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5. All such other matters relating to his office and the subject of education generally, as he shall deem expedient to communicate.
By the third section of the act referred to, it is also made the duty of the Superintendent to prepare and cause to be printed with the laws relating to primary schools, all necessary forms, regulations and instructions for conducting all proceedings under snid laws, and transmit the same with such instructions relative to the organization and governinent of such schools, and the course of studies proper to be pursued therein, as he may deem advisable, to the several officers intrusted with their management and care. Having in view the accomplishment of the work required in both of the acts alluded to, it has been deemed both a measure of economy and a means of disseminating in the best form all intormation in relation to our system of Public Instruction, to combine the material of the annual report required by law, and the primary school law, with notes and forms, in one document. The legislature, in the law of June 1851, made provision for an extensive distribution of the annual report, providing that one copy should be furnished to each township library, one to each county clerk and treasurer, ten to each city, one hundred and fifty to the State Library, one to each school district in the State, five hundred for binding, and one hundred for the use of the office. By the provisions of section 3, the school law is to be transmitted to the several officers entrusted with the managemeat and care of the schools. For this purpose an additional number of copies have been printed, and also a sufficient number in addition to supply the demands which are constantly arising for copies of the school law, from time to time, ontil another edition shall be required, which, with the present prospect of permanency in the law, will not probably be for some years.
As this document is intended therefore as a permanent one for reference by school officers, it has been deemed essential and of vital importance to the successful developement of our system to embrace in it not only the school laws with notes and forms, but all such information connected with the system, relating to the University, and all of our institutions of learning, and the progress of education in the State, as would afford a full knowledge of the subject, to our people, and to the citizens of other states , whose interest on the subject is identical with ours, in all that relates to educational achievement.
The document partakes of the character of a compilation. The object has been to put together in permanent form such experience and facts as would lead to a knowledge of what has been attained in the past, and from this, to be better enabled to make progress in the fu. ture. It has been the design faithfully to record the acts of those who have taken a part in the educational career and affairs of the State. The past is thus secure, and its history is bere unfolded in the acts of onr successive Chief Magistrates, Legislators, Board of Regents , successive Superintendents of Public Instruction, Board of Visitors, and friends of education.
It will be perceived by those who take an interest in perusing our past educational history, that the efforts of each successive officer have been attended with manifest improvement. To ascertain what course to pursue to ensure progress and stability in a system of education which was to survive long after those who had participated in its creation and early progress have passed from the field of action and labor, inust of necessity be the work of time and reflection. The charge of such a system can not fail to be felt as one of the inost solemn and responsible in worldly affairs, requiring in vestigation and thought, and a thorough practical knowledge of and acquaintance with whatever rolates to education generally, but of the workings of the system established for its promotion. Theory and experiment merely were believed to be an uncertain basis for practical improvement. The reports which have been made from year to year from the Department of Public Instruction, have not been made permanent documents, and the fucts which they successively develop were neither preserved, nor can they be referred to, except anong the documents in the Labrary at the Capitol. The annual reports of the present incumbent to the Legislature bave been confined chietly to the considoration of such subjects as seemed to require législation to per
fect the system, without hazarding schemes for further impro foment, till time and experience, gained from a kuowledge of the subject and of the past, would be most likely to mako sug. gestions for the future, partake of a wise, beneficial and permanent character. To fit himself for the performance of the duties devolving upon him, in a manner worthy the efforts of the people, was believed by the present incumbent to be the first requisite and surest process for improvement in all other respects; and if in doing this, other active and outward labors in . the field, in the shape of lectures and personal visitations, have been precluded, it is nevertheless the deduction of his own reason, and the conviction of his own judgment, that the documentary history of our educational affairs was of first importance, and that permanent good, and the utmost utility are best secured in the outset, by studying thoroughly to understand and to perfect our system of Public Instruction; by watching the operations of the laws relating to that system; by adapting them to the wants of the people and the requirements of the age, until such time as it shall work with entire harmony and develop the greatost amount of good. Other duties may be no less useful, and perhaps more agreeable, but the gon. eral supervision of the system, (enlarging in its scope and sphere of operations from year to year,) both in general and in detail, so as to render it casy of execution in all its parts, and capable of being readily comprehended and understood by those who execute the laws, especially those relating to our primary schools, is above all other things indispensable to real and permanent improvement. In vain may public attention be aroused and public interest excited in behalf of education, if the system adopted be insufficient to meet the requirements and wants of the people and of the age, or so faulty us to be incapable of executing itself with the least degree of burthen to those whose time and labor have to be for the most part gratuitously devoted to the local management of the schools. .
