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as being a comprehensive summary of all the educational reports of the country, whether of systems or of institutions of instruction.
This document gathers up, condenses, and arranges for comparison the most essential facts relating to our public school systems, State and local, private schools of different grades, and State and corporate institutions of instruction, of all sorts and grades, from the university and professional schools to the kindergarten and schools for feeble-minded youth; and is then distributed to all points of our territory, where its treasures of wisdom and fact become available for the use of all officials charged with the duty of preparing educational reports.
The law being silent as to the character of this Report, and making no provisions for the materials to be embodied in it, it seems almost incredible that the Commissioner should have been able to make it what it is by the aid of merely voluntary contributions of information afforded by educational officials.
The vast body of statistical information comprised in the series of this Report has been furnished by answers to inquiries embraced in a number of carefully prepared schedules annually sent out by the Bureau.
Schedule Number I, the most general and comprehensive, comprises fisty-one inquiries, which it is deemed that well organized State departments of instruction should have the means of answering correctly. Number II, more specific in some points, is adapted to reveal the condition of city systems. Besides these, there are upwards of twenty schedules, relating to different kinds of institutions of instruction.
Considering that the answers to these inquiries are wholly voluntary, they are more complete and accurate than could have been expected, and every year shows a gain in the direction of completeness. Still there are too many regrettable failures to respond to the inquiries. But in view of the very encouraging progress made, it may reasonably be hoped that at no distant future a very near approximation to completeness of returns may be reached.
School statistics are most beneficially appreciable only by comparison, and comparison is practicable only so far as uniformity exists. Notwithstanding the disadvantage under which the Commissioner has labored from lack of authority to demand regular and uniform returns from States, cities, and institutions, he has succeeded, almost from the first, in producing annual reports, in pursuance of the requirements of law in respect to the dissemination of information, far more comprehensive and valuable than have been issued in other countries.
Twelve years ago M. Buisson, in the former of his reports, already referred to, said: "The national Bureau of Education, at Washington, began a few years ago the organization of school statistics for the whole extent of the United States; and, if one seeks to-day to form an idea of the total result of instruction, there is no great country of Europe which affords so complete an exhibit of its educational institutions."
During the period which has elapsed since this was said, the reports of the Bureau, as already intimated, have been constantly improving in every respect, and the large number of copies annually printed and gratuitously circulated has made them accessible to all inquirers, thus keeping before all educational officials an admirable model of logically organized statistical facts and the current transactions relating to educational progress and development, both at home and abroad.
The tendency in educational administration of all sorts to conform more and more to the statistical organization adopted by the Bureau is highly gratifying, and it is desirable that educational bodies should favor this tendency and endeavor to procure the legislation requisite to render a complete conformity practicable.
Besides the annual reports, containing the most useful information that could be gleaned from foreign countries, together with the educational collections from our own country, already referred to, cach giving abstracts of the various classes of instruction, such as primary, secondary, superior, profe.ional, and special, with lists and statistics of all noticeable institutions, and a general summary of the whole educational field, the Bureau has issued several valuable special reports on important topics of current interest, a number of smaller publications on matters of minor importance, and occasional circulars of information, to the number of about sixty. In quantity these publications, up to the year 1883, amounted to 15,577 closely printed large octavo pages.
III. The invaluable Reports issued from the Bureau of Education, the institution characterized by the great French anthority just cited as the “central establishment of comparative school statistics," could have had no existence but from the large precedent development of State and local systems of school reports, which had familiarized the public mind with the necessity and value of comparative school statistics.
In every State of the Union, Territories not being considered here, legal provision The committee regret to be obliged to except the State of Kentucky, from which, up to the present time, they have not been able to obtain a report or a copy of the school lars. This exception applies to one or two subsequent statements.
exists for the preparation of a report, either annual or biennial, of the condition of the public schools, either by the board of education or the chief educational officer, who is nsually styled superintendent of public instruction, though lie is sometimes designated as commissioner or as secretary of the board of education. As there is no State where a general report of the system of instruction is not required, so there is no State where there are not specific legal provisions for gathering up the information necessary for the statistical portion of the report, and no State, it is believed, where this class of information is not required to be supplemented in the report by information other than statistical, including suggestions for remedying defects and promoting success. In some Siztes, Alabama for example, it is enjoined upon the superintendent by statute to study other systems at home and abroad as a preparation for reporting the wisest plans for the improvement of the system.
For procuring the facts requisite for the statistical part of the report, specific, detailed provision is made in almost all cases. These provisions prescribe: (1) what classes of facts shall be obtained and reported; (2) what local and subordinate officials, both scholastic and non-scholastic, shall procure and make returns of the different classes of facts called for by the schedules of inquiries sent out by the superintendent; and (3) the penalties for non-performance of the duties thus prescribed.
In respect to all these points there is a wide diversity among the school codes of the States. Most of these codes contain excellent provision for some particulars of these requirements, while they are quite deficient in others.
