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The Georgia School of Technology at Atlanta, under the management of Lyman Hall, president, is fulfilling the expectation of those who were foremost in suggesting its foundation.
The Georgia State Industrial College, intended for colored youths, situate at College, a suburb of Savannah, designed to give instruction in mechanical and industrial arts, is reported to be doing well.
CHICAGO SCHOOL REPORT.
Report for 1896, Daniel R. Cameron, president of the board of education, Albert G. Lane, superintendent of schools.
It is a gratifying fact that the new sittings provided during the year were fully up to increased enrollment. The latter has gone to 215,784, an increase over last year of 14,404. Increase of sittings have been equivalent to sixteen twenty-room buildings.
It seems a misfortune that the financial resources had to be reduced.
Under the head of "Need of more responsible management" many well-considered observations are made. Want of entire certitude in the educational laws makes inevitable occasional conflict of claims among some school officials, and it is intimated that a more certain and strong authority should be intrusted to the governing head in the system. The report says:
"A clear, well-balanced mind is seldom at conflict with itself, hence the wisdom of making selection of one respectable head of affairs, to whom may be committed the management of the same, but who is empowered to work out his own plans with an eye single to an accountability that is commensurate with his trusted powers. ... It is my belief that a competent man of affairs, with large executive powers, conversant with men and values, . . . if chosen in the capacity of, let me suggest, a business director of all its business affairs, subject always to review by the board, at a liberal salary, would, by the introduction of business methods into the administration of our affairs, so effect a saving in our expenditures as would compensate for his salary many times over and bring about a more rational system of procedure in all our business relations."
The board has accepted from the board of commissioners what was known as the Cook County Normal School.
Suggestions are made regarding vacation schools for the children who can not leave the city during July and August and regarding the introduction into the high schools of a course upon commercial interests for the purpose of having men trained for foreign service and correspondence.
Organization has been effected under the law of the last legislature providing a pension and retirement fund for disabled teachers. The pension board consists of the board of education, the superintendent of schools, and two members to be annually elected by teachers and employers.
Report for 1895 and 1896, Hon. David M. Geeting, State superintendent.
The report appeals to the general assembly for additional school legislation. One is that high-school accommodations be furnished free to common-school graduates; another that teachers' licenses should be given by the State superintendent, thereby making them valid throughout the State; another that a law be enacted providing for qualification of county and city superintendents; another for a district library system; another for authority in the State board of education to recognize certificates from other States.
The report discusses and clearly defines the word "uniformity" in the law, showing that it means that actual advantages of every kind must be distributed equably. It says:
"While the boys and girls of the cities and towns have access to the privilege of high schools free, the children of the rural districts have been shut off from these privileges, except in some of the best counties and townships. The school laws of the State not only grant to township trustees the privilege of establishing higher departments of learning for the children in the country districts, but I believe they compel these officers to furnish these advantages to all who are sufficiently advanced." Yet, so the report says, the law is so framed that the trustees, if they see fit to do so, may refuse. Enrollment is shown to be much larger in townships wherein State advantages may be had than elsewhere. The following are among the concluding words of the superintendent on this subject:
"I believe that if every township in Indiana would support a good high school, so
that every child would have advantage of the same free, it would be only a few years until we would have as large a voluntary attendance in the public schools in the rural districts as a compulsory law would give."
The report urges a change in the license law so that examination papers may be graded by the State superintendent and become a State instead of a county license. As it is there are now as many as ninety-two different standards, the result of which is that in some localities there are excellent, in others very poor, teachers. The change proposed would equalize school advantages, equalize ways, do away with personal partisan influences, and allow to county superintendents time to plan their proper work.
Complaint is repeated in the matter of incapacity of many county superintendents, the law unfortunately prescribing no educational qualification. Quite a large space is given to this subject, which has been much discussed among county superintendents, the views of many of whom are against those presented in this report.
Again the report calls attention to the fact that the State delays to recognize teachers' certificates granted in other States. This operates to the hurt of teachers going into other States and having their certificates ignored, because, as it says, many of the States, particularly in the West, are authorized to extend such courtesies only to such States as reciprocate the favor."
The State manual and uniform course of study is reviewed at considerable length. The Teachers' Reading Circle and the Young People's Reading Circle advance in development.
