« AnteriorContinuar »
skill of the teachers, the greater zeal of the directors, and the growing popularity of the public schools in those counties where they were held.
The feature of all others which gives the most encouraging sign of improvement during the past year is the increase in the number of graded schools. The schools of all the cities, and of many of the towns of the State, are now completely graded. A considerable number of the country schools are graded.
The greatest defect in the educational system of the State has always been the neglect of the primary departments and the imperfect methods used in primary instruction. Nothing will do more to benefit the primary work than the establishment of a uniform system of grading the schools.
Notwithstanding many serious difficulties have attended the administration of the public schools during the two scholastic years just ended, the cause of popular education has steadily advanced, the schools have become more efficient, and the general public is better satisfied with the results attained.
Among the improvements made in the school system may be mentioned, as the one of greatest importanco, “the district system,” which has been provided for a large number of counties. A great portion of the State, however, is so sparsely populated as to make the district system of doubtful feasibility, but it has been demonstrated to be superior for the well-populated counties.
The State has reason to be proud of the progress of her teachers. For many years they have held annual State associations, but until recently these have been poorly attended and awakened no enthusiasm. In 1884 the one for white teachers at San Antonio was a success; in 1885 the one at Waco, a grand success; and in 1886 the one at Austin was in every respect one of the most imposing and learneil gatherings in the history of the State. The colored teachers bave also held annual meetings and have each year added to their interest. The one of the present year at Galveston was largely attended and participated in by educators who reflect great honor on their race and on Texas. The white teachers have also organized a State teachers' reading circle, and its success is assured.
The demand for local supervision of the public schools is imperative. With the aid of such officers the efficiency of the schools would be increased tenfold. As a rule county judges are incompetent to supervise the schools, because they bave not been trained in the art of school management. In nearly all cases the labor entailed on them by the school law is distasteful. They do not visit and lecture in the schools, nor do they hold county institutes. They are but machines for the disbursement of the school fund. The schools are therefore practically without local supervision.
VERMONT. The average number of days' attendance for each scholar enrolled is only 88, the other 48 days being virtu ally lost to the scholars of the State because of irregular attendance.
The work of teaching the effects of stimulants and narcotics in the schools has made some progress. The first essential in this, as in all other educational work, are qualified teachers. In some counties a good number of teachers are giving oral lessons and the interest is encouraging. Oral teaching is evidently the better method of presenting this subject in eloinentary schools.
The question of “the town system of public schools has excited more interest during 1885–86 than any other pertaining to school matters. There is a deep conviction that the success of the common schools and the progress of education in the State depend very largely upon the decision of this question. It is greatly to the credit of the town system that it has proved a success in nearly every town that has given it a five-years trial. Of the New England States, Massachusetts and New Hampshire, after trying both systems for years, have adopted the town system for all the towns. Maine, Rhode Island, and Connecticut are fast moving toward it.
The following suggestions are made by the State superintendent: (1) That provision be made for the annual en uneration of all the children of school age in the State. (2) That the laws for compulsory education be fully revised and some otlicer designated in each town to see that they are strictly enforced. (3) That towns be required to furnish all necessary text-books free for the use of scholars. (4) That the town system of schools be adopted by the State, and that all public schools of whatever grade be included under its provisions.
The number of schools opened in 1886 was 6,763, and the increase of schools during the past five years was 1,381.
The difference between total enrolment and average daily attendance was 135,945, which is rather a startling tigure. Divided by the number of schools, it gives an average absence of about twenty pupils to each school.
It is not too much to say that there are many carnest, faithful, etficient teachers in the public schools of Virginia, and many who willingly avail themselves of any means of improvement within their reach. There are others of whom this cannot be said. Better salaries would increase the number of competent teachers, and better teaching would tend to increase salaries.
Virginia moves somewhat slowly toward attaining the full measure of her duty in regard to teachers' institutes. She has never been lavish in the bestowal of legislative encouragement and support in this direction. That institutes have been of great value to teachers cannot be questioned. But the only fund available for such purposes is that derived from appropriations generously made by the board of trustees of the Peabody education fund.
