with the school.

Finally, on October 5, 1903, the first day of free public school was held in Minco Indian Territory, and by the spring of 1907 Minco Academy held its first public high school graduation. Just a few months later, Oklahoma achieved statehood; it brought with it additional changes to Minco Academy.

The first official school board was formed; land was purchased for a new school building, and the school would carry a new name: Minco Public Schools.

The problem with sporadic attendance was addressed by a state law that made it illegal for students to miss school to work the fields. If they did, parents were fined $50 for each offense.

As students head out to school, parents can reflect on the fact while the clothes and supplies cost money, the tuition at Minco Public Schools is free.


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