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The apparatus is quite limited, in a majority of cases being confined to a pair of globes.
University. For information concering the University, and further particulars relating to the branches, see the report of the Regents of the University, and of the Board of Visitors appended to this report.
According to the Revised Statutes, it is made the duty of the Su-' perintendent to exhibit the condition of the University and Primary school funds. The financial duties formerly required of the Superintendent now devolve
the Commissioner of the Land Office, and I have no other means of exhibiting the condition of these funds than by reference to the last annual report of that officer.
In May last, $22,113 00 was apportioned among the several counties and towns of the State for the support of primary schools.
PART III. EXAMINATION OF OUR SYSTEM OF PUBLIC SCHOOLS. Our system of education possesses many admirable features. Any child residing within an organized district is entitled to attend the common school, whether his parents are able to pay his tuition or not. The law also provides for supplying the children of indigent parents with such books as they may need.
Our system of township libraries is an admirable one, and is particularly adapted to the wants of townships with a sparse population. It is superior to the district system in as much as it enables the township to purchase a geater number of more valuable books, to which, also, each individual of the township is enabled in due time to have access. The principal impediment to the usefulness of these libraries lies in the circumstance that directors are frequently remiss in the discharge of their duties. For the manner in which it is thought this impediment may be removed, see the sequel of this report.
The total number of volumes in all of the township and school district libraries of the State does not yet equal one third of the number of children between the ages of four and eighteen years.
Statutory provision is also made for the establishment of union schools in cities, villages and densely settled townships. In this manner the advantages of the common school, and the highest order of select schools may be happily combined, without any of the mischie
vous consequences resulting from an invidious distinction. It is hoped that villages generally in which there are two or three districts will avail themselves of the provision of the 37th section of the school law.
Our University system, with branches in different parts of the State is justly entitled to the commendation which it has so generally received wherever it is known.
Our common schools, the branches of the University, and the Parent Institution, are intimately connected. If properly conducted, the success of each will exert a healthful influence upon both of the others. Each should hold its own appropriate place in our system of public instruction, and neither should attempt to do the legitimate work of another. Our system will thus be prosperous and efficient. Oiherwise, it will suffer in all its departments. For example, if a branch attempts to do the appropriate work of the common school, and opens wide its doors for the reception of scholars in the common English branches, the common schools in the vicinity will manifestly be weakened, and sustain sensible loss. The branch itself will be injured as such, and become a semi-common school. It will hence prepare a less number of students for the University than it would otherwise be likely to do. There seems to be a deficiency in the supervision exercised over our schools-particularly our common schools. Our district officers have each their particular work assigned them., The duties of the moderator are not arduous. His office is rather an : honorary one than otherwise. The Assessor is required to collect rate-bills for teachers' wages, for which he is allowed his regular percentage. The Director is charged with more important and responsible duties than either of the other members of the district board. It is his duty to keep a record of the proceedings of the district, with the consent of the moderator or assessor to employ a teacher, to call district meetings under certain circumstances, to take the census, to furnish the teacher with a copy of the same, to make out a rate bill, and annex thereto a warrant for its collection, to provide the necessary appendages for the school house, to give notice of the annual meeting, to draw books from the township library, and act as district librarian, to make an annual report, &c., for all of which he is allowed nothing. This seems, in many instances, to operate injuriously upon
the' schools, particularly when we take into account the fact that the man who is best qualified to officiate as director, has frequently no personal interest in the school. This service is too arduous to be well performed gratuitously. There are other duties also, that the director should perform which will be considered in part four of this report.
It is believed our system of school inspectors might be rendered more efficient, and at the same time less expensive. At present, a meeting of the board is necessary to examine teachers, and indeed, to transact any business. It takes time to assemble the board, and is also attended with expense.
When met for the examination of teachers, generally the person who is regarded as the literary member of the board, conducts the examination chiefly. The certificate is made out and signed by all the members of the board. If their action proves to be unwise, each member being a minority, the responsibility is thrown upon the other two. Thus one man labors, three men are paid for it, and nobody is responsible for what they do.