The valnable work done during the summer session of the present year so benefited and won the confidence of the teachers in attendance that it is hoped larger numbers will be attracted in succeeding years.
WEST VIRGINIA. An analysis of the statistics shows the schools to be in a healthy condition and gives cause for encouragement. Fifteen high schools have been established in connection with the graded schools of the State. They are doing good work, and are growing in favor with the people.
During the past two years the institutes have been much moro largely attended, and the teachers through their resolutions have expressed their appreciation of the work done and of the manner in which it has been carried on.
The enrolment of teachers at county and Peabody institutes for the past six years shows an increase of 1,678, and a total attendance for the present year of over 6,000 teachers.
The present law regulating tho purchase and sale of free school text-books has been in operation for several years and has rendered general satisfaction. The effect is, that school books are supplied to the people at a uniform price all over the State, and much moro cheaply than without this regulation.
Libraries have been started in about thirty town schools. This work has been almost entirely due to the enterprise of teachers and boards, and cannot be too highly commended.
The appropriation of $25,000 made by Congress in 1884 for the establishment of public schools in Alaska was not utilized until the spring of 1985, when the Secretary of the Interior, on the 241 day of March, assigned the work of making provision for the education of the children of Alaska to the Bureau of Education.
On the 11th of April, 1885, the office of “General Agent of Education in Alaska" was created, and the Rev. Sheldon Jackson, D. 1., was appointed agent.
In Southeastern Alaska the establishment of schools, in comparison with tho difficulties met in other sections of that land, was easy, as four of the seven schools could be reached monthly by the mail steamer. Further, schools haid been kept at all these points but two for several years by teachers in the employ of the Board of Home Missions of the Presbyterian Church. This missionary organization was the first of the American churches to enter that neglected land. Finding no schools, they established them side by side with their missions, proposing to furnish educational advantages until the General Government shonld be ready to do it. Therefore, wherever the Government was ready to undertake the work in any village occupied by the Presbyterians, they turned over their schools to the Government. As they had a body of eiticient teachers already on the ground, acclimated, experienced in the work, more or less acquainted with the native language, and possessing the confidence of the people, it was both more economical to the Government and for the best interests of the schools that these teachers should as far as possible be re-einployed, which was done.
Owing to difficulties of transportation, but one school was established in Western Alaska. During the year ten schools were in operation with an aggregate attendance of about 750.
Arrangements are in progress for the coming year by which a vessel can be chartered to visit some of the more distant sections of the country and establish schools in the chief centers of population.
ARIZONA. A study of the comparative school statistics affords a very fair showing, and indi. cates that the schools have made satisfactory advancements in all respects since 1934. This is evident from the following particulars : (1) Both the enrolleri and ilverage daily attendance have largely increased. (2) More and better school-louses linvo becn erected and supplied with better furniture and school apparatus. (3) The teachers are better qualified. The muler holding tirst-grade certificates is id, or 63 more than are necessary for supplying the gramınar grades; hence, about one-half of the primary schools, in which thorough teachiuy is nost necessary, have been in charge of the best teachers in the Territory. (4) The school funds have been more judiciously expended than formerly. (5) Public opinion has beon growing toward a more intelligent appreciation of the schools and their wants. In fine, children under thirteen, not employed, must attend school. In all except manufacturing, mechanical and 'mercantile industries, children must attend sixty days before employment is legal. (d) Summary of required attendance as modified by legal employment:
For the year ending June 30, 1886, the educational department makes an excellent showing of work done, notwithstanding the disadvantages which have opposed. A school law which provides for a multiplicity of systems in the same State is to be deplored; yet, wbilo thus fettered, the people fully realize that they cannot sit down and give up the fight. Thoy have worked vigorously, and have surmounted obstacles which were very great, in order to arrive at practical success, which has crowned their efforts.
Eighty-three counties of the Territory are included in this report, sixty-eight of which are under the "township" system and fifteen are under the district" system. In those counties working under the township law there are 865 organized school townships, and in those working under the district law there are 1,150 organized school districts. By reason of the imperfect and unsatisfactory condition of each of these systems, many independent districts have been created, and quite a number of the cities, towns, and villages are organized under special laws, all of which tend to carry confusion into the general school system, and present difficulties in the way of its satisfactory administration.'
