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"The retail prices are as low as the retail prices of schoolbooks in any State of the Union. The prices are stamped on the books." The publishers contract to give a discount of 163 per cent. to dealers generally throughout the State, and an additional discount of 10 per cent. to not less than six depositories who supply the local dealers.
"So far, the scheme to secure unformity in the use of books at reduced prices has proven satisfactory to those upon whom devolve the expenses of purchasing them."
At its second meeting the State board appointed the members of the several parish boards.
"It is made one of the duties of the parish board of directors to report to the State board of education all negligence on the part of school officials. No such report has been made. The inference is reasonable that there was no serious neglect of duty or delinquency, and that those which may have occurred were remedied by the board wherever they existed without the necessity of reporting to the State board.
TOO MANY SCHOOLS.
The parish boards are vested with the authority of dividing their respective parishes into school districts. The State superintendent recommends the districts to be made as large as can be done consistently with the convenience of the pupils. "It is preferable that children should walk some distance and that they be given the opportunity of attending schools a longer time annually than that they should have a large number of poor schools in close proximity during a limited time. At times boards have yielded to the urgent and commendable zeal of patrons and have opened a larger number of schools than could be maintained a sufficient number of months to make them useful."
The number of different pupils enrolled was smaller by 1,067 than in the previous year. During each year of the preceding decade there was a decrease in the number of pupils; the entire decrease during that time being 8,835. This constant loss is attributable in part to the parochial schools which have been established in many places. It is estimated that 2,500 pupils attend parochial schools in Lewiston, Auburn, Biddeford, Saco, Waterville, Calais, and Westbrook. But another cause of the decrease is the establishment of numerous high schools throughout the State.
CHARACTER OF SCHOOLS.
During the seven years in which statistics have been collected showing the grades of the schools there was a decrease of 106 in the whole number of different schools, but an increase of 184 in the number of graded schools. This indicates a marked tendency to consolidate small schools into a few well-conducted ones.
There was an increase of six in the number of ungraded schools teaching history, and of seventy-two in the number teaching bookkeeping; but there was a considerable decrease in the number teaching physiology and hygiene.
The number of male teachers employed constantly diminishes, while the number of female teachers increases. The decrease in the aggregate number of terms taught by men during the last ten years was 867; the increase in the number of terms taught by women was 1,814. A larger number of experienced teachers and of graduates of normal schools was employed, and the salaries of teachers were slightly higher; it is presumable, therefore, that more successful work was accomplished.
SCHOOL DISTRICTS AND SCHOOLHOUSES.
Seven more towns have discarded the district system and adopted the town system instead; but one town, St. Albans, after having tried the town plan for three years, has returned to the district system.
Although 75 new schoolhouses were built during the year, there was an increase of only 5 in the number reported as in good condition. In the preceding ten years 680 new schoolhouses were built, 579 of which took the places of old ones, and yet the number in good condition increased only 189. It seems, therefore, that some of the school buildings do not receive the care and attention which should be given them.
The most important enactment made in many years in regard to educational matters was that of the recent legislature requiring that after August 1, 1890, towns shall furnish all pupils of the public schools with text-books at public expense. The funds necessary for this purpose shall be raised in the same manner as other public moneys. School committees shall select a uniform series of text-books, and shall contract with the publishers for the purchase and delivery of the same. No text-book thus introduced shall be changed in five years unless by a vote of the town; any person violating this provision shall forfeit five hundred dollars, to be recovered in an action of debt by any school officer or person aggrieved. School committees shall make such rules and regulations, not repugnant to law, as they deem proper for the distribution and preserving of school books and appliances furnished pupils at the expense of the town.
"When a pupil in a public school loses, destroys, or unnecessarily injures any such schoolbook or appliance his parent or guardian shall be notified, and if the loss or damage is not made good to the satisfaction of such committee within a reasonable time they shall report the case to the assessors, who shall include in the next town tax of the delinquent parent or guardian the value of the book or appliance so lost, destroyed, or injured, to be assessed and collected as other town taxes."
Superintendent Luce advises the school committees to make no changes in the books used, except for very strong reasons, and that the books now in possession of pupils, when in good condition and of the kind selected, be bought up and made a part of the town supply, and that the prices at which future supplies of books are to be furnished be determined in the contracts made with publishers. The requirement that books shall be uniform does not prevent the use of two or more series of readers.
All books, before being distributed, shall be labeled and numbered, and at the close of the school term they shall be returned, unless special permission to keep them during vacation has been obtained.
These schools are meeting with marked success and are evidently affording a grade of instruction for which there is a very general demand.
In 1880 high schools were supported in 86 towns and were attended by 6,215 pupils. In 1888-89 they were supported in 204 towns and were attended by 14,900 pupils. Of the 28 new towns in which high schools were established, in 22 they were established by town action and in 6 by district action; this indicates that a much larger territory has been provided with high-school privileges.
