Page images
PDF
EPUB

differing from each other in all the great centres of population. This difficulty of obtaining precise and uniform statistics, not inconsiderable even where there is legal authority for requiring the information, and forfeiture of some kind, or pecuniary advantage is attached to withholding or giving the same, becomes almost insuperable, when, as with this Department, there is no organic connection with systems or institutions in the several States; no authority to require, no pecuniary advantage for furnishing, no forfeiture for declining or neglecting to furnish the information sought, and no means to supply the deficiency of written returns by personal inspection. If a comprehensive and exhaustive inquiry, on some general plan, was instituted every year in each State, into its educational condition and progress, including institutions of every kind and grade, a compilation and comparative view of the results would be very easy and satisfactory; and it is hoped that one of the results of the labors and publications of this Department, and of the annual Conferences of State and City Superintendents already inaugurated, will be the adoption of some uniform plan of gathering annually the statistics of schools of every kind, both in States, and in all large cities. At the present time, there are no two States or cities, in which the statistical returns as published, include the same particulars, or between which a rigid comparison as to schools can be instituted; in more than one half of the States the returns are so incomplete as to institutions, or omit so many vital points in the condition of the schools returned, as to be worthless, as indications of the real work attempted, or done, in individual schools, or by all the schools of the State; in nearly all of the States, no attempt is made to secure inspection or returns of private, denominational, or incorporated institutions; in nearly one half of the States no efficient system of public schools is in operation, and no sufficient number of good private or denominational schools exists; and of those which have a precarious existence, not even their locality, or the name of the teachers and the number of pupils are known to any public officer; and with a single exception, no efficient measures are enforced by State or municipal regulations as to the non-attendance of children at some school, public or private, to stop the growth of absolute illiteracy, or diminish, by evening and adult schools, the still larger amount of practical ignorance of letters and books, which abounds, even in States where the most attention is paid to education. It is only when a searching inquiry is instituted by the National Census, or under State or municipal authority in the same form, or by societies and individuals in restricted portions of large cities, for some ecclesiastical purpose, or the antecedents of the victims of vice, pauperism, and crime, are investigated, that the amazing deficiencies in our systems, means, and methods of universal education appear. The startling and humiliating statistics of the National Census of 1840,,1850, and 1860, as to the number of the wbite adult population unable to read and write, in certain States, and for the whole country, will be found in Official Circular, No. XIII.

In the present condition of the educational statistics of each State, and in the full occupation of the clerical force at his command in other directions hereinafter set forth, the Commissioner has not attempted, beyond the statistics of public schools in the principal cities of the country, in reference to the practical efficiency of the systems in operation in the District of Columbia, to exhibit by any statistical summary, the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories. If he has been reasonably successful in indicating the method by which a national agency, like this Department, can obtain a record of the educational systems and institutions of the several States, and put himself into communication with their managers and teachers—can throw light on the deficiencies as well as excellencies of our systems, and impart greater activity to all the agencies which determine the education of a people—can contribute in the experience of States, systems, and institutions, and in the views of eminent teachers and educators, the material for a thorough discussion and wise solution of educational problems—he has done all that he has thus far attempted, or that could reasonably be expected. Should it be his privilege to continue the investigations already instituted-should he be authorized to get, by personal inspection, the material for a comparative view of the same class of institutions in different States-he believes that in a subsequent Report he can submit, with a comprehensive view of the organization and operations of systems and institutions, such reliable facts and statistics, and the generalizations authorized by the same, “as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories,” shall aid the people in those States in which, for the first time, systems of public schools are established, “and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.”

I.

PLAN OF OPERATIONS FOR 1867-68. The first step taken was to make known the provisions of the Act, by which and the avowed purposes for which, the Department was established; and at the same time, to map out the field of inquiry into which the Commissioner was about to enter-specifying the subjects on which facts, information, and suggestions, were desired, and the portions of the field which had been already partially esplored by him; as well as the subjects which had been, to some extent, discussed by prominent teachers and educators, and on which raluable information could be given, and indicating at least the sources of such information. (Official Circulars I, and II.)

L

SCHEDULE OF INFORMATION SOUGHT.
GENERAL VIEW OF SYSTEMS, INSTITUTIONS, AND AGENCIES OF EDCCATION.
A GENERAL CONdition (of District, Village, City, County, State.)

(Territorial Extent, Municipal Organization, Population, Valuation, Receipts. and Expenditures for all public purposes.)

B. SYSTEM OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION.

C. INCORPORATED INSTITUTIONS AND OTHER SCHOOLS AND AGENCIES OF EDCCATION,

[ocr errors][merged small]

1. ELEYENTARY OR PRIMARY EDUCATION.

(Public Private, and Denominational; and for boys or girls.) 2. ACADEMIC OR SECONDARY EDUCATION.

(Institutions mainly devoted to studies not taught in the Elementary Schools, and to preparation for College or Special Schools.) 3 COLLEGIATE OR SUPERIOR EDUCATION.

(Iostitutions entitled by law to grant the degree of Bachelor of Arts or Science.) 4 PROFESSIONAL SPECIAL, OR Class EDUCATION.

(Institutions having special studies and training, such as- -1, Theology. 2, Law. 3. Medicine. 4, Teaching. 5, Agriculture. 6, Architecture, (Design and Construction) 7, Technology-Polytechnic. 8, Engineering, (Civil or Mechanical.) 9. War, (on land or sea.) 10, Business or Trade. 11, Navigation. 12. Mining and Metallury. 13, Drawing and Painting. 14, Music. 15, DeafVites. 16. Blind. 17, Idiotic. 18, Juvenile Offenders. 19, Orphans. 20, Girls 21, Colored or Freedmen. 22, Manual or Industrial. 23, Not specified cterie-such as Chemistry and its applications-- Modern Languages-Natural History and Geology-Steam and its applications--Pharmacy, Veterinary Surgry, &C.) 5. SUPPLEMENTARY EDUCATION.

