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The average length of school in the graded schools was the same as in 1886–9.4 months. In the rural districts the average was .6 of a month less than the preceding year, or 7.5 months. In view of the fact that the average duration of schools throughout the State was 7.7 months, it seems to me that there can be no reasonable objection to increasing the minimum length of school from three to six months.
The number of graded districts in the State was 475, with a total enrollment of 191,248, or an average enrollment in each district of 403. The total number of ungraded districts was 6,543 and the attendance 230,060, or an average attendance of 35.
There was a reported increase of ten in the number of private schools. The total number of teachers employed in these schools was 788, or 61 more than were employed in 1886. The total number of children in attendance was estimated to be 32,607, or an increase of 3,106.
The total number of teachers required to supply the schools was 10,198. This gives an average of 41 pupils to each teacher. The total number of teachers actually employed during the year was 15,566, or 5,368 more than were required. This is due to frequent changes of teachers in the country schools. It will be noticed, however, that there was a very gratifying improvement in this respect over the preceding year, for while there was an increase of 414 in the number required, the increase in the number actually employed was only 246. In the ungraded districts there was a decrease in the number employed of 58. The tenure of office of the teachers of the State is a pretty fair indication of the character of the work done in the schools. Frequent changes imply poor schools, and there could be no more healthy promise of better results in our rural schools than a large reduction in the number of teachers employed. While in the graded districts the excess of teachers employed over the number required was less than five per cent. of the latter, in the ungraded districts the excess was more than 78 per cent.
During 1887 there were 98 less men employed in the public schools than during 1886, and 344 more women. In the graded schools about 17 per cent. of the teachers were men, and in the ungraded over 27 per cent.
The wages of all the teachers in the public schools aggregated $2,955,740.80, an increase of $113,828.62 over 1886. Of this amount $935,664.05 were paid to men, and $2,020,076.75 to women. All the teachers in the graded schools received $1,583,321.53 ; in the ungraded, $1,372,419.27. The monthly wages of male teachers averaged $45.37, an increase of .37 over 1886. The female teachers' monthly wages averaged $31.45; increase .29. In the graded schools both classes of teachers received larger average wages, the
men .70 and the women .76. In the ungraded there was a decrease in the average of both classes; .89 for males, and .46 for females.
The statistics referring to the examination and qualification of teachers is very incomplete and unsatisfactory. The amended law relating to the election of secretaries of county boards of examiners took effect before the annual reports of the secretaries were received from all the counties, and as a result no reports were received from eighteen counties. From all these counties excepting Clare, Delta and Iron, the items from the reports for 1886 were used in making comparisons. The total number of applicants for regular certificates was 15,612. Whole number of regular certificates granted, 10,779, or 69 per cent. of those applying. The number of applicants for special certificates was 1,687, of whom 1,398 were successful. There was a decrease of 167 in the number of applicants for specials, and the number issued was 175 less than the preceding year.
The number of school-houses was 83 in excess of 1886, and the seating capacity was increased 15,919. The total number of school-houses was 7,318, affording accommodation for 534,735 children. The value of school property aggregated $12,174,599.00, an increase of $323,953.00. In the matter of necessary apparatus, while the reports show a fair increase in the number of districts supplied with dictionaries, globes and maps, the schools as a whole, are very deficient in this regard. Of the 7,018 districts in the State, 3,519 reported having dictionaries, 1,773 reported globes, and 2,228 reported maps. It is expected that the more careful supervision of the rural schools that will result from the new law relating to county supervision will secure a very material increase in the number of districts possessing these necessary aids to successful teaching.
The financial exhibit for the year shows an increase in the total resources of the districts of $297,684.86, and an increased net expenditure of $376,851.15. The total resources aggregated $5,989,922.19, and the total net expenditures, $5,067,804.74. The indebtedness of the districts amounted to $1,725,015.64, an increase of $123,706.34. The bonded indebtedness aggregated $1,598,587.98, and the floating debts were $126,427.66.
The total number of school libraries reported was, 1,454, containing 408,952 volumes. The amount expended for the support of these libraries was $74,683.76.