There are two grades for State licenses-one for a period of eight years, termed a professional license, the other for life, called life State license.
The eight years license is obtained after having gotten consecutively two of thirtysix months, but holders must pass examination before the county superintendent prescribed by the State board of education, whose approval must accompany the license.
The report gives with some minuteness an account of the various school funds. The Congressional township fund, beginning with the grant of land by Congress in 1816, which, by permission of that body, was sold in 1827, and the proceeds became a trust fund. Another is the State's share of the surplus revenue of the United States distributed in 1836. This is called the surplus revenue fund. Another is the bank-tax fund, raised upon the State's interest in the State bank established in 1834. Another is the saline fund, dating back to an act of Congress in 1816 regarding the salt springs within the then Territory. Another is the sinking fund created in 1834. Another is what is known as the seminary fund, created in 1816.
County institutes have advanced much in importance. Some needed improvements are recommended. One is that the State board of education "or other educational body" be empowered to certify to the fitness of teachers; another that in township institutes attendance should be made compulsory, and another for the more liberal compensation for instruction. The institution needs more compact and intelligent organization. This would do away with the want of money, much of which is dissipated by lack of such organization as is recommended.
The report gives a history of the Indiana University. This is accompanied by excellent photogravures of several of its buildings. Increase in students becomes constantly larger, those in the summer courses of 1896 being more than in the entire year ten years back.
The question whether the State should adopt compulsory education is discussed at much length, various "factors" mentioned and enlarged upon, one of these being that while school enumeration in 1896 was 798,917, enrollment 529,345, attendance was only 392,015.
Report for 1895 and 1896, Hon. Edmund Stanley, State superintendent of public instruction. The want of normal training schools for preparing teachers is much regretted. The work of the normal institutes has been of great volume. Institutes have been held in every county during periods extending from four to ten weeks, and the competent instructors in them have brought about much improvement in the teaching force. It is desirable and so recommended that these institutes bo made professional schools in order, among other things, to secure entirely satisfactory persons to preside over them. At present they are under control of county superintendents, although the conductors and instructors are selected by the board of education, and the evidences of their qualifications of every sort must be made clear under a series of requirements notably exalting.
Under the title "Management and supervision of the common schools" there are many well-considered observations. The report argues for the State's assuming entire supervision and control over all that is employed for organizing and conduct
ing the schools, to which end the first essential is high-grade teachers. It is unfortunate that no larger per cent of the teachers can be supplied by the normal school, and that choice must often be made among those of inadequate preparation beyond mere academic work. In view of this condition the report earnestly recommends the creation of at least two additional normal schools.
Commendation is bestowed upon the work done in private and denominational schools. Regarding the latter the report says:
"Competition with the public-school system causes these schools to be less dogmatic and sectarian in their work, while at the same time their existence and influence tend to emphasize the importance of moral and spiritual development as a part of the education the child should receive in private, denominational, and public schools alike."
There are several striking observations under the head "legislation." It is contended that under the district system, as now existing, the schools are local rather than purely public. Every district determines the length of its school terms, with little exception the tax to be levied for its support, and under certain conditions may discontinue them altogether. In existing conditions of property disposition, some districts are very far behind others in educational advantages, as to competent teachers and duration of school terms, although subjected to higher educational taxation. It appears that no district can be disorganized as long as it has more than two qualified voters, nor where there are any debts upon it. Women as well as men being qualified electors, it is not seldom that a single family can control the organization, a fact which sometimes results in gross abuses. It seems most strange that under a show of educating one or two children a maximum levy of tax is imposed which, under one and another pretext, acerues to a single person, who is said, with apparently entire aptness, to be "owner of a school district." The report makes the following recommendation:
"That in all districts having less than five legal electors the county superintendent be given the power to appoint the members of the district board, select the teacher, make the levy for school purposes, and determine whether a school shall be maintained in the district or provision be made for the education of the children in other schools and at the expense of the district."
Admitting the difficulty of putting forth any definite legislation regarding the tenure of teachers, it is a sore evil-the too frequent changes among them and other school officials. At present both teachers and superintendents, in some cases by the time they have become well used to their positions and familiar with their duties, are required to give place to new. The term of superintendent is two years. Such changes in supervision are less frequent in the city.
