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The papers on special topics have been introduced to meet some special necessity pressed upon my attention, or to turn the inquiries of educators in directions where they may find immediate and advantageous results. The names of the writers are attached. Each has had some peculiar opportunity or advantage for the preparation of the paper presented. In each case this office has endeavored to furnish the statistics, and to be as sure as possible of their correctness. In the preparation of these papers the writers have had perfect freedom in the expression of their own opinions; and I have preferred that their different views should be thus presented, in order to afford opportunity for comparison, by which the most satisfactory conclusions may be reached.
ABSTRACTS OF STATE AND CITY SCHOOL REPORTS.
These abstracts constitute a large share of the accompanying papers. They present the most correct view of what is done and what is not done in the various State systems of education. The diversity is very great. The particulars in which there is complete similarity are few. There is hardly any topic in the wide range of educational subjects which is not treated, not merely in theory, but generally in connection with some illustrative fact. The facts presented are, as they purport to be, abstracts of the reports in hand, seldom modified by more recent information from other sources. The only exceptions are in the facts drawn from the work done in the South by the Freedmen's Bureau, the Peabody fund, and the benevolent associations. How much these endeavors have been needed, and how much they have accomplished, cannot be better understood than by a study of these abstracts.
Looking exclusively at the favorable results presented, they are well calculated to inspire American pride. In no country in the world, it is believed, is there a larger actual expenditure of money for purposes of education. Certainly none offers a parallel in private munificence,* or in the excellence of its school buildings, as they are to be found in some of our communities. But looking at the amount accomplished by the outlay, it will be observed that great private munificence and public expenditure are by no means universal throughout the country. They operate in this large degree only in sections. In others, there is a corresponding inadequacy of expenditure and of result. Should the same degree of endeavor and expense become universal in all the States, cities, and country districts, how vast, compared with other countries, how satisfactory, would be the result to American patriotism. Comparing the effort made, the money expended, and the amount accomplished, with similar particulars, in the Prussian system, theirs will undoubtedly be found to excel the American in economy, in the universality of in
* It was my intention to note the contributions from private sources to educational purposes during the year, in the way of endowment and otherwise, so as to have given the approximate amount; but I have found it impossible to do so with sufficient accuracy to warrant the insertion of the results.
telligence, in the training of teachers, and in the ratio of highly trained, scientific, and literary minds to the whole population.
President Folwell, of the University of Minnesota, recently observed:
Talk as glibly and proudly as we may of our educational systems, we have not yet, in any of our States, more than the beginning of an orderly, catholic, and comprehensive system. With a world-wide fame for our free schools, with civil institutions not merely tolerating, but presupposing and demanding, the coördination of educational agencies, we Americans, accustomed as we are to organize and coöperate, stand far behind many European nations in this matter of the organization of education in general. Prussia, France, Switzerland, Italy, Greece, have for many years had all their schools, colleges, and universities, public and private, so coördinated and subordinated as to form harmonious systems.
Preserving all the excellencies of what has been accomplished, American educators should bring under view all facts which will help their work forward in our unceasing struggle toward perfection. The reports of States and cities and of this office should be held responsible to the public for a fair and full presentation of those facts. They should constitute the documents to be studied for the philosophical guidance of millions of educators. Is it not fair to expect that the greatest stranger taking up every class of these reports should be able to obtain a correct idea of educational institutions of all grades within the territory covered by the report, be it city, county, State, or nation? Some State and city reports are beginning to do this; many yet do not attempt it.
Taking the Massachusetts report as an illustration: it is very voluminous and full of interest, both in its account of the origin and history of the public schools and in its minute picture of their operations at the present day, with extracts from the local, district, and town reports, showing how widespread is the active interest felt in the public schools by the citizens; still there remains the fact that a stranger, looking to this report for his knowledge of the position of Massachusetts in the educational world, can ascertain almost nothing with regard to any institution of higher learning in the State, such as Cambridge, Amherst, Williams, and Tufts. Her technical and professional schools are all ignored. The statistics of the incorporated academies are now included. Neither, in that report, can any correct idea be obtained of the marvelous work done in the State by her various institutions established for the benefit of those suffering from the several physical, mental, and moral abnormal conditions of her sons and daughters, her schools for idiots, for juvenile offenders, for deaf and dumb and blind, and her asylums for the insane.
The Illinois report is prominent among those giving a full idea of this last class of institutions.
The explanation of this doubtless would be that the Massachusetts report professed to deal only with the system of free public schools. It seems to show, however, the difficulty that exists in obtaining any comprehensive view of what is being done for education in any State-a very serious view when one's only source of information is the published re
port. This difficulty, which has been encountered by foreign observers at every step of their investigations, is no trifling one. When it comes to be more generally understood that education is not only a matter of the primary district schools, but also of the higher institutions of learning, we may hope for more completeness and uniformity in the educational reports of the several States. As an account of the public schools, however, this report is most satisfactory. The epigrammatic sentences extracted from the various city and town reports will be found of special interest, and suggest, what is undoubtedly true, that no community of equal size has the same number of persons so competent to direct school affairs.
The last Connecticut report, on the other hand, presents in part an illustration of the appropriate recognition of the higher professional and supplementary institutions of learning in the State. The people get an idea of Yale, that has so greatly caused and crowned the glory of the State. Her population, into whose hands this report falls, learn of the Sheffield Scientific School, and the forty scholarships made free to them to use, if they will qualify themselves to undertake its excellent curriculum. The appropriate insertion of this information in city and town reports would be altogether in the interest of these institutions, as well as to the benefit of the people at large.