TOWNSHIP DISTRICT. Another effort was made at the last session of the Legislature to secure the passage of an act providing for the establishment of township school districts. A bill was introduced in the Senate authorizing the legally qualified voters of any township, at the annual township meeting, to abolish the school districts and place all the schools of the township under the management of a township board of education. The bill was reported favorably by the committee on education on March 18, but was not brought to a vote until June 3, when it lacked one vote of passing. While it is to be regretted that the bill failed to pass, the discussion of the subject was productive of much good in directing the attention of the people of the State to this most important measure. It is being considered at teachers' institutes and county associations, at farmers' clubs and meetings of granges. The people are constantly becoming more familiar with the special features involved in the proposed change, and the merits of the system cannot fail to commend themselves to the judgment of all who will give it their careful and candid consideration.
The renewed interest awakened in this question has resulted in numerous requests being received by this Department for information regarding the plan. To meet these demands the following circular was issued, embodying a synopsis of the defects of the present district system, a statement of the advantages that are anticipated from the adoption of the township plan and some arguments favorable to the change, gathered from reports from other States and from reports made to this Department by township inspectors. The circular is necessarily very much condensed and gives simply an outline of a few of the arguments advanced in favor of the plan. A paper read by Hon. H. R. Gass at the last session of the State Teachers' Association and published with the proceedings of the Association, in another part of this volume, contains a very full and able presentation of this question.
TOWNSHIP SCHOOL DISTRICT.
I. OBJECTIONS TO THE PRESENT SYSTEM. 1. Unequal facilities for schooling afforded children in the same township. 2. Inequality in the cost of maintaining schools in different parts of the same township. 3. Nepotism in the selection of teachers. 4. Too frequent changes of teachers. 5. Too great diversity of text-books. 6. Too many school officers. 7. L'njust discrimination in local taxation.
8. Children frequently have too long distances to attend school in their own districts, when they could be more conveniently accommodated in an adjoining district.
9. Difficulty in properly classifying and grading schools.
II. BENEFITS THAT WOULD RESULT FROM TOWNSHIP DISTRICT. 1. All children in a township would be given equal school privileges. 2. The cost of maintaining the schools would be distributed equally over the entire township.
3. The teachers, being appointed by a township board, the chances of favoritism in the selection is very much reduced.
4. The tenure of office of efficient teachers would be lengthened.
5. A township uniformity of text-books would result, and the adoption of county uniformity would be facilitated, if deemed advisable.
6. The number of school officers would be largely diminished, and the choice being extended to the township a better class of officers would result.
7. The local taxation would be the same throughout the township.
10. School-house sites would be more satisfactorily located, and the quarrels over district boundaries would be abolished.
11. The length of school would be uniform throughout the township.
III. HOW IT WORKS IN OTHER STATES.
The schools in the following States are organized either wholly or partially on the township system: Alabama, Connecticut, Indiana, Iowa, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, Tennessee, West Virginia, Wisconsin, Vermont. From answers to inquiries addressed to the State Superintendents of these States I extract the following:
1. W. DICKINSON, Secretary State Board of Education of Mass.: “The township system works infinitely better than did the district system."
Supt. B. L. MORGAN, West Va.: "Under this system our schools have the advantage of a careful local management and all the advantages of the district system."
CHAS. D. HINE, Secretary State Board of Education of Conn.: “The township system has the following advantages :
(a) Greater efficiency of management.
(g) Better buildings and material," Supt. FRANK D. SMITH, of Tenn.: "The township district is decidedly the plan for Tennessee. I favor the township plan because we have several object lessons in Tennessee that speak louder than words. The fewer men you have to manage the schools the better. We can secure good directors on the township plan with but little trouble—the other plan gives much trouble."
Supt. SOLOMON PALMER, of Alabama: “By our fundamental law every township is a school district, and a body corporate, and there has been no disposition to change it, and the system gives satisfaction."
Sapt. STOCKWELL, of Rhode Island: “So far as the towns have changed (to the township plan), the people are thoroughly satisfied that they get better schools for less money. I do not believe that there is a single advantage to be secured by the so-called district system, as a system.”
