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DIGESTS OF STATE SCHOOL REPORTS.
(From Report or 1888-89 of State Superintendent Solomon Palmer]
According to the school census of August, 1889, there were 522,691 children between 7 and 21 years of age, an increase of 36,702 since the census of 1887; the average annual rate of increase for the two years was 3.76 per cent.
Meanwhile the enrollment increased during the year 1888-89 only 2,915, or 1.09 per cent.; and the school expenditure, $6,689, or less than 1 per cent. The increase in en
( rollment and expenditure is not keeping pace with the increase in population. This is progress backwards. During the coming year, however, the State appropriation will be increased by $100,000; still, the increase of educable children is so rapid that this addition to the school fund will not materially increase the amount apportioned per capita. A substantial enlargement of the school fund will be necessary to provide a sufficient number of country schools and to enable them keep open an average of over three and one-half months.
SIGNS OF PROGRESS.
On this point Superintendent Palmer says: “There is no denying the fact that there is an interest felt in our public-school system never felt before. The system is regarded, as it should be, as one of the prime factors in the material, social, moral, and intellectual advancement of the State. This was evidenced by the act of the last legislature in increasing the direct appropriation from the State treasury by $100,000. It is shown by the unusual activity of county superintendents in hoiding county institutes, and by the teachers in theircheerful attendance upon these institutes. It is shown by the demand of the people for well qualified and specially trained teachers to instruct their children. It is shown by a willingness, never seen before in most counties, to supplement the meager State appropriation. It is seen in all our towns and cities, where spacious school
. houses and ample funds are being provided to run the schools continuously from eight to ten months each year. It is seen in the unusually large number of young men and women attending our normal schools to prepare themselves for teaching. It is seen in the interest manifested by the newspapers of the State in constantly keeping before the public the question of education. It is seen in the large attendance of young men and women in our higher institutions of learning, both public and church. Never in the past were the signs more favorable for a general educational advance throughout the State. When we remember that the close of the war found us without any means for the current expenses of running the State government, much less that of the publicschool system, our wealth destroyed, our labor system demoralized, our people confronted with the gravest social and political problems that ever confronted any people, that no longer than fourteen years ago our State was groaning under an indebtedness of more than $30,000,000—more than one-third of all the taxablo values, realand personal, owned by her citizens—when we remember that six years ago the State only appropriated $130,000 direct from her treasury for public schools, we certainly have just cause for feeling that much progress has been made, and that, too, in the face of most formidable difficulties.
“But while much has been accomplished, still more remains to be done. The progress of the past should not only encourage us, but should stimulate us to renewed efforts to make the educational facilities of our State equal to the constantly increasing demands upon it. Illiteracy still abounds, a menace to the State and a blot upon our civilization."
CITIES AND SEPARATE DISTRICTS.
The improvement in city schools is one of the most hopeful signs of advance made in the Southern public-school system. The cities are becoming the educational centers, from which will radiate the influences tending to elevate the standard of all the schools of the State. Iu Alabama “marked progress,” says the superintendent, “is being made in the educational facilities of our cities and towns. In this regard, as might be expected, Birmingham takes the lead. During the past year Powell School has been furnished with an elegant school building at a cost of some $60,000. A training department for teachers has been added to the high school. Other elegant buildings aro being arranged for.
“Selma is building a fine brick public-school building on the site of Dallas Academy, costing $18,000. Eufaula, Tuscumbia, and New Decatur are each building $10,000 publicschool buildings. Tuscaloosa has just finished a $20,000 building for her public schools. Gadsden has procured a good building for her public school, which is just organized and gives promise of fine work. And so the good work goes on.
And so the good work goes on. Others might be mentioned, and no doubt still others will be heard from next year."
[From the Report of Governor Iolfley to the Secretary of the Interior, 1889.)
"The school system of Arizona is an excellent one, and is being liberally and fairly carried out. In every part of the Territory children are offered the advantage of free schools.
