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pledge of co-operation. And I was almost as much surprised as gratified to find the heartiness with which the manufacturers throughout the State came into the agreement; and I think it is really wonderful, as well as a theme for gratitude, to see how our manufacturers, as a rule, agreed to this pledge. We have an agent constantly employed in visiting the factories of the State. His aim is to get the nante of every factorychild in Connecticut
Mr. PHILBRICK, (interrupting.) The gentleman does not understand my question. The point was, whether there was any provision of law, bearing directly on the children or on the parents, compelling school-attendance; and, if so, what is the method of executing that law? I am not inquiring as to whether there are any officers in the State deputized to prepare a list of the children employed in the factories. My question is, whether the children are themselves actually required to attend school during three months in the year? If that is so, what are the provisions of the law?
Mr. NORTHROP. Large numbers of the manufacturers have given their promise, also, that, one week before the time when children must be sent from the factories to the school, they will send such a list of names to the school-visitors as is requisite, in order to facilitate and insure the execution of the law. This is a valuable co-operation. At the outset, before this compulsory law was passed, some parents and some manufacturers said that if children were not employed in the factories they would be idling in the streets. The law was then passed, or modified so as to provide for compulsory attendance of the children and that they should be sent to the schools as soon as they were discharged from the factories. This was the effect of it. The law was then made universal, making the duty of attendance obligatory upon the children and the parents, whether the child was sent from the factories or not. The law is now of universal application.
Professor M. A. NEWELL, of Maryland. I would like to ask the honorable secretary, in his estimate of the good results arising from these compulsory laws, as he ascribes them, how much he really thinks is due to the voluntary pledges taken by the manufacturers themselves. Judging from his argument, the good results appear to be due more to the pledges voluntarily taken by the manufacturers than to the laws themselves.
Mr. NORTHROP. I think we owe much to the co-operation of the manufacturers, but I think the pledge itself was due to the law. I have no certain idea that we could have obtained that voluntary pledge from the manufacturers if they had not known that the moment they refused we would have put on the screws.
Mr. NEWELL. Now, is not my friend from Connecticut well satisfied that if he, or his agent, had gone around among the manufacturers, as he describes, and asked for signatures to such a pledge, without any
law in the background, that a great proportion of those who did sign under the law would have signed without the law?
Mr. NORTHROP. A great number, no doubt, would have done so. Not all, but many.
Mr. PHILBRICK. I am very much obliged to the honorable secretary for the answers which have been given to my questions, and I am very much interested in all that he has said; but I do not yet understand how these children are reached in the State of Connecticut. He has told us how they are reached and designated when employed in factories. Now, there is a large class of children in that as in every State who are not employed in any manufacturing-establishments. Therefore, any indirect compulsion operating through the manufacturers does not touch them, is not brought to bear upon them.
My question is, what is done under the law in the State of Connecticut in such cases where the children do not attend or labor in any of the manufacturing-establishments, where the parents of the children are able to, and willing to, support them without requiring any work in such establishments from them?
Mr. NORTHROP. The law applies directly to them as much as to any other children. I can explain in a few words how we reach them. I will read from this circular, which explains how the school-officers in each of the towns are required by law to inquire into the attendance of children living within the boundaries of their school-districts:
The board of education have appointed Mr. Giles Potter as agent to secure the observance of this law. For this purpose he is now visiting different parts of the State and occasionally lecturing on educational topics. His experience in the legisla ture, and especially in the revision of the school-laws, in which he took the most active part, will enable him to give needed information to the school-officers with whom he is constantly conferring. As school-visitors are required by law to inquire into the causes and extent of non-attendance, they are requested to communicate to the secretary of the board any facts they may learn as to neglect in the schooling of children. While the board of education must take the steps" proper to secure the due obs ervance" of the law, it is hoped the necessity of rigorous measures may be avoided.
Occasionally such information comes to us; and, if the school-visitors cannot meet the exigency, if they cannot meet the difficulty, or wish any help, we send at once to that particular town our agent, Mr. Giles Potter. Even if it be only one family that is complained of, he will go to that town for the sake of reaching a single family. He will say to that family that unless their child or children attend school we shall at once commence a prosecution. In some four or five cases parents have announced that they would defy the law. Then a complaint was laid before the grand jury. When they found that we were in earnest in regard to the matter, their children began to attend school. They were very willing, apparently, to secure the withdrawal of the complaint, by compliance with the law.
Mr. PHILBRICK. Allow me to ask another question, and that is, if
the authorities in the State of Connecticut have had to do with parents who were unable to provide text-books or clothing for their children and how it is that the compulsory law reaches that class of children if such have to be provided for? I am quite well aware that there is a class in Connecticut, perhaps a larger class than in any other State, in which the parents have their children employed in manufactories and obtain wages for them, and they are very reluctant to send them to school. But there must be another class of children whose parents at the best are unable to furnish their children with suitable books or comfortable clothing. There is a class of orphans and half-orphans. There is a class of vagrant children whose parents feel or exhibit no great interest in their welfare and are either unable or unwilling to furnish them with proper school-books and clothing. How are these classes reached under the system adopted in Connecticut?
Mr. NORTHROP. No doubt there are some of that class who escape us. We have sent out printed circulars to every town, having reference to such a class; but such efforts as we have made are not claimed as of universal efficacy. We have recommended contributions and the provision of funds for use in supplying text books for such children as are unable to purchase them; and we have urged strongly that some general plan be adopted for supplying the children of very indigent parents with suitable school-clothing-some such plan as has been so successfully employed in some Sunday-school-enterprises. We don't claim that we have met this difficulty fully, and, as I have said, there are, no doubt, some cases of destitution or perhaps of willful vagrancy.
