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1887 the general assembly gave the superintendent of schools of Cincinnati the power to appoint all teachers by and with the consent of the board of education; the power to dismiss teachers without the board's action; and made the superintendent's approval necessary to the adoption of text-books. It also enacted that the members of the board should not as individuals or as local committees exercise supervisory authority over the schools. This was an unprecedented recognition of the authority and function of supervision.
In the reorganization of the public schools of Cleveland in 1892, the superintendent was authorized to appoint or remove teachers, and to exercise complete supervisory authority in all matters pertaining to instruction and discipline, the selection of text-books excepted. Many of the duties usually intrusted to the board of education, including the appointment of the superintendent, were devolved upon a school director, elected by the people.
The limits of this paper forbid any attempt to review the progress made in school administration, instruction, and discipline in the fifty years since this association was organized. On the introduction of graded schools into the cities and towns the perfection of the system as a mechanism largely absorbed attention. The "system assumed often the importance of an end, and it was too often administered on the theory that the pupils existed for the system, not the system for the pupils. The absorbing fascination was uniformity-uniformity of studies, uniformity of progress, uniformity of results. Two resulting errors in the direction of mechanism possessed the schools. One of these was the fixed year interval between classes and the other the stated written examination to determine the promotion of pupils at the close of the year. These two features necessitated uniformity of progress not only by the individual pupils in every class, but by all the classes in each grade. This required uniform progress assumed that the several classes in a grade in city schools possess equal ability and are taught by teachers of equal skill-conditions that exist in no graded schools. It occurred often that classes that could have completed the course of study for the grade as early as April were kept "marking time" until the annual promotion in June.
For years the year interval between classes and the stated promotion examinations held the graded schools of cities in their grasp. They narrowed and grooved the instruction, encouraged and rewarded mechanical and memoriter methods, and emphasized all the lumber of the text-books. This antagonism between the mechanism of the graded system and rational methods of teaching was early felt by intelligent and progressive teachers, and for twenty years past praiseworthy efforts have been made to free the schools from this procrustean bondage. The reforms of the past twelve years are a promise that this sacrifice of the opportunity of pupils on the altar of uniformity and system will soon find a practical remedy.
The first hundred years of Ohio's history as a State will be but three years short when the nineteenth century closes. Is this century of marvelous progress to close with no State normal school in Ohio, and with the great majority of its rural schools without supervision? The two imperative needs of the rural school are professional training for its teachers and intelligent and efficient supervision. Is it not possible to see these two great measures of school improvement happily inaugurated before the State celebrates its first centennial?
OHIO SCHOOL REPORT.
Report for 1895, Hon. Oscar T. Corson, State commissioner.
The county schools on their new career of better organization and management are improving. It is admitted that there are many very poor schools in the subdistricts. Yet the increased public interest, evinced by investigation of the question of supervision promises betterment. Notwithstanding the opposition of many to the Workman law before referred to, among opponents are quite a number who favor supervision. Yet it is argued that this can be made practicable only by making the township the educational unit, and thus centering responsibility in the management of the system in one board of education. The existence of two such boards heretofore was always embarrassing from want of harmony and from divided responsibility. It is absolutey essential that both superintendent and teacher be elected by the same board.
The argument, still persisted in, that the Workman law has reduced salaries is again answered and confuted by statistics. While the commissioner writes that in some localities demagogues use for selfish ends their single power bestowed under the law, he contends that such things may exist under any laws, and that they certainly did exist under the old law, and that the remedy is to be found neither in enactments nor repeals of laws as much as in enhanced development of educational sentiment among the people. It is already felt in the greater stability and uniformity in the requirements made by the colleges upon the public schools, which
serve to overcrowd them more and more with studies that do not properly belong to them. Many of the small towns and villages have one high school and one teacher to do its work. Such as this can not fail of being ineffective, and the commission recommends that either their four years' course should be diminished or additional force assigned to the work. College authorities are those who can do most for remedy of such a state of things.
The effects of the law of compulsory education have been of great benefit to many hundreds of children of both sexes.