“The Territory has a Territorial university in process of construction, the portion for the school of mines being now nearly completed. There is also a Territorial normal school that has been established for several years and is doing well.
"Every town and county in the Territory is divided into school districts. The attend ance is good, and the teachers employed are fully up to the average of teachers in Eastern public schools."
UNIVERSITY AND SCHOOL LANDS.
"There will be no time in the history of Arizona when these lands can be used with greater advantage for the objects desired and for the benefit of the Territory at large than the present. It is to be hoped that Congress will see fit to permit the Territory, underreasonable restrictions, to control these lands as fast as the public surveys are extendeel over them and as they can be segregated from the public lands. Many of these sections are being now farmed by settlers without paying any revenue to the Territory. I think the right to lease and receive revenue in that way might safely be given."
School term. The minimum number of months the public schools are to be kept open has been increased from three to four.
Arbor Day.-The third Friday of April in each year is to be set apart as Arbor Day and to be a holiday in all public schools.
Child labor.--It is made unlawful for any person or corporation to employ any child under the age of fourteen years to labor during school hours, unless such child shall have attended some public or private day school where instruction was given by a teacher qualified to teach in the public schools of Colorado, or shall have been regularly instructed at home in such branches by some qualified person, at least twelve weeks in each year, eight of which at least shall be consecutive; and such child is to deliver to his employer a certificate to that effect signed by the teacher. Any person or corporation infringing this law is to be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor, and fined not less than twenty-five nor more than fifty dollars.
Compulsory attendance. -Persons having control of children between the ages of six and fourteen are required to send them to a public school, or to a private school taught by a competent instructor, at least twelve weeks in each year, at least eight of which shall be consecutive, unless such children are excused by board of school district on account of unfit bodily or mental condition. It is made the duty of school boards to furnish, at the charge of the school fund, necessary clothing for school children, if parents or guardians are unable to do so. Children may be taught at home in such branches as are usually taught in the public schools, subject to the same examination as public-school pupils. The law does not apply in case there is no school taught within two miles by the nearest traveled road.
Any person failing to comply with the provisions of the law shall upon conviction be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than fire por more than twenty-five dollars for each offense.
School directors are to inquire into all cases of neglect to send children to school, and ascertain from the person reglecting the reason therefor, and proceed immediately to secure the prosecution of any offense under the law. Any director neglecting to secure such prosecution within ten days after a written notice has been served on him by any taxpayer in his district, unless the persou complained of shall be excused for any of the reasons above stated, shall be deemed guilty of a misdemeanor and fined not less than ten nor more than fisty dollars.
[From Report for 1838-89 of Charles D. IIin., Secretary of the State Board of Education )
Of the 157,243 children between 4 and 16 years of age enumerated in January, 1889, 127,089 are reported as attending public schools, 18,269 private schools, and 29,425 not attending school at all. The increase in the number of children attending private schools was slightly greater than the increase in the number attending public schools, and of course represented a much larger percentage of increase. Of the 27,335 not attending school, only 2,090 were between 8 and 14 years of age, the period of compulsory attendance. Many of those enrolled, however, attended very irregularly. This evil of irregularity is one of the most serious difficulties the schools have to encounter.
EMPLOYJENT OF CIIILDREN.
By recent enactments the employment of children between eight and fourteen years of age is prohibited in nearly all the leading industries except that of agriculture. Thus by removing from parents the temptation to keep their children from school in order that they may earn a few dollars in some manufacturing establishment at a great expense to their future welfare, the laws requiring attendance at school have been materially strengthened. If the children can not be made to contribute to the gain of parents, but must remain at home in idleness, there will no longer be any inducement to keep them from school. The principle is now acknowledged that parents must not be allowed to deprive their children of the education which has been so liberally and freely provided for them, in order that they may gratify their own wishes and inclinations. Those parents who have a due regard for the welfare and improvement of their children will not object to a law provided for their benefit; but when parents are willing to sacrifice their children's interests for the sake of gain, it is time for the authority of the law to intervene to prevent it.