There are some very earnest supporters of the township system in the Territory. The feeling in favor of the district system, however, has grown most rapidly and is to-day the strongest in counties where the township system has been tried.?
That the present township system requires radical improvement in order to become of permanent value, cannot be disputed. Much good work has been accomplished in some of the counties under this system; but it is largely due to the ability, energy, and superior tact of the county superintendents, under whose supervision the work is performed, rather than the excellencies of the law.3
The county institute is not yet very effective, except in the more wealthy and populous counties. The reason for this is a lack of funds with which to carry on the work. The teachers' institute is a great power for good in the Territory, and should be made effective.5
There was a gain in 1885–’86 of 910 teachers, making a total of 5,055 in the Territory. There was also an increase in the average pay of teachers.
MONTANA. A cursory examination of the statistics reveals an improved condition of the schools as compared with that of the preceding year. These statistics indicate, generally, zealous and wise efforts on the part of all concerned in public-school work to lift these nurseries of intelligent citizenship to larger effectiveness.
There has been progress in the quality of teachers employed. Many of the teachers in the Territory, both in graded and rural schools, are as thoroughly qualified and as well trained as those found in the best Eastern schools. The percentage of this class is becoming larger each year. There is a very earnest desire manifest among those who cannot yet be classed among the best to become better fitted for their work. This is shown by tho interest they take in institute work, by their reading and studying the best educational journals published, and by the practice and developinent of original methods.
What is known as industrial education, or manual-training departments, is a topic that is being discussed and studied with great interest by the leading educators of the Territory. It is predicted that Montana will keep “abreast with the times” and that very soon manual-training departments will bo found in connection with the leading schools.
1 State Sch, Report, p. 71.
Ibid., p. 37.
6 Ibid., p. 16. Ibid., p. 27.
EXTRACTS FROM STATE SCHOOL REPORTS.
The experience of State suporintendents or other chief officers of education, their practical knowledge of the operations of the systems under their charge, gives peculiar weight to their opinions and peculiar value to their discussions of the topics which from time to time assume great and general importance in respect to the prog. ross of popular education. With the purpose of bringing the results of such expe. rience to bear upon the readers of this report, the following citations are made from current reports relative to subjects of prevailing interest at the present time:
SCHOOL ATTENDANCE. (From Report of Hon. C. D. Hine, secretary of the State board of education, Connecticut, for the year
ending August 31, 1886.)
The matter of attendance involves the following points :
4. When a child can be allowed to work, how the laws relating to employment modify the required attendance.
5. Whether a right to labor is merely a question of age.
1. Law of attendance. Every parent or other person having control of any child over eight and under sixteen years of age, whose physical or mental condition is not such as to render its instruction inexpedient or impracticable, shall cause such child to attend a public day school regularly and constantly while the public schools of the district in which the child resides are in session, or to receive elsewhere thorough instruction in the studies taught in the public schools during the hours and terms when the public schools are in session.
2. Required attendance. The standard is "regular and constant attendance while the pnblic schools of the district in which the child resides are in session."
3. Possible attendance. The following section determines the length of time that the schools shall be open.
Public schools shall be established and maintained for at least thirty weeks in each year in every school district in which the number of persons between four and sixteen years of age, at the last preceding enumeration, was 24 or more, and for at least 24 weeks in the other districts. Public schools shall be maintained for at least 36 weeks in each year in every school district in which the number of persons between four and six teen years of age at the last preceding enumeration was 100 or more; and no town shall receive any money from the State treasury for any such district, unless the school therein has been kept during the time required by this act. But no school need be maintained in any district in wbich the average attendance of persons at the school in said district, during the preceding year, ending the 31st day of August, was iess than 8.
The average length of school year for the State is 178 days. In many districts school is not open longer than 120-150 days in the year.
4. Employment.-The laws relating to attendance as modified by the laws relating to labor now require:
(a) All children between fourteen and sixteen may be employed. If not employed, they must attend school regularly and constantly while the schools are in session.
