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Compulsory education has been much more effectually enforced. The falling off in Arapahoe County has been far less, being only 4 per cent of those in attendance upon public schools. This would be diminished considerably further if that in private schools were counted.
The State board of examiners held nine sessions. The conditions of getting diplomas are very stringent, and they are gradually raising the standard of the teaching force.
A very large number of decisions are printed in the report, that were given by the superintendent upon questions submitted by her subordinates upon several subjects. Among those seeming particularly noteworthy is the following touching use of the Bible in schools:
"Neither the constitution of the State nor the statutes touch directly the reading of the Bible or prayer, or any other form of religious or devotional exercises, except to forbid that observance or participation shall be compulsory. The spirit of the constitution permits religious exercises in school if nothing sectarian is introduced and the trustees do not object."
DENVER SCHOOL REPORT.
Report for 1896; Aaron Gove, superintendent.
The report dwells at some length on the various studies in the school course, as German, music, physical culture, and drawing. The department of sloyd was introduced six months ago, and has been studied by quite a number of pupils in the eighth, seventh, and part of the sixth grade.
Kindergartens have become notable favorites, their number having been doubled during the year. The superintendent, under instruction of the board, opened 20. Much attention has been paid to cooking and sewing.
It is a boast of the superintendent that school funds are the more easily raised and bear less heavily upon the people because of the fact that there are no outstanding bonds of the city on which interest is to be paid.
On the subject of clubs among students of the high school, the principal, Prof. William H. Smily, has to say the following:
"With the exception of the lyceum and attic society, the cadets, and the athletic associations, the school gives no countenance to societies, but invites the cooperation of the home in checking the formation of small clubs and the holding of socials."
The report discusses, under the head The Public Library, the question of the quantity of books on fiction it is proper to have there. The decision is to cut down gradually the present list until it includes only what is "distinctively standard.” Appended is the charter for the support and regulation of the schools of Denver, approved February 13, 1874, as amended February 2, 1876. It appears to be a carefully prepared paper and intended to provide for all contingencies in school life. Among them we note the following salutary provision:
"62. Any child coming to school without proper attention having been given the cleanliness of his person or dress, and whose clothes need repairing, shall be sent home to be properly prepared for the schoolroom." And this:
"63. Text-books are furnished to pupils by the board; but books can not be taken from the school building except by special permission of the principal." Teachers' certificates are valid during only one year after their issuance. following serves to show that extreme care is taken in the matter of obtaining and retaining teachers:
"The teachers are elected by the board of education, but first must be present at an examination and receive a legal certificate to teach. The examination is both oral and written, occupies three days, and embraces reading, spelling, English grammar, physical and descriptive geography, arithmetic, elements of algebra, United States history, English literature, elements of vocal music, methods and theory of teaching and drawing."
Those in kindergartens, besides these, must hold State certificates for kindergartens, issued only by the constituted kindergarten authorities.
Report for 1895 and 1896, from the State board of education to the governor, and from the secretary, Hon. Charles D. Hine, to the board.
Attention is directed first to the law forbidding child labor in factories, passed in 1886, amended by that of 1887, by which appointed agents could compel school attendance. These agents are reported to have done their work with diligence and with excellent results. In this respect the last year, 1896, was notable. Increase in
attendance within the five years last past has gone beyond increase in enumeration, notwithstanding quite a number of withdrawals to private schools. Not that the evil bas been entirely abated; for, despite all attempts thereto, it yet exists to an unhappy extent, and is regarded as the very greatest impediment to educational
Serious complaint is made of the incertitude and partial inefficiency of the rules regarding teachers' examinations. On this head the report thus speaks:
The object of these examinations is to secure trustworthy evidence of fitness to teach. While there is a law requiring local examinations, these examinations do not raise the standard of teaching, nor keep out the inefficient and untrained. Whether disregarded willfully or negligently, the administration of the law relating to examinations is lax, and is an open door to the unqualified and disqualified." To the law of 1885 establishing evening schools, an amendment was subjoined in 1893, enjoining the board of education to compel attendance of the illiterate between 14 and 16, and although considerable good has been achieved, yet inspection of factories shows that a considerable number of these unfortunates avoid the search of those charged especially with the care of their cases.
The State has three normal schools, with capacity for 700 students.