Very high praise is bestowed upon the Boys' Industrial School (correctional, though not penal, as well as educational) which it is evident has been managed with much judiciousness. Great good has been done during the forty years of its existence. This would have been far greater but for the insufficiency of appropriations. The following from the last report of the board of trustees is interesting; indeed, somewhat touching:
"We should like our schools as nearly uniform as possible with the public schools of the State, in order that pupils sent here for truancy might be continued in their regular classes, or that boys released from this school may enter the public schools in their regular classes. To do this properly would require the expenditure of money for the erection of a union school building and a large increase in the pay roll to enable us to employ experienced teachers. With a full knowledge of the State's financial condition, we can not hope to secure the necessary appropriations this year, but in order that a start may be made in the right direction, we have asked that our appropriation for salaries be increased, so that a good superintendent of schools and other necessary officers be employed, with the view of making the best use of our present opportunities."
In default of legislative action upon the subject the State board of examiners drew up a plan for a course in pedagogy, history of education, and science of education for the purpose of improving the quality of teachers, which, in its main features, has been adopted by a large number of the colleges, normal schools, and universities, and a course of pedagogy has been determined upon for the Ohio State University by its board of trustees.
Ohio has no State system of normal schools; yet in a very large number of cities and towns training of teachers forms a part of the higher schools' curricula.
Much benefit has resulted from the new text-books law, which, it is claimed, is as near perfect as could be made.
What appears to be the greatest need to education is an enhanced sentiment among the people at large in its favor. This would lead to more rapid improvement of teachers. Good teachers would be encouraged and be multiplied but for so much apparent indifference regarding discrimination between them and those far their inferior. Then such enhancement would lead to greater concern in the matter of school buildings, many of which, even in cities and towns, are without adequate accommodations, while in many of the subdistricts they are lamentably deficient in heating, lighting, ventilation, and other matters important to be well regulated.
The report for 1896 is also by Hon. Oscar T. Corson.
Attention is called to several amendments in the school law made by the last session of the legislature. First, that in addition to the branches in which teachers were required to be examined for certificates, history of the United States, including civil government, shall be included. It is not meant to require teaching of civil government in the common schools, except in connection with the history of the United States. A special committee, after bestowing much study upon the subject, submitted a report containing an "outline of civics." This carefully elaborated paper is copied into the commissioner's report. Another enactment requires all boards of education in the State to have displayed the national flag upon all schoolhouses under their control during all day sessions in fair weather, and on the inside on all days. This law, while regarded by some as needlessly expensive, has generally been accepted with cordiality.
Another change is the "eight-year certificate" allowed to be granted to applicants who, in addition to required qualifications, have held a certificate of five years, and been for three years next preceding their application engaged in teaching, with eighteen months' experience in one place, and undergone examination in botany, algebra, national philosophy, and English literature.
The Boxwell law has been so amended as to authorize each board of county examiners to determine the time and place of holding the examination and county commencement. This change will make still more effective this excellent law which is doing so much to encourage the proper organization of the country schools. In counties where the schools close early in the year, the examinations can be held at an earlier date, while those counties which are so fortunate as to have nine or ten months of school can be accommodated with examinations held at a later date.
"It will be an advantage to have the selection of the place for holding the county commencement left to the county examiners. In some counties the county seat is not a suitable place to hold the commencement, and under the law as it now exists such a place can be selected as will accommodate the greatest number of persons interested, and at the same time bring about the best results in educating public sentiment for good schools."
The following summary of statistics shows the work accomplished by the law since it went into effect in 1892:
Attention is again drawn to the bad management of funds by school boards. "In some instances the plainest provisions of the law have been violated, while in others contracts involving the expenditure of money have been entered into without any authority whatever." One of the results of such criminally loose management must be either reductions in the salaries of teachers or shortening of school terms.
The last legislature passed an act intended to prevent the evils here complained of. The county school problem becomes more and more important and difficult of solution. In districts sparsely populated many schools have been disbanded and children carried from their homes to the leading center school at the expense of the State. Thus far this plan has proved quite practicable. Regarding one school of this sort particularly, that at Kingsville, in the county of Ashtabula, the report says: "The expense of schooling the children has thus been reduced nearly one-half, the daily attendance has been very largely increased, and the quality of the work greatly improved."
Report for 1896, Hon. Nathan C. Schaeffer, State superintendent.
Quite an elaborate report is that for the year 1896, in which, besides usual official returns, are discussions upon several matters appertaining to education and its various accidents. The superintendent speaks with pride of the continual munificent appropriations made by the State, that for last year being $5,500,000.
