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Date of the report of the superintendent of public instruction, February 2, 1863.
PROVISIONS OF THE SCHOOL BILL UNDER THE “OLD SYSTEM.” On the 2d of February, 1865, Rev. L. Van Bokkelen, LL. D., State superintendent of public instruction for Maryland, presented to the general assembly of Maryland a bill entitled “An act to establish a uniform system of public instruction for the State of Maryland." This bill provided that the supervision and control of public instruction should be vested in a State board of education, and in boards of school commissioners for the city of Baltimore and each county ; defined exactly the powers and duties of the superintendent, and all associate officers; embraced a complete system of public instruction, beginning with the primary school, and progressing through the grammar school to tho county high school, and providing for the establishment of a State normal school, and to secure the efficiency of the system, provided that an annual report of the schools sbonld be submitted by the county directors to the State superintendent, and by him presented to the governor. This bill also directed that “every child in the State between the ages of eight and fourteen years, without fixed employment, shall attend school at least six months in each year," and that “no child under the age of fourteen years shall be employed in any manufacturing establishment, or in any business in the State, unless such child has attended some public or private school six of the twelve months next preceding." To secure these provisions, fines were imposed upon any parent, guardian, or other person who should violate them.
A noticeable feature of the bill is the obligation imposed upon teachers to open their schools daily by the reading of some portion of the New Testament, and to impress upon the ininds of their pupils tho principles of piety, loyalty, and general morality. The bill also declared that the systein of public instruction is designed to embrace benevolent, remedial, and reformatory institutions, and further directed the boards of school commissioners to establish separate schools for the instruction of children of African descent, and until such school should be established, made provision for the education of these children in private schools.
CONDITION OF THE SCHOOLS AT THE INAUGURATION OF THE SYSTEM. In accordance with the just and enlarged principles of this bill, Rev. L. Van Bokkelen, LL. D., devoted his energies to the development of the system, convinced that he must begin at the foundation, as up to this time there had been no centralized State system, each county controlling its own schools by local laws.
By inquiries addressed to the presidents of the school boards, it was ascertained that the following evils prevailed in all sections: The county directors were often illiterate men, who paid little attention to the schools. The school-louses were very inferior. The teachers were in general incompetent. The sources of the school fund were varied and irregular. There was no uniform standard for teachers' salaries. There was a general apathy on the part of the people with reference to the public schools in most districts, while in others the prejudices of partizanship, sectionalism, and caste were all invoked against them. The standard of scholarship was exceedingly low ; reading, writing, and arithmetic being the branches mainly taught, and these very imperfectly.
IMMEDIATE RESULTS OF THE NEW SYSTEM. Date of the first annual report of the superintendent of public instruction, December 15, 1866.
From the report of the State superintendent for the school year ending June 30, 1866, it is seen that the new system imparted an impulse to education throughout Maryland; the improved method of supervision aroused the enthusiasm and excited the confidence of the teachers, while their efficiency was promoted by teachers' institutes and the teachers' State association.
The per cent. of children attending public school during the year was .45, and the absolute increase in scholars over the year 1865 was, as nearly as can be ascertained from the reports, 5,000, (the city of Baltimore being omitted in all these estimates.)
But very little was done during the year to improve the condition of school-houses, on account "of the absence of a law by which funds for building purposes could be collected," and on account of inefficient legislation the financial provisions of the bill were not carried out.
The people throughout the State began to manifest an interest in the public schools, as was evincel by their attendance upon teachers' institutes, the increased courtesy to teachers, and the fact that letters from citizens were constantly received at the office of public instruction, asking for competent teachers.
The State normal school was established during the year, (January 15, 1866,) in the city of Baltimore. It rapidly increased in numbers, and as its first fruits furnished to the State within a year eighteen teachers, who by their superiority over the ordinary teachers proved the importance of the institution.
COLORED SCHOOLS. Nothing was done during this year by the State for the education of colored children, but the colored people, aided by benevolent associations, particularly the “ Baltimore Association," established schools of their own. The school under the Baltimore Association made remarkable progress, having always trained teachers, who were subject to rigid examination before receiving their appointment.
