« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
years, while the number of women teaching has as constantly increased. In the cities and larger towns the tenure of the teachers' position is becoming more permanent, but in the poorer towns changes are constantly occurring.
The proportion of teachers who have attended the State normal schools has greatly increased, and we may consequently infer that better work was done. The normal graduates also furnish many valuable lessons to other teachers around them and to many of their own pupils, who afterward become teachers and adopt the methods with which they have become acquainted.
The number of high schools in the State is 236, and 90 per cent. of the people now have high-school privileges in their own towns. That these schools are highly appreciated is manifested by the fact that high schools are maintained by a large number of towns not required by law to do so.
The number of evening schools maintained was 240, a larger number than in the previous year, but the average attendance was smaller. The attendance in these schools was very unsatisfactory, many persons attending a few evenings and then dropping out.
The expenditures for school purposes are increasing from year to year, and the ratio of increase is slightly larger than the ratio of increase of school population or of school attendance. As the standard of teaching is being made higher, the salaries of teachers must also be higher. Better buildings are now required, and they must be better heated and ventilated. The sum of $22,118.35 was expended for the transportation of children in preference to sending them to small and poorly conducted schools.
The school committees have long felt that they could not give to the schools that degree of attention and superintendence which they deserve, and in the cities special officers have been provided for this purpose. To aid the smaller towns in securing supervision the legislature of 1888 passed the following act:
"SECTION 1. Any two or more towns, the valuation of each of which does not exceed two million five hundred thousand dollars, and the aggregate number of schools in all of which is not more than fifty nor less than thirty, may, by vote of the several towns, unite for the purpose of the employment of a superintendent of schools under the provisions of this act.
"SEC. 2. When such a union has been effected the school committees of the towns comprising the union shall form a joint committee, and for the purposes of this act said joint committee shall be held to be the agents of each town comprising the union. * * * They shall choose by ballot a superintendent of schools, determine the relative amount of service to be performed by him in each town, fix his salary, and apportion the amount thereof to be paid by the several towns, and certify such amount to the treasurer of each town."
The act further provides that whenever such union shall have raised by taxation $750 for the support of a superintendent of schools a warrant may be drawn upon the treasurer of the State for $1,000, one-half of which amount shall be paid for the salary of the superintendent and the other half for the salaries of teachers.
Sixteen union districts have been formed under this provision, and so far the plan gives great satisfaction. Some fear was entertained at first that it would excite jealousy between the districts, but such has not been the result. The principal difficulty encountered has been that some towns have not been able to find others in their vicinity with which they could unite.
Many advantages arise from the employment of school superintendents. The supervision of the schools, especially of the smaller and poorer schools is more uniform and intelligent; the needs of the schools are more promptly supplied; there is more system, better organization and classification; teachers are selected witli greater care: there is greater economy in the purchase and use of supplies, and school property is better cared for.
The powers and duties of the superintendents are essentially the same as those of the school committees whose places they are mainly intended to supply, and whose approval they are expected to secure. They should endeavor to ascertain by examinations and
observation which candidates are most likely to prove successful teachers, and should recommend such to school committees for election. They should see that the courses of study are wisely arranged, and that the methods of imparting instruction are such as have proven satisfactory. The individual teachers, however, should be allowed full freedom in adopting new plans and experiments for giving increased interest to their exercises. The selection of text-books should be left by the school committee to the judgment of the superintendent and teachers who have used them in the class room. The superintendents should endeavor, as far as possible, to have schoolhouses properly located, conveniently arranged, well ventilated and lighted. They should endeavor in different ways to infuse into the people an interest in educational matters so that a full attendance of the school population may be secured.
The law requires all towns to provide for the confinement and instruction of truant children; but, as the number of truants in individual towns would frequently be small, it is provided that county truant schools may be established, to which the different towns may send their truants. In four counties, namely, Hampden, Berkshire, Hampshire, and Norfolk, truant schools have been established. All the towns of the State should immediately provide for a faithful compliance with this law.
New impetus has been given to the importance of physical training of pupils by the recent discussions on this subject. Physical health and vigor are essential to full activity of the mind, as well as to a full measure of happiness and success in life. Every pupil leaving a public school should possess both mental and physical vigor, mens sana in corpore sano.
The number of private schools reported is 396, an increase for the year of 48. Although the statistics of private schools are very imperfect, it is well known that the ratio of increase of attendance on private schools is much larger than the ratio of increase of public school attendance. It is to be regretted that recent events have brought about this condition of affairs, for the public schools being supported and controlled by the State, they are presumably better prepared to furnish a broad and liberal education. This condition of affairs does not call for restrictive legislation, however, but must he met by improving the public schools so that all citizens will prefer to have their children attend them.
[From Report for 1888-89 of State Superintendent Joseph Estabrook.]
TEACHERS AND SALARIES,
Number of teachers necessary to supply graded schools........
Whole number necessary..
Number licensed without previous experience in teaching......
Whole number of men employed ......
Whole number of women employed........
Whole number of school libraries.....
Number of volumes in all the libraries
Amount of taxes voted for township libraries.
Amount received from county treasurers for township libraries..
Amount paid for support of township libraries.
Amount paid for support of district libraries.......