Supt. THAYER, of Wisconsin: “I am most cordially in favor of an obligatory township system of school government. I am of the opinion that:
(a) It would greatly equalize the cost of public schools.
ting every child to attend where most convenient.
and the location of school-house sites. (d) It would secure better school-houses and better appointments. (e) It.would secure better teachers by diminishing the opportunity for the prevalence of
unworthy motives; would make it easier to secure uniformity and free supply of text-books; would promote the efficiency of the township system of libraries; would promote some measure of local supervision; would insure the adoption of a course of
study in ungraded schools. (1) It would especially be useful in the way of such disposition of the available teaching
force in the town that the greatest utility would result. The 'mis-fits of teachers
and districts are a large factor in the failures of schools." Supt. JUSTUS DARTT, of Vermont: “There are now in Vermont thirty towns using this system, and it is working well. As for myself, I believe in the town system. The old district system has served its day and should be now made to give place to a better."
Supt. STEWART, of Pennsylvania : “The township system is entirely satisfactory."
Supt. LUCE, of Maine: "The increase of fifteen in the number of towns that have discarded the district system-a very marked increase as compared with the number abolishing in any previous year-is therefore evidence of better schools in as many towns. It is also evidence of the growth of a public recognition of the need of reform in this direction, and is thus a promise of better things to come. The Legislature of 1887 can do no more beneficent work for the State than to wipe from the statutes every provision therein, under and by which the school district system exists."
Supt. PATTERSON, of New Hampshire: “It will no longer be possible for a rich district, by squandering surplus funds on a few pupils, to deprive all the other scholars in town of a portion of their legitimate schooling. It will no longer be possible for the village child, unless under special act, to secure thirty or forty weeks of schooling, while the boy or girl on the farm gets but ten or fifteen because he happens to live in a poor district. It will no longer be possible to limit a heavy taxpayer in a poor district to half the schooling of a non-taxpayer in a rich one. The law makes the town, as at first, the political unit of the State, and is in the interest of equality and fair play."
Supt. AKERS, of Iowa: “The law is now so misleading and confusing as to make it impossible to be understood by those whose duty it is to administer it. In the hope of simplifying this law Turged upon the Twentieth General Assembly the necessity of consolidating rural independent districts into independent township districts."
Supt. HOLOOMBE, of Indiana: “At first every school district was independent, with a school board of its own. This plan was found to be ineffective, wasteful and extravagant. All the districts of the township were, therefore, united into a school corporation under a single responsible trutstee. This was a great step in advance. Order began to prevail and some life appeared in the schools."
IT. DISTRICT PROPERTY. One objection that has been offered to changing to the township system is the apparent difficulty in equalizing the property interests of the several districts of the township. The bill introduced at the last session of the Legislature provided substantially as follows: Upon organizing a township district the township board of trustees takes possession of all the property of all the districts of the township. This property is appraised by the townsbip trustees upon assuming possession of it, and each district is credited with the amount surrendered to the township, less debts and liabilities, which are assumed by the township. A tax is then levied equal to the whole amount of property received from the districts in the township after deducting liabilities, and to the taxpayers of each district is remitted from this fund the appraised value of the district property, less the liabilities. Should the lovying of this tax impose a burden too great to be borne in a single assessment, it could be readily distributed over two or more years.
Ir fractional districts the school-house and its appurtenances would go to the township in which they were located, and the taxpayers in that part of the district in each township would receive from the township taking the property their proportionate share of it as determined by the amount of taxable property in the part of the district lying in the different townships. The value of the property of fractional districts would be appraised by tbe boards of trustees of the several townships in which the district is situated, acting in joint session.
V. INDEPENDENT DISTRICTS.
Another objection to the proposed change is that a majority of the graded districts as now organized under the general school laws of the State would not consent to their schools being merged into the township system. This objection is met by leaving to the larger villages the control of their schools. Under our present laws, a large number of the graded schools are organized by special charter, and are known as independent districts. In case of the adoption of the township unit system, it should be left to the option of the graded districts, with certain restrictions, to retain or not their present organization. In the bill upon this subject before the last Legislature, it was provided that each graded district of three hundred children or more could by a two-thirds vote of the qualified voters continue its organization and constitute itself an independent district.
VI. STATISTICAL ARGUMENTS.
1. UNEQUAL PRIVILEGES.-During the school year ending in September, 1887, 81 districts in the State with a school census of 1,350 had no school whatever; 136 districts with 2,493 children had only three months' school, and 2,469 districts with a school population of over 87,000 children maintained school less than the average number of months that school was taught in the rural districts of the State.