From the statistics it appears that there were, in 73 schools for colored persons—22 in the city of Baltimore, and 51 in nineteen counties--7,300 pupils registered ; 5,645 pupils in average attendance; 78 teachers; nine months the schools were open. The total expense of the 73 schools, including books, furniture, and supervision was $52,515 14; of which there were $9,821 19 contributed by colored people in the State.
STATISTICAL SUMMARY OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS FOR THE YEAR ENDING JUNE 30,
In the following summary, prepared from the statistical tables of the several counties, the statistics of the Baltimore city public schools are not included: Total number of different children taught .....
64,793 Average attendance of children .....
43, 750 Total number of teachers employed ..........
1,533 Average duration of the schools 9 months. Total cost of 1,359 schools.
$389, 006 91 Average cost of each school ........
286 24 Total amount paid for teachers' salaries.....
356, 680 50 Average salary of each teacher ......
232 66 Average cost of each pupil..........
6 00 Total amount expended during the year for building, repairing and furnishing school-houses.....
20,078 41 Total receipts for the year ........................
514, 154 94 Total disbursements...................
477, 425 63 Date of the report of the public schools of Maryland, by Prof. M. A. Newell, principal of the Maryland State normal school, January 4, 1870.
EXISTING SCHOOL SYSTEM.
Although the system of free public schools which was in operation in 1865 and 1866 was abolished, it formed the basis of the present school system.
The School Law.–A meeting of public school officers, at which the city of Baltimore and thirteen counties were represented, was held on the 7th and 8th of December, 1869, by which twelve amendments to the school law were proposed, differing in a few particulars from the provisions of the bill presented to the general assembly in 1865. * By the most important of these amendments it was resolved: That a State board of education should be appointed ; that teachers should be appointed by the several boards of county school commissioners, instead of county directors, as formerly; that the examination of teachers should be conducted in the presence of at least one member of the board ; and that the normal school is an essential part of the State school system. It was especially urged that if the first resolution were embodied in the law, and discretionary powers given to the State board with reference to the subjects embraced in the others, that any further changes might be dispensed with until the next meeting of the legislature, when the State board might be required to submit a new law founded on the old, but embracing all the changes that an experience of four years had proved to be necessary, and no others.
Officers.-It is suggested in the report that the number of school commissioners in many counties is too large, and that there should be some uniform understanding with regard to the law for their compensation ; and that if there must be trustees, these should be appointed by the school commissioners.
Teachers. The teachers, as a body, are faithful and competent, the chief obstacles to their complete efficiency being insufficient salaries and the lack of teachers' institutes. The teachers are all subject to examination once in three years, a plan which works well in the main, though it is desirable to make some arrangement by which teachers of eminent ability, long experience, and well-known character, may receive "life certificates," and thus be free from the anxiety and excitement of these frequent exami. nations.
Scholars. The chief hinderance to the perfection of the school system is the irregular attendance of the children. The school-going population of the State (including Baltimore) is 100,000; of these, 75,402 have their names enrolled on the school registers, (though not all in one term,) while the average attendance for the year ending September 30, 1869, have been less than 34,000. It is certain that the State has provided machinery, and paid the cost of educating 50,000 scholars, and yet the average attendance is less than two-thirds of that number. The total amount disbursed on account of schools during the year was $751,310 36. From what has been said, it follows that one-third of this large amount was absolutely thrown away.
Compulsory Law.-A compulsory law would be useless, because in the present state of public sentiment it could not be enforced. As school-houses are made more comfortable, and teacbers learn how to make school work interesting as well as profitable, it is hoped the irregularity will diminish ; but meanwhile some especial effort should be made to remedy the evil.
State Normal School. The number of pupils in the State normal school for the year ending September 30, 1869, was larger than at any previous time, and the educational standard higher, though in February last the school suffered a severe loss in the death of Dr. A. Snowden Pigget, professor of natural sciences. Despite the success of this institution, so inadequate are the accommodations provided to its absolute wants, that Professor M. A. Newell states, that in his opinion the “time has come when the school should either be abandoned altogether or provided with a suitable home.” The whole number of pupils enrolled last year was 144; the whole number enrolled since its organization has been 390; the whole number of graduates 102; and the number of teachers it has furnished to the State, 125. The number of instructors, exclusive of the principal, is seven, and their salaries amount to $3,440.
