Page images
PDF
EPUB

nate information, to hold teachers' institutes in each county, and to report annually to the legislature.

The support of the common schools is derived from the following sources: 1. The annual income of the school fund. This amounted in 1848 to one dollar and forty cents to each person in the state over four and under sixteen years of age. 2. One half the income of the town deposite fund. The sum deposited with the different towns was $764,670 61. The avails appropriated to the support of schools from this source estimated at $33,000. 3. The avails of local school funds. 4. The avails of school society tax. This source has been abandoned in nearly every society. 5. The avails of the district tar. Except in a few city districts, this tax is not laid except to build and repair school. houses, and little or no help is derived for the annual expense of the schools from this source. 6. Avails of a tax or rate bill on the parents and guardians of the children who attend school. Most of the districts realized something from this source. It is not levied till the close of the winter or summer school, and the amount corresponds to the excess of the expenses of the school, over the avails of the several school funds.

Teachers must by law be examined and receive a certificate of qualification. Some facilities for their improvement are now afforded in the teacher's institutes, which are held in each county, and continue in session for one week.

TABLĖ exhibiting the condition of the common schools in 1848. Population of the State in 1840,

309,978 Number of children between the ages of 4 and 16, in August, 1847, 87,512 Number of towns,

145 School societies,

215 School districts,

1,655 Capital of the state school Fund in September, 1847,

$2,077,641 19 Amount of dividends to the school societies, in 1847–8,

$126, 126 80 Rate for each child between 4 and 16 years of age, in 1848.

$1 45 Amount of town deposit fund, derived from U.S. surplus revenue fund,

$763,661 83 Amount of annual income of this fund, appropriated to common schools,

$33,441 60 Annual income from local school funds,

$8,289 57 Amount raised by quarterly bills on parents,

$16,000 00 Number of scholars of all ages in the district schools, in the winter of 1846–47,

72,500

summer of 1847, 57,620 Number of private schools in summer,

210 scholars in ditto,

4,300 Number of private schools in winter

179 scholars in ditto, Length of school term in weeks—summer,

18 winter,

17 Average length of schools in months for the year,

8 Teachers employed in summer-males,

250 females,

1,490 winter-males,

1,320 females,

420 Monthly wages paid to teachers-males

$16 50 females,

$7 00 Number of teachers who " board round,—in summer,

1,200 winter,

1,090 Number of school-houses in the state,

1,620

4,120

THE COMMON SCHOOLS OF PENNSYLVANIA.

(CONTRIBUTED BY PROFESSOR VOGDES.) The constitution of Pennsylvania makes it the duty of the legislature to provide, by law, for the establishment of schools throughout the state in such manner that the poor may be taught gratis." Many difficulties arose to prevent the adoption of such a system of schools throughout the commonwealth for many years. The Friends, in the eastern counties, had already established society schools under their own rules, and they neither wished to give them up, nor to support others; the Germans, in the interior, did not wish to give their support to any untried scheme, especially one which they thought was intended to teach the English language only, to the neglect of that which they were in the habit of speaking. The conflicting interests of the representatives of the different ranges of the state, thus long prevented the adoption of such a general system as was intended by the framers of the constitution. Nevertheless, attempts were often made to frame laws for certain districts, which were necessarily partial and temporary in their operation. Prior to 1834, the common schools, under these laws, were few, and badly managed. The laws passed for their organization into a system, and their government, were found to be so defective that they were completely changed at almost every session of the legislature. As soon as one law was published and understood, it was superseded by another so different that much of the labour bestowed apon the different provisions and; exertions made under the first were found to be useless. These continual changes disheartened many of the warmest friends of the common school system, and created a strong prejudice against it in the minds of many others.

As early as 1818, the city and county of Philadelphia were created into a separate district for common school purposes, and the success which there attended the efforts of public education, finally led to the passage of a consolidated law in 1834, for the establishment of a general system of education by common schools through out the state. By that act it was made the duty of the Secretary of the Commonwealth, who was constituted superintendent of common schools, to make an annual report to the legislature of the condition of the schools, stating also the estimates and accounts of expenditures of the money appropriated for school purposes. He was also directed to submit to the legislature such plans for the improvement of the system as he should deem expedient. These reports, making known to the teachers and directors of the schools in every part of the state the plans for the improvement of the schools under their charge, the operation of those improvements in the schools in which they had been tried, the

progress of the system elsewhere, and their position in comparison to all others, added to the fact that the schools under their charge were no longer to be pauper, but common schools, had a material effect in giving form and stability to a system which has since become of vast importance to the state, of which it is one of the proudest ornaments.