(6) All children between thirtoen and fourteen may be employed, provided thoy have attended school sixty days of the twelve months next preceding any month in which they are enıployed, and six weeks of this attendance must have been cousecutive.
(C) No child under thirteen can be omployed in any mechanical, mercantile, or mannfacturing establishment. Tho law relating to attendance operates upon this class, and it follows that children who cannot obtain einploynient in other than the enumerated industries must attend regularly and constantly. If children are employed between eight and thirteen in any other than the euumerated industries, a certificate of sixty-days attendance must be secured.
(1) Regular and constant for the unemployed from eight to fifteen inclusive.
(2) Sixty days or twelve weeks, of which six weeks must be consecutive, for all from eight to twelve inclusive, who are employed in industries other than mercantile, manufacturing or mechanical.
(3) Sixty days or twelve weeks, of which six weeks must be consecutive, for
those between thirteen and fourteen who are employed in any industry. 5. How right to labor is determined.-From the above enactments, it will be seen that the right to labor depends upon age and not upon education. A child under thirteen cannot be employed in the enumerated industries, even if he has been well trained and has considerable acquirements. Over thirteen, he may be employed, even if he cannot read and write.
6. Penallie8.-(a) Parents and persons having the control of children, may be fined $5 for failure to comply with the law. Each week's failure constitutes a distinct offense, but the aggregate fines shall not exceed $60 in one year.
(6) Employers may be tined $60 for employing children who have not attended as the law requires. They are protected by toachers', school visitor's or committee's certiticate of proper attendance.
The penalties against parents are not rigorously enforced. Ont of all that large number of parents and others having control of children, who have failed in their legal duty, only seven have been prosecuted in the past year.
There is but one agent to enforce the penalties against both parents and employers, and his attention is given especially to violation of the law relating to employment. His work has been etlicient, but one man cannot promptly investigate and correct every case of neglect, and prosecute every violation of the law in every town in the State.
In very few towns are any steps taken by local authorities to enforce the law. Attendance is regulated by the convenience of parents, and no adequate provision exists for bringing children to school in the face of evasion and opposition at home. There is no penalty for, and the law does not prevent irregular attendance.
7. The recognized excuses for non-attendance.-(a) Education elsewhere in the studies and for the time prescribed for the public schools. This would permit
1. Instruction at liome.
Instruction at home is sometimes made the cover for no instruction and for the worst kind of neglect. Instruction in private schools practically is not regulated by law nor subject to State control. Whether given in the English language, in the prescribed studies, or for the required time, are matters really unknown to the State. A semi-recognition of these schools has been made by admitting their certificates as evidence of attendance, but the registers from which this record is taken are not open to any officer of the State, and no ground for penalties can, unless by favor, be obtained. The attendance in these schools is largely estimated.
(6) Soch physical or mental condition as renders attendance inexpedient or impracticable.
(c) Destitution of clothing and inability of parents to provide the same. It is supremely important, when these schools have been provided at enormous expense, that the children be found in their places and receive the instruction which the schools afford. Unless a satisfactory number is found in attendance, the schools certainly fail in all cases which might or ought to have been reached.
Schools are sustained on the assumption that children will attend, as the law directs, and if they do not attend, much unprofitable expenditure has been incurred. A wrong is inflicted on every child who grows up without a good education. Beyond this, irregular attendance works immeasurable injury to the regular scholars, because the natural and projected advance of the whole school is retarded if not entirely averted by the re-appearance at irregular intervals of those who stay away much of the time, forgetting at home and in the street what they have learned at school.
It will bo seen that we have long-standing and abundant legislation both upon the educational and industrial side of this matter. Duties of parents and duties of officers are set out with great particularity. There are penalties provided. The qnestion vital to all the people and all the varied interests of this Commonwealth is, do we succeed in securing tbe largest possible attendance, and if we fail in any regard, what is the cause and what is the cure ?
In every town of this State there are children growing up in ignorance and vice who have failed to receive the minimum schooling which the law requires. There