The report calls special attention, which it urges at considerable length, to an extended report of the secretary on the subject of high schools. Among the influences supposed to be operating to their hurt are the colleges. We give an extract from the discussion of this point:
"Only about one iu fifteen of those who enter the high schools of this State afterwards go to college. If any of the fourteen are badly educated, the fact is not demonstrated through any accepted test. If, however, the one who takes the college examination does not pass this examination, his school is thought to be tried and found wanting. It is therefore natural that the best teachers should be set by the principals to teach the small college classes. This, of itself, would be bearable. The existing evils result largely from the fault that college examinations are adopted to test the amount of memorizing that has been done, rather than the intellectual power that has been acquired. The college classes have to be got ready for an examination-not educated. They can best be prepared, as things now are, by securing the memorizing of lessons through the tests of the oral recitation, and by a skillful mechanical drill. We can not justly criticise the purposes or methods of those who are engaged in preparing boys and girls for college. Their work is laid out for them by the college authorities. It is, however, unfortunate that most high school principals and most of the best teachers should be, perforce, accustomed to narrow ideas of education. From this it results that the thousands of scholars who are not going to college are also set to memorizing lessons instead of being wisely educated." This question, referring the while to the overmuch time spent with Latin and Greek (which, in the board's opinion, ought not to be taught to those who are not to go to college) is elaborately discussed. The report of the secretary in general appeals for a more modern and workable system of education, for better preparation for teaching, and for extension of higher education to all the children.
A table is added giving reports of the agents to whom is intrusted the duty of enforcing the law appertaining to child labor. A part of its violation is due to manufacturers who employ children within the law's provision, relying for protection upon parents' certificates. To remedy this, one of the agents recommends that certificates of age, instead of coming from parents, should be gotten from the bureau of vital statistics in the counties and towns where they were born.
There are some interesting things in the reports made to the secretary by the teachers. One of them speaks of what he regards serious evils. Among other things he says:
"The foregoing statistics suggest :
"1. The inadequate pay to many teachers.
"2. The great difference between the wages of women and men ($42 to $84).
"3. The great number of persons allowed to begin without preparation-a monstrous abuse of children. Half of the teachers in the State do not receive more than $8 per week, or $288 a year. Out of this grows a crop of evils. The well qualified are justly uneasy, and seek better pay and permanent tenure. The poorer districts are depleted for the benefit of the richer, and the children bear the burden of incompetency and change."
The State still holds to the twofold system of school administration. "One, the original town system, is distinguished," says the report, "by a single board of officers, and a direct, efficient, and reasonable method of doing business. The other, the district system, is distinguished by two independent sets of officers, the one hiring and paying teachers and caring for schoolhouses, and the other examining teachers and supervising the schools."
DISTRICT OF COLUMBIA.
Report for 1895–96, Hon. J. W. Whelpley, president of the board of trustees.
The attendance both at day schools and night schools has increased over the last year, due, perhaps to some degree, to the system of providing free text-books. It is surprising, the board contends, that with appropriations hardly adequate, so much of good work has been done in education. They earnestly maintain that the average salaries of teachers are too low, being sensibly below those paid in most of the other cities. They reiterate the appeal for an assistant superintendent and for a conveyance for the distribution of text-books and other supplies to the various schools. Notwithstanding the recent construction of new buildings the schools are yet overcrowded, and many pupils are limited to half-day's tuition. Especial need in this respect is for the manual training schools.
Attention of the Commissioners to kindergartens is again besought. Observation has satisfactorily established their utility in preparing very young children for the primary schools.
They also request of Congress a more effective law than those now existing for compulsory attendance at school, and they earnestly represent the need of a general system of frequent medical inspection. Not alone the capacity of children in regard to hearing and seeing, and the means of correcting individual safety should be inquired into, but their seats, desks, supplies of light, study rooms, cloak rooms, play grounds, with unceasing watchfulness for appearance of serious contagious diseases.
The report of the superintendent, Hon. W. B. Powell, shows a considerable increase in enrollment of pupils, and he gives elaborate statistics of all subjects under his supervision. He urgently repeats the request for a delivery wagon and man for conveyance of books and general school supplies, a matter which has grown too large to avoid giving much inconvenience to the present force of employees. Sanitary considerations in connection with these supplies seem to become more and more important with the accumulation of worn-out books. The superintendent, after much observation in this regard, expresses the opinion that "the only consistent system or rule of furnishing books is to give the child the book, when he enters school, to hold him responsible until it is worn out, but to let no other person use it. The plan would be in the interest of cleanliness and good health, and therefore to be commended aside from considerations of contagion.
The superintendent with much earnestness repeats the crying need of more buildings to remove the unhappy pressure into half-day schools, of which there are more than 250 in the city.
