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Arbor Day was first observed in Missouri in April, 1886. Since that time it has been observed annually on the Friday following the annual school meeting, which is held on the first Tuesday in April. This day has now been set apart by the legislature as Arbor Day. It has now been observed four times, and thousands of trees, vines, and shrubs have been planted in the school yards.
The superintendent of public instruction says that he is constantly receiving letters from all parts of the State for information relating to sales and leases of the school lands. He also states that depredations are continually being made upon these lands, and that it will require close oversight to prevent them.
He suggests that county superintendents, besides being required to compile the reports of district trustees and clerks, should also be required to report upon the general work of the schools, the condition of the buildings, fences, furniture, etc.
Section 1950 of the school laws was amended in March, 189, so as to authorize trustees of school districts to submit to the electors of the districts the question of issuing cou
pon bonds to an amount not exceeding 4 per cent. of the taxable property of such districts, and bearing a rate of interest not exceeding 7 per cent. per annum, the proceeds of such bonds to be used in erecting schoolhouses and purchasing the necessary land.
PROVISIONS OF THE CONSTITUTION OF THE STATE OF MONTANA RELATING TO EDUCATION.
SECTION 1. It shall be the duty of the legislative assembly of Montana to establish and maintain a general, uniform, and thorough system of public, free, common schools.
SEC. 2. The public-school fund of the State shall consist of the proceeds of such lands as have heretofore been granted, or may hereafter be granted, to the State by the General Government, known as school lands, and those granted in lieu of such; land acquired by gift or grant from any person or corporation under any law or grant of the General Government; and of all other grants of land or money made to the State from the General Government for general educational purposes, or where no other special purpose is indicated in such grant; all estates, or distributive shares of the estates that may escheat to the State; all unclaimed shares and dividends of any corporation incorporated under the laws of the State, and all other grants, gifts, devises, or bequests made to the State for general educational purposes.
SEC. 3. Such public-school fund shall forever remain inviolate, guarantied by the State against loss or diversion, to be invested, so far as possible, in public securities within the State, including school-district bonds issued for the erection of school buildings, under the restrictions to be provided by law.
SEC. 4. The governor, superintendent of public instruction, secretary of state, and attorney-general shall constitute the State board of land commissioners, which shall have the direction, control, leasing, and sale of the school lands of the State, and the lands granted or which may hereafter be granted for the support and benefit of the various State educational institutions, under such regulations and restrictions as may be prescribed by law.
SEC. 5. The interest on all invested school funds of the State, and all rents accruing from the leasing of any school lands, shall be apportioned to the several school districts of the State in proportion to the number of children and youths between the ages of six and twenty-one years residing therein respectively, but no district shall be entitled to such distributive share that does not maintain a public free school for at least three months during the year for which distributions shall be made.
SEC. 6. It shall be the duty of the legislative assembly to provide, by taxation or otherwise, sufficient means, in connection with the amount received from the general school fund, to maintain a public, free, common school in each organized district in the State for at least three months in each year.
SEC. 7. The public free schools of the State shall be open to all children and youths between the ages of six and twenty-one years.
SEC. 8. Neither the legislative assembly, nor any county, city, town, or school district, or other public corporations, shall ever make, directly or indirectly, any appropriation, or pay from any public fund or moneys whatever, or make any grant of lands or other property in aid of any church, or for any sectarian purpose, or to aid in the support of any school, academy, seminary, college, university, or other literary, scientific institution, controlled in whole or in part by any church, sect, or denomination whatever.
SEC. 9. No religious or partisan test or qualification shall ever be required of any person as a condition of admission into any public educational institution of the State, either as teacher or student; nor shall attendance be required at any religious service whatever, nor shall any sectarian tenets be taught in any public educational institution of the State; nor shall any person be debarred admission to any of the collegiate departments of the university on account of sex. SEC. 10. The legislative assembly shall provide that all elections for school district officers shall be separate from those elections at which State or county officers are voted for. SEC. 11. The general control and supervision of the State University and the various other State educational institutions shall be vested in a State board of education, whose powers and duties shall be prescribed and regulated by law. The said board shall consist of eleven members, the governor, State superintendent of public instruction, and attorney-general being members ex officio; the other eight members thereof shall be appointed by the governor, subject to the confirmation of the senate, under the regulations and restrictions to be provided by law. SEC. 12. The funds of the State University and of all other State institutions of learning, from whatever source accruing, shall forever remain inviolate and sacred to the purpose for which they were dedicated. The various funds shall be respectively invested under such regulations as may be prescribed by law, and shall be guarantied by the State against loss or diversion. The interest of said invested funds, together with the rents from leased lands or properties, shall be devoted to the maintenance and perpetuation of these respective institutions.
The number of pupils enrolled, Superintendent l'atterson says, "is 1,652 less than the number enrolled last year. This does not include the number enrolled for a less time than two weeks; but, as it stands, it would seem to indicate a rapid falling off of the school population of the State. But when we take into account the large numbers who have been taken from the public and put into private parochial schools from which we have no returns. we see that the above decrease of the enrollment indicates no falling off in the school population of the State, though it must decrease the average attendance of all the schools and to each school.
"Again, the tables show an increase of $35,691.10 over the total revenue raised last year, but as fiftee. new schoolhcuses have been built during the period which cost $63,317.91 we can see there has been a large falling off in the amount raised for the support of schools, as we had reason to fear there would be under the appraisal of 1885. It will be observed from the summary that the total expenditures of the last year exceeded the total income by $26,641.92. This excess came from the money hired for building purposes and from the surplus of the previous year.
