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A careful study of the returns from which the tables of statistics of State school systems have been compiled shows that there is much yet to be accomplished before a truthful comparison of the educational condition of the different States can be made. A common understanding among superintendents as to the signification of the various terms in use, and as to the processes by which the results for tabulation are to be ascertained, is especially necessary. In computing averages, for instance, a great diversity of methods prevails. “Average daily attendance” means one thing in one State and another thing in.another State, while the average pay of teachers is calcnlated in several different ways. The practice of giving due weight to the component parts of an average is frequently disregarded. Inter-State comparison under such cir. cumstances is obviously misleading.
The financial branch of educational statistics is in need of a definite nomenclatnre and a uniform system of classification. It is especially desirable to determine what expenditures come under the head of "current," since the current, or regular, expenditure, as distinguished from the permanent, is the best measure of what the people are paying out for edncation from year to year. Superintendent William R. Creery, of Baltimore, said in 1874:1
“ I have had the question pat to me as to the cost of education per pupil in the city of Baltimore. I have said in reply, ‘upon what basis do you wish me to calculate the cost? Shall I include salaries, rents, ground-rents, books and stationery, incidentals, interest on cost of buildings, or shall I omit some of these charges? I can calculate it just as you wish and make the cost per pupil all the way from $10 to $23 per annum. If I wish to make the cost per pupil small I take a large divisor and a small dividend; that is, I take all the pupils who have been in during the year for å divisor and only a part of the total cost for a dividend.' The truth is, as things are now, the calculation of cost is a kind of sliding scale, to be used as superintendents find it necessary.".
It may be that in the absence of any common understanding as to what should be included in "current expenditure," the salaries of teachers and superintendents should be used as a basis for computing per capita expenditure.
The total receipts and expenditures given in the tables are not intended to include balances on hand or carried forward ; also to avoid duplication, receipts from the sale of bonds and payments on account of bonded indebtedness are excluded. In some of the returns which were received by the Bureau it was found, upon comparison with the corresponding printed reports, that balances as well as bond sales and pay. ments were included in the total receipts and expenditures. These items were eliminated when practicable, and all the States placed in this Report upon as equal a footing as the data at the disposal of the Bureau permitted.
In order to arrive at a knowledge of what relative portion of their means the people of a State are paying out for education, an acquaintance with the total value of all taxable property is necessary. The colump containing this item is the least satisfactory of all for purposes of comparison. Arbitrary valuations of property, differences in rates of assessment, and other formidable difficulties, render the tabulated results untrustworthy, except as a general guide.
It is hardly conceivable that any considerable improvement will be made in this latter regard; but respecting the other points of which mention has been made, it needs only the united action of the State superintendents to make effective progress. At least, we know the direction in which effort'should be made. A wide-reaching and minutely classified body of State statistics is not to be striven for, at least at the present time; rather the salient points are to be sought after, those possessing the most educational and economic significance. To determine these on a uniform basis and by uniform methods for all the States is an object greatly to be desired.
Population. Among the foremost of these items is population. Population is a factor of prime importance in a scheme of educational statistics. Comparisons based on enrolment and average attendance furnish no clew as to the relative extent of the diffusion of education among the whole people of a State. Some way of arriving at comparisons based on the total population, or upon the population between certain fixed ages, uniform for all the States, is a great desideratum. This was fully appreciated by the committee which drew up the State schedule in 1874, in which the population from six to sixteen was called 'for, as well as the population under six and that between sixteen and twenty-one.
The attempt to get these items reported, however, has been a failure. In the last Annual Report of the Bureau the population from six to sixteen is reported from only four States, and the population under six from Oregon only.