The work in the normal school is much commended, and promises yet better results to come from the extension of the course from one to two years, which will go into operation the coming year. He argues that the board of education should restrict the work done in this school to learning more definitely what, and how intelligently to teach what is known as the common school branches.
In regard to sanitation the superintendent, regarding it of increasingly exigent importance, suggests to the Commissioners to apply to Congress for a medical commission, directed to examine at frequent brief intervals the sanitary condition of all school buildings, and at stated intervals to examine pupils and direct teachers in the disposition of cases of sickness or other physical infirmities.
It is claimed that advance has been made in the attempts to give a greater amount of individual teaching. Experimentation has led to more intelligent groupings of those pupils of similar capacity, development, and receptivity.
The report of Superintendent Cook, of the colored schools, contains some interesting matter. The habit of corporal punishment, although not get entirely dispensed with, is gradually becoming extinct, suspension and other things being substituted. Similar opinions with the rest are held by him about kindergartens, and the need of more school accommodation. The high school, among others, has outgrown the enrollment of its pupils.
All the reports furnish detailed statements of all items composing the educational endeavors of the District. It is gratifying to note the excellent repute in which the teachers are held. High praise of their culture, disciplinary capacity, and fidelity is generously bestowed by those whose office is to inspect their work.
Report for 1896, Hon. W. N. Sheats, superintendent.
Much apprehension was felt for the schools as well as for all other business enterprises in the State by the appalling disaster wrought by the memorable freezes in the State, the first in December, 1894, and the last on February 8, 1895. The mag
nitude of that disaster people outside have perhaps never justly conceived. The report says of it several things, of which the following is a portion:
Those living outside of the State and not engaged in the cultivation of tropical fruits and vegetables have but slight appreciation of what is meant by a 'freeze,' which impoverishes the rich and takes away the visible means of subsistence from tens of thousands of industrious citizens in one night. Groves which had given employment to thousands of laborers, yielded large incomes, had required many years and much capital to grow, were worth the bare land the next morning. The effect upon the State was the same as if every manufactory in New England without insurance had been burned to the ground in one night."
In view of the universal distress the county commissioners, by request of the governor and the executive council, withheld collection of taxes until the fall of the year. Yet the public schools had won so much favor from the people that reduction of the school tax was not made. Indeed this could not have been done, because assessment for education had been made mandatory by the constitution. The result was that beyond some lowering of salaries, shortening of terms, and delay in establishing schools which were expected to be started, educational interests underwent little suffering.
The rebuke of the delay and negligence of county school officials administered in the foregoing report seems to have had intended good results, as the showings made by them are in the main satisfactory in the matter of clearness and accuracy.
The statistics show a very slight falling off of the several items since the freeze. With the exception of the year 1895 there has been a constant increase in the number of pupils enrolled and in daily attendance. The decrease in the number of teachers has been mainly among those of lower grades and by the union of some small schools, in which better if fewer teachers were employed.
Counting the whites alone in the enrollment, it is claimed that the percentage of school population is greater than the average for all the United States, greater than the New England, and only a little lower than the North Central, and it is a gratifying fact that, whenever enrolled, white children and colored attend with like punctuality. In this respect Florida, it is claimed, leads every Southern State, as it does in the number of school days.
There is great difference among the counties in the length of the school term, the longest for both races being 157 and the shortest 72 days, 8 below the number required by law. The disparity is peculiar to neither race, in several counties the colored schools being in this respect ahead of the white. It is suggested that the maximum limit of the school levy should be abolished, and it is asserted with confidence that such action would be ratified by the people.
The law passed, in accordance with the recommendation of the superintendent, for the uniform examination of teachers met at first with much opposition and from sources whence it was expected, a class on whom the report pours some ridicule, and it congratulates that such opposition has subsided almost entirely before the evident benefits resulting from its operation. In the matter of framing questions for such examinations the superintendent, in view of the delicacy and other things attending them, asks for the appointment of a commission of two or more special experts to perform the work, arguing that the small cost incurred would be far remunerated by the value of the service rendered, part of which would be prevention of the jealousies on the part of such as for political or other special reasons seek the position and indulge in unreasonable complainings when disappointed in that behalf.
It is noteworthy that whereas it is made by the State constitution optional among the counties to levy a school tax anywhere between 3 and 5 mills, the number is constantly increasing of those which come up to the maximum. Even after the great freeze thero was falling off in only two counties. Every one of them, with exception of three, levies at least 4 mills, and not one went as low as the minimum.
