« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »
clearly and logically arranged statement of the final result of every class of tabulated information, set out in comparison, as far as is practicable, with the results of the preceding or other previous year. The summary is usually a fair criterion of the character of the whole document. In some of these, singular omissions are noted; such as the statement of the school age, in connection with the number of children of school age, the population of the State, the distinction of sex with respect to pupils. We notice in one statistics of towns, both by counties and by State, and yet the number of towns in the respective counties and in the State is nowhere given. In the present set or series, perhaps the fullest and most complete summary is found in the Wisconsin document. It is, however, perhaps a little too extended to be accurately described as a summary, as it comprises, with some brief explanatory remarks, about twenty-five pages.
In the best reports, the statistical summary is followed by an interpretation and discussion, more or less extended, of its contents. Here the author finds himself in need of the most thorough knowledge of school economy, as well as a familiar acquaintance with the working of the system under consideration, as the superintendent is not merely an agent for the collection and diffusion of information, however important this office may be. The essential function of the State superintendent is that of adviser. In the first place, he is the authoritative adviser of the legislators on educational matters. In this capacity it is constantly incumbent on him to handle, in his report, topics which belong to what we may denominate educational statesmanship, that is, the questions of all sorts relating to educational legislation. Educational statesmanship requires especially two things~a knowledge of educational systems and a knowledge of jurisprudence.
Probably no superintendent has surpassed Horace Mann as an educational statesman, and although his style was too rhetorical and discussive for a model for imitation, and many of the topics he treated have become somewhat obsolete in our day, it would be well if his twelve reports could be carefully read by every superintendent before sitting down to write his first line of advice to legislators. But it is more especially important that the superintendent should be well informed on the current history of education at home and abroad. Hence the appropriateness of the Alabama provision already cited, respecting the studies and inquiries of the superintendent. But the superintendent is also the legitimate adviser through his reports, especially in States where local reports are few and far between, of teachers and school oficials in respect to methods and management, and the details of school-keeping and local school administration. A considerable proportion of these reports are good examples of what reports should be in this comprehensive, two-fold sphere of advi and counsel, of opinion and judgment. But how striking the difference in this respect, between the crude and provincial utterances of the inexperienced chief and the sound and judicious pages of the later reports of a Wickersham?
Turning again to the statistical portion of these reports, we find them, in general, worthy of great praise, especially in view of their comprehensiveness. The majority of them comprise a wide range of classes of information, and are well digested and arranged. In taking up any one of the twenty best specimens, one would justly call it admirable; but in attempting to make a comparison between them, one would soon meet with difficulties, not only on account of deficiencies not at first discovered, but also on account of omissions in each, which ought to be supplied, or some superfluities which ought to be lopped off. It is not necessary that the statistics of all States should be identical in facts and form; but uniformity is desirable up to a certain point, including the elements which are especially useful for interstate comparison. These items should constitute the permanent part of the system. Beyond this point, other classes of facts should be added as the exigencies, from time to time, require. Such a uniformity is recommended and urged, not merely for the purpose of interstate comparison, but because, up to a certain point, which it is not necessary now to attempt to fix, there can be but one best scheme of statistical exhibit for any State, and, this being determined upon, it follows that every State ought to conform to it as far as is practicable. There is but one practical way of reaching this uniformity, and that is by making the permanent part of the statistics of States and cities conform to the statistical schedules Numbers I and II, respectively, of the Bureau of Education. Considerable progress in this direction has already been made. A united and vigorous effort on the part of superintendents would, no doubt, accomplish, at no distant future, the desired result. Were this theory adopted, there would be no further room for new schemes of statistics. The logical process of improvement would consist in modifying items in the Bureau schedules, as demanded by competent public opinion. One of these items the committee take the liberty to call attention to, namely, that of legal school age. In his last Report the Commissioner of Education states, on this point, that "there are sixteen different school ages in the States and Territories; the longest, extending from four years of age to twentyone, corers a period of seventeen years, and the shortest, from eight years of age to fourteen, a period of six years only."