Under the head of "Compulsory education" the superintendent shows that very much good has been done by legislation for the relief of children from the injurious influences of too early and too burdensome work done in factories and mines. It was not until the year 1870 that under the census was ascertained the number thus employed in manufactures. This was 114,628, including both sexes, representing 5.58 per cent of all employees. This per cent decreased until 1890, when it became 2.57, the decrease being due mainly to legislative enactments.
The superintendent represents the occasional apparent clash of the law requiring compulsory attendance with that requiring production of certificates of vaccination. There are cases where parents are opposed to vaccination and others where physicians decide that (in particular instances) it is not only not necessary but liable to hurtful effects upon general health. Upon the child this conflict necessarily operates harmfully, whether in failing to secure him against an evil disease or obstructing his education. Directors of schools are sometimes embarrassed by the question, Shall they prosecute for nonattendance in cases where the law itself forbids attendance? Another question arises, Shall vaccination be made compulsory? On the whole, while the consensus of the most thoughtful opinion is in favor of the efficacy of it, yet it is also against having recourse to it when heads of families for any reason withhold their consent.
Some very apt observations are made upon the importance of cultivating taste, not only in the construction and decoration of schoolhouses, but in beautifying the grounds.
Under the head of "Extravagance" the superintendent says much that is both thoughtful and piquant. It has been found that the immense sums appropriated by the legislature for school purposes, like those in other business enterprises, individual and corporate, have not only to be economized, but jealously watched and guarded. Quite instructing are the following words:
"No sooner was our general school appropriation raised to five millions than the
sharks began to scent prey from afar. First came the agent with charts for teaching physiology, which were sold at high figures, so as to permit, when necessary, the payment of large commissions to subagents and liberal fees to directors' sons for delivering the same in schoolhouses in the districts. Sometimes careless directors were enveigled into signing contracts which made them individually liable for the purchase if they failed to ratify the sale at the next meeting of the board or to lift the charge at the express office. Next came the block man, selling lumber at fancy prices in the shape of geometrical forms, which the skillful teacher constructs out of paper in so far as she needs them in the elementary school. Finally came the map man, selling relief maps at $100 a set. The consequences were soon visible. When school boards in rural districts invest from $30 to $100 per schoolhouse for maps and other apparatus, it means lower wages, inferior teachers, stinting of textbooks and school supplies, and sometimes shortening of the school term."
The superintendent notes with approbation the increased attention given to the study of civil government, particularly that of the State. Careful training of pupils in the art of governing themselves has served to expel the rod from most of the schools. A unique government, perhaps the only one of its kind in the whole country or elsewhere, is that in a school attached to the University of Pennsylvania, named Houston Hall, after its founder, H. H. Houston.
"Its purposes, briefly stated, are to provide for the students of the various departments a place where all may meet on common grounds and to furnish them with every available facility for passing their leisure hours in harmless recreation and amusement. The entire management has been left in the hands of a student organization which elects the officers and committees by which the hall is managed. It has a membership of 2,500, and is used by a daily average of over 1,200 students. The experiment has, beyond question, met the most ardent expectations of its most sanguine friends, and bids fair to solve some of the vexed questions of university discipline."
ALLEGHENY SCHOOL REPORT,
Report for 1895, John Morrow, superintendent.
Enrollment of day school was 14,793, an increase of 708 over the last year.
The report of the superintendent expresses entire satisfaction as to the progress of work in the day schools, but far otherwise regarding night schools, which are deteriorating instead of advancing. Upon this subject his views are expressed with unusual plainness. He says:
"At best their continuance from year to year under existing regulations has been a question of doubtful propriety. There ought to be much more encouraging returns than we now get for the expenditure of money and effort put upon them. I think I am not far from the truth when I say that about 30 per cent of those who attend night school go with the avowed intention of trying to break it up, and they always meet with considerable success, because they discourage and drive out those who go with good intentions. After the decent portion of school has been banished they then drop out themselves. I have always been of the opinion that six schools, centrally located, under proper regulations, would do more good than the fifteen or more scattered all over the city as heretofore. They could be far better graded, with fewer pupils to a teacher, thus insuring more individual instruction. The mob element could be more easily kept out, all at a greatly reduced expenditure. Already this term it has been necessary in several of the wards to call on the police to suppress the disorderly conduct of half-grown boys disturbing the night schools. It would not be a difficult thing to formulate rules that would bring these turbulent spirits to time."