The history of the University of Michigan forms an important portion of the sketch on Public Instruction. An important change had taken place in the organic law, by which its management was changed from a Board of Regents appointed by the Governor and Senate, to a Board elected by the people. The institution has passed through a series of reverses since its organization, and it was deemed important to afford facilities of examination as to the causes, by referring with minuteness to the management of its affairs from year to year. But the main reason for including in this document so full and detailed account of its rise and pro. gross, has been to diffuse among the people, for whose benefit the fund was granted, that knowledge concerning it, of which they have been mostly deprived, and on account of which, there has not been felt that warm sympathy with the institution which has been felt for the Primary Schools. That it has not accomplished all that could be desired, is beyond question; but with future good management, by the exercise of prudence, wisdom, and discretion on the part of the Regents in the appoiutment of a president, and the re-organization of the department of literature, science and the arts, there is no reason why it should not be filled with students, and fulfill the objects of its high mission with the most abundant and satisfactory success. But two departments, as yet, have been organized—that of literature, science and the arts, and that of medicine. The medical department stands upon a footing of the highest order. Although yet in its infancy, it has taken high rank in the medical world; its course of studies is of the severest order; the discipline exacted, of such a character us to unfold the faculties of thought, investigation, reflection and the power of reasoning, analyzing and comparing, while the general advantages offered to the medical student are not surpassed hy those of any other institution in the United States. The determination of the Board of Regents, and of the Medical Faculty, to place this department upon the highest basis of improvement, is worthy of all commendation and praise.
A statement of the expenditures and receipts of the University from its commencement in 1837, to December 31, 1851, will be found in the appendix. The whole amount of disburse. ments for all purposes up to this period is two hundred and eighty-six thousand, nine bundred
and twenty-eight dollars and twenty-two cente. The revised law relating to the University does not provide, as the first law did, for the establishment of a branch for the purpose of Female Education; but in this department, to which the public mind has not yet been sufficienthy directed, the wants of the State will doubtless be met by the various institutions which have been established without the aid of the State. The revised constitution provides that the Legislature may approprinte the twenty-two sections of salt spring lands now unappropriated, or the money arising from the sale of the same, where such lands have already been sold, and any land which may hereafter be granted or appropriated for such purpose, for the support and maintenance of an agricultural school; and such school may be made a branch of the University, for instruction in agriculture and the natural sciences connected therewith, and placed under the direction of the Regents.
Those institutions which are denominated ISCORPORATED LITERARY INSTITUTIONS, a list of which will be found under that title, in the index, are institutions which receive vo pecuniary aid from the State. They are the result of the entorprize and zeal of various denominations and communities, and are of a higher grade than institutions of a similar character, in most of the States.
The origin and progress of the PRIMARY SCHOOLS may be traced from year to year throughout this volume. The first primary school law of the State of Michigan was approved on the 20th day of March, 1837, and provided for supporting the schools by a tax upon the taxable property of the district, in proportion to its valuation, which was to be ascertained by a transcript of the township assessment roll; thus virtually making the basis of a system of FREE SCHOOLS. The early legislation of the State upon the subject of primary schools was subjected to repeated change, from the difficulty of adapting a law to the circumstances of a people in a new country. Of late years there bas been a gradual approach to stability and permanency. The law is working well in the main, and any radical change in the system is peculiarly to be deprecated. The debates in the Convention to revise the constitution were considered an important portion of our educational history, and will be found under the proper hend. The main feature of the revised constitution, in relation to primary schools, is the clause which requires that the Legislature shall, within five years froin its adoption, provide for and establish a system of primary schools, whereby a school shall be kept without charge for tuition, at least three months in each year, in every school district in the State, and all instruction is to be conducted in the English language. A school must be maintained in each school year at least three months, or it is deprived the ensuing year of its proportion of the income of the primary school fund, and of all funds arising from taxes for the support of schools.
Under the law, it is made the duty of the supervisor of each township to assess the taxes voted by every school district in his township, and all other taxes provided for law chargeable against such distriet or township, upon the taxable property of the district or township respectively, and to place the same in the township assessment roll. It was made the duty of the supervisor also, to assess upon the taxable property of his township, one min on cach dollar of valuation thereof in each year, and after deducting from the amount thus raised, twenty-five dollars for the purchase of books for the library, the remainder is to be apportioned to the several districts in the township for the support of schools therein. The Legislature of 1850, in order to carry out the provisions of the constitution for free schools, in pursuance of the recommendation of the Superintendent, increased the amonnt required to be assessed by the supervisor, to two mills. In consequence of imperfect and partial returns heretofore, it bas been impossible to determine the amount which has been actually asseksed. The duty in some instances has been neglected by supervisors, and while with one mill on the dollar's valuation, it should raise some thirty thousand dollars, the returns for several years show that only some seventeen thousand have been assessed. Provision has been made for more accurate and full returns. The supervisors, for the first time, during the past year assessed upon the taxable property the sum of two mills on cach dollar of the val. vation, and statements of the amounts thus assessed will be returned to the office of Public Instruction in the month of November next, when a reliable estimate may be made as to what further legislation may be required to carry out the provisions of the constitution. The trouble in older States has been to regulate the detail of a Free School Law. In Michigan the change in the system is unfelt. The transition from the old law to the requirements of the constitution, is accompanied with no confusion, and the system of taxation to accomplish the purpose of Free Schools is as equal and just as it is possible to make it.