It is respectfully suggested that it would be better to elect one in. spector in each town, pay him for what he does, and hold him responsible for it. As the board is now constituted, the legislature have regarded it necessary to limit the number of meetings in a year at the expense of the township. This limitation is thought by many to operate injuricusly to the interests of schools. The following extract is from the board of school inspectors for Litchfield, Hillsdale county:
“We also think that the law limiting the board to six days, for which they can draw compensation for their services, has a deleterious influence upon the prosperity of common schools, not to say anything of the unjustness of the measure ; for the duties relating to several districts, cannot be accomplished in that time, especially in a township that has several joint districts connected with it. With equal propriety, the legislature might limit the township board, board of assessors, or commissioners of highways, to a specified number of days.”
With one inspector instead of three, the limitation complained of, might safely be discontinued.
Annual Reports.—It is made the duty of the inspectors at the end of the school year to make out a report to the county clerk,
whose duty it is also made to report to the superintendent. It is not expected that the county clerks will know any thing more of the condition of the schools, than what they are enabled to learn from the inspectors' reports. Indeed, this is the principal duty with which they are charged as school officers. In several instances, the reports have been made out with great accuracy. Some of ihem, however, it is believed, are not only very defective, but erroneous. The first report that was received at this office, was from one of the oldest and most important counties in the state. On a brief examination, it was discovered that many errors existed in it. In a column headed “Av. erage number of months the schools of each township have been taught by qualified teachers," the word average, was erased, and from the appearance of the report, the majority of the numbers represented the total number of months all the schools had been taught. I embraced an early opportunity of calling upon the clerk with the report. He informed me that the total number had been given, because he knew not how to obtain the average, and still he had given the average in the three other columns. I suggested to him the method of obtaining the average, and left the report for correction.
In due time it was again received. The majority of the corrections were evidently equally erroneous with the original entries. The report was made as perfect as practicable, and inserted in tahle (A.) Similar errors existed in several of the reports, though in no others were they so numerous as in this.
The report from another county, was directed to the superintend. ent, etc., Ann Arbor, Washtenaw county. An official circular, to county clerks, dated at this office, was printed upon the same sheet upon which all their reports were made out. In another case, the report was saperscribed “Superintendent of Public Instruction, Ann Arbor, (!) Lenawee county," (!!)
In a single instance, the clerk of another of the oldest and most important counties of the state, transmitted with his report 10 this office a portion of the inspectors' reports upon which his was based. As so many errors had been discovered in the reports from other counties, I concluded 10 spend a little time in compairing such of the inspectors' reports as were forwarded, with the connty clerk's, to see how they harmonized. In ten instances, numbers were inserted under
wrong heads. In six places, wrong numbers were entered, and three spaces that were left blank in the clerk's report, were supplied by me from the inspectors' reports. Corrections were made, so far as I had the means of doing so, and this report also, is inserted in table (A.)
My object in alluding to these errors, is two fold : 1st. To exhibit an existing defect in our system of reporting, and 2d. To avoid, if possible, the repetition of similar errors in future reports. Another, and it is believed a better system of reporting will be presented in Part IV, of this report.
At the close of the school year, which commences the first Monday of October, it is made the duty of the director to make his annual report to the inspectors. Between the 8th and 20th days of October, it is made the duty of the inspectors to make out and deliver to the township clerk their annual report to the county clerk. Finally, it is made the duty of the county clerk to make out and transmit his an. nual report to this office between the 1st and 20:h days of November. Apprehending that the reports might not reach this office in season to make out the annual report required by law, from this department, a circular was addressed to school inspectors and county clerks, requesting them to make their reports as early as practicable, in the time given them by law for that purpose. A few reports reached this office early in November. The majority of them did not, however, until after the 20th, and some of them not until the 11th of December. Less time then remained in which to make out the annual re. port from this department, than the law allows county clerks for making out their reports, while the labor of making the report from this office, is not less than thirty times that of making theirs. It has been necessary, hence, to make out this report in great haste, and the greater part of it must go to the printer without revision.
The labor of making the annual report from this office is such that two months would be a more reasonable time for completing it than two weeks.
The report from one county was received the 4th of December, inst., with the following note from the county clerk : **“ I have delayed my report beyond the proper time, in order to get in all the reports from the towns. One you perceive, is still delina