The act of 1834, though incomparably superior to those which had preceded it, was not yet perfected. In the course of two years, various defects were found in it, and plans for its modification were submitted to the consideration of the legislature. Accordingly, in June, 1836, a law was passed “lo consolidale and amend the several acts relative to a general system of education by common schools.". This law is still in operation, having undergone but very slight modifications since its adoption. It was designed for the whole commonwealth, with the exception of the city and county of Philadelphia, which were still to constitute one district, and be governed as before provided.

By the law of 1836, every township, ward, or borough, in the commonwealth, not within the city and incorporated districts of the county of Philadelphia, forms a separate school district. Each district has a board of school directors, consisting of six members, two of whom are chosen every year. The directors are au

thorized, if they deem it expedient, to divide the district into sub-districts, with power to elect a primary committee of three in each, who act as a committee of ihe board to attend to the local affairs of their respective sub-districts, subject to the orders of the board. In wards and boroughs, the directors have power to appoint an inspector, for the purpose of visiting, inspecting, and superintending the schools. In all other cases, each board of directors is required, by one or more of their number, to visit every school within their district, at least once in every month, and to cause the result of such visits to be entered on the minutes of the board. Neither the directors, their treasurer, nor the primary committees, receive any compensation for their services as such. The directors have also the power to examine and appoint teachers. . Each district thus constitutes a distinct and independent organization, represented by the board of directors, and having no connexion with the township or county officers; the only other officer being the secretary of the commonwealth, who is ex-officío superintendent of common schools, and to whom the directors are required to make a report on the first Monday of June in every year, setting forth the progress and condition of the schools, the expenses incurred in maintaining them, and communicating such other information as might be of use in forming a just estimate of the value of common schools. The whole number of districts during the school year 1847, was one thousand two hundred and fortynine, of which number one thousand one hundred and five, had accepted, and one hundred and forty-four had not accepted, the provisions of the law. An act, however, was passed on the 11th of April, 1848, making it obligatory upon all the districts in the commonwealth to accept the provisions of the act of 1834, and by which the common school system was established throughout the whole state.

A fund for the support of common schools was first established in Pennsylvania in 1831. By an act of the 2d of April of that year, oertain moneys arising from the sale of lands, and other sources, were set apart for a common school fund, to be held by the commonwealth, for the use of said fund, at an interest of five per cent. The interest was directed to be added to the principal, until the proceeds thereof should amount to one hundred thousand dollars annually, when the whole was to be applied to the support of the common schools.

By the act of April 1st, 1834, seventy-five thousand dollars were ordered to be paid out of the school fund, for the year 1835, and annually thereafter, to be distributed among the several counties that should entitle themselves to it under the provisions of that act. The portion due each county was deposited in the respective county treasuries, to be paid out to the accepting districts in each county: The appropriation of 1835 was paid to whatever districts in the county adopted the system; those that refused to adopt thereby forfeiting their share. But under the act of 13th June, 1836, the appropriation for that year due to the non-accepting districts, was to be retained in the county treasury for their use, for any term not exceeding one year, from the first of November, 1837.

By the act of 13th of June, 1836, one hundred thousand dollars, in addition to another one hundred thousand dollars, payable by the United States Bank, were appropriated to common schools, for the school year 1837, which was made to commence on the first Monday of June following. These two hundred thousand dollars, instead of being deposited in the county treasuries, like the appropriations of the two preceding years, were to remain in the state treasury, subject to the drafts of the superintendent; and warrants for the payment thereof were to be issued by him in favour of such districts as should' entitle themselves to the same, by adopting the system, and levying a school tax not less than equal to, nor more than treble, their portion of the appropriation under this act.

By resolution of 3d of April, 1837, the sum of five hundred thousand dollars was appropriated to common schools for the year 1838, to be expended either in building or in defraying the expenses of tuition.

On the 12th of April, 1838, ihe school appropriation was increased to a som

equal to one dollar on every taxable inhabitant in the commonwealth, and was to increase triennially with the increase of inhabitants, so as always to equal one dollar per taxable, but without any increase of taxation above that mentioned in the act of 1836.

The appropriation for 1844, was two hundred and fifty thousand dollars; and since that time two hundred thousand dollars have been annually appropriated for the use of common schools. These several sums were divided among the districts, including the city and county of Philadelphia.

The undrawn balance of the appropriations made under the act of 1834, and all subsequent acts, had been allowed to remain and accumulate for the use of such districts as should entitle themselves to the same. By the act of the 8th of April, 1843, these and all subsequent balances were to remain in the treasury and accumulate for the benefit of the district entitled thereto, " for any time not exceeding two years from the first of November, 1844.” But by the act of the 31st of May, 1844, all these balances, including the indrawn balance of the appropriation for the school year 1844, were repealed, and the state treasurer was prohibited from paying out any money not appropriated in that act.