The sources of revenue for the support of primary schools are, ist: the income of the primary school fund, which for the past year has amounted to over fifty-seven thousand dol. bars. The total sale of school lands for the last year has amounted to $83,449 89, being an increase over last year of nearly sixty-seven per cent. The school fund itself now amounts te over $811,000 00. 2d. A tax of two mills upon each dollar's valuation of the taxable property of the township. 3d. A tax not exceeding one doliar a scholar, voted by the district and collected and returned in the same manner as other township taxes. The existing law provides for a rate bill to make uy any deficiency. This law will require change or modification when the present constitutional provisions are fully carried out.
Tabular statements will be found in the appendix, showing the amount rnised for various school purposes in Michigan, during the year last past. The whole number of school districts in the Stute is three thousand three hundred and seven. The whole number of children residing in school districts where a school has been taught for three months, is one hundred and forty-three thousand, two hundred and twenty-two. The apportionment of the income of the primary school fund is based upon this number, instead of the number which are actually in attendance on the schools, the latter being oue hundred and fifteen thousand, one hundred and sixty-five. Whether a change in the system of apportionment, based upon actual attendance, would not be the means of greatly increasing the usefulness of our system, and be otherwise beneficial, is a question which should deserve the consideration of the people. The whole amount that has been paid to teachers in the State, during the past year, is one liundred and fifty-four thousand, four hundred and sixty-nine dollars and thirty cents. The whole amount of money raised by the districts was one hundred and thirty thousand, one hundred and ninety-six dollars and thirty-eight cents. There has been raised for the following purposeg, viz: Building School Houses ....
$57,348 52 Repairing“
11,265 00 For past indebtedness.
9,108 34 For other purposes. •
4,112 90 On rate bill,...
69,035 37 The whole number of volumes in the township libraries, as roportod, is ninety-seven thousand, one hundred and fifty-eight. The amount of mill tax reported is seventeen thousand one hundred and forty dollars and fifty-nino cents. The returns of this item are erroneous, or if not, a large number of the Supervisors have neglected to assess the tax. The probability is that the deficiency mainly arises from the neglect of the inspectors to report the amounts to the Superintendent.
An important and laborious part of the work has beon the preparation of the notes and forms to the Primary School Law. The notes have been based upon the queries subinitted to this office by school officers from time to time, and embrace most of the questions that arise in the districts, so far as it is competent and proper for this department to give its decisions. As there is no law requiring such decisions, they are to be considered advisory, but they are believed to be legally correct, and it is earnestly hoped will be found of use, and be the means of avoiding much trouble and difficulty. Access has been had to the volume of docisions published by the Superintendent of Common Schools of the State of New York, and also to the Massachusetts and Rhode Island and Connecticut decisions. The opinions and views of the
school officers of these states have been adopted and published, so far as they were applicable to the laws of Michigan; and full liberty has been taken to incorporate into the work, the opinions and views of the Superintendents of our own State, upon subjects connected with the interests of the schools.
The communications in relation to the UNION SCHOOLS in the appendix, do not embrace an account of all that have been established, and more full information in relation to this important branch of our system will have to be left for the future. This class of schools deserve the particular attention of the people. They are destined to fill up the space now left between the University and the Primary Schools, and while they preserve the character of Primary Schools, they are calculated to afford all the advantages of higher Seminaries of Learning.
In concluding this general summary of the work now accomplished, it affords a satisfactory reflection that the subject of Education has received so large a share of attention from the successive Chief Magistrates of the State, and from successive Legislative bodies; and the rewards for the time and labor expended in gathering up the history of our educational achievments, will be ample and sufficient, if the object for which it wns designed shall be successfully accomplished, in the promotion of the cause of Education and the development of our system of Public Instruction. It is a source of high gratification that your Excellency has fully appreciatod tho importance of the subject, and that in the accomplishment of the parpose designed, the undersigned has received your Excellency's strong encouragement and support. I have the honor to be, very respectfully,
Your ob't friend and servant,
FRANCIS W. SHEARMAN,
Superintendent of Public Instruction. Lansing, May 1, 1852.