The New York report ably shows the need of thus presenting all the educational institutions in the State in one view.
The extent to which the reports are circulated, from which these abstracts are taken, is also especially worthy of remark. It is gratifying that Ohio publishes 18,000 copies, as it is surprising that New Hampshire publishes but 1,500; while we are altogether unprepared for the wisdom of the suggestion that Boston should issue but 2,500 for its citizens.
The educating power of that old custom in the original towns of the country, which brought every civil question of importance before the whole body of the citizens, should not be forgotten. This debate and vote upon every school question, in open town meeting, has brought home the support of schools in the towns of New England as in no other sparsely settled communities; for the city, the State, and the nation the report is the only substitute offered save that of the newspaper press. But however much the press in this form may exert its vast power for the information of the people, there remains a great necessity for information, in a more permanent form, upon which the public judgment can be formed and public action taken. Educators have not merely to educate each generation in childhood, but to educate each generation of adults into the sentiments upon which the intelligent and wise conduct of school and home instruction must depend. What is accomplished for those enrolled needs to be constantly compared with what should be done for the entire population of school age. The attention and
sympathy of all interested should be turned to the entire work which the school system ought to do.
Some of the reports, those of Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Illinois, indicate how much may be accomplished, while no points are omitted, by turning the educational efforts of the State for the year, particularly to certain special needs, and reporting the results obtained. These reports seldom give the condition of lands and of deposits furnished by the United States, the income of which is set apart for the purposes of education. The Kansas report brings prominently forward the diversion of the United States grants of lands for schools to other than school purposes. The superintendent of schools in Missouri observes that the reckless management of the school funds calls urgently for legislation. The report from Iowa points out the unsatisfactory condition of the school fund of that State, as at present mismanaged.
Different parties in Oregon call attention to the act recently passed by the legislature of that State, and signed by the governor, which appropriates to the object of internal improvements the proceeds of certain lands set apart, as they believe, by the constitution of the State for the support of common schools therein. The facts and any action that may be necessary must be left entirely to the discretion of Congress, or the adjudication of the courts. But the most general perversion of these aids to education is presented in those States recently overswept by rebellion. Among the first acts of secession, in several instances, was the perversion of school funds for war purposes.
The satisfactory results of the abolition of the rate-bill, and of making the schools entirely free, are presented in the New York, Connecticut, Michigan, and New Jersey reports. The experience of these, and of other States that have long since taken similar action, should be a sufficient warning to those in the South, where new free schools are going into operation, against the adoption of measures so fraught with evil. The economy and efficiency of careful classification and gradation find numerous illustrations in every efficient State system. No wellinformed American educator would now presume to attempt to supply instruction to cities or towns of considerable size, without carefully classifying and grading the schools.
The information contained in the accompanying papers in regard to education in the States where emancipation has lately taken effect, contains features in marked distinction from those where freedom has been longer universal. It is gratifying that slavery exists nowhere any longer in the land to close the door effectually against universal education. It is gratifying to observe the avidity with which those lately slaves have sought the primer and the means of higher instruction. It is gratifying to know that the large-hearted Peabody, and many benevolent associations, have done so much to facilitate and encourage education among all classes in the South. It is gratifying to reflect that the Government, through the Freedmen's Bureau, has accomplished
results so vast in this direction, being able to show that in July last, in day and night schools, regularly and irregularly reported, 149,581 pupils had been in attendance. It is gratifying to know that under the restoration policy of Congress the reorganized State governments have adopted constitutions making obligatory the establishment and conduct of free public schools for all the children of school age, and that laws have been enacted and the work of education so generally commenced under them, organizing superintendence, employing teachers, and building school-houses, introducing here and there the germs of systems which have been tried elsewhere and proved most successful. But when we begin to compare what has been accomplished with what remains to be done, and the instrumentalities in the field with the work they have to do, the feelings awakened are those of extreme anxiety. It will be observed that the provisions for education in Delaware remain the same as before emancipation. There is no State supervision, no State provision for training teachers, no school law adequate for keeping schools open; municipalities may tax themselves for school purposes or not, as they see fit. Wilmington affording the most favorable results, the schools in the State generally are of an inferior class, and, so far as organized under the school law of the State, provide only for the education of the whites. Some excellent private efforts have been made for the benefit of both whites and blacks, those for the latter under the auspices of the Freedmen's Bureau and benevolent societies.
It appears from authentic information filed in this office, that Sussex County now raises, by taxation, $30, Kent, $50, and Newcastle, $75, the lowest limit which will secure their appropriation of the State fund. This year, however, owing to the circulation of a statement that, under the operation of the fifteenth amendment, the colored children might claim to be educated at the same schools with whites, five of the six school districts into which Dover, the capital of the State, is divided, voted no tax, the remaining one voting $251. It is noticeable that the school fund is divided among the three counties, on the basis of the population as it was forty years ago, in 1830.
Maryland has a law for the conduct of the white schools, excellent in some of its features. The principal of the normal school is the nominal, but powerless, head of the system; the county examiners perform, in some measure, the work of superintendence. The Baltimore schools have many excellencies, and provide for the education of the colored children, but in the country districts of the State the education of any excepting whites is utterly ignored, save as provided for by private enterprise.
Kentucky provides supervision, but the legislature last winter, in endeavoring to curb the energetic efforts of the superintendent, reduced his salary, and, instead of adopting the efficient measures for white schools which he had recommended, enacted a law very much in accord with the provisions of the statutes before the emancipation of slaves,