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It is somewhat encouraging to see the advance in tho wages of malo teachers. Not 80 encouraging is it to witness the decline, which has been pretty constant for the last ten years, in the number of male teachers employed. There is some slight relief from tho solicitude occasioned by the steady falling off of male teachers in the fact that it is inore than compensated for in the number of male teachers transferred to the ranks of school superintendents. We believe it to be for the advantage of the youth of both sexes to be brought under the influence of male as well as of female teachers. The best private schools exhibit greater wisdom than the public schools in the greater number of male teachers they employ.
EXPENSES OF TEXT-BOOKS AND SUPPLIES.
Sum appropriated and rate per scholar, for the past ten years, for books, stationery, maps,
Tho average cost per pupil for text-books and supplies since the enactment of the free text-book law, now nine years, has been at the rato of $1.63 a year; since the first two years there has been a slight annual increase; the cost for the present year is $1.75. The total sum paid is $362,228, which is an increase, as previously stated, of $35,064.40 for the year.
There is general satisfaction with the operation of the free text-book law, though the desire has been expressed quite emphatically, and the claim has been persistently urged in some localities, that the children should be allowed to take with them, on permanently leaving school, the books they last used. This would somowhat increase the expense for supplies, but it would have the advantage of furnishing some books which might serve for occasional reference in homes which otherwise would have none, and it would secure to the schools a more frequent fresh supply.
EXPENSE OF CONVEYING CHILDREN.
Amount expended for transporting children to school for the past five years.
The law authorizing towns to appropriate money for the conveyance of children to school has been upon the statute book since 1869, and yet the towns did not for several years avail themselves of its privileges. One direct advantage of the law is the facility it gives the towns for consolidating their schools. In recent years this has been going on in all parts of the State, and within the past three years at a greatly increased rate. Tho sum expen,led during the past year was $50,590.11, an increase of $11,864.31, or of 30.6 per cent as compared with the previous year. The plan of consolidation where conveyance is provided proves most advantageous, and seems in practice to be attended with no uutavorable conditions,
SUPERVISION BY SUPERINTENDENTS. Since the year 1854 provision has been made by which towns can legally avail themselves of the service of school superintendents to supplement the supervision earlier provided for by town school committees. Until the law of 1888 the superintendent form of supervision was limited to the populous anul wealthy towns and cities. The enactment of that year, with the amendments of last year, makes it possible for every town in the State to employ a superintendent of schools. It provides that towns not exceeding two and one-half millions of valuation mav unite in groups
for this purpose; it limits each group to a maximum of fifty and a minimum of twenty-five schools. It requires that each group of towns shall pay for the support of a superintendent $750 a year. To aid the towns the law provides for the payment to every such group the sum of $1,250 from the State treasury, $750 of which shall go to supplement the sum paid the superintendent by the towns, so that his salary shall be at least $1,500, and the remaining $500 shall be paid for teachers' salaries. Both sums are intended, either directly or indirectly, to improve the work of teaching.
No recent enactment affecting the schools has met with more general and hearty approval than the act of 1888.
Out of 352 towns in the Stato, 221 are employing superintendents. The number employing them under the original law and under that of 1870, which differs from it in no essential particular, is 105; the number employing them under the recent enactment is 109. The former class of towns includes nearly every town in the State of considerable population and of high valuation; the latter class embraces the small, sparsely populated, and poorer towns of the State.
Included in these two classes of towns, the number of schools under this form of supervision is 6,235, out of a total number of public schools in the State of 7,510, or 83 per cent of the whole number. The number of school children under superintendents is 317,804, out of a total in the public schools of 391,745, which is 88.7 per per cent against 85.8 per cent for the previous year.
There are still 131 towns, or 37 per cent of tho whole number of towns in the State, not employing superintendents. The per cent of last year was 40.3 per cent. The greater part of these towns are small and relatively poor. Many of them have voted to accopt the provisions of the act of 1888, but tind no towns with which they can conveniently unite. The isolated condition of many towns makes it difficult to combine them with others to advantage. The difficulty of effecting unions for this class of towus increases as the towns first to avail themselves of the provisions of the law become more accustomed to working together.