Mr. PHILBRICK. Then I do not understand that there is any machinery in the State of Connecticut for executing the compulsory law which exists, except such as consists in the visits of this special agent. I do not understand that there are any truant-officers, who make it their special business in certain districts to go from house to house and see that every child is properly in attendance at school. I understand that there are no such officers in Connecticut.
Mr. NORTHROP. The school-visitors are specially invited to appoint one of their number to attend to this duty. It is not always done. Mr. PHILBRICK. Are they directly required by law to attend to this duty?
Mr. NORTHROP. The school-visitors are by law required to see to the attendance of children within their districts.
Mr. PHILBRICK. They are not required to appoint special officers for this work?
Mr. NORTHROP. No, sir.
Mr. PHILBRICK. There is no compulsion brought to bear on the schoolvisitors for the execution of this duty?
Mr. NORTHROP. There is no compulsion brought to bear upon them in that respect. There is no penalty attached to their failure in this par
Mr. PHILBRICK. Then it seems there is a deficiency in the law when it comes to practical application. You have a resolution calling upon visitors to do this thing, and there is no compulsion by law in regard to it. It seems to me that, if the school-visitors here or there should differ from the legislature in their view of the law, there would be no means of requiring them to appoint any person to see that the children in their neighborhood attended school for the proper period.
Mr. NORTHROP. There are truant-officers in the city of New Haven. You have possibly noticed the fact that during school-hours you cannot find any boy to black your boots. The boys are in attendance upon the school or are playing shy of the officers. There are truant-officers in Hartford, and in New London, and in other cities; and I believe that they are efficient where they are employed.
Mr. NEWELL. I should like to ask one question. I would like to inquire if the secretary has any means of ascertaining the proportion of children in attendance at school all the year round-who are employed and who are idle.
Mr. NORTHROP. We have returns from the manufacturing-establishments, as I have said.
Mr. NEWELL. Have you definite means for determining the proportion of children employed and of children who are idle when not in school?
Mr. NORTHROP. As I have stated, the aggregate attendance is 95.65 per cent., almost 96 per cent., and is very encouraging, although it is not up to where it ought to be. We hope to bring it up higher. But, when you consider the very large number of children between 4 and 5 years of age, whose attendance at school we discourage, we submit that the result of the calculation is gratifying.
Mr. NEWELL. How near does the average attendance reach your figures?
Mr. NORTHROP. I can read the figures to you from the report. Of course the average attendance will diminish just in proportion as the aggregate attendance increases; that is to say, the more strictly you enforce the law prohibiting the employment of children unless they have attended three months in the year, the greater will be the number who will attend only three months in the year, the greater will be the number of poor children who will attend school as the law requires and no longer; and so the average attendance will be less. If it will not weary you I will read the figures.
Mr. A. C. HOPKINS. Does this 95 per cent. come within the limit of children between 4 and 16 years of age? In other words, is the highest limit of enumeration 16 years? In the schools out West we have persons 16, 17, 18, and 20 years of age attending school. Now, I would like to ask if in your enumeration all such attendants, over 16, are counted in?
Mr. NORTHROP. They are all counted in.
Mr. HOPKINS. That will make quite a difference.
Mr. NORTHROP. But that number is more than counterbalanced by the number of children at school within the year at which we limit or advise first attendance.
Mr. PHILBRICK. It is not my purpose to occupy the attention of the convention by making any extended speech, but I wish to say a very few words before the subject is finally disposed of. I wish to say that I feel that the experiment in Connecticut is another valuable argument in favor of this principle of compulsion; and I am one of those, Mr. President, who fully believe, who have the firmest and most unshaken convictions, not only in the expediency of this principle as an indispensable element in our system of public schools in the different States, but I also believe, from the evidence which we have in this country and in other countries, that compulsion, direct compulsion-what we call compulsory education in the common sense of the term-is destined to be absolutely universal in every country that pretends to educate its children. That is, in a word, my creed on this subject; and the more I study history, the more I observe the workings of this system at the present day and the great drift of public sentiment in different countries on this subject, the more strongly am I convinced. The honorable secretary has alluded, I think, to the recent movement in England in regard to this subject, and I think, Mr. Chairman, that we have a lesson given us in the experience of England on this subject, which is of the greatest importance. Within the last fifteen or sixteen years, I have come in contact with a great many leading Englishmen-men high in influence, men deeply interested in the subject of popular education in Great Britain. Every one of these men up to the year 1870, without exception, said: "No matter what else we might be able to do in Great Britain to advance the cause of public education, one thing we can never do, and that is, we can never inaugurate a system of compulsory education." "The people of England," they said, "have too much of the sentiment of individual liberty. They are too self-willed, too spirited in resisting everything that looks like a tyrannical coercion. They will never consent to such a system. You may persuade them; you may bring to bear upon them moral suasion; you may make your schools attractive and beautiful, and so appeal successfully to their intelligence, or good nature, or pride. But as for compulsion, we can never think of that."
Well, what has been the result? The leading men of England, who handled the great bill of 1870, which was passed, looking at the experience of Europe, said that they would venture for Great Britain this measure in the interests of popular education. But even in their spirit of venture they were most considerate and cautious. They said: "We will venture to ingraft in this bill a simple provision for local compulsory action. We will claim it as a provision under the principles of English liberty. We will provide the local right for compelling the