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REPORT OF THE COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
Washington, D. C., March 15, 1868. At the close of the first year since he received from the President · of the United States authority to organize and administer the affairs of this Department, the Commissioner of Education has the honor to submit his first or preliminary Report, "embodying the results of his investigations and labors, together with a statement of such facts and recommendations, as will in his judgment subserve the purpose for which this Department is established "-as is provided for in the
. following Act, approved March 2, 1867.
AN ACT TO ESTABLISH A DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America, in Congress assembled, That there shall be established, at the city of Washington, a Department of Education, for the purpose of collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That there shall be appointed by the Pres. ident, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a Commissioner of Education, who shall be intrusted with the management of the Department herein established, and who shall receive a salary of four thousand dollars per annum, and who shall have authority to appoint one chief clerk of his depart. ment, who shall receive a salary of two thousand dollars per annum, one clerk who shall receive a salary of eighteen hundred dollars per annum, and one clerk who shall receive a salary of sixteen hundred dollars per annum, which said clerks shall be subject to the appointing and removing power of the Commissioner of Education.
Sec. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Education to present annually to Congress a report embodying the results of his investigations and labors, together with a statement of such facts and recommendations as will, in his judgment, subserve the purpose for which this Department is established. In the first Report made by the Commissioner of Education under this Act, there shall be presented a statement of the several grants of land made by Congress to promote education, and the manner in which these several trusts have been managed, the amount of funds arising therefrom, and the annual proceeds of the same, as far as the same can be determined.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Commissioner of Public Buildings is hereby authorized and directed to furnish proper offices for the use of the Department, herein established.
Approved, March 2, 1867.
and other friends of education who had taken an active interest in the establishment of the Department, so far as they could be reached by letters, or call, within the first month, a general plan of operations was formed, the rooms furnished by the Commissioner of Public Buildings were occupied, the three clerks provided for were appointed, and about the middle of April the special work assigned to the Department was begun.
The general and special work of this Department, as defined in the Act of March 2, 1867, are,
First.—“To collect such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories"-and
Second.—“To diffuse such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country."
Third.-Besides giving his attention to these general subjects, the Commissioner is directed to present in his first report to Congress, “a statement of the several grants of land made by Congress to promote education, the manner in which these several trusts have been managed, the amount of funds arising therefrom, and the annual proceeds of the same, as far as the same can be determined.”
Fourth.—By a Joint Resolution, approved March 29, 1867, the Commissioner is further directed to ascertain the condition of the public schools in the District of Columbia, and submit a Report on the relative efficiency of the system now in force, and on such additional legislation as he may deem necessary to secure the advantages of said system to all the children of the District.
The magnitude and delicacy of the work assigned to this Department both in the general and the specific provisions above recited, are such as to compel the Commissioner to invoke in advance a charitable judgment on any apparent deficiency in his plans, or in any delay in reaching, or in making public the results of his first year's labors. None save those who have had personal experience in this field of labor can appreciate fully the difficulty of obtaining complete statistics, or even general information, of the organization and operation of systems and institutions, located in forty-six different States and Territories occupying half of the American Continent-these systems, where they do exist, differing from each other in organization, management, and returns; and these institutions, whether in or out of the general system of the State,
differing from each other in all the great centres of population. This difficulty of obtaining precise and uniform statistics, not inconsiderable even where there is legal authority for requiring the information, and forfeiture of some kind, or pecuniary advantage is attached to withholding or giving the same, becomes almost insuperable, when, as with this Department, there is no organic connection with systems or institutions in the several States; no authority to require, no pecuniary advantage for furnishing, no forfeiture for declining or neglecting to furnish the information sought, and no means to supply the deficiency of written returns by personal inspection. If a comprehensive and exhaustive inquiry, on some general plan, was instituted every year in each State, into its educational condition and progress, including institutions of every kind and grade, a compilation and comparative view of the results would be very easy and satisfactory; and it is hoped that one of the results of the labors and publications of this Department, and of the annual Conferences of State and City Superintendents already inaugurated, will be the adoption of some uniform plan of gathering annually the statistics of schools of every kind, both in States, and in all large cities. At the present time, there are no two States or cities, in which the statistical returns as published, include the same particulars, or between which a rigid comparison as to schools can be instituted; in more than one half of the States the returns are so incomplete as to institutions, or omit so many vital points in the condition of the schools returned, as to be worthless, as indications of the real work attempted, or done, in individual schools, or by all the schools of the State; in nearly all of the States, no attempt is made to secure inspection or returns of private, denominational, or incorporated institutions; in nearly one half of the States no efficient system of public schools is in operation, and no sufficient number of good private or denominational schools exists; and of those which have a precarious existence, not even their locality, or the name of the teachers and the number of pupils are known to any public officer; and with a single exception, no efficient measures are enforced by State or municipal regulations as to the non-attendance of children at some school, public or private, to stop the growth of absolute illiteracy, or diminish, by evening and adult schools, the still larger amount of practical ignorance of letters and books, which abounds, even in States where the most attention is paid to education. It is only when a searching inquiry is instituted by the National Census, or under State or municipal authority in the same form, or by societies and individuals in restricted portions of large cities, for some ecclesiastical purpose, or the antecedents of the victims of vice, pauperism, and crime, are investigated, that the amazing deficiencies in our systems, means, and methods of universal education appear. The startling and humiliating statistics of the National Census of 1840, 1850, and 1860, as to the number of the white adult population unable to read and write, in certain States, and for the whole country, will be found in Official Circular, No. XIII.