The school population," or population of the school age, as periodically determined by the state school censuses, has indeed been very generally reported by the State superintendents; the differences in the school ages of the several States, howover, reader the school population valueless for purposes of inter-State comparison,
"Circular of Information No. 1, 1874: Proceedings of the Department of Superintondence of the National Educational Association, page 17.
thongh it is liable to be ased for that purpose by persons who, through ignorance or thoughtlessness, do not take into consideration the difference in the school ages of the different States; hence the apparent superiority in point of school attendance of such States as Massachusetts, whose school age is only five to fifteen.
In view of the desirability of ascertaining the population of the various States on a uniform basis as regards ages included, it has been deemed advisable to compute them approximately from the best data at hand. Happily the State school censuses themselves afford the best and altogether a very satisfactory means of arriving at the result in a large number of instances.
The United States census of 1880 gives the population for each year of age for all the States and Territories. Now, it may be assumed with sufficient accuracy for present purposes that in any State the population of any age, six to fourteen, for example, or the total population, increases from year to year in the same ratio as the State school population as determined by the State school censuses. The proportion of the population of any given age, though widely different in different sections of the country, may be regarded as constant in any given State for a short period of years. Upon this principle the total population and the population of six to fourteen have been computed, using as a basis the school population as determined by the State enumeration for the following States and Territories : Alabama, California, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, New York, Ohio, Oregon, Tennessee, Virginia, West Virginia, Arizona, Montana, and Utah.
The age six to fourteen was selected on account of its having been recommended by a committee of the National Council of Education as the obligatory school age, the school census age, and as the age upon which educational statistics should be based. The total population is added as furnishing the only ground for international comparison.
It is felt that any considerable errors that exist in the populations as thus compated arise not so much from the assumption of the principle made use of, as from the errors in the school censuses themselves---errors which are generally recognized to exist. Increased accuracy in the enumeration of school youth is urgently demanded in order to place this branch of educational statistics on a sounder basis.
In addition to the method above described, fourteen States and Territories, viz: Massachusetts, Rhode Island, New Jersey, Florida, Kansas, Michigan, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Iowa, Nebraska, Colorado, Dakota, New Mexico, and District of Columbia, furnish an actual census of the total population for the summer of 1885, or one which may be accurately reduced to that date.
Where there is neither a school census nor a general census it has been necessary to fall back upon the population of 1870 and 1880 as furnishing the rate of increase, as in the case of Delaware, Missouri, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania, Vermont, and Wyoming; or in some of the Southern States where the census of 1870 was notorious. ly defective, upon those of 1860 and 1880, as in the case of Arkansas, Georgia, Ken. tucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, South Carolina, and Texas.
It is true that there is no law governing the increase of population from time to time, and the assumption that its increase from 1880 to 1885 is in the same ratio as fron. 1660 or 1870 to 1880 does not take into account abnormal changes or disturbing influEnces that have been at work since 1880 ; but it is the best assumption that is available, and it is far preferable to use the populations as thus deduced than those of 1880, or the heterogeneous State school populations.
In the case of Nevada, Idaho, and Washington, special methods were used, combining the features of one or more of the above, according as the data at hand demanded.
1 Addresses and Proceedings of the National Educational Association, 1885, p. 474.
PRESENT EDUCATIONAL CONDITION.
No brief summary can adequately set forth the actual condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories. There are too many important factors of influence to be thus summarily dealt with. The plan, however, has been to select from the State reports such utterances as would indicate the general condition, and then to cullsuch other salient features as wonld illustrate special movement and growth in the administration and development of the public-school system.
Those States and Territories which are omitted in this account either failed to transmit, or to publish, reports for 1885–86.
It is gratifying to report an increased efficiency in the administration of the publicschool system, which is growing in popularity and offering the benefits of education to a greater number of children than ever before in its history. There is not only an increase in the number of schools and in the regularity of attendance, but what is of far more importance, the schools are being conducted by better qualified teachers.