It is claimed by the report that with the exception of Texas the average of teachers' salaries is above that in any other Southern State.
Regarding that delicate, difficult problem, the education of the colored race, we give the following extract:
"The race is receiving all the educational advantages they are capable of appreciating. Their schools are as closely supervised as any others, the very best teachers are secured that can be had, and they are paid better salaries than the same grade of teachers are paid in any other part of the country, North or South. And further than that, every possible encouragement and help is given them to prepare for a better grade of work. Besides a well-equipped State Normal College, equal advantages are offered their teachers in summer schools and institutes. It is my opinion that the race needs, more than anything else, to be let alone by their overzealous friends, and given time to work out their own destiny. . . . The race is manifesting, as a whole, as commendable ambition to improve its condition as any race in like intellectual, social, and financial conditions under the sun. . . . The people of the State
are willing to be taxed for their education, and to extend to them every assistance except to lower their own social status, that they may elevate by a mite the negro's. Any assistance rendered from abroad in the attempt to better the condition of these people by the charitably disposed will be most heartily welcomed unless it is attended with the insult to the public sentiment of the State in trying to educate white and black side by side in the same schools."
Report for 1895, Hon. G. R. Glenn, State school commissioner.
The present system of public school education in the State is “totally and radically inadequate," and the legislature is urged to come to its help. The commissioner had already visited the schools in every county in the State except ten, and would visit these before the meeting of the legislature. This observation has convinced him of the sore needs of very many rural districts whose meager facilities of getting education for the children has been one of the principal causes of that constantly growing exodus from the country into the towns, which, in his opinion, tends to hurt the general well-being of the State.
Investigation of criminal statistics in many of the counties shows that far larger amounts have been expended in the prosecution of criminals than toward education. From this fact the commissioner argues that, the greater number of crimes being committed by illiterate persons, saving would be made by making more efficient provision for education of the people, and he cites the great diminution of crimes in England, which are plainly shown to be attributed to the increase of intelligence. Commendation is made of the results of establishing teachers' institutes. These have been held in conformity to law, experts being hired to conduct the meetings. This expert is most inadequately paid for his services, the wages, $25, often being exhausted by expenses, leaving nothing for his work. For the purpose of providing better payment for such valuable work, the commissioner combined several counties in the last year.
A large space is given to the evidently rapid increase of education among the negroes. It is maintained that on the whole they have made good use of their opportunities, and the commissioner trusts that in good time they are to become of much increased value to the State. He says:
"By nature the negro is impulsive, by nature he is sympathetic, by nature he is emotional and easily excited; he is instinctively loyal and generous. If the good qualities of his head and heart are wisely directed by proper educational processes, he can become, and I believe will become, a most potential factor in aiding the Southern people to work out their industrial problem. It is a great mistake to suppose that education hurts the colored man and unfits him for service. A little false education and misdirected education may do this, but the natural and normal development of the life and character of the negro, as has been shown already in so many notable instances, will make him a most valuable aid to us as a people. I find, wherever I have gone in the State, a growing disposition on the part of the intelligent colored men to show their sense of gratification for the aid that the white people of Georgia are giving the race by cultivating the kindliest and most helpful relations between themselves and their white neighbors and friends."
The commissioner calculates that 250,000 children of school age do not attend school. The greater part of the latter are in rural districts, where a majority of the children labor on the farm. Besides, as he says, "the schoolhouses in the country are so uncomfortable that the schools must be held in the spring and summer."
Some improvement has been made in the matter of reading circles through the praiseworthy instigation of the county school commissioners, a fact promising good results in the growing professional spirit generally among teachers, leading them to increased habits of becoming acquainted, through reading, with general literature outside of text-books.
Much congratulation is indulged on the entire success of the normal school at Athens, which is now under the management of Mr. S. D. Bradwell, former State school commissioner. Pupils from at least eighty counties are in attendance, and interest amounting to enthusiasm prevails among them and the professors.
Much praise is bestowed upon the Georgia Normal and Industrial College at Milledgeville, founded upon the highly satisfactory report of President Chappell. The rush to this institution has been noteworthy. At the opening, which took place only a few days before the issuing of this report, more than one hundred applicants had to be rejected, notwithstanding the fact that a large building had been recently erected which furnished accommodations for 135 additional students.
The Georgia Agricultural College at Dahlonega, getting an allowance of only $2,000 from the State, far overpays, it is claimed, in returns.