The cost of these schools was about $9.40 per pupil for the year. The high schools are proving to be of much advantage to the lower grades of the common schools by furnishing them with well-trained teachers and by relieving them of the work of instructing a few scholars in the higher branches.
Superintendent Luce makes the following recommendations:
1. "That school committees and supervisors, in carrying into effect the free text-book law, study (1) to secure the best book at the least expense, making the fewest practicable changes, and utilizing by purchase or otherwise, so far as practicable, books owned by pupils; (2) to hold teachers and pupils to sharp and strict accountability for careful usage and prompt return of books owned by the town; and (3) to so systematize the distribution and return of them by keeping proper records that the exact condition and location of every such book may be easily determined at the end of every term." 2. That they strictly enforce the laws for compulsory attendance.
3. That they scrupulously guard against the admission of unfit teachers and endeavor to retain successful teachers.
4. That in towns having abolished the district system regular courses of study be adopted for the ungraded schools, from which pupils may be graduated in like manner as from graded schools.
5. That they encourage the abolition of the district system and the establishment of high schools.
6. That they urge teachers to attend educational meetings, and that they themselves take part in such meetings.
7. That they advise young teachers who show a natural aptitude for their work to take a professional course at a normal school.
8. "That, in short, they seek to elevate the public schools of their town by vigilant, earnest, persistent, and aggressive action as leaders in all educational reforms."
Free text-books.-Towns shall furnish pupils of the public schools with free text-books. High schools. "The course of study in the free high schools shall embrace the ordinary English academic studies, especially the natural sciences in their application to mechanics, manufactures, and agriculture; but the ancient or modern languages and music shall not be taught therein except by direction of the superintending school committees having supervision thereof."
Any town may authorize its superintending school committee to contract with the trustees of any academy or high school for the tuition of scholars resident within such town; and the expenditures of any town for such purpose shall be subject to the same conditions and shall entitle such town to the same State aid as if it had made such expenditure for a free high school.
Plantations have same powers as towns.-Plantations have the same powers and liabilities as towns for the formation of districts, collecting school moneys, etc.
Evening schools authorized.-Cities and towns may raise and appropriate money for the support of evening schools, in which only the elementary branches shall be taught, but pupils of any age shall be admitted.
School law to be published biennially.-The State superintendent is required "biennially, as soon as practicable after the adjournment of the legislature, to compile and have printed in pamphlet form three thousand copies of the amended school law of the State and distribute the same to the municipal and school officers of the several towns."
The report of the State superintendent shows that during the year 1888-89 there was no material change made in the school system of Maryland; no marked advance movement, and no step backward; there was the ordinary and natural increase in the number of schools and teachers which was required by the normal growth in enrollment and average attendance. In fact, the schools and school system of Maryland have reached such a point of development that no radical change is desirable, and we find that in fifteen years no change of importance has been made in the school law. "Maryland is blessed in having many examiners of long experience-one from the beginning of the system in 1865, several from its reorganization in 1868, and only a very few of less than six years' standing."
The teachers, as a whole, are intelligent and earnest in their work, and endeavor in many ways to render themselves capable instructors. This is shown by their almost universal attendance on the teachers' institutes and by the formation of reading circles, from which great improvement is derived.
The recommendation of the State superintendent that the few remaining county academies be made a part of the public-school system is heartily indorsed by the board of Frederick County. This board established high-school departments in the public school at Middletown and in the female school at Frederick City. These departments are well patronized and highly appreciated by those who have children to educate, and many requests are received by the board for the extension of such facilities for higher education.
[From Report for 1838-89 of Hon. John W. Dickinson, secretary of the State board of education.] STATISTICAL SUMMARY.
The compulsory school laws require all children in the State between 8 and 14 years of age to attend some public day school or some private school approved by the school committee for at least 20 weeks during each year.
The number of children in the State between 5 and 15 years of age May 1, 1888, was 367,785; the number of children of all ages attending the public schools during the year was 363,166, an increase of 5,166 over the previous year, but still not equal to the population 5 to 15 years of age. This can readily be accounted for to some extent. Many children, for various reasons, do not enter the public schools until they are 7 or 8 years of age; others leave them at 14 to learn some trade or to earn a livelihood. Again, 53,663 pupils were reported as attending private schools or academies.
The per cent. of attendance based upon average membership was 90; in 18 towns it was above 95, in 15 it fell below 80. In the towns having these low averages there was probably much negligence on the part of both parents and school officers.
The law requires all the schools to be kept for six months and high schools for ten months. Four towns have failed to keep their schools for six months and fifteen others barely reached the limit.
The whole number of teachers employed was 10,123, more than nine-tenths of them being women. The number of men teaching has been constantly diminishing for ten