Colored Schools.—The school law contains the following section: “The total amount of taxes paid for school purposes by the colored people of any county shall be set aside for maintaining the schools for colored children, which shall be under the direction of the board of county school commissioners.” No such schools have been reported, but the sum of $951 27 is charged as paid to colored schools in six counties. It is evident that some more effective measure must be adopted if the colored people are to be educated by the State.
It would seem that the counties can do no wiser thing than to follow the example of Baltimore City in educating the colored children in separate schools, but under the saine laws and superintendence as white children. The “Baltimore Association” has charge of 63 schools for colored children, and also an efficient normal school in the city of Baltimore, with 5 teachers and 210 scholars, arranged in four grades. The latter is partially self-supporting, the fees ranging from $10 to $15 per year.
EDUCATIONAL INTERESTS INDIRECTLY COXXECTED WITH THE STATE SCHOOL SYSTEM.
1. St. John's College-St. John's College at Annapolis enjoys a greater degree of prosperity than at any former period. This prosperity is believed to be mainly due to the liberal measures adopted by the college for diffusing its advantages throughout the State by the establishment of a system of “free scholarships” whose incumbents are appointed by the board of school coniinissioners in each county. These scholarships number 150. The other main statistics are as follows: Endowment by the State....
$15,000 Number of instructors..... Salaries of instructors.....
15,000 Value of college building and property
$250,000 Number of volumes in library..
180 2. The Maryland Agricultural College.--This institution has enjoyed peculiar prosperity during the past year; debts that once threatened to crush it are nearly all paid, and the current expenses are promptly met. The board of instructors consists of a president, four professors, and two tutors, one of whom is also the military instructor.
3. The Baltimore Female College.—The Baltimore Female College was instituted in 1849 and incorporated by the State of Maryland the same year. Its course of instruction is extensive, and the buildings and other appointments have cost about $50,000. When the college was instituted it was intended in part as a training school for teachers. This object has been steadily kept in view, and to secure its success the trustees obtained an endowment of $2,200 per annum from tho State, for which they educato in all the branches of the college one pupil from each county in the State, and one from the city of Baltimore. Of 197 graduates of the college, 72 bave become teachers, beside many undergraduates. During the past year 128 pupils have been in attendance, many of whom intend to teach. The college possesses a sufficient chemical and philosophical apparatus, a library of 4,000 volumes, with cabinets of minerals, medals, &c. The facult consists of a president and eight associates.
STATISTICAL SUMMARY. Comparison of Reports.-No comparison can be made between 1868 and 1869, on account of the fragmentary returns for 1868. By a comparison between the years 1867 and 1869 the following important results have been obtained : Number of schools in 1869.
1,347 Number of schools in 1867....
Amount paid for building, repairing, and furnishing school-houses in
1869 ................................: Amount paid for building, repairing, and furnishing school-houses in
40,973 04 $67,549 17
Increase in 1869....
Amount received from county school taxes in 1869.
$202, 466 81
Increase in 1869.
$110, 433 87
Amount received from the State, from State school tas, free school fund,
and academic fund in 1869........ Amount received from the State, from State school tax, free school fund,
and academic fund in 1867........
$358, 040 10 374,527 66
Decrease in 1969..
$16, 487 56
Total expenditure for all public school purposes in 1869.......
$751, 310 36 511, 805 37
Increase in 1869,
These figures prove conclusively the increased prosperity and popularity of the pullic school system.
Finances.--In a few counties the financial affairs are in a sound condition, but in inost the balance is on the wrong side of the ledger. This may seem strange when we find the following emphatic language in the school law: “The county commissioners aro hereby authorized, empowered, directed, and required to levy and collect such a tax upon the assessable property of each county as the board of county school comunissioners shall designate." The deficiencies arise chiefly from misunderstandings and neglect on the part of the officers who should exccute the law. Add to this that the free school fund has been diminished by the action of the banks and that the receipts from the State school tax for the year have been smaller than was expected.