1, Sunday and Mission Schools. 2, Apprentice Schools. 3, Evening Schools. 4. Courses of Lectures. 5, Lyceums for Debates. 6, Reading Rooms—Periodicals. 7, Libraries of Reference or Circulation. 8, Gymnasiums, Boat and Ball Cluns, and other Athletic Exercises. 9, Public Gardens, Parks and Concerts. 10, 33t specified above.

6. SJCIETIES, INSTITUTES, MUSEUMS, CABINETS, AND GALLERIES FOR THE ADVANCEMENT OF EDUCATION, SCIENCE, LITERATURE, AND THE ARTS.

1. EDUCATIONAL AND OTHER PERIODICALS. 8. SCHOOL FUNDS AND EDCCATIONAL BENEFACTIONS. 9. LEGISLATION (STATE OR MUNICIPAL) RESPECTING EDUCATION. 10. SCHOOL ARCHITECTURE. 11. PENAL AND CHARITABLE INSTITUTIONS. 12. CHERCHES AND OTHER AGENCIES OF RELIGIOUS INSTRUCTION. 13. REPORTS AND OTHER PUBLICATIONS ON SCHOOLS AND EDUCATION. 14 MEMOIRS OF TEACHERS, AND PROMOTERS OF EDUCATION. 15. EXAMINATIONS (COMPETITIVE, OR OTHERWISE) FOR ADMISSION TO NATIOS AL OR STATE SCHOOLS, OR TO PUBLIC SERVICE OF ANY KIND.

The main objects aimed at by this Schedule are, (1) to show in the national aggregate, the magnitude of this great interest of education; the number and variety of institutions and agencies which are at work. in every neighborhood, municipal organization, and State ; to determine not only the formal instruction and training of children and youth, but to affect the health, opinions and habits, intellectual, moral and political, of every member of a community; (2) to ascertain the name, residence, and special work of every person in the administration, instruction, and management of institutions and agencies of education, as material, with the official school documents of a State, to exhibit their condition and progress, and as the basis of a Register—which shail be to this branch of the State social service, what the Army and Navy Register is to those specially organized departments of the national service; and (3) to find, among

the many thousands engaged as officers or teachers, the correspondents, who from a heartfelt interest, and a life consecration to the work, will gladly furnish, from time to time, desired information; contribute to the discussion of educational problems, and disseminate among those who would profit by their consultation or perusal in the preparation of addresses and reports, such documents and statistics as shall be issued by the Department for the advancement of any branch of the subject.

A brief explanation of the details of the Schedule will show the direction and method of the labors of this Department. As the ground of a proper understanding and use of the returns made, it is deemed essential to know the conditions of the community from which they come, or to which they refer; (Schedule A) the territorial extent, the number, occupation, and pecuniary condition of the people; the municipal organization, valuation, and public expenditures, as well as other particulars of the locality. Many of our State systems of public instruction are defective in not admitting, under regulation of a State Board or Superintendent, of adaptations in administration, to the peculiar circumstances of a city or a sparselypopulated district, to a longer or shorter experience in public schools, and to the introduction or omission of certain studies, according to the occupations of the people. While the public school in cities admits of expansion so as to embrace nearly the whole range of secondary instruction, in the rural districts it must be restricted to a few fundamental branches, and must have within itself a certain completeness, although restricted to a few subjects and to one teacher; and the branches taught and the methods must contain the elements and instruments of self-culture, because a majority of the pupils will attend no other school, and their progress in mental development and self-formation will depend on the thoroughness

a

and vividness with which they are taught in these elementary and intermittent schools. In such schools, scattered over the most sterile portions of every country, with the favoring circumstances of good homes, simple manners, healthy occupation, and a wise use of small advantages, have been trained, or at least started in their career of mental discipline and acquisition, a larger proportion not only of useful business men, but of statesmen, scholars and professional men, than in the same number of city schools, enjoying every advantage of scientific classification, prolonged sessions, and well qualified teachers.

Before coming to a just understanding and an intelligent discussion of particular institutions, the Commissioner deems it advisable to know something of the system to which they belong, as well as of the history and condition of existing legislation, both State and municipal, on the subject, as well as the habits of the people in this regard. (Schedule, B. C.) It is much easier to bring a majority of the legal voters of any town or city to provide liberally for public schools, in States which have by force of law and habit recognized the High School as part of its system of public instruction; and on the other hand, the practice of incorporating and endowing by public or private liberality, special institutions under the name of Academies and Seminaries, will account for the multiplication of this class of institutions, and the slow introduction of public schools of the same grade. The extent to which different religious societies provide schools for the children of their several connections, is an important element in the existing means of education in any community, and will determine in no small measure the direction in which improvements can be made. Having gained a full understanding of the general condition of society and education in any community, we can justly appreciate the information given respecting the schools of that locality, be it large or small. In giving the results of this information, and in any suggestions which the Comsioner may make, founded on the same, the following classification, substantially, will be adopted.

1. Elementary Schools. By elementary education—(we use the words education and instruction here to express the aim and results of the same process, although, whether regarded as expressing either process or result, the means or the end, the words have a widely different meaning)—is understood, that formal instruction, first in point of time, simple in quality, small, it may be, in amount, but the most important in reference to mental habits and future progress, which can be given in schools open to all

« PreviousContinue »