1. Recurring to the first division, we find that while in some States numerous classes of facts are made obligatory for the report, in others it is left mostly or entirely to the discretion of the superintendent to determine this matter. Of the latter class, New Jersey is, perhaps, the extreme example, while Illinois may be taken as a type of the former, the obligatory facts called for being set forth as follows:
“The whole number of schools which have been taught in each county in each of the (2) preceding years, commencing on the first of July; what part of said number have been taught by males exclusively; what part of said whole number have been taught by males and females at the same time, and what part by males and females at different periods; the number of scholars in attendance at said schools, the number of persons in each county under twenty-one years of age, and the number of such persons between the ages of twelve and twenty-one years that are unable to read and write; the amount of township and county funds; the amount of the interest of the State or common school fund, and of the interest of the township and the county fund annually paid out; the amount raised by an ad valorem tax; the whole amount annually expended for schools; the number of school-houses, their kind and condition; the number of townships and parts of townships in each county; the number and description of books and apparatus purchased for the use of schools and school libraries under the provision of this act, the price paid for the same, and the total amount purchased, and what quantity and how distributed; and the number and condition of the libraries."
The starting point of a good system of school statistics is a good plan of school census. For one of the elements of a good census, namely, an annual enumeration, provision is made in most of the State systems. In a few, however, it is quite too infrequent, taking place only at intervals of four and even five years, as in the case of Virginia. In a number of the systems, the information gathered by the census is insufficient. Until recently, the Massachusetts law required but a single fact to obtained by the enumerators, namely, the number of persons between the limits of the school age; and it now requires, in addition, only the name and age of each person enumerated. It has been improved in one other particular, however, namely, by making the school boards of cities and towns responsible for taking the census, whereas previously it was the duty of the tax assessors, who were wholly independent of the school department. In a considerable percentago of the States, this service is still left to officials outside of the educational or
nization. California is, perhaps, the State which occupies the most advanced position in respect to provision for obtaining the school census. This provision is, in substance, as follows: There are oficers in each county for this particular duty, called census marshals. It is the cluty of this officer to take the census, annually, of all children under seventeen years of age, by personal visitation and observation, and inquiry at each dwelling. He must take the number, age, sex, color, and nationality, of all the children listed, and the names of parents and guardians, and such other facts as the State superintendent of public instruction may designate; and the report must be made under oath, on blanks furnished by the State superintendent.
The census marshal has power to administer oaths to parents and guardians.
But, however the school codes may differ in regard to the prescribed items of statistics to be obtained, which may be regarded as constituting the permanent part of the statistical report, they approach to unanimity in properly giving the superintendent discretionary power to include other items in their schedules of inqniries.
There is still another diversity to be noted in respect to the materials for the statistical report. In a few States the report is limited exclusively to matters pertaining to the publicschool system. In a considerable number, statistics of private schools are included. In some, the report embraces, also, an account of such institutions subsidized by the State as are actually under the supervision of the board of education or the superintendent. In other States, the superintendent is required to include in his report information concerning all educational institutions receiving aid from the State, including the State universities and colleges, where such institutions exist.
2. In every State, the superintendent or board of education is required to send to certain local officials blank schedules of inquiries to obtain the statistical facts requisite for the State report; and it is made the duty of these officials to make returns of the inforination called for.
In a large proportion of the States, the county superintendent is the medium of communication between the State departmeut and the local boards, officials, and teachers. This officer is made responsible for the collection, consolidation, and forwarding of the returns of his county.
in the more rudimentary systems, the teachers report the school statistics directly to the county superintendent; while in those more completely organized, the teachers reporů certain classes of facts to the town or township trustees, who consolidate the facts thus obtained with information obtained from other sources, and report the same to the county superintendent. As a means of securing uniformity and accuracy in the returns, the proper school registers are furnished to the teachers by the State.
The Indiana system is a good representative of this type, and perhaps deserves the distinction of being cited as making the most logical, complete, and liberal provision for the State report of any system in the country.
In the New England States, where, unhappily, no office analogous to that of county superintendent exists, the city and town boards are made responsible for reporting directly to the State department the requisite statistical returns obtained from teachers and other sources.
3. And, finally, to secure honesty and punctuality in making the required returns, more or less stringent provision is everywhere made. In the most advanced States, the officials of all the orders in the hierarchy concerned in making the returns have to verify their reports by aslidavit, and are subject to serious forfeitures and fines for neglecting to report at the time legally specified. In the case of teachers, a portion of the salary is withheld; in the case of town and county officers, fines are imposed on the delinquents, and school moneys withheld from the schools under their charge.
While legal provision, more or less complete, is made, as we have seen, in all State systems, for exhibiting the condition and progress of public instruction, the superintendent is left more largely to his own resources for the information requisite for that division of the report containing the statements touching the condition, progress, and wants of the system, which cannot be presented in statistical forn. One of the sources of this information is afforded, however, to some extent, in nearly every State, by local printed and written reports.
We are thus brought to the consideration of the provisions for the other class of school reports besides the general or State reports, namely, the local reports of different kinds, such as county, city, town, and township reports. Here we find scarcely anything approaching to uniformity, either in respect to statutory provision or local practice. In many States the county superintendents are required to make written reports to the State superintendent. In Virginia, the county superintendents and superintendents of cities must make reports to the State superintendent, brief abstracts of which shall be furnished to every newspaper published in the county.
