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Many well-qualified teachers are employed in the rural districts, and are doing a work that will tell for gooil in fuiure years. As a general thing these schools are not graded; too many pupils are crowded into one room; too many classes are required; iho attendance is irregular; a proper gradation cannot be secured nor strict discipline enforced. Yet, despite these discouraging features, thousands of children are being well taught in the elementary branches.
The greatest hindrance to the primary schools arises from the employment of incompetent teachers; they secure the lowest grade of certificate, and offer to teach for less than a good teacher will work; they know nothing about teaching, but they must do something; and it often happens that they secure their cortificates through the plea of misfortune and poverty more than on account of qualifications.
In the large cities and towns, and in many of the smaller towns and villages, progperons graded schools are maintained for eight, vino, or ten months in the year; and nearly all support a high-school department for two, three, or four years. They are controlled and manageil by superintendents or principals. The superintendents devote most of their time to general supervision of the schools under their charge, while the principals are required to perforin the double duty of supervisor and teacher at the same time.
NEBRASKA. The material development of the State has been rapid, and the educational work has kept even courso with it. There is a grand public spirit existing in regard to education and the work will go on to better advantage in the future.
Among all the States which have received educational land grants from the regular Government, Nebraska, in the management of her portion, has furnished a very conspicuous example of wisdom and forethought, not only from an ecouomio point of view, but also from the fact that of all States in the Union this State shows the sinallest percentago of illiteracy.
For the purpose of comparison a brief summary of the condition and management of cdncational lands and funds of the State most nearly related to Nebraska by location and otherwise, will not be without interest.
Jiissouri.-Permanent fund, $10,271,000; annual interest on the permanent fund variable, sometimes reaching $500,000; minimum price of land, $1.25 an acre.
Indiana.--Permanent fuud, $6,3:3,030.89; annual interest, $665, 262.11. The State has borrowed and pays interest at the rate of 6 per cent. on $3,904,783.21. The remainder is loaned on real estate at 8 per cent., and is managed by the county auditors.
Minnesota.- Permanent fund, $7,250,000; annual interest, $135,000; minimum prices of lands by statutes of 1878. $5.00 per acre; estimated fuiure of fiind, $18,000,000.
Ioxca.-Permanent fund, 94,127,510; uninimum price of land, $6.00 per acre, but may be sold at an appraised value not less than $1.25 per acre; fuud distributed to the counties, which pay the State 6 per cent.
Kansas.—Permanent fune, $1,000,000; estimated futuro maximum, $10,000,000 ; annual interest, $100,000; minimuni price of land, $3 per acre.
Jiichigan.--Permanent fund, $3,838,728.27; the annual interest amounts to $260,8:33.32; by the statutes of 1&2 the minimum price of the common-school land was fixed at $i per acre; the minimum price of the university lands was fixell at $12.
Ohio.--Permanent fund, $3,-26,171.27; estimated future inaximumo, $4,000,000; annual interest derived, $129,452.76.
Wisconsin.--Permanent fund, $2,953,528.58.
Tennessee. ---Permanent fud ascertained anıl declared by law to be $2,512,000 which constitites an irreducible lebt of the State and bears 6 per cent, interest.
Colorado.--Permanent school fund, $151,437.53 ; unsold land, 2,500,000 acres; minimum price of land, $2.50 per acro; the State pays interest at the rato of 6 per cent on the permanent fund.
Vibraska.-Permanent fund, $4,904,119.21 ; annual interest, $391,532.60 ; minimum price of land, $7 per acre; estimated future maximum fund, $20,000,000.
In order to cultivate habits of thrift and economy among children thero has been considerable agitation, in this and other countries, of the question of establishing savings banks in connection with the schools. This system has been introduce in Nebraska in tho city of McCook, and its working is as follows: Every Monday morning deposits are received from the purpils,cach depositor receiving credit upon the weekly card with which each is furnislied. This card is always presented when it deposit is inade. The whole amount is passed to the principal, wbo, as treasurer, enters each deposit in a special book, the only one required, kept for the purpose. This is all that is done in the school. Details are loft to the discretion of the teachers. The principal, at the closo of the school, places the whole amount in the bank, where it is received and deposited in the usual inanner. Once a month ho presents to the bank a list of the names of the depositors with their respective amounts which are ciuly rocorded in the books with which the bank supplies the depositors. No money is to bo withdrawn except by signature of parents, principal, or guardian. Deposits may be mado during vacatiou directly in the bank. The bank books are kept by the priucipal in a securo place, but if desired may be taken home by the pupils for parental inspection. The time usually consumed by the work is fifteen minutes, which can easily be spared ouce a week in view of tho important objects to be attained.