"The number of small schools under the town system is still decreasing. The last year twenty-one were dropped. As a consequence the number of graded schools is increased sixteen and the number of high schools two."
The apportionment of 185 decreased the amount of the school tax in 162 towns. This curtailment of school revenues has deprived the schools of needed supplies and improvements and necessitated the employment of cheaper teachers or a shortening of the school terms.
Complaint is made that in some towns "men have been placed upon the [school] board and sworn to a discharge of its duties, whose inexperience, lack of interest, or want of early opportunities have left them utterly disqualified for such work. consequence the schools and the intelligence and the standing of these communities have suffered damage." To remedy this the State superintendent suggests the appointment
of county superintendents, not to supersede town school boards, but to discharge specific additional duties which can not be required of the town boards, especially to examine teachers, supervise schools in a general way, and assist in arranging for holding institutes.
Free text-books.-An act of the State legislature, approved July 30, 1889, renders it obligatory upon the school committees of all cities and towns to furnish "text-books and other supplies used in the public schools" to pupils free of charge.
[From Report for 1838-89 of State Superintendent Edwin O. Chapman.]
The whole number of children in the State between 5 and 18 years of age is 399,052, an increase of 2.9 per cent. over the census of the preceding year; the increase being largest in Passaic, Hudson, and Camden Counties. The increase in the cities was 5.4 per cent. The number of children 5 to 18 years of age enrolled in the public schools was 227,441, which is an increase in the whole number attending, but a decrease of 2 per cent. when the greater number of census children is considered. There is a constant annual decrease in the proportion of census children attending the public schools, but those who do attend do so for a longer time each year. In order to receive any portion of the public funds the schools must be kept open nine mouths. Nearly all the schools were kept open longer than that; the average term for the State being nine months and twelve days. Only one school in the State was kept open less than six mouths.
As the successful work of the schools depends so much on the punctuality and regularity of attendance of pupils, a record has been kept of these particulars and is presented in tabular form in the report. It shows that the average enrollment in each schoolroom
was 38, and the average daily attendance in each room was 31. If the cities are considered by themselves a better presentation can be made, for out of an average enrollment of 42 the number absent was only 6. In the matter of tardiness there was a little more than one case daily in the State, and a little less than one case daily in the cities, if considered by themselves.
Although there was an increase over the previous year of only 1 per cent. in the number of children enrolled, there were 178 more teachers, 6 men and 172 women. The State superintendent endeavored to reduce the number of teachers confining themselves closely to text-books and to reduce the number of daily recitations. It is thought that some improvement has been made in these respects. The average number of recitations heard daily is fifteen.
In regard to the experience of teachers New Jersey makes a favorable showing compared with other States. The average time taught by each teacher in the same school is 4 years and 6 months; but if the cities are considered by themselves the average time is 7 years and 9 months. The average total experience of all the teachers of the State is 8 years; the average experience of the city teachers, 10 years and 2 months. County and city superintendents have been faithful in their efforts to improve the qualifications of teachers, and the teachers themselves have been active in this direction. New Jersey long ago prohibited corporal punishment in the schools, and the 22 years of experience without it abundantly justify its disuse. Other improvements have followed gradually, until now the methods of teaching have reached a high degree of excellence.
SCHOOLHOUSES AND SUPPLIES.
Thirty-two schoolhouses have been built during the year, five of them replacing old houses no longer fit to use. Others have been enlarged, and quite a number repaired and remodeled. The school property of the State is now valued at $8,300,610. Much more attention is now given to the proper lighting, heating, and ventilating of schoolhouses. The appropriation allowed the State department of education for furnishing plans and specifications of schoolhouses was not sufficient to supply one-half of the demand. Of the 2,642 schoolhouses in the State, 105 are reported "poor" and 69 as "very poor." It is probable, however, that the standards of classification have been been raised, and that what would have been classed "poor" schoolhouses a few years ago are now classed " very poor."
In some of the cities, especially those increasing most rapidly in population, there is a lack of sufficient school accommodations. While their census population has increased about 6 per cent., the school accommodations have increased only about 4 per cent. a result, we find the schoolrooms overcrowded. "If we fix the highest number of pupils that should be cared for in one room as 80-a very liberal standard-then we have 64 rooms that are overcrowded; one more than the number reported last year." Nineteen rooms were each made to accommodate more than 100 children.
There is a constant improvement in the schools as regards furniture and supplies, but there are still 231 schoolhouses furnished with the old-fashioned desks made of pine boards. Blackboards are needed in 262 schools and maps in 217. More than one-half the schools are supplied with libraries, and about one-third of the pupils are supplied with free text-books.
These schools have been kept open 938 evenings; the number of pupils enrolled was 8,934, the average attendance each evening 4,272, the number of teachers 214, and the total appropriation for them was $23,964.
On account of the increased population of school age, the amount raised by the State tax for the support of schools was larger by $68,180 than in the previous year. The whole amount, together with the $100,000 from the invested school fund, was a little more than $1,000,000. Although there was an increase in the amount raised for teachers' salaries by city and district taxes, the number of districts that taxed themselves for this purpose decreased to 280, about 23 per cent. of the districts in the State.