In the present condition of the educational statistics of each State, and in the full occupation of the clerical force at his command in other directions hereinafter set forth, the Commissioner has not attempted, beyond the statistics of public schools in the principal cities of the country, in reference to the practical efficiency of the systems in operation in the District of Columbia, to exhibit by any statistical summary, the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories. If he has been reasonably successful in indicating the method by which a national agency, like this Department, can obtain a record of the educational systems and institutions of the several States, and put himself into communication with their managers and teachers—can throw light on the deficiencies as well as excellencies of our systems, and impart greater activity to all the agencies which determine the education of a people-can contribute in the experience of States, systems, and institutions, and in the views of eminent teachers and educators, the material for a thorough discussion and wise solution of educational problems—he has done all that he has thus far attempted, or that could reasonably be expected. Should it be his privilege to continue the investigations already instituted-should he be authorized to get, by personal inspection, the material for a comparative view of the same class of institutions in different States—he believes that in a subsequent Report he can submit, with a comprehensive view of the organization and operations of systems and institutions, such reliable facts and statistics, and the generalizations authorized by the same, "as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories," shall aid the people in those States in which, for the first time, systems of public schools are established, "and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.”
PLAN OF OPERATIONS FOR 1867-68. The first step taken was to make known the provisions of the Act, by which and the avowed purposes for which, the Department was established; and at the same time, to map out the field of inquiry into which the Commissioner was about to enter-specifying the subjects on which facts, information, and suggestions, were desired, and the portions of the field which had been already partially explored by him; as well as the subjects which had been, to some extent, discussed by prominent teachers and educators, and on which valuable information could be given, and indicating at least the sources of such information. (Official Circulars I, and II.)
SCHEDULE OF INFORMATION SOUGHT.
GENERAL VIEW OF SYSTEMS, INSTITUTIONS, AND AGENCIES OF EDUCATION
A. GENERAL CONDITION (of District, Village, City, County, State.)
(Territorial Extent, Municipal Organization, Population, Valuation, Receipts. and Expenditures for all public purposes.)
B. SYSTEM OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION.
C. INCORPORATED INSTITUTIONS AND OTHER SCHOOLS AND AGENCIES OF EDUCATION.
1. ELEMENTARY OR PRIMARY EDUCATION.
(Public, Private, and Denominational; and for boys or girls.) · 2. ACADEMIC OR SECONDARY EDUCATION.
(Institutions mainly devoted to studies not taught in the Elementary Schools, and to preparation for College or Special Schools.) 3. COLLEGIATE OR SUPERIOR EDUCATION.
(Institutions entitled by law to grant the degree of Bachelor of Arts or Science.)
4. PROFESSIONAL, SPECIAL, OR CLASS EDUCATION.
(Institutions having special studies and training, such as—-1, Theology. 2, Law. 3, Medicine. 4, Teaching. 5, Agriculture. 6, Architecture, (Design and Construction.) 7, Technology-Polytechnic. 8, Engineering, (Civil or Mechanical.) 9, War, (on land or sea.) 10, Business or Trade. 11, Navigation. 12, Mining and Metallury. 13, Drawing and Painting. 14, Music. 15, DeafMutes. 16, Blind. 17, Idiotic. 18, Juvenile Offenders. 19, Orphans. 20, Girls. 21, Colored or Freedmen. 22, Manual or Industrial. 23, Not specified above-such as Chemistry and its applications, Modern Languages-Natural History and Geology-Steam and its applications Pharmacy-Veterinary Sur
5. SUPPLEMENTARY EDUCATION.
1, Sunday and Mission Schools. 2, Apprentice Schools. 3, Evening Schools. 4, Courses of Lectures. 5, Lyceums for Debates. 6, Reading Rooms—Periodicals. 7, Libraries of Reference or Circulation. 8, Gymnasiums, Boat and Ball Clubs, and other Athletic Exercises. 9, Public Gardens, Parks and Concerts. 10, Not specified above.
6. SOCIETIES, INSTITUTES, MUSEUMS, CABINETS, AND GALLERIES FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE, LITERATURE, AND THE ARTS.
7. EDUCATIONAL AND OTHER PERIODICALS. 8. SCHOOL FUNDS AND EDUCATIONAL BENEFACTIONS. 9. LEGISLATION (STATE OR MUNICIPAL) RESPECTING EDUCATION. 10. SCHOOL ARCHITECTURE. 11. PENAL AND CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS. 12. CHURCHES AND OTHER AGENCIES OF RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 13. REPORTS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS ON SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION. 14. MEMOIRS OF TEACHERS, AND PROMOTERS OF EDUCATION. 15. EXAMINATIONS (COMPETITIVE, OR OTHERWISE) FOR ADMISSION TO NATIONAL OR STATE SCHOOLS, OR TO PUBLIC SERVICE OF ANY KIND.
The main objects aimed at by this Schedule are, (1) to show in the national aggregate, the magnitude of this great interest of education;