Page images

and successful administration. That rule is, never to make any important innovation on the vote of a bare majority, but to wait until we are substantially agreed on the wisdom of a change before introducing it. So we have wrought together with one heart and one mind, and in the enjoyment of the most delightful social relations.

If I have accomplished anything here, it is mainly because my colleagues, from the oldest to the youngest, have so heartily stood by me, have been so patient with my shortcomings, have so promptly responded to every request, nay, to every suggestion, which I have made. Never was a president surrounded by more helpful and loyal associates. My heart runs out with gratitude to them for the innumerable acts by which they have lightened my burdens and made my tasks a pleasure.

Nor would I forget to-day how helpful have been the relations which the students have chosen to maintain with me. Several thousand have come and gone during these twenty-five years. My heart is bound by the tenderest ties to the great company of students whom I have seen going from these halls year after year. Nothing gives me keener joy or more pride in the university than to see them worthily occupying positions of influence and usefulness. No more pleasant experience comes to me than to receive their cordial greetings wherever I go. Their affection for their alma mater is an endowment more precious than untold treasures of silver and gold. Because we are sure of their devotion to her, we are full of hope for the future.

I beg to assure my friends of the State Teachers' Association that I appreciate most highly their words of welcome to-day. Nothing have I had more at heart during all these years than the cultivation of the closest relations between the university and the schools. Nothing has been more helpful to the university than the cordiality with which the schools have responded to our approaches to them. I believe that thus the schools and the university have been able to render most valuable aid to each other, and so to make the Michigan system of public education worthy of the high commendation which it has so often elicited from competent observers. Nothing could give me higher satisfaction than to know that my sincere efforts to cooperate with the teachers in this valuable work have in their opinion been of any service.

May I express my great gratification that you have invited representatives from our sister universities to be present with us to-day, and that so many of them have been kind enough to honor us with their presence. I have only fulfilled your desire in seeking by every means in my power to cultivate the most cordial relations with other colleges and universities. You have often heard me announce my belief that no good college or university hurts another good one. It is only the unworthy institution that cherishes envy of another. We have always tried to learn all that was profitable to us from every other university. We hope that by some wise and brave experiments we too have thrown light, which other institutions have been glad to gain, on certain problems of higher education. There is work enough for us all to do. Great has been the revolution in college methods and administration within my recollection. We gladly send our salutations to all the sisterhood of colleges and universities, and express our ardent desire to cooperate with them in all efforts to enhance the value of the higher education for this and the coming generations. And now, my friends, I hope it is not inappropriate for me to return my thanks to all who have evinced an interest, so unexpected to me, in the celebration of this day; to my two friends whose lofty verse and stately music are so happily married in the ode we are about to hear; to this concourse of my neighbors from this city, my beloved home; to the many citizens gathered here from all parts of this State; to the alumni from all sections of the country; to numerous college presidents who have sent me kindly messages; to the public press of many cities and towns. I willingly believe that the interest in the celebration is mainly interest in the university. I greatly prefer that it should be so, but for the many gracious words and acts that I am compelled to interpret as words and acts of personal kindness to me I am most humbly and profoundly grateful.

I am deeply touched by the delicate but positive recognition in the address of the services of my wife to the university; for aid in unnumbered ways through all the vicissitudes of these years, especially in the social responsibilities which fall here upon the president's house, she is entitled to share with me to the full whatever honor this day can bring to me. In her name and in my own I beg to thank you. In the course of nature the day is not remote when some other man must take the official responsibility which has for a quarter of a century rested on me and which has so greatly increased since I assumed it. I pray that he may be a stronger and wiser man than I have been. I am sure that the kind consideration which regents and faculties and students and the public have shown to me make a strong and wise man more willing than he might otherwise be to accept the high and sacred trust. If such shall prove to be the fact, the celebration of this day will have amply justified itself. Meanwhile, for myself, allow me to make my closing like my opening words-thanks, thanks, my heartiest thanks.


Report for 1896, William E. Robinson, superintendent of schools.