The report praises the continual rapid advance of the high school. Answering the charge among some that this is only a rich man's school, the occupations of the pupils' parents are given to disprove it.
PHILADELPHIA SCHOOL REPORT,
The report for the year 1896 is to the board of public education by Simon Graty, its president, and is accompanied by others from heads of the several depart
The report indulges in hearty congratulations on the great improvements in the work of the system that has taken place within a very few years. The measures referred to adopted within that time:
The establishment of manual training schools; the introduction of sewing as a regular study in the schools for girls; the establishment of kindergartens; the adoption of supervising principalships; the establishment of the school of industrial arts; the establishment of schools in which pupils of the girls' grammar schools are taught cookery; the establishment of a new normal school for girls,
and of a separate high school for girls, the latter having distinct general, classical, and commercial courses of study; the adoption of a higher standard of qualification for teachers in the public kindergartens.
The report recommends that hereafter applicants for teachers must have had at least a high-school education or its equivalent. Already a large majority of the young women teachers have gone through both high and the normal school. This is claimed to be far better than the system of public examinations. The standard in the girls' high school has been raised by an addition of another year to the course. Yet many of these higher institutions, notably the Central High School and the Central Manual Training School, are much cramped in buildings and general accommodations which, in the words of the former principal, "destroys the unity of school life." A large number of buildings are rented; otherwise very many children would be debarred from all education. The report says:
"How long this deplorable condition is to exist appears very uncertain. The councils of our city are fully informed on the subject, and admit the great need of the board for a large sum of money, running into millions, either to provide new buildings to keep pace with the growth of population or to replace such as are unfit for occupancy; but the financial problem stands ever in the way of the realization of our hopes. The comparatively small appropriations that councils are able to make from time to time for the purchase of ground and the erection of new buildings do little beyond making provision for the constant accessions to the ranks of our school population."
The report admits that little was done in attempts to enforce the school-compulsion act during the year. This was because of inability to obtain satisfactory data. These, it is hoped, will be gotten through the division lately appointed for that purpose. Yet the already existing lack of adequate school accommodations, the liberty of parents to elect the schools for the children, and the difficulties growing out of the fact that there is no compulsory vaccination law, must tend to make compliance to a degree inefficient. Complaint is made that the number of scholarships owned by the city in the University of Pennsylvania is much too small, and reasons are given for the need of increase. A small annual appropriation would suffice for this evident pressing need.
The report speaks earnestly in behalf of means for the maintenance of superannuated and other teachers worn in the service. Legal and financial conditions being thus far in the way of public help, a Teachers' Annuity and Aid Association has been formed, which would be a great blessing except for the paucity of its members. It is suggested that the sectional boards hereafter require every new elect teacher to join the association.
Quite a number of reports are submitted by principals. Particularly noteworthy is that concerning the night schools, of which there are 79, with an enrollment of 25,549, ranging from childhood beyond middle age. Of these 75 per cent are native born, and 25 per cent foreign, an increase of 2 per cent among the latter over those of last year.
The whole number of pupils in all the grades is 138,545.
PITTSBURG SCHOOL REPORT.
Report for 1896, George J. Lucky, superintendent.
The school system of Pittsburg is peculiar. The 38 subschool districts have each its own board of directors, which elects a member of the central board of education. This latter, in the language of the report-
"Is authorized to do certain specific things, viz, adopt and furnish text books; build and maintain a high school and a normal school; fix salaries and apportion teachers to the several districts; make a course of study; determine the amount of money to be appropriated for the high and normal schools and for teachers' salaries; elect teachers for the high and normal schools and teachers of special subjects for the district schools."
Regarding the powers of the district boards, which the report claims to be an illustration of the doctrine of State rights, it says:
"All other powers are reserved and exercised by the subdistrict boards, viz, the locating, erecting, and furnishing of school buildings; the election and dismissal of teachers; the election of janitors; the levying of taxes in subdistricts for subordinate purposes, such as building, repairing, fuel, interest on subdistrict debts, payment of debts, etc. The district boards have power to borrow money under certain restrictions. The power and patronage being thus divided, positions on either of the boards are not generally sought by those whose only object is to profit by holding office; hence cases of malfeasance in office are not numerous. On the other hand, schools differ more widely in efficiency than they do in other cities." The report admits that under the system uniformity is impossible. Inequality of enrollment in some districts is striking, ranging from 50 to over 2,000. It is charged