...5, 180 1,110 11,602
Since 1880 there has been a small but almost constant annual decrease in the number of children attending the public schools as compared with the number of children in the State. This decrease amounted during the ten years to 5.4 per cent. Not only so, but in the year 1889 there was a decrease of 1,614 in the public school enrollment, although there was an increase of 10,146 in the number of children in the State. This decrease is still more remarkable when it is considered that a compulsory attendance law was passed in 13, and in 1885 an act for reformatory education of refractory youths. The decrease in the per cent. of census children attending schools during the different years is here shown:
No satisfactory explanation can yet he given for this constant decrease, and sufficient information has not been obtained with respect to private schools to determine how far these may account for it.
The legislature passed an act requiring the district board of each school district to "post in a conspicuous place, at least ten days prior to the first annual school meeting from and after the passage of this act, a notice that those qualified to vote upon the question of raising money in said district shall vote at such annual meeting to authorize said district board to purchase and provide free text-books for the use of the pupils in said district. If a majority of all the as-above-provided voters present at such meeting shall authorize said board to raise by tax a sum sufficient to comply with the provisions of this act, the said district board shall make a list of such books," and shall notify the State superintendent of the action of such meeting. Accordingly, at their next annual meeting 520 districts made provision for free text-books.
Besides the act with reference to free text-books, an act was passed requiring the supervisors of townships in which a fractional district is situated to include the proportion of the mill tax to be placed on their respective assessment rolls.
An effort was made to secure the adoption of township school districts, but failed. A new edition of the general school laws, including a digest of the supreme court decisions, was published during the year.
The whole number of teachers necessary to supply all the schools was 10,637. The graded schools employed 4,201, only 181 more than was necessary to supply them, but the ungraded schools employed 11,874, or 5,251 more than were necessary. It is seen, therefore, that on an average nearly every ungraded school employed two teachers during the year.
Of the 15,979 persons applying for county certificates 206 received first-grade certificates, 554 second grade, and 10,361 third-grade certificates. This indicates that there is great need of thoroughly competent and experienced teachers. Too many of the teachers have engaged in the work only as a temporary business, and they are therefore lacking both in the necessary qualifications and in the desire to qualify themselves. Again, teachers have no strong inducement to enter upon the work as a permanent profession, for they can secure no definite tenure of position. The teacher's position is too often bestowed as a reward for personal or political favors instead of to the one most competent to discharge its duties.
Although only 22 per cent. of the teachers are males, their relative number is constantly decreasing. In 1889 the number of men teaching was 92 less than in the previous year and 253 less than in 1886. On the contrary the number of women teaching was 312 greater than in the previous year.
According to the public acts of 1889 the State board of education shall issue life certificates to all persons who have taught for two years in the schools of the State and who shall upon examination be found to possess eminent scholarship, ability, and good moral character. Under the previous regulations for granting State certificates only fortythree persons had secured them during ten years, but since they have been made valid for life it is probable that they will be in greater demand.
SCHOOLHOUSES AND THEIR SURROUNDINGS.
The estimated value of the public-school property is $13,386,637, the amount expended during 1889 for buildings and repairs being $641,661. Notwithstanding the large amounts spent upon school buildings, less than one-third of them are reported as properly heated and ventilated. This is attributable in large part to the tendency so prevalent a few years ago of erecting buildings of abnormal height and showy exterior appearance, but having little regard to the comfort and well-being of the pupils. In the rural districts very little regard is had for the proper lighting and ventilation of schoolhouses, consequently when one part of the schoolroom is uncomfortably warm the other part is cold; but in the plans of city school buildings special attention is now given to these aims.
Upon the subject of outbuildings Superintendent Estabrook uses the following words: "I feel constrained in this connection to refer to a condition of affairs that is far too prevalent, and for the continuance of which the district officers can justly be held re
sponsible. I allude to the shameful condition of the outbuildings attached to the schoolhouses in many districts. Frequently but one building is provided for both sexes, and the boys and girls use it indiscriminately. Or, what is scarcely less disgraceful, the buildings are placed in close proximity to each other without any permanent barrier between them. The effect of such a state of affairs upon the moral tone of the pupils and the terrible results that are likely to follow are too patent, to any one whose sense of decency is not entirely lost, to need even a statement. That they are allowed to exist is a sad commentary on the moral tone of a community, and implies at least a criminal negligence on the part of those school officers who permit it."
"The money derived from the sale of school lands and from escheats to the State constitute the primary school fund proper, and bear 7 per cent. interest. The moneys derived from the sale of swamp lands donated by Congress constitute the primary school 5-per-cent. fund.
The interest derived from each of these funds, together with the surplus of specific taxes remaining in the State treasury after paying the interest on the several educational funds and the interest and principal of the State debt, forms the primary school interest fund, the entire amount of which that may be on hand at the time is apportioned to the school districts of the State semiannually, between the 1st and 10th days of May and November in each year."
The primary school 7-per-cent. fund amounted, June 30, 1889, to $3,722,286, and the primary school 5-per-cent. fund amounted to $807,391.
[From Report for 1837-88 and 1888-89 of State Superintendent J. R. Preston.]
That the year 1833-89 witnessed a great improvement in the educational progress of Mississippi is evident from several considerations. In the first place there were 919 more schools, and the number of children sharing in the benefits of them was greater