Out of 250 pupils the following is the record for the first month:
57 71 74
8 62 12 59 15 40
The State superintendent presents the following recommendations : (1) A change in the law relative to the apportionment of school moneys; some districts have more inoney than is needed for ten months of school, while other districts have not enough money for so many as five months. (2) That the rate of State school tax be increased. (3) That every school district be required to expend every year from $15 to $50 for a library. (4) That a normal school be established in Nevada. (5) That the Indians of the State be educated.
Much of the school legislation of the State was enacted nearly a quarter of a century ago; it met the exigencies of pioneer days, but it is not such as the present demands.
The State Teachers' Institute has done for progressive education in Nevada more than all other influences combined. The effects are now felt in every school in the State.
County-school supervision in Nevada is a failure. One supervisor, energetic and capable, could do inore to introduce into the schools modern methods of teaching than is now done by the fourteen county superintendents. This stricture does not apply to officers as such, but rather with the law fixing their salaries and defining their powers and duties.
NEW HAMPSHIRE. An act approved August 13, 1885, to abolish the district system and establish_the town system went into effect March 1, 1836. New Hampshire is the third New England state to adopt this system, which was virtually enjoyed by the cities and larger villages for some years previous. The law makes the town (as at the first) the political unit of the State. “Prudential committees can no more employ relatives and favorites as teachers, regardless of qualitications and character, nor will it be possi. ble for antagonistic town and district officers to engender strife and shirk their respective duties by saildling their responsibilities upon each other." No one can fail to see that the new law, while it may slightly restrict the privileges of a few, is framed in the general interest, and especially of the spargely-settled districts.
The aggregate attendance upon the common schools of the State does not increase in proportion to the growth of the population, notwithstanding the “compulsory-education act.” Many plausible reasons are assigned, the principal being that the school trustees, serving without pay, are loth to personally enforce the law, and that the buildings now in use are already quite full, in the majority of cases no accommodations existing for more scholars. Truancy and the indifference of parents cause inuch trouble, and it is proposed to remedy the former by the establishment of a State reform school, and ihe latter by the passage of a free text-book law.
A new normal school was established at New Paltz in February, 1886, and 152 names have already been enrolled. This is the ninth institution of the kind opened in the State, and all are in good hands and doing excellent work. The demand for their graduates as teachers is gradnally increasing, and the necessity of a special course of training to the equipment of a good teacher is now generally recognized. In the cities and large towns training schools are generally maintained and accomplish good results in their vicinity, but in the villages and rural districts the need of well-trained instructors is still greatly felt.
There is not yet enough uniformity in the normal schools, and as long as they are conducted by the State in partnership with their respective counties this will be difficult. The cominunities that raised large sums of money to erect suitable buildings, that such schools might be established in their midst, receive much consideration, and the granting of local claims has not always resulted in benefit to the general educational system of the State. The standard of qualification for admission is too low, and too much time is spent in foundation work that should have been done before admission; a reform in this respect is proposed. The buildings at Oswego, Buffalo, and
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Cortland have been extensively repaired, and that at Genesee is now undergoing improvement. At Potsdam the building has received an addition that adds greatly to its utility, and makes it one of the best in the system.
For more than forty years it has been customary to annually assemble the teachers of each county in institutes lasting two weeks, for instruction in methods of work, Many objections have been urged against this plan, specially since a law was passed in 1885, compelling the closing of the schools while the institute was in progress. Defects havo existed in the manner of conducting the institutes, and it is hoped that when these are removed and more effective organization securod, good results will be accomplished, and the objections against the plan removed.
The system of granting teachers' licenses by local officers has proven to be a pernicious one, and results in the licensing of too large a number of persons and many very inefficient ones. It is proposed to abolish the system entirely and substitute examinations by city superintendents and school commissioners upon uniform question papers prepared by the State department.
In four of the large cities annual examinations of great severity have been held for applicants for life certificates, which license the successful candidates to teach in any public school of the State. In 1886, 125 were examined and 33 of the number obtained certificates.
The salaries of teachers in the cities and larger towns are usually ample and promptly paid, but this cannot be said of the villages and outlying districts as a rule. It too often happens that teachers in the country do not receive their small pittances until months after the work has been done, and it is proposed to remedy such injustice by legislation as far as possible.
There has been too great a tendency on the part of many school officers to adopt new methods of teaching, solely for the sake of novelty, and to show too little regard for thoroughness in instruction. Too much attention has been devoted to the advanced classes at the expense of the younger pupils, and several branches formerly considered absolutely essential have in many cases been virtually dropped in following specious theories that produced no good results.
The State does not control any institution for manual training, and it is doubted whether the establishment of such a school under the direct supervision of the Stato authorities would be altogether wise, although it is thought that inducements might with propriety be held out to localities to open schools of that kind.