School age may serve one of three purposes: (1) To include the persons entitled to school privileges; (2) to include the children who ought to be constantly in attendance at school during suhool time; (3) to include the persons whose number is taken as the basis for the apportionment of school revenue. It is the attempt to make one age answer these three different purposes which has caused the existing diversity of both law and opinion as to its limits. It is evident that it makes very little difference what i, adopted as the school age to serve as a basis for the egual distribution of school funda. The essential thing is, in this case, that the persons between the limits of age fixed upon be accurately enumerated. Again, it is evident that the school age, as indicating the right to school privileges, should not be the same as the school age as indicating the obligation to be in attendance at school. The former might be called the legal school age, the latter the obligatory school age. The enumeration of persons of legal school age, as thus defined, has no useful purpose; while the enumeration of persons of obligatory school age has. It is the opinion of the committee that the obligatory school age, as thus defined, should be the census age, should be taken as the basis for the apportionment of school revenues, and as the basis for school statistics. What should be the limits of this age? It is recommended that the limits be six and fourteen, as the best · opinion and practice have adopted these limits of age for compulsory education. In the Bureau'schedule the school age is from six to sixteen years. It is evident that this can not be adopted as the legal school age as above detined, nor as the obligatory age, the upper limit being too high for the latter and too low for the former. If, therefore, universally adopted, for the purpose of school census, it would serve the purpose only as the basis for the apportionment of school revenues. No State has as yet adopted the school age here recommended; but, on the other hand, only one State has adopted the age of the Bureau schedule. Two States bave followed Massachusetts in adopting tire and fifteen as the limits; but these limits were adopted in Massachusetts for no earthly purpose except as a basis for the apportionment of the proceeds of the school fund, the right to school privileges having no relation whatever to this age. Nor does the compulsory school period, which is from eight to fourteen, conform to it at either extreme.
In the matter of school nomenclature, greater uniformity is desirable, to render both the statistics and the organization and management of different systems intelligible to outsi le inquirers. Who can unravel the mystery of the word “district," as used in all the different States? And who but a New Yorker can understand the meaning of that word, even in the State of New York? Or who can tell what the phrase, “whole number of children,” as used in different reports, means? Whether the whole number on the roll at a given date, the whole number of different children enrolled during the year, the whole number enrolled with duplicates, or the whole number of children enumerated? The "number belonging” and “membership" are no less indeterminate phrases.
In many State reports, the "whole number of schools” is given. This item seems to be not only useless, but misleading. It is certainly useless, both for home and interstate comparison, as the increase or diminution in the number of schools is not necessarily an indication of an increase or diminution in school accommodations. If this item be included, the kind of school should be indicated.
In respect to comparison of certain statistical matters, we find that, in one State at least, the law requires the superintendent, in his report, to arrange the statistical facts so as to show the comparison between the results of the current year and the preceding, or some previous year, when he may deem it desirable. Many reports contain the former comparison, that is, the results of the current year with the preceding, but very few show a comparison of the curreni year with a more remote year, say the fifth, tenth, or twentieth year previous. The comparison between the results of somewhat widely separated periods is often more instructive than the comparison between two consecutive years, which can hardly show the drift of things in any particular. A still more useful form of comparison for occasional presentation is that for a series of consecutive years, say ten, a good example of which is found in the statistical summary of the California report.
Mr. Mann invented two modes of comparing the towns of a State: (1) by rankin's them according to the percentage of valuation raised by tax and appropriated to school purposes; and (2) by ranking the towns according to the amount raised by taxation per capita of the school population. This device has been perpetuated, and it has had no little effect in stimulating the towns to attain and hold a respectable rank in these lists, and especially to avoid falling to a place near the foot.
In city reports, especially, it is a practical question of considerable importance where to draw the line between the classes of facts appropriate for comparison and the classes inappropriate. Among the latter may be set down the following: a comparison of schools with respect to the percentages of scholarship in the different branches; the record of tardiness and misdemeanors; the rank of the graduating class, especially if girls. So are rolls of honor inadmissible, at least as far as girls are concerned.
SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS AND SUGGESTIONS FOR THE SPECIAL CONSIDERA
TION OF THE COUNCIL.
1. That all State reports be annual, without regard to the fact whether the legislature has annual or biennial sessions, as the report is not merely for the use of the legislature, but for educational officials, teachers, and such of the inhabitants as might be expected to profit by such a document,
2. That all county superintendents make annual written reports, which, upon the approval of the State board of education, or superintendent, shall be printed in the State report, or separately, for the use of the inhabitants of the counties respectively, or equivalent districts.
3. That all city boards or superintendents print andual reports, within reasonable limits as to details and expense, for the use of the inhabitants of the respective cities.
4. That the school boards of towns or townships, where there are no county superintendents, print annual reports, as in above section, for the use of the inhabitants of their respective towns or townships.
5. That all reports, general and local, be printed in pamphlet form of the ordinary octavo size.
6. That all State reports, and a portion, at least, of city reports, be issued in birding.
7. That all reports have a table of contents, and that those of the larger size have also an alphabetical index.
8. That all reports of school systems, State and local, begin with a statistical sum. wary, and that a committee of the council be charged with the duty of reporting cn the best plans of statistical summaries for State and local systems respectively.
