Imagens das páginas
PDF
ePub
[ocr errors][merged small][merged small]

Completeness of the returns-System pursued-Multiplicity of ratios--Limitations of statistics— Urban and rural school systems-Misuse of the tables-Sources of error-School year, total popu. Jation, and population 6-14 (Table 1)-School ages and school census (Table 2)--Enrolment (Table 3)-Average daily attendance (Table 4)—Total attendance; duration of schools (Table 5-Xumber of school buildings; seating cnpacity (Table 6) --School libraries; high schools (Table 7)—Private schools (Table 6)- Teachers Table 9)-Salaries of teachers (Table 10)-School Terenue (Tables 11, 12, and 12 A)-School expenditures (Tables 13, 14, and 14 A)--Permanent school fund, total assessed valuation, and value of school property (Table 15)-Percentage of increase or decrease of various items during the past year Table 10)--Ten years' growth of the public school system (Table 17)- Education in the South-Expenditure--Education in the North and West-Chief State school officers (Table 18).

Completeness of the statistical returns. The progress and present condition of common school education in the United States is set forth in the following tables with as much accuracy and completeness as the material that came to hand up to the time of going to press permitted. Returns for the current scholastic year, of more or less completeness, were received from forty-one States and Territories, including Georgia and Louisiana, whose statistics for the calendar year 1886 are republished. This equals the number reporting the previous year. It is a matter affording considerable satisfaction that such is the case, since of the twenty-four States and Territories that have adopted the biennial report system few or none issue a report for the present year.

The Bareau is greatly indebted to many State superintendents for the special efforts they have made to forward their returns in season for publication, and in several cases for their courtesy in furnishing advance sheets of their printed reports. It is only through their voluntary co-operation in the interest of education that the exhibits which appear in the following pages have leen made possible.

Seven States and 'Territories failed to send returns for 1886–87, as follows: New Jersey, Delaware, Tennessee, Wisconsin, Wyoming, Utah, and New Mexico. The retarns of the preceding year are given in every case, however, except in that of New Mexico, from which no lull elucatioual statistics have been received later than those of the United States census of 1880.

The State superintendency of Delaware having been aholished, application for the statistics of the current year was made to the county superintendents; two of the three county superintendents (those for New Castle and Kent Counties) responded; as their retarns did not give a complete view of the State, however, it was deemed best to publish the figures for 1884–85 as taken from the printed State report.

The statistics of Wyoming and Washington Territories were taken from the reports of their respective Governors to the Secretary of the Interior, and are very imperfect, especially those of the former Territory.

SYSTEM PURSUED. The practice of working up in this Bureau the material of the returns made to it has been extensively pursued, as will appear from the following tables. The idea has been to pre, not only the materials for information, but the information itself. Such computations as are most needed, and as are of general utility, have been made, so that those who bave tre for the results may find them ready to hand. Not the least advantage of this work is, that it is uniformly done for all the States, the imperfections and limitations of the data, when known, being taken into consideration, and the best results obtained of which the character of the material admits.

Armingement. The arrangement of the tables has undergone some alteration, chiefly with the object of facilitating reference and rendering more easy the comparison of different States and geographical sections with each other as regards their educational couTotals. —No totals are given for the United States or for any geographical section, except in case of those items which are reported from every State or are estimated. The common practice of using incomplete totals as if they were complete, has been a fruitful source of erroneous deductions. Too much emphasis cannot be laid upon the point that only homogeneous numbers, such as only complete totals are, are comparable with each other. In order to fill up the most important columns, if returns were lacking in only a few instances, recourse was had to estimates, if there was any good basis therefor, or to the returns for the preceding year. In such cases it may be seen that the percentage of error in the totals is only a small fraction of what it was in the number so supplied. This course has been pursued on the assumption that it is better to have an approximate knowledge of a subject than to be entirely destitute of information regarding it.

MULTIPLICITY OF RATIOS. The idea may occur to a person examining the tables for general purposes, without having his attention directed to any particular subject, that there are an unnecessary number of ratios, etc., enough, it may be, to perplex or even confuse him. Bat it must be borne in mind that each student or investigator who has recourse to the tables for any specific purpose, follows his own line of argument and requires data adapted to his own particular needs, according to the aspect under which he is viewing educational problems.

LIMITATIONS OF STATISTICS. In the discussions of the tables the Bureau has formulated only the most obvious of the many conclusions of which the data admit. The points that can be satisfactorily elucidated by these statistics, however, are few, compared with the host of questions that are pressing for a solution, or upon which more light is desired. Even within their legitimate sphere the usefulness of the tables is greatly restricted by their incompletenessto mention no other defect--by the array of blanks which is met with in nearly every column. But above and beyond this, the fact remains that but few of the circumstances or conditions that affect the educational life of a State can be subjected to quantitative measurement. The tables give the number of teachers in a State, but how can their educational force be measured as compared with as many teachers in another State,-their power of developing latent faculties, of moulding character, or of imparting information? We may know that in one State there has been half as much again expended for education for each child as in another, but where are we to find the figures which will tell which State profited most from its expenditure, in which it has been made judiciously under competent direction, and in which it has been marked by extravagance, jobbery, ora vain desire for outward show to the sacrifice of more essential matters? Regard should be had for these and like considerations in the use of statistics; the information they furnish should be compared with and supplemented by tbat derived from non-statistical sources, in order to get the clearest light practicable upon any subject.

