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Schools for the feeble-minded.
REPORT OF COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION.
DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR,
BUREAU OF EDUCATION,
Washington, D. C., January 1, 1893. SIR: I have the honor to submit herewith my third annual report, the same being for the year ending June 30, 1891.
The total number of pupils in schools of all grades, public and pri. vate, at any time in the year is given (p. 40) at 14,669,069, the same being 23.09 per cent of the population, not quite one in four of all persons. In this number, however, the statistician has not included evening schools, nor art, industrial, business schools, nor schools for defective classes or for Indians, in all some 300,000 pupils, swelling the total to nearly 15,000,000 pupils.
Upon examination of the comparative statistics of enrollment in the common schools the increase over the previous year is shown to be 268,865. The increase over the previous year was for1890 over 1889.
301, 936 1889 over 1888.
209, 660 1888 over 1887.
225, 180 1887 over 1886.
220, 484 1886 over 1885.
266, 436 A study of statistics shows progressing waves and returning eddies from year to year. When a long wave of industrial prosperity passes over the country the enrollment in the private schools shows a gain as compared with the public schools. Parents desire not so much a caste education as to gratify their peculiar notions as to course of study, hygienic conditions, quality of discipline, or hours of school attendance, and length of school term. The private school attracts by its special features in these respects. But when the wave of industrial prosperity subsides and a returning eddy sets in the private schools suffer most and the public schools gain relatively. It may be expected, therefore, that the increase of enrollment in the public schools will not be uniform.
See Chapter 1, pp. 1-44, prepared by Mr. F. E. Upton.
GRADE OF PUPILS.
Of these 15,000,000 pupils it appears that 96.4 per cent were receiving elementary instruction such as is given in primary and grammar schools in the first eight years of the school life of the child. Under secondary instruction there were 2-6 per cent and under higher instruction only 1 per cent. Secondary instruction technically includes the work from the ninth to the twelfth year of the course of study, and higher education all beyond that. According to this exhibit an average town in the United States with 1,000 pupils in school should have 964 in the elementary schools, 26 in the high school, 10 in the college or professional school.
LENGTII OF SCHOOL YEAR.
For the present year the number of days schools were kept averaged 135.7, the same being an increase of nearly a day and a half over the year previous. The comparative table shows the length of school year to have been for
Days. 130.4 131 3 132-3 133.7 1313 135:7
This increase in length of session keeps pace with the growth of cities. Nearly all cities and large villages hold a session of from 180 to 200 days, while schools in rural districts continue in session from 70 to 150 days.
At the same time there has been a reaction in the thickly-settied communities of the Middle and Northeastern sections against the too long ammual sessions which at first prevailed and in favor of longer vacations and shorter daily sessions. The necessity of preserving the child's elasticity is more clearly perceived. Too much strain on the growing child has the effect of arresting his development at a lower stadium of development. The city gamin, perhaps an orphan left to shift for himself at a tender age, has developed a precociously worldwise and cunning cast of intellect. But he has well-nigh stopped grow. ing in the direction of science and art, literature, and humane culture. He is not so likely to help society as to burden it later on with his subsistence in a pauper asylum or a jail. It is beginning to be seen that society loses by shortening the period of childhood and youth, even for the sake of the school. The tasks of the school must not be so severe as to overcome the child's power of reaction, for this will prevent his continual development. Great perfection on a lower plane does not count against loss of capacity to reach a higher degree of development.
DAILY ATTENDANCE IN SCHOOL.
The item enrollment in school includes all pupils entered on the school registers during the year, no matter how short their period of attendance. The public schools keep a careful record from day to day of the number present and the number absent of those belonging to school. The total number of days' attendance of pupils the past year as reported to the Bureau of Education was 1,129,955,876 days, which being divided by 135.7, the average number of days the schools were kept, gives 8,329,234 as the number of pupils in school the entire average annual session. This also shows that the average number of days attended by the 13,000,000 enrolled in the public schools was only 87.
In my last report (1889–90, p. XIV) I showed the average amount of schooling received by the entire population, based on the statistics of that year, to be 4.3 years of 200 days each. This is enough to take the pupil over a little more than one-half the course of study in the elemen. tary school. Four States, Massachusetts, New York, Connecticut, and Ohio, give more than six years (of 200 days each) of schooling to each inhabitant, but the sections having fewest cities and most rural population are giving on an average only two and one-half years of actual schooling to the entire population. This shows that we are far from the danger of overeducating our people. It also gives additional interest to the statistics above quoted, showing the slowly increasing length of the annual session the schools are kept.
The total number of teachers in the public (or common) schools is reported at 368,791, one-third of these (33:1 per cent) being males. To this should be added the number in private schools—some 60,000 in all - to find the aggregate of teachers, which is nearly 425,000.
The total expenditure for public schools during the year is reported at $146,800,163. This was $17.67 for each pupil attending 135:7 days, and $2.31 per capita of the whole population. Of the income for schools, nearly 70 per cent comes from local taxes, and 19 per cent from State taxes. If the expenditure for private schools is added, estimat. ing it at $28,000,000, the total expenditure for education aggregates $175,000,000.
The amount expended on the common schools has risen from $1,56 per capita of the whole population in 1879-80 to $2.24 in 1889-90 and to $2.31 in 1891. This indicates an attempt to secure a longer school term, increased attendance, better schoolliouses, and better-paid teach
The amount expended per capita has risen in these eleven years 49 per cent; the attendance has increased from 19.7 to 20.3 per cent of the population; the average monthly wages of male teachers has reached $14.99, of female teachers, $36.65. It is noticeable that the increase in expenditures per inhabitant for schools is greatest in the Southern States.
The percentage of the whole enrollment attending private schools is 9.8 for elementary grades (first eight years of schooling); 39.8 for secondary pupils; and 69.7 for pupils under higher instruction; 11.2 per cent for all grades. In a former report I have taken the ground that the private school serves a very useful function, both in providing a field for experiment along new lines of educational methods and in providing a safeguard against a too niggardly policy in the management of the public schools. If good wages are not paid for good teachers they may withdraw and establish private schools. In this they serve a very useful function, and the proportion of children in such schools is not quite so large as it will become when the wealth of the average citizen becomes greater. But the number of secondary pupils in private schools is rapidly decreasing by reason of the establishment of high schools in cities and villages.
LAWS RELATING TO SCHOOL ATTENDANCE.
The specialist on State systems of schools has presented (pp. 35-37) an exhibit showing the laws relating to school attendance in the 28 States having compulsory laws. The prevailing feature in these laws is to require pupils from 8 to 14 years to attend school from 12 to 16 weeks each year, imposing a fine of not more than $25 on parents or guardians for first offense, and a higher fine, and in rare cases imprisonment, for each subsequent offense; some States provide special truant officers; many provide reform schools for truants; employment is forbidden for young children during the hours of school sessions2 States prescribing for children under 10 years; 4 under 12 years; 4 under 13 years; these and some other States prohibiting employment except when the prescribed schooling has been given.
EDUCATION IN NEW ZEALAND.
In Chapter II (pp. 45–94) I have presented a paper of Sir Robert Stout, K. C. M, G., formerly minister of education and premier of the colony, giving an admirable sketch of education in New Zealand, both of its free, compulsory, secular education and its private and parochial education. There is no more interesting chapter in the history of education than that which treats of education in the British colonies scattered round the world. The English feature of local self-government, in which is combined centralization for the control of what relates to the welfare of all, a local administration that sees to what concerns only the special province, appears under a variety of forms, differing in different colonies, and in all these colonies differing from