The report suggests that the doings of the board, except the appointment of teachers and such other business as should be conducted in executive session, should be more often and clearly before the sight of the people in general, and that less use of committees be made in matters which might be and should be determined in full meeting of the board, sessions of which should be weekly instead of bimonthly, as heretofore. It suggests that no matter involving expenditure of money (except when of inconsiderable amounts) should be determined at the session into which it is


The report admits some want of carefulness in the selection of sites for school buildings. It offers felicitations on the approach of completion of the new firmly equipped high school, yet it suggests that there is danger of overestimating education as at present conducted there, and that it should be made more practical. The following are some of the words upon the subject:

"Why not establish a course eliminating the classics and polite languages, and in its stead supply shorthand, typewriting, commercial bookkeeping, banking, and matters of everyday business. Out of the 30,000 children at present in our schools, our experience has shown us that less than 2,000 will ever enter the high school and less than 150 ever graduate; and it seems to me that even before the high school is reached this matter of practical everyday education should be attempted." Other changes are suggested in other schools, as for introduction of bookkeeping into the eighth grade of the grammar schools. A school for the deaf and dumb has

lately been created, but as yet there is no report.

The report apprehends that moral suasion in school discipline is being carried to excess. The following will be more or less interesting according to readers' views upon the subject:

Is it not possible that the increasing number of incorrigibles may bear some relation to this sentimentality? I know that I am terribly heterodox in even suggesting that a good sound thrashing occasionally would be of more benefit to a capricious, spunky youngster than all the goody-goody talks so correctly advocated. We are getting too many mama's pets and Lord Fauntleroys, and I fear our system has a tendency to perpetuate it. Give us more good, healthy, moral discipline; more Sanfords and Mertons and Tom Browns." Some other very plain things are said upon the unreasonableness and injustice of exacting of teachers, by use solely of suasion, to reform and refine boys upon whom discipline at home has had no such influence.

The superintendent appeals earnestly for such added appropriations as will supply the great want of sufficient school accommodations for pupils, whose annual increase in numbers is 2,500. The high schools are specially lacking in this respect. The report admits that the expenses in running the night schools have been followed by only meager results, and it recommends that "a few schools judiciously located, with a course of study involving some of the features of a higher education, be opened for the coming year."

The report contends that a kindergarten department should be attached to every school, arguing that in that case the great length of time justly complained of being spent at school would be materially shortened.

Eurollment of pupils for 1895-96 was 34,756; an increase from last year of 1,919.


Report for 1895-96, Hon. W. W. Pendergast, State superintendent.

The teachers' reading circles have increased to the degree that they are now in nearly every county in the State, reaching even to several far outlying districts. The system of issuing certificates for work done therein has served to stimulate emulation.

The growth of school libraries has been notable, the volumes of 185,400 in 1894 having increased in 1896 to 336,806. This increase, though most striking in wealthy communities, has yet been going on constantly in almost every county, and efforts are made to extend it to remotest and least favored sections.

The free text-book system has increased greatly in favor and production of good results.

"Within two years after the passage of the law nearly one-half the districts throughout the State have fallen into line, while at the present time not less than 60 per cent of all districts are loaning text-books to pupils free of charge, and always with the most marked satisfaction. In fact, it appears to be a matter of only a short

time when all of our districts will have abandoned the custom of selling at cost and be enjoying the benefits that follow the adoption of the free text-book plan." Under the system of local option it seems impracticable to establish uniformity of these text-books, as is so earnestly desired by superintendents generally.

Teachers' institutes, after having accomplished much good, have been gradually giving way during the last three years to those more energetic institutions-the summer schools. The latter tend far to supplement the normal schools, whose accommodations are for numbers far below those in need of them. They bring to every county competent educators, who give judicious courses of study that are adapted to the various individual and sectional conditions.

These schools have become of so serious importance, that many superintendents have seen fit to limit to 16 years the age of attendants. Despite several inequalities attending the operations thus far, the judgment in their favor has become general with county superintendents, boards of education, boards of trustees, and teachers. The rural schools are reported to have made much progress during the two years last past. The report says:

"The stronger educational spirit pervading the rural portions of the State is another unmistakable evidence of progress. This appears in better buildings, greater attention to sanitary conditions, tree planting and otherwise beautifying the school grounds, improved appliances, free libraries and text-books, appreciation of and demand for professional teachers."

A notable increase in libraries also has gone on within this period and in books. These now average 60 volumes in 1,853 libraries.

The report suggests that the labors of the county superintendent in many cases are disproportionately onerous. In some counties they have over seventy schools, visitations to which require much time and considerable sacrifice.

Benefits are already manifest in the operation of the law empowering the highschool board to extend aid, under prescribed conditions, to village and town graded schools below that rank.