URBAN AND RURAL SCHOOL SYSTEMS. A comparison of the schools of a State which contains a dense city population with those of a sparsely settled agricultural State, is manifestly unjust to the latter; hence the desirability of making separate exhibits of the rural schools of the different States has forcibly impressed itself upon the attention of this Office. In order to effect this, the city statistics must be eliminated from the State returns, an operation which can be properly effected only when the city returns have all been made; these latter, however, have heretofore been incomplete, a considerable percentage of cities failing to make any report to this Office.

MISUSE OF TIIE TABLES-SOURCES OF ERROR. Improper use of the tables. There are frequently brought to the notice of the Bureau instances where false deductions have been made through improper use of the statistical tables. Nearly all these errors arise from considering as comparable with each other quantities which in point of fact are not so; which do not cover the same extent of territory or are for different years, or are not homogeneous in some other respect, as an inspection of the foot-notes or an examination of other columns of the table would generally have made apparent. For instance, in determining the amount of money expended in any State for each papil enrolled, care must be taken that the enrolment and expenditure are each reported for the whole State and for the same year, and also that they are free from any other limitations that would

impair the accuracy of the result. The number of "children of school agein one State can not be compared with that of another, except in those few cases where the school age is the same in the States concerned. This might appear to be a self-evident proposition, were it not for the fact that the expenditure per capita of “school children,” the percentage of “school population" enrolled, and such like quantities are continually used as the measures of the educational status of the different States, even in journals of the highest class. If the

capacity of a bushel were different in each State; if in some, for instance, it were twico what it was in others, a comparison, without any notice of this circumstance, of the number of bashels of wheat raised in the different States would furnish results just as truthful as the comparisons involving population of school age," the school age being arbitrarily determined by the Legislature of each State.

Defects of the tables.-The above remarks apply to the misuse of the statistical tables and the erroneous deductions resulting therefrom. There are other sources of error, however, inherent in the tables themselves, which the most skilful manipulator of statistics cannot avoid, being, in fact, unaware of their existence. These sources of error are of various kinds; but it is the desire of the Bureau again to call attention to that particular one which is the cause of the greatest confusion and misconception, i. e., the want of uniformity in common school statistics.

This want of uniformity has been fully recognized in the addresses and discussions of educationists during the past decade and a half. The necessity for a common language of statistics has been frequently pointed out; but there has been no general movement in the direction of uniformity, notwithstanding the reports and recommendations that have been made. Steps in advance have been taken here and there, but the matter, as a whole, is in nearly the same unsatisfactory condition as ever. Each State has its own understanding as to the meaning of the terms used, its own rules and methods of computation, so that its statistical language is unintelligible when placed in juxtaposition with that of other States.

Classificrtion of school revenue.—The classification of school revenue affords perhaps the most notable instance of diversity. There is a certain source, viz, the income of the Cnited States surplus revenue of 1837, which is essentially of the same character in all the States that possess it. Yet it is classified in some States 'as income from permanent funds, in others as income from State taxes, and in one at least as income from local tares, varying according to the system of book-keeping that may have been adopted. Again, in the case of taxes levied under a State law the revenue from which is retained and distributed in the localities where it was collected, there is a want of uniformity; such taxes are classed sometimes as State taxes, and sometimes as local taxes. Also, special taxes on the property and capital stock of corporations, and miscellaneous taxes and licenses, are sometimes classed as local taxes, and sometimes as revenue "from o:ber sources." Taking it altogether, the table of school revenue affords but poor facilities for ascertaining the relative amount of income from the different sources in the several States.

Arerage wages of teachers. There are two methods in use for ascertaining this quantity; the first gives the simple mean of the several rates of pay; in the second, each rate is

ren a weight proportioned to the number of months it was in operation, the average being found by dividing the total amount paid to teachers by the total number of maths taught. Where the school term is of unequal length in different parts of a State and the salaries vary widely, it makes a great difference which method is used. Either one may be resorted to, provided it is uniformly followed by all the States, with s proper understanding of the result it gives. If the average salary is wanted, the first Lethod would seem to be the proper one to use, since a salary is not a sum received, bat is a rate of pay, and is independent of the time it is in operation. If the average srboant actually received by each teacher during the year is wanted, the second method woald be the one to use.

Beliable ts. unreliable statistics.—The above are only some of the more palpable difficalties that lie in the way of the adoption of a universal language of statistics. It is the more to be regretted that they exist, since, after a uniform system was once adopted, the making of reports, returns, and computations, at least in regard to certain important points, would be as easy as is now the case. A teacher need not be called upon to **lay down his life in a struggle simply to perfect his statistics;" he, as well as school officers, can attain to statistics of wide application with as little labor as they pow do to those of limited range; to statistics that will not only answer the question, "Are we of this state advancing or receding?” but also that other question, “How do we stand compared with our neighbors in other States ? " SCHOOL YEAR, TOTAL POPULATION, AND POPULATION 6 TO 14.

