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The Kansas State College of Agriculture and Applied Science was established at Manhattan as the Kansas State Agricultural College. Under the terms of the Morrill Act, approved by President Lincoln in 1862, Kansas was granted 90,000 acres of land for the founding of an institution "related to agricultural and mechanical arts." The institution opened its doors as a Federal land grant college in 1863.

The State school for the blind, at Kansas City, the State school for the deaf, at Olathe, and the Emporia State Teachers' College, at Emporia, were established by legislative action in the 1860's. A compulsory education law, for children between the ages of eight and fourteen, was passed in 1874. As part of the prohibition movement, provision was made in 1885 for courses in hygiene, "to be taught with special reference to the effects of alcoholic and narcotic stimulants."

Up to this time Kansas had followed the example of eastern States in school legislation, but in the 1880's the State legislature took an independent step by providing for a Statewide system of county high schools in counties of more than 5,000 population. The first was built at Chapman in 1889. Within a few years legislatures in almost every State in the Union had enacted similar bills.

In the late 1890's Kansas took the initiative by adding manual training courses to the Pittsburg public school curriculum. By the end of the century, courses in sewing, cooking, and woodworking had been introduced into the better-equipped schools in towns throughout the State. The Pittsburg State Teachers' College, established by a legislative act of 1903, pioneered in preparing manual training teachers. In the previous year the legislature also founded Fort Hays State College, which occupies a portion of the land once included in the old Fort Hays Military Reservation.

With the turn of the century, enrollment soared and the construction of school buildings boomed. The new and larger plants contained auditoriums, gymnasiums, theaters, swimming pools, and libraries. Vocational agriculture and home economics appeared in their curricula as a result of the Smith-Hughes Act of 1917, providing Federal support for vocational education. The so called practical subjects stenography, bookkeeping, and business correspondence were stressed. The number of school districts multiplied with the organization of new counties until more than 9,000 of them were spread over the State.

There has been a gradual trend toward centralization of education and consolidation of schools. A State school commission was created in 1913, and in 1916 state educational, charitable, and penal institutions were brought together under a single board of administration. Nine years later (1925) all higher education institutions were put under the control of a board of regents, composed of nine members appointed by the Governor, and serving without remuneration. Consolidation of rural schools, though expedient, has not proceeded rapidly. Failure to consolidate, according to a report of the Kansas State Planning Board (Rural Schools m Kansas: March 1935) is due to the fact that "the rural school serves not only educational needs, but acts as a political and social center for the community and has a strong hold on the sentiments of the people." There are approximately 8,600 school districts, spread over the State with little regard for wealth or number of pupils, and each still possesses the individual powers designated by the Third Territorial legislature. More than 3,000 districts have a taxable value of less than $150,000, and in 1,000 districts, schools average less than six pupils.