The prevalence of many small schools, it is suggested, can be remedied only by adoption of the township system. As the legislature does not yet decide for this, it is recommended to "stop dividing districts which have no more pupils than can be advantageously taught in one school, and to unite very small contiguous ones where it can be done without great inconvenience to the most distant pupils. It is frequently the case that those who live farthest off can be conveyed to and from school in the winter at much less expense than that of maintaining a separate school."

Regarding the charge made by some that the high schools under the present system are mere stepping stones to the university, it is suggested that a change in their curricula be made and they do different work from that specially designed to fit for the university.

Work in the normal schools constantly grows more important. Their enrollment has greatly increased, and they are counted upon to do far more than any other class of institutions to lift the primary schools to a proper plane. They are counseled, however, not to make their instruction conform to that of the high school, the aims of both being entirely different. Normal schools, when rightly conducted, enable teachers to make effective the drill which will fit pupils for the high schools. An act of the legislature of 1895 providing for normal instruction in high schools has been disappointing to its advocates, only five having adopted it. It is claimed, however, that in these results have been satisfactory. There seems to be some defects for which the report suggests a number of changes, as that those who intend to teach without going through the university shall devote the third and fourth years of the high schools to more training in common branches than that given in the grammar schools and that a year's work in teaching take the place of one of the preparatory high schools.

The university grows with noted rapidity, numbering 2,467 students, with 241 professors.

Notwithstanding the praise bestowed by the report on the continually improving condition of free education it disavows entire satisfaction, admitting that in many respects there is essential need of amendment, as in a more proper preparation of teachers, in improved methods of school supervision, in so ordering that teachers who are found to be competent in all points are so treated and paid that their services can be longer retained. Thoughtful suggestions are made upon meetings of teachers and superintendents.


Report for 1894-95, C. B. Gilbert, superintendent to the board of school inspectors.

It is unfortunate that, owing to the reduction in the budget by the city council, teachers' salaries had to be somewhat lowered. Notwithstanding this, however, it is claimed for them that their work has been done with undiminished earnestness and efficiency.


At some length is argued the necessity that teachers should be continually looked after and instructed in the art of teaching.

The superintendent contends it is a mistake that school finances are not entirely controlled by the board of inspectors, but are liable to supervision and revision of another board who are elected for another purpose and are not acquainted with educational systems.

The report has some observations upon correlation, in which, admitting its importance to a degree, it stops short of the extent to which it is carried by some of the disciples of Herbart. It also discusses the two tendencies in kindergartens-one toward formalism and the other toward freedom-and warns against too close adherence to unimportant details.

In the schools here, as in several other States and cities, a very decided trend toward vertical penmanship is noticeable.

The work of the Mechanic Arts High School and the Teachers' Training School is much commended, but serious remonstrance is made against too many subjects being studied daily in the high schools, which leave little time to students for use of library or counseling with teachers. Much regret is expressed for the fact that financial conditions hinder furnishing free text-books.

The following extract tells of a plan devised during emergency:

"The plan that was authorized by this board, and carried out for a short time during the last year, of allowing the children to make a fixed contribution of money to be spent for books, which books belong to the school, was an excellent one. In some schools it worked marvelous changes. The enthusiasm of the children over the abundance of new reading matter was great. In one building, where the children had heretofore been starved upon a single reader, the various classes read different books, varying from 6 to 15 in number. No better commentary is possible. The complaints were few, and came mainly from those people who never buy any books and from certain publishers whose books were not bought as much as heretofore."

This plan, however, the board thought best to do away with, and another is now being considered.

Some additions have been made to existing school buildings, and one new one has been erected. The supply, however, is far below pressing needs, which, under present laws regulating appropriations, have little promise of being fully met. The number of pupils enrolled is 21,276, who are taught by 502 teachers.

Besides tables of statistics in the work of the whole system, the report contains a copy of the act abolishing the board of education and creating the board of school inspectors.


The report to July 1, 1896, is from the same superintendent, C. B. Gilbert, esq. The report makes complaint of the great lack of material. These are some of its


"We greatly need more material for our work. Our course of study is broad, and, if properly administered by good teachers, means such an education for children as shall fit them for complete living, but in order that the greatest benefit may be derived from it a considerable amount of material of various sorts must be supplied. We especially need more books; good literature for children. This need is imperative. We get a little each year from the State, but it is not enough."

The board have decided to promise free text-books, in trust that necessary funds will be supplied. Another decision is regarding supervision. It is that in buildings with not more than nine rooms principals be relieved of supervision, for which a separate supervisor is appointed.