(Table 1, Page 51.) Mode of computing population.--- The necessity of having some statistics of population, od the methods of computing those given in this Report, are set forth somewhat in debil in the Bureau's Report for 1885-86 (pp. 22 and 2:3). It was erroneously stated in Gast Report, however, that a committee of the National Council of Education had recomended the age six to fourteen as the school census age. The original recommendation

their report was in accordance with that statement; but after considerable discussion stos council, the committee withdrew this recommendation and substituted four to

[graphic]

The loss of time in making such a removal will be great; the loss of convenience almost entire; and the labor and money required for this purpose will be considerable.

The foregoing observations are not presented as my theory of the matter, or from any personal objection to removing to the Pension Building, but are the result of the past experience of the Bureau in a somewhat similar position.

Eleven years ago Congress caused the Bureau of Education to be moved from the present building to a joint occupancy with the Pension Office of the building on the corner of Twelfth Street and Pennsylvania Avenue. The Pension Office then, as now, was the first occupant of the building, and the quarters assigned to this Bureau were so inadequate in extent, inconvenient of access, and unsuited for its work, that practically no efficient work was done by this Office during the year that the joint tenancy continued. The growth of the Pension Oflice forced the Bureau out of its unwelcome quarters, and Congress removed it back to the present building, the two changes in location costing somewhat more than the present rent of this building for one year.

The Twelfth Street building, like the present Pension Building, consisted of large rooms on each floor, suitable, perhaps, for the large divisions and sections of the Pension Office, but absolutely destructive to the repose, the quiet, and the seclusion found essential to the proper performance of the duty of the Bureau of Education. The plan of the present Pension Building, the great number of employés already in that office, and the very large number proposed to be added by the transfer of other offices, will repeat, and doubtless aggravate, the history of that change.

Another view of the relations of this Burean to its work would not occur to the ordinary thinker. It was established chiefly for the purpose of supplying the teachers and people of the United States with information as to the methods most useful for the promotion of public and other education. The performance of this duty has made it proper to open the library and museum of the Office to persons interested in education, and such persons, under present circumstances, subject to proper regulations, have made frequent and valuable use of them.

If the Bureau and its collections are to be moved to a building where the necessities of another kind of service will render access to the library and museum difficult or uncertain, the use of them by persons not connected with the Bureau would necessarily be greatly disturbed or prevented.

In this connection I would invite your attention to the wise and lib. eral action of Congress a few years ago, when a specially constructed building for the Medical Library and Medical Museum was authorized. By this measure the great working tools of that magnificent Bureau were put into a condition for most effective use, both by that Office and by those for whom that Office chiefly labors. The reasons that justified

the construction of that building are equally cogent for the permanent and suitable lodgment of the Bureau of Education separate from other Offices of dissimilar size and purpose.

The Wright Bailding, now occupied by the Bureau, is situated very near the office of the Secretary of the Interior, and close to lines of cars by which persons desiring to visit it for consultation and study may have easy access; and yet the location is one sufficiently quiet and retired to allow the work of the Office to be done in comfort and with considerable efficiency. Though too small for the needs of the Bureau, it can be made to serve for some time longer by a judicious use of the present space.

It contains about 11,000 square feet aud has a basement and four other stories.

Briefly described, the basement is for the storage of fuel and the doeaments of the Office; the first story is used by the Statistical Division, the second floor by the Commissioner, chief elerk, and Record Division, and the third floor by the library and the elerks employed in connection therewith; while the upper floor is devoted to the museum.

It will be seen that the constructive divisions of the building correspond to the administrative divisions of the Office, while the six rooms on each floor permit that subdivision and seclusion which the nature of its work requires. In case of the removal of the Bureau to the Pension Building, there is no possibility of securing even an equal floor space; a reduction of this would be disastrous to the Bureau in every con. ceivable way.

If any change is made at all, the one dictated by a regard for the purpose and usefulness of the Bureau, would be to provide it with a building specially adapted for the safe and proper storage and use and display of its valuable collections and the efficient service of its employés, and until such a change can be made, it would seem wise, economical, and expedient to retain it in its present quarters.

DELAY IN TIE PUBLICATION OF THE REPORT.

It has been my endeavor to expedite the publication of the Annual Report. I am informed that, as a general rule, of late years it has not been received from the Public Printer until about a year and nine months after the close of the period to which it relates. After so long a delay mueh of the statistical and other information which it contains is stale, and the value of the whole Report is seriously impaired.

Many causes conspire to produce this delay. The Bureau is in immediate correspondence with every known educational institution in the United States, sending its forms of inquiry at the end of each year to State superintendents of public instruction, superintendents of city schools, presidents and principals of academies, normal schools, kindergartens, professional, agricultural, and scientific colleges, colleges and universities, and to managers of libraries and museums, and receiving from them reports covering every phase and feature of the in

[graphic]
« AnteriorContinuar »