Statutory provision, requiring city, town, and township reports to be printed, is exceptional. In Massachusetts, however, the school committee of every city and town is required annually to print a detailed school report, in octavo form, for the use of the inhabitants thereof. And in the New England States, generally, the school committees of towns are required to make detailed annual reports to the town meeting, though the printing of the same generally depends upon the vote of the town.
IV. To attempt to estimate the results, in the promotion of education, of the legal provisions thus brieily reviewed, would be to go beyond the scope of our inquiry, which is concerned with their results only as manifested in the reports produced, viewed in the spect both to their quantity and character. As every State has come to have a publicschool system, with a State department of supervision, so we find that a report has come to be issued by every State department of schools. The results of an examination of a set of these documents recently issued, in respect to form, size, number of copies issued, contents, etc., are herewith presented in tabular form:
Yes.. Yes.. .do.
Yes. Yes.. Act..
No Yes.. Act...
No Yes.. Act...
Yes.. Yes.. .do..
Yes.. Yes.. .....do..
Yes.. Yes.. Act.
Yes.. Yes.. .do.
No... Yes.. Statute...
It appears by this examination of the documents in hand that just one-half are annual reports, while the other half are biennial. The pages are of the ordinary octavo size, with the exception of three, which are somewhat larger, namely, those of Peonsylvania, Ohio, and Michigan. In respect to the number of pages they coutain, they range all the way from two-score to six hundred, and in the number of copies printed, from 300 to 22,600, the State of Ohio taking the lead in issuing this liberal number. It appears that, in general, the smaller the report in size the smaller is the number 01 copies issued. The average number of pages to a report is 229, and the aggregate number in the set at hand is 8,482. The grand aggregate in a single issue or set is upwind of 38,000,000 pages. If we compare the whole number of pages printed with the number of inhabitants in the extreme States, Ohio and Oregon, we find that, in the forner, the ratio is 2.5 to 1, and, in the latter, -73 to 1. Very nearly one-half the set are in 'suitable binding, the rest being in paper covers.
As to the contents, we find, in the first place, abont one-half of these documents contain county superintendents' reports, in whole, or in part, or extracts from city ani) town reports. We find that about two-thirds of the superintendents' reports begin with a more or less extended summary of statistics, and that all of them contain a body of statistics in detail. The following may be mentioned as samples of other matters accompanying or embodied in the reports proper of superintendents: The report of the president of the State University; an elaborate illustrated treatise on school architecture; a catalogue of the holders of State certificates of qualification for teaching; practical essays by county superintendents, prepared by request; addresses delivered beiore the State Teachers' Association; reports of the State normal schools, and institutions 101 the deaf, blind, and feeble-minded; reports of conductors of institutes; report oi' the State high school board; report of the board of education, and reports of the agents of the board ; report of the manual training school; account of teachers' vacation institutes.
Passing from State reports to local, we find that there are no separately issued county reports, there being, as we have already seen, no legal provision therefor.
Although cities are not generally required by law to print reports, as a matter of fact the cities which do not issue annual reports are very exceptional.' These reports are uniformly of octavo size of page, and in aggregate number of pages annually printed far exceed the State reports. In character, these reports differ from the State documents, in dealing more especially with matters pertaining to school organization and methods of instruction and discipline, and also in details of statistical facts. Here the anit of comparison is the school, whereas in the State report it is the county, city, town, or township.
Published annual reports of towns and townships are practically limited to the New England States, where they are very general. In Massachusetts, in accordance with the law already mentioned, the school committee of every one of the 346 cities and towns print, annually, a detailed report of the schools, for the use of the inhabitants thereof. Each year a set of these documents is bound up, making about twelve fair-sized octavo volumes, and placed in the library of the Board of Education.
M. Buisson, in considering our school reports, national, State, and local, characterizes them as an "inexhaustible source of information and judgments," and "a collection of authentic school documents without a parallel."
V. It remains now to add some criticisms and suggestions.
The most obvious thing to remark as the result of the examination of the set of Stato documents, and the facts presented, is that while these reports, as a whole, are highly creditable, not only in respect to the quantity and character of the matter which they contain, but in the number of copies printed and circulated; yet there is a number of them which, though in general satisfactory, and in some cases worthy of praise in point of quality, are wholly inadequate, in respect to quantity and variety of material, to serve the purpose intended, and the number of copies printed is far too limited to supply the need, on any reasonable theory of issuing reports.
It seems a surprising fact that just one-half of these documents have been sent out having neither an index nor a table of contents. To send out such a document as a State school ort without an index or table of contents would appear to be an inexcusable omission. Five reports have a table of contents without an index, cight have an index without a table of contents, while five only have both a table of contents and an indes. An index is hardly necessary to a small document, but to the larger ones it is indispensable for purposes of consultation.
Considering the number and rank of the authorities who have sanctioned the custom, we are warranted in laying it down as a rule that the superintendent's report should contain a statistical summary, and the better taste places it in the foreground, instead of sandwiching it in the middle or appending it to the end. Those which do not contain such a summary must be regarded as defective. The summary ought to contain a