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The public schools steadily gain ground. In the towns the system of graded schools is being gradually adopted. Sumter, Darlington, and York, three of the largest centers of influence in this State, held during the year their first session under this plan. At no distant day every important place is expected to follow their lead.
The people of South Carolina are intensely conservative. They have been watching with a jealous eye the development of the new educational ideas and refuse to move until the success of a scheme has been thoroughly deinonstrated. This has been done so fully that the business men are now leaders in the movement for a more complete system of public schools. Already splendid schools have been established at Charleston, Columbia, Greenville, Spartanburg, Rock Hill, Winnsborough, Chester, Seneca, Johnston, Barnwell, Marion, Florence, Bennettsville, Camden, and other important places. These recommend themselves by their cheapness, their thoroughness, and the vital fact that they reach every child. It is simply a question of time, Superintendent Rice says, when every town in the State that has real vitality and desires to educate the masses will have its graded school.
The country schools present more points of difficulty. Property is less valuable and the population sparse, being mainly an agricultural people. Free labor is unreliable
. and expensive, and the children are needed upon the farms a large part of the year. This, while it gives them a valuable practical training in the different branches of agriculture, necessitates brief school terms. If a ten months' free graded school were located in every community very many could not use it more than six months. rule they use their opportunities well; and the school term in all cases may be made to extend to six months by the application of the new general local tax act.
The point requiring closest attention is the character of the work done during these short terms. Of the State system itself, the superintendent says: "After years of study of its provisions and contact with its operation and agencies in every part of the State, I say, with emphasis, that its principles are simple, wise, and strong. The trouble is that it has not been administered with fidelity. The great cry is for money; but if the school work is well done in the short terms and the money honestly applied the people will raise every dollar necessary. There is already great progress in many country school districts. They will compare favorably with the towns in the character of their schoolhouses, their equipment, length of session, competency of teachers, and vital connection on the part of parents with the administration of school affairs. There has been a large increase in the number and value of school buildings owned by the State. In some counties a good schoolhouse may be found in every locality.
PEABODY FUND AID TO GRADED SCHOOLS.
South Carolina has received a larger amount from this fund during the last year than any other Southern State. This has resulted in aid being given to graded schools. The total amount appropriated to graded schools from this source was $4,450, of which Charleston received $1,000 and Greenville $850. Every one of these schools is successfully conducted, and furnishes to the community in which it is situated the very best practical evidence of its adaptability to educate people. These schools receive assistance three years under certain conditions. At the close of their three-year terms the towns are taxing themselves for better buildings and more thorough equipment. A detailed account of the operations of these various schools, their cost, their ability to handle large numbers, and to train children thoroughly, will astonish and delight every friend of learning
Superintendent Smith states that his report was published laier than it should have been on account of his not having received full returns.
The salaries of county superintendents are so small that competent men refuse to accept the place, or if they do accept it they do not give proper attention to the work. Again, it seems impossible to secure prompt and full reports from the district clerks and county trustees. The remedy suggested is that county superintendents be paid liberal salaries and be vested with the power of approving warrants.
As only about two-thirds of the school population are enrolled in the schools it would seem that the education of a large proportion of the children is being neglected. But other things should be considered in this connection. The scholastic population embraces all persons between the ages of six and twenty-one, but many parents do not send their children to school until they are seven years of age, and many boys and girls complete the course of the public schools by the time they are fifteen. Some allowance should also be made for the number attending private schools.
[From Second Annual Report to Congress of the Commissioner of Schools for Utah, Jacob S. Boreman.)
Under the act of Congress of March 3, 1897, the office of Territorial superintendent of district schools created by the laws of Utah was abolished, and it was made the duty of the supreme court of the Territory to appoint a commissioner of schools, who should possess and exercise all the powers and duties previously imposed upon the Territorial superintendent by the laws of the Territory, and who should report annually to Congress.
An examination of the reports of the commissioner of schools and of the governor of the Territory reveals the fact that the public-school system of Utah falls far short of what it should be, that not more than one-half the children in the Territory attend them, and that not more than one-half of the expenses of the public schools are paid from public funds, the remaining half being raised by charges for tuition.
The outlook for the future is equally discouraging, for the Mormon leaders, who exercise their influence over five-sixths of the people, are now beginning to establish church schools in each "stake” or church district. Since the passage of the law in 1887 which forbids the use in school of the Book of Mormon or any other sectarian book, their opposition has become intensified. If any improvement is made in the public schools it must originate outside the Territory.
Quite a number of denorinational schools have been established in the Territory by the different sects in the United States. Of these the Presbyterians have 33; the Congregationalists, 24; Methodists, 21; Roman Catholics, 6; Episcopalians, 6; Lutherans, 1; Baptists, 2;'and Mormons, 6. The exact number of children attending these schools is not known, but it is estimated to be near 8,000. These schools, except those under Mormon control, would readily give place to a good system of common schools, conducted by competent teachers; it is thought that if the common schools were made entirely free, and if they did good work, the Mormon schools also would have to gield before them.
The whole amount of land granted by Congress for the benefit of schools in the Territory is 46,080 acres; but as the value of these lands is much lowered on account of the scarcity of water, they are only worth about $1,25 per acre, or about $60,000 or $75,000 as a whole.
Number of school districts ..........
2, 144 2,547
137 63, 453 46,061
92 479 3,517 3, 996 554
404 $9.30 5.23 123
548 $623, 157 610, 274 473, 309 10, 118 8, 400 6, 972
2,237 I ............93 2, 452D ...........95 134,5 | D..........2.5 68,558 I...........105 47, 235 1........1, 174 92.5 | I..........0.5
473 | D.............6 3, 632 I...........115 4, 105 | I...........109 546 D.. ..........8
382 D............ 22 9.21 | D.......$0.09 5.33 | I..........10 132 I..............9
529 D............19 $629, 403 1...... $1, 246 634, 004
D..... 6,270 478, 929 I...... 5, 620
D..........812 8,784 I ...........384 6,726 D..........246
A new school law was enacted by the general assembly in 1888 and approved by the governor November 27, to take effect immediately. It had been drafted with great care by a board appointed especially to that end. The principal change was from town to county superintendency,
A new and more stringent system of examinations for teachers' positions was adopted, the examinations to be simultaneous and uniform, and conducted by the county supervisors.
Provision was made for an annual school census, giving the number of children of each year of age and the number of each year of age enrolled in the public schools. These facts are of prime importance in the study of any school system.
County uniformity of text-books was adopted, certain measures taken to equalize the revenues of the different districts of the several towns, the school year changed so as to end June 30, the school age changed from 6-20 to 6-18, and other alterations made.
[From Report for 1888-89 of State Superintendent John L. Buchanan.)
The State superintendent points out some of the defects of the public schools of Virginia, not for the purpose of showing that the system is unsatisfactory, but rather to make known in what respects he thinks the schools should and can be improved. The average monthly salary of teachers, the average length of the school term, the average daily attendance per school, and the average cost of education per pupil have varied very little for several years. There has been for a number of years a gradual hut constant increase in the number of schools, enrollment, average daily attendance, number of teachers, and in the expenditures for school purposes. There were 5,803 white pupils and 3,633 colored pupils supplied with text-books at public expense.
COMPULSORY SCHOOL LAWS.
It is to be regretted that the percentage of school population enrolled is so low, and especially that the average attendance is so small. In many of the counties the school term is not longer than twenty weeks. There is also great irregularity in the attend