There are still towns that do not exhibit an active interest in securing for their schools the benefits of skilled supervision. There is no known opposition to the principle upon which the employment of a special agent to superintend the schools is based; indeed, it seems to meet with universal acceptance. A large number of towns desirous of securing for their schools this form of supervision aro unable to do so for reasons already stated. I advise, therefore, that anthority be given the proper persons to make such combinations of towns as shall provide for bringing every school under the superintendent forin of supervision.
A provision could at least be mado for aiding towns of less than two and a half millions of valuation to unite with towns exceeding this valuation and employing superintendents. There are employed under the earlier laws superintendents who could give part of their time to superintending the schools of ono or more additional towns. An amendment to the law of 1888, giving proportionato aid to such towns as w uld come properly under this law to enable them to obtain such superintendent Brvice, would in some instances afford the needed relief.
It is certain that so important a means of supervising the schools as a good superintendent is admitted to be should be brought to bear upon every school and every child, even the humblest in the State.
From the report for 1892-93 of State Superintendent Henry R. Pattengill.] Educational councils and rallies.—The superintendent of public instruction early re: lized the necessity of harmonious work with the board of examiners and county school commissioners. He also realized the importance of acquainting himself with the school work in every portion of the Stato, and of learning the sentiment and peculiar conditions existing in different counties.
With this in view the State was divided into twenty-one districts, and a convenient place of meeting suggested for each district.
The “ council” was in all cases called to meet Friday, and to this meeting were invited all the examiners and cominissioners of the district, the school officers, and superintendents of schools. Teachers and others were welcome, and many attended.
These councils were entirely informal. Any question could be brought up. No formal speeches were made. Everyone could air bis views as freely as he pleased. To show the nature of the councils we give herewith the list of topics suggested for discussion in the notices rent out from the department:
Amendments to the school law.
Relation of district board to school.
District libraries. These "councils” have proved very helpful indeed to the State superintendent in making him conversant with public sentiment concerning school matters as viewed by all the factors that are active in the administration of school affairs. At every council there wero representatives from school boards, patrons, teachers, examiners, and commissioners.
Free text-book 8.-The system of freo text-books which provides for the ownership of the books by the district and loaning them to pupils has been tried by some of our cities and a few of our rural districts for several years. In journeying about the State we have taken especial pains to inquire how satisfactory the system proves to be, and almost without exception it is most unanimously commended by both city and country districts. The cities of the State which have adopted the system are Detroit, Grand Rapids, Saginaw East Side, and Bay City. Of these cities East Saginaw has tried the system for the past nine years. None but laudatory reports come from officers and teachers concerning the workings of the plan. We give herewith a table showing the average cost per capita for text-books during the past nine years in Saginaw East Side:
1885-86 1886-87 1887-88 1888-89 1889-90 1890-91 1891-92 1892-93 1893-94
$4, 971. 48
4, 432 4,537 4, 564 4, 647 4, 827 4,812 4,842 5. 705 5, 231
346. 08 3, 395.00
2.82 58. 16 92. 24 82.98 71.21
.53 .79 .58
This should encourage other cities and villages to try the experiment. The rural teachers and school officers of tho districts where the plan has been tried say that the books are kept better than when owned by the individuals, the cost is reduced, uniformity secured, and time saved, because pupils are always provided with books on the first day of the term insteail of being obliged to "wait until pa goes to town," till be forgets to get the books once or twice, and then buys the wrong book. The expense upon the whole district is insignificant, and the advantages are so apparent that it would seem advisable for every district to adopt the plan. The districts now working under the system are mostly in tho northern part of the State.
