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2. FREQUENT CHANGES OF TEACHERS.- The number of teachers required to supply the schools in Michigan in 1887 was 10,198; the number actually employed was 15,568. In Massachusetts the number required was 8,275; number employed, 9,670. In Indiana, required, 9,000; employed, 9,500. The schools in the last two mentioned States are managed wholly on the township plan.
3. UNEQUAL Cost UNDER PRESENT SYSTEM.-In 1886–7 there were 254 districts in 58 counties enrolling less than 10 pupils each, and with a total expenditure of $52,219. The average enrollment for each school was six and a fraction; the number of months taught, five, and the amount of money expended in each district averaged $233. This gives a cost of $7.75 per month for each child enrolled in these schools, or more than 858 per capita for seven and one-half months, the average length of school in rural districts. The average per capita cost in all the rural schools of the State for seven and one-half months was $7.22. These figures have been taken from the 254 districts that enrolled less than 10 pupils each. Had they been made to include districts with an enrollment as high as 15 each, it is safe to say the number would have been 500, and that the expenditures would have been found to be highly excessive.
4. ECONOMY OF TOWNSHIP PLAN.– New Hampshire has operated her schools under this plan for one year, and this is the testimony of State Supt. Patterson as given in his report for 1887: “No law ever encountered, at the outset, bitterer or more groundless prejudices than this, and none ever disarmed opposition more quickly, and demonstrated its power to benefit the State. Though the sum paid teachers is $10,328 less than last year, the average length of school has been two weeks more. There has been a more equitable distribution of educational opportunities than formerly, and, as a rule, better teachers have been employed." There were 2,644 district schools in New Hampshire in 1882 ; under the township organization there are now 2,276, a reduction of 15 per cent. Should a corresponding reduction be made in the number of country schools in Michigan, and an equal ratio in the expense of the schools, it would save $300,000 school tax each year.
In Maine the township system has been adopted in 92 towns. State Supt. Luce in his report for 1886 says: “All experience goes to prove beyond possibility of disproof, that schools managed on the town plan are more economically managed, and are in every way more efficient than those managed on the district plan."
As showing the interest that has been aroused among the teachers of the State in this question, and how general the sentiment among them that the welfare of the district schools demands the change proposed, the following resolution was presented at the last meeting of the State Teachers' Association and was unanimously adopted :
Resolved, That it is the sense of the Association that the highest interests of the common schools of the State of Michigan demand that the township be made the unit of our educational system instead of the district, and that we request the Department of Public Instruction to call the attention of the county secretaries to the importance of bringing this subject before the people with a view to legislation, and to advance this movement in every possible manner.
Prof. J. W. Ewing, President of the Association, in his annual address included among a number of recommendations which he believed would “consolidate and strengthen our educational forces if carried out,” the following: “That one united effort should be made by the friends of educational progress throughout the State to secure a change in our school laws recognizing the township unit in our educational system.”
This reform in the administration of school affairs is sure to prevail ultimately, and I trust the effort to secure legislative action may be renewed at the next session and that all interested in our public schools will use all lionorable means to aid in procuring a favorable consideration of this measure.
The value of these local professional schools has become thoroughly recognized by the teachers of the State, and the benefits that result from a regular attendance and close attention to the instruction given are unquestionable. They have come to be a necessity, especially to the teachers in the district schools. The institute affords the only opportunity that a large majority of these teachers have of informing themselves as to the latest methods of instruction that have proved successful in our best schools. A most gratifying indication of the growth of appreciation of the value of the institutes on the part of school officers is shown by the readiness with which district boards assent to closing their schools to allow the teachers to attend. A few years ago the sentiment against closing schools during the session of an institute was so strong and so general that it was deemed inexpedient to appoint any during the term of school. This necessitated crowding all the institutes into the few weeks of vacation, rendering it impossible to utilize the services of our best instructors in but few counties. This opposition is gradually disappearing, however, and now not only do boards generally comply with the request to close school during the week of the institute, but in many cases the Department is requested to appoint the institute during school term to insure the attendance of the teachers.
The attendance has increased with the growing popularity of the institute. Of the number of teachers required to supply the schools in the 68 counties in which institutes were held the past year, over three-fifths were enrolled in the institutes. It is also gratifying to notice that the teachers who, as a rule, need institute instruction most—those holding third grade certificatesare fust becoming more interested in the work. This year nearly 60 per cent. of those in attendance held third grade certificates.
It has been observed by the institute conductors that many of the teachers of the ungraded country schools have no adequate idea of what the institute aims to do for them. No one has more power or opportunity to aid the teachers in this regard than the secretary of the board of examiners. Since the abolition of the old county superintendent plan the country schools have had, practically, no supervision. But under the new law enacted by the last Legislature the secretary has general supervision of all the schools of his county, and if he desires he, with the board of examiners, can exert a great influence over the teachers in the way of impressing on them the importance of the institute. It is believed that the enlargement of the powers of the examiners under this new law will result in more efficient work to help teachers see the value of institutes, and a consequent increase in attendance. There were 65 institutes held last year with a total enrollment of 6,354. Of this number 3,639 were teachers holding third grade certificates, 431 held second grade and 247 held first. There were 1,625 without experience in teaching. The enrollment was a little less than in 1886. This should not be construed, however, as showing a lack of interest in the institutes. There were six more institutes held in 1886 than in 1887, which would fully account for the smaller enrollment. The average attendance at each institute this year is 98 against 97 for the year before.
