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This is the seventy-first annual report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. It is my duty to record the work of public education during the year nineteen hundred seven.
Under the constitution, the legislature was given full power to establish a school system for the State; this was done early in the year 1837. At that time the settlements in Michigan were comparatively few and scattered. Only a few hundred school districts were organized during that year, but the early settlers of our great State realized the value of educational privileges and set about the organization of a school system with commendable zeal.
During the past seventy-one years we have built up a system of public education second to none in the great union of commonwealths, and while this system has not reached a state of perfection, yet in the main it provides a good common school education for every boy and girl and the means whereby the child may pass through the several stages of the public schools and enter higher institutions of learning.
There have been no marked changes in our educational policy during the past year, but there has been a steady growth in the professional spirit manifested by public school teachers and instructors in state institutions.
The work of the Department is largely executive, in that it makes plans and directs the work of county commissioners of schools and suggests to school officers better means and methods of accomplishing the real purpose of education. New legislation has brought new duties and thus increased the amount of work falling within the province of the Department. This has necessitated a slight increase in the clerical force and a more careful division of labor.
I am pleased to record the hearty co-operation of city superintendents, commissioners of schools, and school officers generally, without which the Department could be of very little value to the State. In fact, the real work of public education must necessarily be done by those who have immediate charge of the public schools, and it is the duty of the legislature and of this Department to so legislate and interpret our laws that the greatest possible degree of effectiveness may be given to the work of those who have the immediate charge of instructing the children of the State.
The legislature of 1907 enacted several laws which should increase the effectiveness of our school work. The mose import-New ant of these were the following:
legislation. Act 247, amending the general graded school law of the State, making it easier to organize such districts and providing for a superintendent of schools.
Act 74, amending the truancy law in particulars where the original law had been found defective, and in addition to this act, a new law providing for the compulsory education of blind children and of deaf children.
Act 35, a new law, providing for the establishment of county schools of agriculture.
Act 256, amending the law in regard to school districts issuing bonds by providing that any school district may bond itself by a majority vote of the taxpayers.
Several other minor amendments were made, and already the wisdom of this new legislation has been demonstrated.
In the following pages of this report the various phases of the educational system of Michigan will be treated more specifically, and the following outline merely covers in a general way the work done under the immediate supervision of the Department.
During the year two day schools for the deaf have been discontinued and permission given for the establishment of one new day school for the deaf at Marquette.
Permission has also been given for the establishment of five new county normal training classes in the following counties: Cheboygan, Genesee, Menominee, Montcalm, and Tuscola, making the whole number of county normal training classes at present in operation thirty-seven.
One hundred twenty-four teachers' institutes have been held during the year 1907, classified as follows:
One general state institute in connection with the State Teach
ers' Association; Four six-weeks institutes in connection with the summer sessions of the State normal schools;
Ten two-weeks' institutes in connection with summer sessions of county normal training classes;
Seven three-weeks institutes;
Eighteen traveling institutes, or institutes extending through one week, in which the instructors travel through the county and meet the teachers and patrons at different points.
The policy of the State Board of Education in providing a summer session at each of our State normal schools is to be commended, because in this way opportunity is given to a large
number of those who are actually engaged in the work of teaching for receiving such special instruction as will enable them to return a better value to the districts in which they are employed. During the past summer more than three thousand persons were enrolled in the four State normal schools and the plan of having a teachers' institute in connection with these summer schools gives additional privileges and adds a better professional spirit to the rank and file of our teaching force.
Under the law authorizing the establishment of county schools County of agriculture, Menominee county is the first to inaugurate this
system. $20,000 was voted for the establishment of such a school agriculture.
and the city of Menominee gave to the county a tract of land of one hundred fifteen acres. Thus we have established a new system of education in our state, the purpose being to provide elementary training in agriculture, manual training and domestic science. This school is really preparatory to the more extensive work of our State Agricultural College, and it is to be hoped that other counties will soon follow the lead taken by Menominee.
The legislature of 1901 provided for the establishment of rural high schools in townships where no graded school districts Rural high existed. During the current year one rural high school has been schools. established in Excelsior township, Kalkaska county, this being the first township to take advantage of this law. Three townships in Genesee county have voted to establish rural high schools for the ensuing year, and other townships are giving serious consideration to this important question. The Department has been frequently called upon to assist
Investigaschool district officers in adjusting the records and accounts of their districts. The records and accounts of about fourteen school hundred districts have been investigated by a personal repre-records. sentative of the Department, and in about five hundred additional districts the records have been investigated and adjusted by the county commissioners of schools, under the direction of the Department. In all these cases the main difficulty has been that there is no uniform system of keeping the books and accounts of the districts. In many instances all funds have been mixed together in such a way that it was impossible for the treasurers to know what funds were on hand or what orders could be legally paid. In a few cases we found that no books or records were kept by the treasurer, and in others it was found that the treasurer had misappropriated school funds. The need for a uniform system of school records is very apparent and it is very apparent, also, that school officers are not familiar with the law governing their powers and duties.
The purpose of these investigations is to assist school officers in the performance of their duties and set them right with reference to the uses and care of public money. The school officers of the state taken together are an honest, conscientious body of men, and they desire to do what will be for the best interests of their schools; but many school districts do not appreciate, evidently, the services of their officers, as they refuse to give them any compensation for the time spent in the performance of their duties, and this injustice has in part been the cause of the carelessness with which the public business has been performed.