Libraries. The most important factor in a good school, next to the teacher, is a good school library. If my child could have but one, either a college edncation or a taste for good literature with ability to read it, I would without hesitation choose the latter. Fortunately we are not obliged to make this choice. A taste for good reading, apıl a generons education are both within the reach of every chililin Michigan. In many of onr cities by ineans of the philanthropic gifts of wealthy men, or the far-sighted acts of school authorities, fully equipped libraries are established and inade accessible to all the people. In nearly all our cities, and in many villages, there have been established what are known as working school libraries-selection of books adapted to the different grades of schools, and more especially designed to aid in the teaching of literature, history, geography, and science. These books are kept by the teacher of each grade, and are made very accessible to the pupils of the school. Further than this, courses of reading have been mapped out for the pupils, and the teachers have sought to lead pupils to read these books, and converse with the teacher on the topics read. In this way a taste for reading has been formed in many instances, and a better spirit of study has been the direct result of this reading. Besides this, the parents of these pnpils have oftentimes become interested in reading, and the pnpils have been encouraged to start a little library of their own. Who can estimate the value of such beginnings Parents will find that the question of keeping the boy at home evenings is very largely solved when the same boy shall
become interested in the reading of good books. We are the heirs of all the ages in literature as well as in the more material things of which we boast. The publication of inexpensive editions of our classics has aided very materially in this spread of general intelligence and love for reading.
School architecture-Miscellaneous suggestions.-Wo give herewith some miscellaneous suggestions which should be carefully considered by those about to build schoolhouses.
1. The window-lighting surface should equal one-fifth of the floor surface.
2. No pupil should sit farther from the window than two and one-half times the distanco from the floor to the top of the window.
3. The window should extend to the ceiling, only leaving enough room for the casing between the opening and the ceiling. 4. The windows should be grouped.
5. Light is better from both sides than from one side and the back. The light at the back, unless ligh, will cast the pupil's shadow on his work.
6. There should be no windows for pupils to face.
7. Light from one side should be from the left, so as not to throw the shadow of the pupil's hand upon his work.
8. Tho windows should be provided with green shades; yellow is not as good for 9. The blackboards should not have a glossy surface.
10. If windows are grouped as they should bo, and as they are in the accompany. ing sketches, no blackboards come between windows to try the eyes of the pupils.
Heating and rentilating.–1. A wood furnace is the cheapest and best means of heating small schoolhouses where wood is abundant. The furnace lieats and ventilates and will burn long wood, kuots, branches, etc., that can not be used in a stove.
2. A jacketed stove is tho next best heater and ventilator. A round, tall stove should be incased by a sheet-iron jacket, the jacket being placed 4 or 6 inches from the stove. The jacket should reach within 2 inches of the floor, and extend to top of stove. Air conductors 6 by 12 inches should lead from the wall on two opposite sides of the schoolhouse under the floor, and open into a register immediately under the stove. This furnishes fresh air. Dampers can be placed in these ducts to regulate the amount of fresh air. A good stove and jacket can be bought for $25 or $10.
3. The chimney should extend to the ground and contain a flue 2 feet square, with either a brick partition dividing it into two parts or an 8-inch chimney tile for smoke flue. This smoke flue warms the shaft, creates a current upward, and thus the impure air of the room may be drawn off.
4. Flues built into walls without provision for warming them are merely monuments to fools.
5. Place a large register in the room at base of chimney, and also one in the chimney near the ceiling. Let both be provided with valves with which to close them when necessary.
6. Place a ventilator in ceiling of room near the center, opening into the attic. 7. Hang windows with cords and weights if possible, or at least make them easy of movement, and supplied with easy catches at lists of short intervals. Place a 5-inch board under lower sash of window, just as long as window is wide. This will create a space between upper and lower sash, through which the air can come in without direct draft on pupils.
8. Occasionally open doors and windows, and let the air change while pupils are marching or exercising.
Miscella, cous.-1. Wardrobes for country schools are better made of wainscoting .6 or 8 feet high, at both sides of entrance door, in the school room. Those old entries are great breeders of disorder.