Manual training is doing so well that it is recommended for the primary grades. We copy the following extract under the head "High schools:"

"The most noteworthy features of the high-school department of our system this year have been the development of the minor schools and the creation and growth of the Mechanic Arts School. The Cleveland and Humboldt have each completed the junior year and in 1897 will graduate their first classes. The Mechanic Arts


School has had a fine year and graduated its first class in June." Work in elementary English needs modification, better preparation being desirable for their entrance into high schools. Some enlargement of plan has taken place in the Teachers' Training School, in the matters of more practical surroundings and more systematic child study. Graduates have no difficulty in finding employment, such is the constant demand for them.

While the lack of sufficient school accommodations has been partially relieved, there is still much more needed.

The number of teachers grew to 528, and of pupils enrolled in day schools to 22,329.


The report for the year 1895 is from Charles M. Jordan, superintendent of schools, and it is preceded by an address to the board of education by M. Falk Gjertsen, its president.

In the latter claim is made that the system of high schools is better and their eurollment greater than those in any other city in the Union of similar size, the four now existing containing over 2,200 pupils.

For want of adequate funds for new buildings the schools have been crowded to a degree that is regarded a municipal calamity. Whatever was possible to be done for the overflow of pupils was accomplished by building annexes, and also by renting. The board were unable to obtain but 3 mills for the 4 mills tax to which it claims to have been entitled, and in vain sought issuance of bonds with which to meet emergencies.

The president refers with becoming pride to the enhanced care and adornment of late bestowed upon school grounds, the excellent orderly discipline by which principals control and conduct their classes, even in the evening schools.

The superintendent, after giving a statement of the various shifts made for obtainment of adequate room, by additions, etc., makes an urgent appeal for greater accommodations. He says:

"During the latter part of the year just closed at least 1,100 pupils were unable to attend school more than half of each day, on account of the lack of accommodations. Some pupils, to my personal knowledge, have not had a full day at school since they first entered in September, 1893. Others have spent all their school days thus far in annexes. There are some basement rooms yet remaining which will be suitable for school purposes. While they were not intended for schoolrooms, and are not in all respects fitted for the purpose, they are nevertheless much better than the ordinary annex which the board is now using. One thing is evident, that new school buildings are imperatively needed, and that they must be had in some way if the best work is done in the schools."

The pupils in day schools for the year numbered 29,623, an increase of 1,537. The increase of attendance was gratifying, being 97 per cent.

Cordial satisfaction is expressed at the operation of the rule abolishing written examinations as the sole tests for promotion. As cordial is that for the change requiring the teaching of vertical penmanship, which, it is confidently claimed, has been shown to be the best.

Much good has resulted from the Teachers' Library, toward whose support in the last year $300 was contributed. The superintendent earnestly recommends that steps be early taken to furnish to all of the schools reference libraries. The fund for the support of high schools has indeed been such as to allow diversion of a portion in that way, but it has not been possible to do the like for the graded schools. Evening schools have been kept during sixty-seven weeks, with an enrollment of 1,326.


The report for 1896 is from the same officials as last year.

The report of the president offers felicitations on the universally popular interest in the schools. We give the following extract:

"There are few if any cities outside of Minneapolis that can show an enrollment of 37,340 children in the schools to a population of 200,000, and it is a noticeable and encouraging fact that the business stringency, with its hardships for laboring classes, has in no way diminished their interest in the schools."

Most marked advancement has been in the industrial branches. The sloyd system has been advanced until it is now employed in the eighth grade, so that there is a continual course from the fourth through to the high school.

While several new buildings have been constructed, there is yet a deplorable lack of sufficient accommodations in the south and southwest, where large numbers of children are put in basements on double sessions, while the schools are much overcrowded.

In the report of the superintendent, this crowded condition, increasing constantly on account of increase of pupils, is dwelt upon at length and in detail. This increase for the last year has been confined to the second, third, fourth, sixth, seventh, and eighth grades, whereas decrease has been in the first and fifth grades and in the high school. Notwithstanding the unusual prevalence of sickness among children, attendance has been 97 per cent, the same as last year.

Sewing is now taught in the fourth, fifth, and sixth grades, and there is a continuous course from the fourth to the eighth grades, inclusive, for girls ia domestic economy, and in the seventh and eighth for cooking, for which last there are three schools attached-the Adams, Blaine, and Winthrop,

« PreviousContinue »