9. That a committee of the council be charged with the duty of reporting on the subject of uniformity of nomenclature.
10. That the items requisite for obtaining the information necessary to meet the requirement of Schedule No. I of the Bureau of Education constitute a permanent part of the blank inquiries annually sent out by State superintendents, and that the returns to the same constitute a permanent part of the State report.
11. That all accounts, records, and registers of city systems of schools be so kept as to afford the statistical information called for by Statistical Schedule No. II of the Bureau of Education, and that the same items be included in the annual reports of the city systems, as a permanent part of the statistics thereof.
12. That in all State systems of statistics, a distinction be made between rural and urban populations, the inhabitants of compact towns or villages containing a population of five thousand and upward being designated as urban, and all others as rural.
13. That the State reports contain the actual number of persons of each age in all the public schools of the State at an approximate date, say the middle of the school year, distinguishing between urban and rural schools; and that city reports contain the actual number of each age at a given date: (1) irrespective of grades; (2) in the three different grades, high, grammar, and primary; (3) in each class and school of these three grades.
14. That useless and false averages be eliminated from statistics; for example, the average number of months the schools have kept, as reported in the Massachusetts report.
15. That in all the statistics relating to the personnel of systems and schools, the distinction of sex be maintained.
16. That the number of State reports to be printed, and the mode of distribution, be fixed by law in all the States, as it now is in some of them, and that such statute specially provide that a reasonable number, not less than twenty-five, be sent to the Bureau of Education, and that not less than four copies be sent to the Department of Education of every other State, and that a copy be sent to each of the normal schools, colleges, and public libraries, the newspapers within the State, and the educational press of the country at large, and that a liberal number be left for distribution at the discretion of the superintendent.
17. That the legal and census school age be from four to twenty-one, and the obligatory school age from sie to fourteen.
18. That a committee of the council be charged with the duty of reporting on the utility and the ways and means of promoting an international comparison of school statistics.
JOHN D. PHILBRICK, Chairman,
SCOPE OF REPORTS. The increased attention paid to educational reports en phasizes the need of uniformity in respect to the classification of schools, and in respect to the statistical schemes employed in State reports and in the several classes of local reports.
The progress toward these results since this series of national reports has been undertaken has been very marked, but much more remains to be accomplished. The school statistics of the country should give an annual survey of the child-life of our people. The last decennial census, by reporting the population by years from one to twenty-one inclusive, afforded an opportunity never before available for the study of the school period of our people. There are those who hesitate when an annual survey or report is proposed; but if this measure of the life of our population is not of sufficient importance to be taken annually, what accounting can deserve yearly attention? Some States unfortunately take no school census, relying wholly upon the decennial census of the United States for all the knowledge they have of their school population and of the administration dependent upon that knowledge. With all the facts before me, my urgent reconmendation would be in favor of an annual survey of our population from one to twentyone inclusive, including a census by years, sex, color, and nativity, by each State. Whatever different terms are used for local convenience or to suit local conditions, for the sake of uniformity in a report for general purposes school attendance should be reported by years, each year standing for a grade. In this way all purposes of generalization would be answered, and at the same time all local peculiarities of terminology and tradition be accommodated. An idea of the items that we would include in these reports is illustrated by the schedules on which the tables of this Report are made. Such a report as I have here indicated would show the work absolutely done by the schools, whether adequate or inadequate to the ends proposed.
RECESS OR YO RECESS.
The report of a special committee appointed by the National Council of Education to consider the subject of recess or no recess in schools was given in full in my last Annual Report. After discussion before the council the subject was referred back to the committee for further investigation.
The effort made by the committee to render this renewed investigation complete and exhaustive will be seen by the following questions, to which answers were solicited from superintendents of schools, principals, teachers, school officers, physicians, professional men of all classes, and parents.
I. Is the no-recess plan in operation in the schools under your supervision or instruction?
II. If it is not, has any proposition been made toward the establishment of the plan, and what arguments prevailed against the proposition to introduce it?
III. Have you returned to the recess plan after a fair trial of the no-recess plan? and, if so, what causes led to the change?
IV. What condition existed and about your schools that prompted the officials to abolish the recess and adopt the no-recess plan, and with whom did the proposition originate to establish in your schools the no-recess plan—with the superintendent and teachers, with the board of education, or with the patrons ?
V. How many hours of continuous confinement within the school-room are required daily, a. m. and p. m., of pupils in the several grades under your no-recess plan?
