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Increasingly, the state's child labor laws supported compulsory school attendance by raising the minimum age at which a child could begin to work.The legislature began to fund public elementary schools for African Americans in 1910 and established the Division of Negro Education in 1921 to oversee the education of black children in many rural schools.The new governor soon formed the Central Campaign Committee for the Promotion of Public Education, which began operations in 1902 from its headquarters in the office of Superintendent of Public Instruction James Y. The committee's stated purpose was to advance public education through all possible legal means, such as campaigning for local school taxes, consolidation of school districts, better school buildings and equipment, longer school terms, and better-trained and higher-paid teachers.Also in 1901, the General Assembly under Aycock's leadership directly appropriated tax funds for public schools for the first time in the state's history.As civil rights advocate and author Pauli Murray describes in her autobiography, (1956), the North Carolina educational system during the early decades of the twentieth century was focused almost exclusively on the progress of whites, with little regard for black success.Growing up in Durham in a mixed-race family, Murray experienced not only the pain of segregation and the squalor of black facilities but also the pride and determination of many black teachers and students.
The Compulsory Attendance Act required that all children, both black and white, between the ages of 8 and 12 attend school continuously for four months a year, allowing reasonable exemptions and providing reasonable penalties and adequate but inexpensive machinery for its enforcement.Since then, bills have merged or sought to merge 7 of 14 districts that report focused on, as well as others.Districts merged earlier include: Drew, Indianola and Sunflower County; Benoit, Shaw and West Bolivar; Mound Bayou and North Bolivar; Clay County and West Point; and Starkville and Oktibbeha County. Lydia Chassaniol, R-Winona, said she favored merging Winona, Carroll County and Montgomery County because she believes a combined district would be able to build one large high school in Winona, improving offerings.The committee also voted to merge the Durant and Holmes County school districts; the Houston, Chickasaw County and Okolona school districts; and the Carroll County, Montgomery County and Winona school districts.All the combined districts would have elected school boards and appointed superintendents.
She said just merging Montgomery County and Winona wouldn't increase the size of the district enough because Montgomery County has only 273 students.