By an act of the Legislature, passed during 1885-86, arrangements have been made with the National Museum of Natural History by which courses of illustrated lectures upon anatomy, physiology, zoology, and other subjects will be delivered to the teachers of New York City and Brooklyn and to all the normal schools of the State. The new plan is considered to be of great future importanco in educational work.
In the matter of buildings there has undoubtedly been a great advance in the last year. The new houses that have been erected in the cities and towns have been almost invariably excellent, but not so in the rural districts, where many of the huts occupied by schools are deficient in every respect. A reform is suggested in the manner of inspecting buildings, and a plan proposed for furnishing free plans and specifications for houses of low cost when needed by country districts.
A permanent educational exhibit was established in August, 1886, in the capitol at Albany, for the purpose of displaying the text-books and apparatus used in the schools, and to show the progress of educational work generally. Numerous contributions have already been received, and only the provision of a suitable room for the display, by the Legislature, seems necessary to the success of the undertaking.
The problem of educating the Indians on the reservations in the State has shown itself to be a dificult one. It is hard to secure good teachers willing to undergo the hardships that are inevitable, and incompetent persons bave in some instances been sent as educators to tribes that are almost totally lacking in desire for improvement and that should have the services of superior teachers.
One hundred and thirty-six deaf mutes and 32 blind children were appointed during the year as pupils in those institutions to which the law authorizes appointments to be made. A total of 901 Stato pupils were instructed at the institutions for the deaf and dul), and for them $220,529.79 were paid. The whole number instructed by order of the State at the Institution for the Blind was 230, costing $18,769.45.
NORTH CAROLINA. The comparative summary of statistics for the years 1885 and 1886 shows that progress has been made. But one of the lamentable considerations is that so many of the poorest people do not avail themselves of the school facilities attorded them.
Both the normal school and institute statistics show large attendance, and imply, what is the truth, that the teachers are improving.
While quite a number of school-houses bave been built during the two years, the figures show that the valuation of school property is very small, and that the State is sadly deficient in this item of prime importance.
The superintendent of public instruction sums up the educational needs as fol. lows: (1) Longer school terms, which will require more money; (2) active and com potent superintendents in all the counties; (3) perinanent normal schools for the prep aration of competent teachers ; (4) a better sentiment in favor of public education.
The State of Ohio bestows the benefits of public education on all classes of her citi. zens. In the common schools all her youth, except those in need of reform and such unfortunates as the blind, the deaf and dumb, and the feeble-minded, may extend their studies in language, natural science, and mathematics until they are prepared to enter college work. Three State colleges open their doors almost without charge for tuition to those who have been graduated from good public high schools, and these colleges are soon to provide professional education on the same liberal terms. At Xenia, in the Soldiers' and Sailors' Orphans' Home, the children of those who died in the service of the pation are given an education so practical that it combines both mental and industrial training.
County children's homes, supported by public taxation, have been very generally established in Ohio for destitute children of tender age. Besides this, there are within reach of all the people public libraries containing more than a million books which, by their distribution, complement the grand work of public education in the Stato. Indeed, so far-reaching is the educational policy of Ohio that it extends to all the reformatory institutions. In Fairfield County is an industrial school for boys who need restraint. A similar school for girls is located in Delaware County, and at Mansfield the experimentof reforming youthful criminals by means of the application of sound educational principles is to be made in an “intermediate penitentiary.” For tho support of common scliools alone the State expended in the year 1885 more than $10,000,000, of which amount $7,200,000 was raised by local taxes voluntarily imposed. Experience has taught the people that public education pays, and that money invested in good schools unfailingly produces an abundant harvest of all those elements which are necessary to the lasting prosperity and happiness of the children. As public education is more liberally supported in Ohio than ever before, so the results of public education are more gratifying than they have been at any former period in the history of the State, and the progress made is praiseworthy and encouraging.
Private schools have for many years been liberally patronized. Academies, seminaries, and denominational colleges are found in every quarter of the State. Professional education does not receive much attention from the State government, but in various private institutions law, medicine, and theology are well taught. The State examinations for admission to the bar have done much to encourage thoroughness in the study of the law. A similar arrangement for those who are candidates for the degree of Doctor of Medicine is recommended by prominent physicians and other iniluential citizens. On the whole, the private schools of the State are making progress, and they constitute an invaluable part of the educational economy.
OREGON. The statistical summaries indicate a marked improvement in the public-school work of the State.
Some of the good results of the institutes are apparent in many ways: a growing public sentiment in favor of better qualified teachers; more thorough and practical work in the school-room; the improvement of teachers intellectually and professionally; an increased attendance at county institutes and local meetings, and more general interest in educational work.