The total amount expended for the institutes during the year was $8,954.11. Over four-fifths of this sum, or $7,542, came from the county fund, and $1,411.92 was from the State fund. The average cost per capita for the 65 institutes was only $1.40. This is surely a very moderate cost and teachers
. ought not to complain of expense when it is understood that they get the best and most approved methods, presented, as a rule, by instructors whose experience and ability render them especially adapted to this work.
There has always been a difference of opinion and more or less discussion concerning the length of time institutes should be held. In many counties it is not possible to hold them longer than one week, if longer sessions are advisable, owing to the lark of available funds; but in some of the older counties the fund is usually large enough to pay the expenses of a two weeks' institute. In these counties it is quite frequently urged, and usually by the local authorities, that a two weeks' session be held, and some desire it to be extended to three or four weeks.
I am inclined to think that under the present plan of work the sessions should not be of more than two weeks' duration. The object of a long insti. tute seems to be to afford opportunity for a general review of the branches commonly taught in the primary schools, and to make practical applications of the theories presented by means of class work. The value of time in presenting the methods and applying them by means of class work and object lessons is fully appreciated, yet the idea of our plan is more to suggest the method than to make an exhaustive study and application, and, while it would no doubt be a great benefit to the teachers, the expense would be too great to be borne.
In some of the counties where the fund was large, instead of holding a two weeks' institute, two one week institutes have been held, in different parts of the county, and at different times of the year. The plan has proved very satisfactory wherever tried.
The institutes that are held during the school term show fully as large an attendance as those held during vacation. Conductors report that the attend. ance is much more regular and that the work done is more satisfactory. ExSuperintendent Gass says in this connection: “With the little opposition that is now brought against the closing of the schools for the institute it seems advisable that more of them should be held while the schools are in session,',
There is quite a general sentiment among the instructors that too many topics are considered. It is much better to present one topic well than to present two indifferently. Conductors are instructed to use good judgment in regard to the number of topics to be presented, and to be governed to a considerable extent by the suggestions of those who have preceded them in the county.
The law passed at the last session of the Legislature, requiring instruction to be given in physiology and hygiene, makes some important requirements of the teachers and school boards, and I would urge that instructors call careful attention to the importance of putting into operation the provisions of this law.
STATE AND INCORPORATED EDUCATIONAL INSTITUTIONS.
The past year has been an exceedingly prosperous one for the three State institutions that are distinctly educational. The University, the Agricultural College and the Normal School each report an attendance larger than during any preceding year. The aggregate number of students enrolled in these institutions during the year was 2,614, distributed as follows: University, 1,572 ; Agricultural College, 323; Normal School, 719. Liberal appropriations by the Legislature have enabled the several boards of control to make much needed improvements in the direction of enlarged accommodations for students, and increased facilities for instruction. As these several schools grow in numbers and the demands upon them for greater choice in the character of the courses offered increase, larger appropriations will be needed annually to meet their necessities. These institutions are doing a grand work for the State, and the money contributed from the State treasury to their support and enlargement is well expended. The willingness with which the Legislature has always responded to the appeals for aid from the managing boards illustrates the esteem in which they are held by the people of the State, and the general confidence that is felt in their intelligent and economical management.
Statistical tables Nos. XXVI and XXVII, and the reports given in the documentary portion of this report furnish full and detailed information concerning the present condition of these schools.
A comparison of the number of the students attending the several denominational colleges and incorporated academies and seminaries during 1887 with the number reported in 1886, shows an increase of 130. The total number of students in attendance at these schools during the past year was 3,419, and the number of instructors employed was 156. The valuation of property held by the incorporated schools of the State was estimated at $1,089,665. The total amount of productive funds is reported as $801,482, and the total indebtedness, $101,669. The reports for 1886 gave the aggregate
. value of property, $1,028,000; productive funds, $771,176; indebtedness, $82,648, making an increase during the year of $61,665 in the value of property, $30,366 in productive funds, and $19,021 in indebtedness. The increased value of property exceeds the increase of indebtedness $42,644.
On the whole, the returns from these institutions show a fairly prosper ous year. They are, as a rule, equipped with able, earnest and conscientious instructors, and good libraries, museums, laboratories and other aids to teach ing. The work done is uniformly of an excellent quality. The financial condition of most of the larger colleges is improving yearly, the heavy debts incurred in establishing many of them are being cancelled, and the outlook for their enlarged usefulness and prosperity is encouraging.
The reports of the principal officers, and of the boards of visitors, printed elsewhere in this report, together with the items given in the statistical tables referred to above, furnish full information concerning such of these schools as have reported to this Department.
THE PRIMARY SCHOOL FUNDS.
The moneys derived from the sale of school lands, and from escheats to the State, constitute the Primary School Fund proper, and bear seven per cent. interest. Under the provisions of Section 5 of Act No. 31, Session Laws of 1858, one-half of all moneys received from the sale of swamp lands donated by Congress to the State, after deducting the expenses of sale, was set apart as a school fund bearing five per cent. interest. By Act No. 142, of the Public Acts of 1887, the section above referred to was amended oy providing that all moneys heretofore received or hereafter received from the sale of swamp lands donated by Congress, shall be denominated a primary school fund on which the State shall pay interest at the rate of five per cent. By this act, what is known as the Primary School Five Per Cent. Fund h as been more than doubled, amounting at the close of the last fiscal year to $775,766.28, while for the preceding year the amount to the credit of this fund aggregated but $366,645.
The income derived from each of these funds, together with the surplus of specific taxes remaining in the State treasury after paying the interest on the