New school buildings have been erected in East Hartford, Glastonbury, New Haven, Cheshire, Naugatuck, Stonington, Bridgeport, Stamford, Torrington, Middletown, and Somers, at an expense of $188,906. "The town of Windham has conveyed to the State a beautiful site of six acres in the borough of Willimantic. Very careful plans for a building have been made, and the basement walls are now built."
EXAMINATION OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
The board of education has been carrying on for three years an investigation into the actual results of the public schools. Some of these results were published in the State Report for 1887-88, and attracted widespread attention, disclosing as they did a highly unsatisfactory condition of the primary schools in New London County. The results of a more particular examination of the graded schools of the same county are contained in the present report; they do not substantially modify the conclusions already reached. Two sets of specimens of penmanship are reproduced in facsimile. They are the work of the pupils of two different schools in the same town, and illustrate most forcibly tho difference between good and poor teaching. “The difference,” says Mr. Hine, "is wholly in the teaching. In justice to the children it must be said that they are not at fault. They have learned all they could. What is the just verdict upon a system which admits such inefficiency, and upon school officers who knowingly, year after year, not only permit but promote such an imposition upon helpless children ?
“ About two-thirds of the teachers have a high-school education, which is a larger proportion than in ungraded schools. This does not appear to make much difference in the quality of the teaching; certainly, at first, no distinct advantage is noticeable.
"The standard for teachers' certificates is generaily higher. In a few cases, examinations were conducted with a view to requiring moderate qualifications. In no place, however, is any training or professional skill required as a requisite for teaching. There are districts where no substantial qualification is demanded. Young women without training and education are legally approved and installed in school. They teach as well as they can.”
EXAMINATION OF TEACIIERS.
The number of persons examined who had applied for State certificates was 347; the number of certificates granted was 52. Hitherto applicants have only been examined to ascertain if they possessed the necessary attainments, but hereafter they will also be examined on the principles and methods of teaching.
TOWY JANAGEMENT OF SCHOOLS.
In 1866 a bill was passed permitting towns to adopt the town system of management of schools. Twenty-two towns are now operating their schools under this system. the last session of the general assembly a bili nearly identical with the former in its provisions, but requiring the schools to be mauaged under the town plan, was presented.
LOCAL SCHOOL FUNDS.
It is now difficult to ascertain the origin of these different funds, many of them havivg been granted during the eighteenth century, but it has been ascertained that many of them arose from gifts or bequests of benevolent persons. The whole amount of these funds is now $282, 451, and all the losses since 1800 do not amount to more than $10,000, in striking contrast with the history of the town deposit fund. About $175,000 of the whole amount was given before the year 1800, and since the public schools began to be wholly supported by taxation in 1872 very little has been given. Nearly all of it has been donated for the benefit of secondary schools. A large portion of the local school funds is held in Hartford and New Haven Counties--in the former $118, 220, in the latter $66,055.
The general assembly of 1899 enacted the following:
School term.-Public schools must be maintained at least thirty-six weeks each year in districts having a school population of over fifty, and at least thirty weeks in others, under penalty of forfeiting State school moneys; but no school need be kept where the average attendance the previous year was less than eight.
School libraries and apparatus.--Any town may purchase books and apparatus for the public schools, and every town so purchasing is entitled to receive from the State treasurer $5 for each 100 pupils or fraction thereof in each of its schools.
State secretary.---The secretary of the State board of education is made cx officio a member of the school committee of every town and district having a school in which teachers are appointed by the State board.
Normal schools.-Two free normal schools are established, to be maintained at an expense to the State of not exceeding $10,000 in the aggregate per annum.
Town management.-Any town adopting town control must retain it five years, instead of two as heretofore, before a vote is taken on the question of abandoning it.