The three pormal schools for the whites and the three for the colored race are in a flourishing condition. If there be those who doubt the propriety of the State maintaining normal schools such doubts would be removed by a visit to the several schools of the State. These schools, with the exception of the one at Florence, have been in operation but a few years, and some of thein turned out their first graduates last year, so that comparatively little has been accomplished toward supplying the increased demand for trained teachers; but their influence has already been felt throughout the State by creating, on the part of patrons, a demand for better qualified teachers. There are thousands of teachers in the public schools but poorly prepared for their responsible work, and hundreds so incompetent that the payment of school funds to them is but little better than a waste of public money; yet township superintendents are compelled to employ them, or do without schools. To train à sufficient number of teachers to meet the demand will require years, and the State should not grow impatient because this work cannot be done in a day.
The institutes held by county superintendents, and required by law, are creating an increased interest among the teachers. They are conducted to better advantage, and more teachers attend and take an active part in them. Where they are held more frequently both the attendance and interest are increased, and conseqnently much more benefit is derived. In some counties, bowever, they are seldom held and are poorly attended, and do but little good, while in a fow counties they are altogether neglected. It seems to be the fault of the county superintendents if these in. stitutes are not held and made of interest to the teachers.
The following recommendations by the superintendent of education illustrates the drift of opinion in educational affairs: (1) A law authorizing counties, cities, towns, separate school districts, and townships to levy and collect a special tax for building school-houses or for other school purposes. (2) A law raising the standard of qualification for teachers. (3) A law repealing the local laws requiring the appointment or election in certain counties of three trustees instead of one township superintendent, (4) A law providing for a commission on text-books to select a series of textbooks to be used in the public schools. (5) An increase of appropriation to meet the demand created by the increase in school population.
The fact that no reports, except as to State appropriations, are made from cities and separate school districts tends to give the impression that the school system is an inefficient one. Such, however, is not the fact. The superintendent states that the public schools of the cities of Alabama will compare favorably with those of other States, and are improving each year.
A careful examination of the statistical part of the State report, the goneral summaries, and the reports made by county examiners will convince the most skeptical that Arkansas is making rapid progress in her educational interests. There is a deeper conviction in the minds of the people that the massos cannot be educated so well aud
This report was not roocived in season to incorporato tho returns for tho current year in tho Sinta tables.
at so little cost by any other means as can be done in the common school. The best evidence of the truth of this statement is seen in the amount of taxes voted in the districts each year and in the growing sentiment in the minds of parents and guardians for more convenient school houses and better instruction. Now, while there is a growing interest demanding better methods of teaching and longer school terms, yet a remedy of existing defects may be justly expected by the State in consideration of the amount of money expended. This remedy is partly in county supervision, changing the present district system, needed legislation on text-books, longer school terms, better teachers, and better houses.
One of the greatest wants of the public-school system of Arkansas is intelligent county supervision. What is needed is some one who is qualitied to visit each school in the county, observe the work of the teacher, and, when necessary, point out defects in methods of teaching and school gorernment; instruct directors in their duties, and endeavor to create in the minds of the people a greater interest in the free schools of his county.
There are two ways of solving the difficulties relating to text-books: (1) County adoption, by a county board of education, from the series of books recommended by the State board, which shall not be changed in three or five years except by a majority vote of the county; (2) free text-books adopted by the county board.
The superintendent recommends the abolition of the present districts, except those organized under the special act for cities and towns, and the making of each civil or political township a school district, under the control and management of three ditectors. This plan will consolidate the funds and enable the directors to improve the school-houses and employ a better class of teachers and secure a longer school term.
CALIFORNIA, The public schools are in good condition, and are continually reaching forth toward a betterment. The influence of the normal schools is being felt more and more; and the graduates of the State University are becoming more and more frequently members of the instructing profession. There is much enlightened foresight displayed in the manner in which local taxes are self-imposed for additional school facilities." More attention is also paid to the election of proper men for the highly responsible office of school trustees.
The one great want in the public schools is a closer attention on the part of teachers and other authorities to moral instruction--to character building. To turn out good, honest, clean-living men and women should be the principal end and aim of the public schools.