2. The girls and boys should have separate wardrobes. 3. The teacher's desk should be in the opposite end of the room from the entrance. 4. The end of the room opposite the entrance should have no windows.
5. The blackboard should extend across the end of the room back of the teacher's desk and down each side to the windows. It will do no harm to run the black board the length of both sides as well as one end.
6. If necessary, stand over the builder with a clnb to make him put the blackboards low enough for the little people. The siile boards should be within 2 feet of the floor and made 4 feet wide. The end board should be 6 feet wide.
8. The floor should be of narrow and well-seasoned maple. Do not put in a soft wood floor.
8. Provide a neat wood box if no fuel room is given. 9. Provide at least one extra chair for stray visitors. 10. There should be an average of 16 sqnare feet of foor space to each pupil. A little increase in the dimensions of the building does not add materially to the expense, but adds much to health and comfort of pupils.
[From Report o' State Supt. J. R. Preston for 1802-93.)
FLOURISHING CONDITION OF TOWN AND VILLAGE SCHOOLS. The average country school, as it has been conducted, could command the respect of neither pupil nor patron, and has served, in many instances, but to pension incompetent kindred of trustees, to blant every educational aspiration of our yonth, and rob them of precious days and gollen opportunities. The time has come to stop dallying with so serious an interest of the Commonwealth,
The towns of our State, recognizing the futility of a four months' term, havo organized into separate school districts, and annually raise enough money by local taxation to extend their term to seven months in all the smaller towns, and to eight, nine, and ten months in the larger ones—the average term being more than eight months.
The new constitution diminished the revenues of many of the separate school districts, and occasioned a stricter economy, and in some instances a shortening of the term; butin every case the towns have met the emergency, increased the local levy, and will maintain their schools eight or nine months.
The people in our towns have gone to great expense besides in building and equipping schoolhouses. They recognize the value of education, and are determined that their children shall have every reasonable opportnnity in an educational line.
In the last two years the number of separato school districts has increased from 41 to 58, showing that our towns and villages are forging to the front in providing school facilities for their children.
Several of the smaller towns have enlarged their sehool districts by embraeing some adjacent rural territory upon petition of the freeholders thereof.
The schools of all the separate distriets are reported as being in a flourishing condition and crowded with pupils to the limit of their capacity.
As indicated in the last biennial report, these inunicipalities had to make, in most instances, a slight increase in their local school tax; but no serious hindrance of their progress and elticiency has been occasioned by the change in our school revenne system.
The increase in the namber of separate school districts and their steady progress indicate the healthy tone of public sentiment which follows great local effort in behalf of schools.
The course of stndy in nearly all of these schools is sufficient to prepare students to enter the freshman class of the university and the other State institutions. They are, moreover, contributing to the rural schools many well-prepared, active, and progressive teachers.
Numerous changes of principals and superintendents have taken place within the past few years, indicating that the people are seeking stronger men to conduct their schools.
A system of schools seldom rises above the idea of the principal or superintendent, and most often is but a reflection of that ideal.
The chief function of trustees is to put the right man in charge of the schools.
The quality of manhood in a principal is a silent molding power that stamps its impress on the character and destiny of every pupil. It operates not simply in tho school room and on the play ground, but follows children into their homes, is with them during vacations, and registers itself in their conduct as future citizens of the Commonwealth.
Most of the separate school districts have provided school libraries.
A library composed of popular and standard literature is a necessary adjunct to every public school.
The highest function of the public school is to create and cultivate the reading babit. Herein lies its chief power to promote culture among the masses.
Our country homes bave but few books, and these generally of a kind unattractive to children. Many young people are reaching the age of maturity without ever hav. ing read a book.
Our schools must set to work to collect small libraries of readablo books and placo them in the hands of the children. A little cooperative effort by the neighborhood will supply the means to purchase twenty or thirty volumes. Even this small number, if weil selected and wisely used by the teacher, will suflice to lead tho pupils into communion with the great apostles of the world's thought, to create within them a new source of happiness, to uplift them ultimately to a state of intellectual freedom.