In order to arouse an interest in school matters and instruct officers in their powers and duties I have inaugurated the policy School of holding school officers' meetings in the several counties of
meeting the State, and up to December 31 meetings have been held in the following counties: Iosco, Bay, Huron, Allegan, Calhoun, Oakland, Macomb, and Saginaw. The attendance at these meetings has been large, in some cases every district in the county being represented. The interest manifested has been intense and already the value of such meetings has been demonstrated. It is my opinion that the Department should hold these meetings annually in every county of the state, if possible, but it should be remembered that Michigan is a large state, and there are many duties for the State Superintendent to perform, so that it may not be possible to reach every county. But if this policy inaugurated in 1907 is continued it will ultimately prove of inestimable value to the school officers and through them to the schools of the State. In every instance a permanent organization has been effected, so that hereafter the officers will be prepared for a vigorous program.
In addition to these meetings, I desire to repeat the recommendation of my predecessor that the several Granges and Farmers' Clubs of the State should institute in the several school districts and townships, school improve
ment clubs, the function of such clubs being the welfare of the local school in the way of improving school grounds, school houses and appurtenances and increasing the attention of the patrons to their schools. The people of the State of Michigan can have just as good schools as they desire, but they will never have better schools than they desire, no matter how much work the Department and the school officers of the State may do. It remains for the people in each locality to provide the funds and to see that local conditions are made the best possible. In this connection the county commissioner of schools can be an effective factor in the organization of these clubs and in directing the local Granges and Farmers' Clubs towards a better school status.
In the work of improving the rural schools the county normal county training class is proving an important factor. Through this training
institution we have increased the percentage of trained teachers in
the rural schools from two per cent to twenty per cent during the past four years, and reports from the county commissioners of schools where the classes are located show clearly that the professional spirit and the effectiveness of all the teachers of the county have been improved materially through this agency. During the current year thirty-six of these training classes were in operation and about six hundred young people in attendance. To this number we should add those who are pursuing the rural school courses at our State normal schools, so that during the ensuing year our effective rural teaching force will be increased by about one thousand trained teachers. Thus it will be seen that the day is not far distant when every rural school in the State will be taught by a trained teacher. And when we can unite with this an increased public spirit on the part of the patrons in our rural schools, we shall have come very near to solving the iural school problem so far as instruction is concerned. But it must be remembered that even trained teachers can do little under such unfavorable conditions as are found in some rural school districts. Place a trained teacher in a poorly equipped schoolroom where no adequate heating, ventilating, or lighting is found and where the sanitary conditions are of the poorest, where the school property is unattractive and untidy, and we cannot expect proper educational results therefrom. Hence I say that our people can have as good schools as they demand, but it requires effort on the part of every school patron in order to place the public school on a plane where it properly belongs.
The enforcement of the truancy law has increased the regular atCompulsory
tendance by about twenty-five per cent, and has increased the numattendance. ber of those who complete the rural school course and secure eighth
grade diplomas by the same percentage. On the whole, the new truancy law is working well, and yet we find that even this law and our child labor laws are being violated in some quarters. Statistics show us that forty-two persons in every one thousand of the population of Michigan are illiterates. This is a startling showing when we consider all that has been done in Michigan for public education. The child labor law is not well enforced in all our cities and there is need for such a law in our rural communities. Truant officers report that it is more difficult to secure regular and continuous attendance of children up to the time they are sixteen years of age in the country districts than it is in the cities. This condition of things is a menace to the welfare of the State, and our people should demand the enforcement of both the truancy and child labor laws.
In order to inculcate habits of thrift and economy, school savings banks have been established in about fifty villages and School cities of the State, and reports from these schools show that the savings plan is working well. It is really a part of the child's education, and I would recommend that the superintendents of schools in all the villages and cities should give the matter of establishing school savings banks very careful attention.
During the year two meetings of the county school commissioners of the State have been held. These meetings were well attended and have resulted in unifying the work of these officers and reducing it more nearly to an established system.
I call attention to the publications that have been prepared by the Department during the year and distributed to the teachers and patrons:
(a) Institute bulletins Nos. 1, 17, and 18, outlining the work of teachers' nstitutes in counties, county normals and State
(b) Bulletin 16, outlining the teachers' examinations for the year.
(c) Bulletin 15, giving the compulsory attendance law in full with forms for the officers to use in enforcing the law.
(d) Bulletin 20, giving a tabulated statement in regard to the distribution and use of primary school moneys.
(e) Bulletin 21, giving the papers and discussions of the county normal training class teachers at their annual meeting in March.
(f) Bulletin 22, prepared by Professor Calkins of the Mt. Pleasant normal school on the subject of teaching geography.
(g) Bulletin 23, on the new laws passed by the legislature of 1907.
(h) Bulletin 24, outlining the course of study for county schools of agriculture and general regulations for their management.
(i) Bulletin 25, outlining the course of study for rural high schools and rules and regulations for their management.
(j) Bulletin 26, prepared by Joseph A. Jeffery of the Michigan Agricultural College, outlining a course of study in agriculture on the subject of farm crops. · This bulletin will be followed by others of similar nature during the ensuing year.
In addition to these bulletins the Department has prepared in Circular No. 10 a careful statement of the division of school moneys, showing the several funds to be accounted for and used by school districts organized under the general school laws. Any of these bulletins can be had by making application to this Department.
In addition to the foregoing brief review of educational matters in the State I desire to call attention to the excellence of Special educational institutions not directly connected with the public educational
institutions. schools of the State. This includes the seven denominational colleges of the State, the School for the Blind, the School for the Deaf, the State Public School and the State Industrial Schools. These institutions, each in its proper sphere, are performing an important work in connection with public education and the attention of our people should be frequently called to the work they are doing.
During recent years there has been a very evident awakening among our people in connection with educational interests and Reforms I predict that in the near future some important changes will needed. take place in connection with the organization of our public