VI. What are the precise duties and privileges of pupils that have been substituted for those of the recess in the several grades of your school?
VII. Are physical exercises as a practical means of retaining and securing health in the school-room an equivalent under your no-recess plan for the exercise attorded to pupils by an outdoor recess?
VIII. What effect has the no-recess plan upon the management and government of your schools, especially in the matter of the pupils' habits in conduct ?
IX. Is the no-recess plan extending among the schools in your vicinity? X. How is the health of pupils affected in the following particulars by the no-recess plan, so far as your observation and experience extend?
NOTE.-State explicitly the nature and character of the examinations instituted to arrive at the facts and opinions which you recount in your answer to the questions asked under (a) to (c) below. Special inquiry is made about those children that have inherited or have developed weaknesses in the points enumerated.
(a) Does or does not the no-recess plan affect the duties and privileges of pupils in such a 'way as to develop or aggravate in any of them nervous irritation-revealed by a tendency to or an absence from cerebral pains, inability to think or to act or to remenber, weariness, coldness of extremities, want of blood in the brain, irritation of the sympathetic system of nerves--owing to continuous sedentary continement in the schoolroom with its heated and perhaps vitiated air?
(6) Does or does not the no-recess plan affect the pelvic organs-revealed by a tendency to develop or aggravate irritation and disease of the kidneys, bladder, rectum, or by blood-poisoning from retention of urine-owing to the failure of pupils to comply regularly with the physical necessities under which they rest, to a lack of those physical exercises which tend to keep in a healthy condition the organs enumerated, and to the continuous confinement upon the seats in the school-room?
(c) Does or does not the no-recess plan affect the eye-sight-revealed by developing or aggravating enfeebled powers of those organs, owing to deficiency of outdoor exposure?
(d) Does or does not the no-recess plan affect the nasal passages and lungs-revealed by developing or aggravating catarrh or irritation of the lungs, owing to too continuous exposure to the dust, heat, and air of the school-room?
(e) How do the physical exercises substituted by the no-recess plan for those of the recess affect, relatively, the rapidity of the pulse of pupils when it is compared to the rapidity developed in the exercises of the outdoor recess? Very respectfully submitted,
J. H. HOOSE, STATE NORMAL SCHOOL,
Sub-committee on Hygiene in Education. Cortland, N. Y., January 7, 1885. In response to these questions the committee received thirty-two communications that discuss the no-recess plan. These communications represent eleven States; they represent, also, public schools and educators that may be called fairly representative of those in the United States. Of these thirty-two communications 56 per cent. favor the no-recess plan, and 44 per cent. favor the recess. Only 10 or 12 per cent. report that the no-recess plan is extending, so far as the writers knew. The no-recess plan has been in operation fourteen years in one place, but in the others it has been on trial less than two years on an average. Two communications report a trial of the no-recess plan and a subsequent abandonment of it or steps to that effect.
The no-recess plan was advocated originally by the superintendent, aided by the teachers, in most of the places where it has been introduced ; in one or two instances by a member of the board of education; in one case against the opinion of the superintendent, who favored it, however, after a trial of two years.
The further analysis of the answers brought the committee to the conclusion that the no-recess plan is closely connected with a diminution of school hours that is gradually taking place.
In illustration of the tendency they present the hours of school session in nine cities in which the no-recess plan is on trial. From these figures it appears that
The average school-day of the no-recess plan begins at 9 a. m., and closes at 3.30 p.m.; it is 6 hours long over all; 2 hours and 10 to 20 minutes of this time are recess; i. e., just } of the average school-day, from the time it begins until it closes, is given up to rest and recreation. The extreme of this no-recess school-day is reached in a period of 3 hours actually spent in school ; yet 5 or 10 minutes of this time are devoted to rest from study; in this case, of the 6 hours of the entire day, only }} ofitless than 1-are spent in school. In the presence of these facts, where over half the school-day is spent in recesses, how are we gravitating in school affairs ?
The old-style school began at 9 a. m., closed at 12 m.; began again at 1 p. m., and closed at 4 p. m.; 1! hours of these 7 hours were devoted to rest, the other 5. hours were devoted daily to actual work; i. e., only i'c of the entire school-day were given np to rest and recreation, as against 3 of it in the extreme case under the modern norecess plan, where the plan has been established for fourteen years. Return to still earlier customs, those which held school 7 hours per day, and 6 days in the week; here were 33 hours per week of actual work in school, against 15 hours under the last mentioned school organized under the no-recess plan.
These facts reveal the actual problem that is involved in this investigation. It is not the question of recess or no recess in schools, a hygienic question; but is a very dife