It will appear, from an inspection of the annexed table, that the schools of Pennsylvania are rapidly improving. The number of schools and scholars is gradually increasing—the interest felt by the people in the cause of general education is becoming greater-customs and prejudices that have existed for years, and furnished the greatest obstacles to the progress of the school system, are fast yielding to its influence, and districts, before hostile, are year after year becoming reconciled, and voluntarily adopting its provisions. A knowledge of the beneficial influence of these schools, and their happy conformity to the character of our citizens, and the principles of our government secure for them the favour and support of the people.

A Tabular view of the progress of the present common school system of Pennsylva

nia, since its establishment in 1835, exclusive of the city and county of Philadelphia.

[blocks in formation]

1835 762 524 284 808 16,734 15,810 32,544 $41,635 50
1836 3,3842,428 9663,394 74,253 65,351 139,604 305,775 91
1837 4,089 3,351 1,490 4,841 98,763 83,592 182,355 695,301 91
1838 3,939|3,546 1,488 5,034 127,677 106,042 233,719 709,582 92
1839 5,488|3,363 1,669 5,032 141,063 113,845 254,908 740,548 84
1840 5,619||4,488 2,050 6,538 141,124 113,784 254,908 711,616 69
1841 0,4705,234 2,368 7,602156,225 128, 244 284,469 647,352 85
1842 6,116 5,176 2,318 7,494 154,454 126,631 281,085 608,879 32
1843 6,156|5,264 2,330 7,594161,164 127,598 288,762 577,203 13
1844 5,993|15,175 2,4107,585 158,787 129,615 288,402 546,147 30
1845 6,690||5,551 2,480 8,031 180,328 147,090 327,418 453,155 50
1846 7,0965,775 2,693 8,468|188,138 150,667 338,805 547,436 41
1847| 7,320|5,9071 2,767|8,674||183,844.148,123/331,967) 547,612 39

.

NEW YORK COMMON SCHOOLS. The last annual report of Hon. Christopher Morgan, Secretary of state, and ex-officio superintendent of common schools in New York, is a long and able document, filling nine columns of the Albany Evening Journal. We regret that we have not space to give it entire, and content ourselves with an abstract, for which we are mainly indebted to the New York Tribune.

From an abstract of the reports of the town superintendents and commis. sioners, it appears, that on the 31st day of December last, there were in the state, 10,621 school districts, the school-houses of which were situated in the town or ward; 8,070 whole districts; and 5,462 parts of joint districts. The following is a comparative statement for the last four years:

1847. 1846. 1845. 1844. Whole number of districts,

10,621 11,052 11,008 11,018 Number of whole districts,

8,070 8,241 8,327 8,419 Parts of joint districts,

5,462 5,565 5,348 5,311 The number reported the past year less than the previous year is, whole number of districts, 431; whole districts, 171; parts of joint districts, 103. The variation from year to year shows either remarkable inaccuracy in the reports, or numerous alterations and divisions of districts.

Returns were received from 8,006 whole districts, and 5,315 parts of districts, showing 54 whole districts, and 147 parts of districts, from which no reports were received.

The following is a comparative statement of the number of districts and parts of districts froni which reports have been received for the last four years:

1847. 1846. 1845. 1844. Whole districts, •

8,006 8,013 8,193 8,291 Parts of districts,

5,315 5,400 5,207

5,042 The number of non-reporting districts and parts of districts for each of said years, is as follows:

1847. 1846. 1845. 1844. Whole districts,

54 139 134 124 Parts of districts,

147

165 120 269 The deficiencies for the past year are so few in comparison to the whole number reported, that it may justly be assumed that most of them have occurred through accident or justifiable causes.

The number of incorporated and private schools reported, is 1,785; in 1848, 1,704; in 1846, 1,730; and in 1845, 1,981; exhibiting an increase of eightyone during the past year, but a decrease of ninety-six since 1845.

The reports of the number of scholars attending private schools are very unsatisfactory, but it is estimated that about 75,000 children are annually taught in them. It is suggested that such schools ought not to receive any assistance from the state, but that our district schools may be so elevated, that those who seek superior advantages for their children, can find them only in the common schools.

The whole number of children between the ages of five and sixteen, reported on the 31st day of December, 1845, exclusive of the city of New York, was 625.399

The whole number reported on the 31st day of December, 1846, exclusive of New York, was 624,848.

The whole number reported on the 31st day of December, 1847, exclusive of New York, was 718,123.

« ՆախորդըՇարունակել »