Texas A&M University–Kingsville, part of Texas A&M University System. Photo by Robert Plocheck.


Beginnings of University of Texas and Texas A&M University

The two major university systems in Texas had slow and shaky beginnings.

The Congress of the Republic of Texas, on Jan. 14, 1839, provided for the selection of a site for the seat of government, to be named Austin. Included in the legislation were provisions for sites for a capitol, an arsenal, a magazine, an academy, churches, a common school, a hospital, a penitentiary and “all other necessary public buildings and purposes.”

A 40-acre site named College Hill was also set aside for a university, but no plans for construction were made at the time. Congress also set aside 50 square leagues of land, approximately 221,420 acres, to endow two universities. . . .

A Brief History of Public Education in Texas

Public education was one of the primary goals of the early settlers of Texas, who listed the failure to provide education as one of their grievances in the Texas Declaration of Independence from Mexico.

As early as 1838, President Mirabeau B. Lamar’s message to the Republic of Texas Congress advocated setting aside public domain for public schools. His interest caused him to be called the “Father of Education in Texas.” In 1839 Congress designated three leagues of land to support public schools for each Texas county and 50 leagues for a state university. In 1840 each county was allocated one more league of land. . . .

Recent Changes in Public Schools

Academic achievement was set [in 1984] as a priority in public education with stricter attendance rules; adoption of a no-pass, no-play rule prohibiting students who were failing courses from participating in sports and other extracurricular activities for a six-week period; and national norm-referenced testing throughout all grades to assure parents of individual schools’ performance through a common frame of reference.

No-pass, no-play now requires only a three-week suspension for a failing course grade, during which time the student can continue to practice, but not participate in competition. . . .