The report argues that teachers' certificates should be made for a longer period, and that high grades in examinations shonld be made permanent credits with their holders. Teachers' examinations, it is contended, should be held about the time for opening the schools.
The present superintendent dissents from the views of his predecessor touching uniformity of text-books in all the schools of the State. In his opinion, those suited to pupils resident in cities are not always suited to those in villages and rural schools. Uniformity in this regard leads to sameness, which is hurtful both to training and development. The objection applies to every kind of school, graded and ungraded. There seems to be point in the following language:
"State publication is unsafe as well as expensive. Should this plan be attempted, the chances are we should get a poor grade of books, and when the cost of copyright, plant for manufacturing and work in handling are taken into account (for all these must be paid for by the people), we must expect the same results that others have experienced-an expenditure of more money for inferior books than the best would cost in the open market."
The report cites the States of California and Indiana in support of his argument; and further, that books thus published by the State are of inferior quality, and liable to become worn in comparatively brief time.
The superintendent urges that the standard for admission to high schools should be uniform, that gradation is a necessity in all schools, and he strenuously insists, like his predecessor, upon such legislation as will make provision for what is termed "the gap" between the common school and the college.
LOUISVILLE SCHOOL REPORT.
The report for 1896 is from E. H. Mark, esq., superintendent, and is preceded by an address from Albert A. Stoll, president of the school board, and reports of the several committees. The following is taken from the president's address:
"I can not refrain from calling attention to the fact that in many respects it is
believed the course of study now in use in the schools is too heavy. In my humble opinion too much time is taken up with studies of little or no value, to the detriment of many cardinal branches of practical education, and it is to be hoped that steps will soon be taken to remedy this objection. Too much can not be said of the importance of an increase in the school revenue. It is highly important that the revenue of the public schools should be increased yearly, yet the past year shows a decrease."
The address urges especially the pressing need of erecting an entirely new building for the girls' high school, suggesting that the one now used be given up to the boys. The fund needed can be raised only by direct taxation, but it is asserted that the people would submit to it cheerfully.
The committee on salaries and supplies recommended increase in the salaries of several of the teachers in advanced positions, and that the schedule of salaries in general be based on the principle that all should be according to the rank and meritoriousness of services, instead of averaging them, as at present, between the highest and the lowest salaries paid. All teachers should have set before them the sure prospect of rising wages according to increase in their professional experience and value. The continued increase of school children makes necessary frequent rents of rooms, as well for colored children as white.
A historical sketch is given of the earliest attempts to found a manual-training high school since its induction into the country at the Centennial Exposition at Philadelphia. The hostility of trade and labor unions long obstructed these attempts, but persistence was at last rewarded and the school was founded in May, 1892.
The plan of instruction followed in the manual-training high school, says the report, is such as will fit boys of ability who are mechanically or scientifically inclined, and who may have neither the time nor means to continue at our school after they become 17 or 18 years of age, for positions of usefulness in the various productive and construction pursuits. It also prepares students who desire to continue their education in technological branches for the best engineering and scientific schools in this country."
Attendance on the evening schools had decreased from last year, owing mainly, as the report believes, to the hard times. Out of 1,150 whites enrolled, the average attendance was 639.1. It was 861 among colored pupils in an enrollment of 1,867. Corresponding falling off for the same reason was in the high schools.
The total number of pupils enrolled during the year in the day schools was 24,860, of whom 5,071 were colored. The average daily attendance among whites was 15,311; among colored, 3,258.
Report for 1895, W. W. Stetson, State superintendent of common schools.
The legislature, in compliance with the suggestion of Mr. Luce, late superintendent, repealed the law of biennial reports. The new superintendent cordially indorses the change, which brings the superintendent in more frequent and close communication with subordinate superintendents, teachers, and other school officials.
The decrease in the whole number of different pupils attending school at any time during the year is accounted for by the law raising the school age from 4 to 5 years. The increase in the average length of the time during which the schools were open is said to be owing to the fact that the town system, while reducing the number of schools, increased their length. There has been some increase in the amounts paid for text-books and other school appointments, and it is a gratifying fact that such things cost only about one-third of what was paid under the old system. The superior value of the town system over the old is quite notable in the decrease in the number of ungraded and increase in that of graded schools. There has been abandonment of many of the schoolhouses whose condition was poor, which led to the erection of an increased number of those well suited for all purposes.