The school system of the State is yet in a formative condition. This is seen in the amendments that are made, from time to time, to the school law. But of all weak points in the latter tho ** private examination plan” and the “renewal system” are the very worst and weakest.
PENNSYLVANIA. The number of schools is keeping pace with the natural increase of population, but there is a tendency throughout the Stato to decrease the number of pupils under the care of one teacher. In 1076 this number was 47; it is now 44.
There is only one county whose average school term is not over five months, against sixty-six counties whose average is above tivo months, and forty-one counties whose average is above six months.
Within a few years the relative proportion of male and female teachers has rapidly changed. In the report of 1880, excluding Philadelphia, tho male teachers numbered 9,655, and the female teachers, 9,650. In 1886 the number of male teachers was 8,707, and the number of female teachers, 12, 313. The main causes of this rapid change are, first, the increased attention given to primary instruction by meaus of the graded
State School Report, pp. 376-377.
schools, and, second, the lower salary paid to female teachers. But in order to secure the very highest talent attainable these salaries must be greatly increased. The av. erage monthly salary of female teachers, excluding Philadelphia, is now only $29.41. This is by far too snall for efficient teachers, and quite too large for poor ones, if measured by educational results.
As to the normal schools, the large supply of teachers required for the educational work of the State, and the very low average of salaries given, make it difficult to lengthen very much the present term of study. Some, with great earnestness, have advocated the addition of another year. In due time this will come and be of immense account in enlarging the sphere of professional studies, and giving opportunity for more definite and continuous model practice. The number of scholars who have attended these schools since their foundation is now 67,073.
It is plain that all the teachers cannot have the benefit of a professional training. The number is too great to expect this; but they may gain knowledge and inspiration by attending the teachers' institute. We note particularly the large and increasing membership, reaching nearly 18,000, the vast body of spectators numbering more than 30,000.
In relation to the general condition of the schools; there is a very perceptible advance in the methods of teaching, routine has less sway than formerly, the work of the school-room is connected more with the ontside world, a form of instruction is being shaped very clearly by the thought that it is preparation for life, the higher motives are being held up before the children, there is a deeper sense of the responsibilities of the position of teacher, and more carnest efforts to make permanent impressions upon their charges.
Among the pupils, as a general rule, there is a better spirit, more of a disposition to unite with the teacher, instead of against him, more comprehension of the meaning of school and education, more readiness of mind to grasp and handle ideas, more facility in the solution of common problems in every day life, more general knowledge and more interest, consequently, in their studies.
Iunproved methods of instruction are particularly noticeable in the branches of geography and his:ory. The pupils are being led to study the subject, rather than the text-books. These are not discarded, but are used as guides in the pursuit of the general topic. Books of reference, both of a direct and of an indirect nature, are supplied for the pupils, and they are taught how to search for a fact or a truth, and are thus led up to the enjoyment and appreciation of original investigation and study.
The study of physiology, under the impulse of the law requiring that instruction therein shall be given in all of the schools, has made very commendable progress. Specific text-books have been adopted in nearly all of the towns, and classes have been formed in the grammar schools and among the older children in the ungraded schools. In the high school it lias always been studied. In the lower grades of schools little has been done, as yot, except in the direction of simple, practical talks upon the subject by the teacher.
SOUTII CAROLINA. In no portion of this educational field are the signs of progress more striking than that occupied by the public schools. With a steadiness truly wonderful the enrolment of pupils bas risen from 30,448 in 1870 to 183,966 in 1881, and the average attendance, which is a better test of the actual work, has risen without a break from 101,816 in 1882, wben first recorded, to 126,696 for 1826.
The desire tor the establishment of the well-organized graded-school system is widening and deepening sear by yoar. The economy of the system, the freshuess, thoroughness, and facility of the teaching done under it, the improvement in discipline and general results, are so convincing that its adoption by all the towns in the course of a few years may be safely predicted.
The inost cheering fact in this survey is the well-marked improvement in the teachers. Among a large number of them there is now manifested more professional interest, a keen desire for self-iinproveinent, and a more eager purpose to master the best methods of teaching. All of these encouraging features are unquestionably the direct results of a few slight changes in the law, a progressive raising of the standard of examinations, and the influence of the State and county normal institutes.
TENNESSEE. After making all allowance for the imperfect rocords of preceding years, it is evident that the past year has witnessed a large increase in the average daily attendance over any preceding year since the establishment of the public schools. This increase is largely in excess of the increase in scholastic population or enrolment.
Many of the county superintendents have shown great energy and ability in organizing and conducting institutes. The number held during the past year was 443; an increaso over the preceding year of 94. The effect is seen in the steadily increasing