MARYLAND INSTITUTE FOR THE INSTRUCTION OF TIIE BLIND.
Date of report of directors of Maryland Institute for Instruction of the Blind, November 20, 1868.
The only provision for the education of the blind of the State of Maryland, prior to
1853, was an annual appropriation of $200, made by the Maryland legislature, for each of ten pupils to be educated at the Pennsylvania Institute.
In 1853 a charter was obtained for the Maryland Institute for the Instruction of the Blind. Preliminary operations were immediately commenced, and by the beginning of 1854 a board of directors, consisting of pine members, was elected.
A property suitable to the wants of the young institution was purchased on West Saratoga street, Baltimore. Five hundred dollars was contributed by the State; the outlay for necessary improvements was provided by private contributions and subscriptions, and the State appropriation was enlarged so as to provide for 20 pupils instead of 10. The institute was started, and its first pupil received December 7, 1854. From that time it has steadily increased in importance, and new directors have been added till their number has increased to 18.
Up to July, 1860, the appropriation from the State, applicable to the ground and improvements, amounted to $31,000, and about $20,000 had been received from private subscriptions. As there were at least 40 blind children out of the 80 or 90 in the State who ought tu be provided for, and as the old building was unsuitable, efforts were made which resulted in the purchase of the present site at a cost of $6,493 75, subject to a ground rent of $300. The breaking out of the war suspended further operations.
In 1864 an appropriation of $10,000 was made by the city of Baltimore, and the board determined to proceed with the building, but on a more limited scale. In 1865, the State made a handsome appropriation of $50,000, and the board returned to its original plans. Since that time the work has steadily progressed, and on the 28th of April, 1868, the pupils were removed to the new building. This building is 140 feet long and 66 feet wide, with a back building 45 by 60 feet. It is built of rough hewn marble from Baltimore, and has been erected at a cost of $140,000. There has been expended besides about $5,000 for new furniture and gas fixtures, $6,765 90 for heating apparatus, and $2,708 69 for an adjoining lot, which the board deemed necessary, and were enabled to obtain through private liberality. The funds expended have been derived from different sources: Contributions from the State .
$111, 000 Contributions from the city.....
25,000 Private donations, legacies, and fairs
In 1865 the annual State appropriation was increased from $200 per pupil to $300, and since tbat there has been an average increase of 5 pupils per year. Several of these pupils are from the District of Columbia, Congress having made a similar appropriation for the education in this State of the blind children of the District.
The building of the institute can accommodate at present 75 pupils, and on the completion of the third story, will afford room for 25 more. Circulars have been issued in those southern States where provisions for the blind are inadequate, offering to receive non-resident blind children on the same terms as State pupils.
This institution, like all other institutes for the blind in the United States, is for the instruction of the blind, and not an asylum. The term fixed for the support and instruction of charity scholars is eight years.
During the year 1868 there have been 48 pupils, 5 of whom were from the District of Columbia. They have been instructed in the branches taught in public schools, including music, and, in addition, have received instruction in such useful mechanic arts as will enable them to support themselves. The broom shop has been temporarily closed since April, up to which time 175 dozen brooms had been made. The department of handicraft forms a very important branch of this institution, as the pupils who do not possess sufficient mental capacity to succeed in mental pursuits must depend upon their mechanical skill for their livelihood. The female pupils devote a portion of their time to knitting, sewing, and bead-work.
There is still a great want of text books, but owing to the variety of type used in this country, there can be hardly any large additions to the library till some uniform system is adopted. The Braillé system affords obvious advantages, and it is to be hoped that the attention given to this subject by our ablest educators may result in the establishment of a national printing establishment for the benefit of the blind. The year under review is long to be remembered as one of peculiar prosperity, but there is still room for progress. The institution has yet a small indebtedness to be provided for, and means are needed for the erection of work-shops, the increase of the library, . and the general extension of the facilities of the institution.
BALTIMORE CITY. Date of the report of the board of commissioners of public schools, January 1, 1870. The board was organized February 2, 1869.