The superintendent visited two hundred of the rural schools, with a view to becoming acquainted as accurately as possible, by personal inspection, with their condition and needs. Among these were several in the extreme portions and most sparsely settled. Of these, in the elaborate investigations had by him, 6 per cent were ranked as "excellent," 21 per cent as "good," 32 per cent as "fair," and 41 per cent as "poor," or "very poor."
The circumstance is noted that inferior schools are not peculiar to sections unenltivated and remote from educational centers, but are scattered throughout the State. Some of the best are to be found in the former, and a few of the very foremost are in towns most advanced. Even among teachers, there are some who, claiming to be graduates of institutions of respectable standing, yet are among the poorest, appar
ently little cultured in text-books and woefully devoid of knowledge outside of them. Some of them are extremely young, in one case only 15 years old.
Another matter was made manifest in the examination of the rural schools. was an occasional glaring advertisement of tradesmen's wares on the walls. One of these was of a highly exalted brand of tobacco.
It speaks not well for these districts that so many of the children quit school at a too early age. Eighty-seven per cent in them were under 13 years, and, as far as could be ascertained, those who had left had not gone to higher schools. Unfortunately, this tendency has been increasing for some time past, notwithstanding the law, which requires every child between 5 and 15 years to attend school for at least sixteen weeks in every year. The average of attendance in the schools attended was 21, average length of term ten weeks, and the average age of pupils between 8 and 9 years. The weak point in them, as appears from these figures, was not so much in the small attendance as in the early age at which pupils are withdrawn. A very small number of the rural schools were supplied with books and other appurtenances for supplementary work in studies. None had what might be called libraries. About 90 per cent were supplied with maps, but the majority of these were old and of little worth. About 50 per cent were supplied with some sorts of charts. Bookkeeping, civics, music, drawing, instruction about plants, minerals, and animals hardly obtain at all.
The superintendent urges the creation of a State board of examiners for deciding upon the applications of teachers. The liberal sum (over $500,000) appropriated by the legislature demands that its distribution should be in the hands of capable experts.
The report for the normal school refers to the fact that the trustees at their meeting in March arranged for a three years' course of study. This gives facilities to students who desire to do advanced work.
It commends the great benefit to education of the law providing for the State certification of teachers. Applications have been made for them by a much larger number of teachers than was anticipated.
The last legislature provided for holding at least three summer schools. A yet larger number was held, and although such institutions are new among the people the attendance was good, being more than double that of a year ago,
The report for the year 1896 is from the same superintendent, W. W. Stetson. An increased interest in schools is quite apparent among the people at large. The old typified and stereotyped reports "that everything in the line was going on quietly and satisfactorily" served to hinder investigation and inquiry, and people were about settled in the notion that the schools were doing reasonably well, at least as well as could be expected under the circumstances. But close personal investigations by an expert superintendent showed numerous defects. These, as he could not honorably fail to do, he laid bare, and called public attention to them. The statistics of school superintendents exhibited some rather curious things. There could hardly be greater variety in a like number of officials in other positions. They are of many vocations. Thirty-five per cent (the greatest) are farmers; the rest are teachers, physicians, housekeepers, merchants, lawyers, clergymen, carpenters, lumbermen, laborers, druggists, journalists, fishermen, postmasters, engineers, painters, stonecutters, blacksmiths, and one each of express agents, bookkeepers, guides, saw filers, surveyors, ferrymen, barbers, printers, manufacturers, haberdashers, railroad postal clerks, dairymen, and spinsters. Four per cent devote all their time to this business. The rest devote such time as they are willing to take from their personal affairs. This shows that selections are made indifferently among those who are not expected to have much fitness for their positions or busy themselves much in looking after its responsibilities. The report shows a large portion of the schoolhouses in poor condition, with yards of insufficient, some even of undefined, areas.
Seventy-one per cent of the teachers are residents of the towns in which they teach, 12 per cent are of kin to some of the superintending school committees, and 5 per cent by marriage or business association.
Some very interesting things are said under the head of "Statistical curiosities;" more so under that of "Waste," in which the greatest item is the wages paid to teachers, who, in every quality desirable for the work for which they are employed (intellectually and in respect of personality), are woefully deficient. The employment of such teachers is what the report styles being "economical to the point of the most reckless extravagance."