A great defect in the system is the fact that in many of the counties the superintendents of the schools are poorly paid. Now, the county superintendent is the most important officer connected with the system of public education, and he should receive a comfortable support, so that he may be contented and able to give his whole time to bis duties, while his reasonablo traveling expenses should not be deducted from his salary.
In November, 1884, the people by a vote almost unanimous made an amendment to
The series of readers, covering substantially the same ground as those heretofore
About twenty-five counties (out of thirty-eight) have already organized teachers' associations, and others will do so in the near future. These associations have been attended with good results. Teachers have been inspired with new zeal, and school boards have been led to see the importance of making their schools better.
20 15 30 40
153 508 500 907 634
A regular course of study for the country schools has recently received considerable attention and encouraging progress has been made. The reports show that there are now a large number of country schools in the State that have adopted a definite course of study. It has been over four years since the course published in the Daily Register was first recommended to district boards of ungraded schools, but little seems to have been done until last year. The results are, the pupils are better classified, a more uniform series of books are used, while more efficient work is performed by both teachers and pupils.
More interest than usual during the past year was manifested by the schools of the State in tree-planting. Many trees were planted through their instrumentality, not only on school grounds but upon other public grounds.
Never before in the history of the State has there been a greater supply of excellent teachers. There is a constant influx of teachers from all parts of the Union seeking positions in the schools. As many as fifty names at a time were enrolled of those seeking an opportunity to teach, and no situations were vacant.
1. (a) There are 1,631 schools, requiring 3,038 teachers; (b) of these, 561 are men and 2,477 are women; (c) four hundred beginners are required every year. If the samo proportion as above prevails, 74 would be men and 326 wonld be women.
2. The followivg is a partial summary of teachers' wages for the past year: Average wages per month of male teachers...
$69 89 Average wages per month of female teachers Number of teachers whose average wages were
$20 or less per month $20 to $25 per month.. $25 to $30 per month.. $30 to $40 per month. $40 to $50 per month. 3. In some districts schools are not in session longer than six months, in very many not longer than eight months. There is no certainty of regular employment. Frequently three teachers, one for each term, are employed in the six or eight months.
4. Employment is not regulated by ordinary business considerations. The following are some of the influences which determine selection of teachers :
(a) Relationship by birth or marriage, without regard to any other consideration. b) Alliances in politics and church.
(c) Misfortune, amiability, the desire to do something dignified, or to fill up unoccupied time.
(d) Locality; none out of town or district are considered. 5. Deducting those who have special training, 300 beginners, or one-tenth of all the teachers in the State, have not the exceptional ability which would enable them to command high wages. Indeed, very many from their youth and ignorance are positively certain not to have any teaching ability at all and cannot expeot to receive high wages.
6. There is a great scarcity of teachers who have education and training, and the demand for skillful teachers is far greater than can be met.
The Normal School has on its rolls the largest number of scholars reported since 1859. The coming year will also show the largest number of graduates in the history of the school.
The Normal School has given especial attention to training in elementary science, with a view to introducing this, or at least its methods, to the common schools. With this purpose elementary science is taught in the model schools and the graduates are thus able to give instruction to children in this important field.
The system of normal training now comprises à largo Kindergarten, four school rooms on the Normal School premises, and five rooms in adjoining towns. Three of these rooms contain pupils of the highest grammar grades, and in the others are children of primary and intermediate grades. The training, therefore, covers all the grades of teaching below the high school.
In the three years past the Normal School has been largely instrumental in bringing to the notice of teachers throughout the State :
(1) The value of Kindergarten ideas and occapations.
(2) The value of elementary instruction in science and the possibility of carrying out such instruction in the common schools.
(3) An entirely new and now almost universally approved plan for mental work in cominon and decimal fractions.
(4) A better and easier way to teach penmanship,
(6) A systematic and legitimate use of occupations, or busy work bearing upon every part of primary work.