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In the sixteenth annual report of the Hon. Abram B. Weaver, superintendent of public instruction, dated February 26, 1870, he gives a brief outline of the present system of public instruction, from which the following abstract is made:

The system of public instruction is conducted through the free common schools, numbering 11,750, of which 681 are graded or union schools. They are located in the several districts, and are open to all resident children, of school age, without any charge for tuition. They are supported partly from the revenues of the United States deposit fund, the common-school fund, and the free-school fund, annually apportioned to them, and partly by local taxation. They are under the direct management of elected trustees, who, besides attending to many minor affairs, employ and pay the teachers, and report in a prescribed form to the school commissioners. " It is the duty of the commissioners to examine persons proposing to teach, and to license such as are qualified; to visit and examine the schools; to advise trustees and teachers in matters of discipline and instruction; to use their influence generally to promote sound education, and to make to the superintendent of public instruction an annual report containing an abstract of the reports of trustees, with such other matter as may be required. To supply these schools with competent instructors, the State, besides supporting in part the teachers' classes in academies, provides for an apnual institute in each county, maintains six normal and training schools, and has authorized the establishment of three more. As auxiliary to all this, it has expended within the last twenty years about $1,000,000 to build up school district libraries, and continues to dispense annually $55,000 for their maintenance,

The general administration of the entire system, as well as the supervision of the teachers' institutes and normal schools, devolves upon the superintendent. The institutions patronized by the State for the instruction of deaf-mutes and of the blind are: also subject to his visitation; and the schools for the Indian children upon the several reservations are almost exclusively under his control. It is his duty to apportion the public funds, and to see that they are faithfully applied ; to prepare forms and regulations for returns and other business transactions; to give advice and direction to oflicers and other persons concerned in the operations of the department; to attend generally to the efficient execution of the system in all parts of the State, and to submit to the legislature an annual report showing the condition of the schools and institutions under his supervision, estimates and accounts of apportionments and expenditures of school moneys, with such suggestions as he shall deem expedient. To this system the State is devoted as a part of its civil polity. It requires the schools to be kept in operation for a prescribed period of time in each year. It provides a large portion of the means to pay the teachers, and the authority to collect the residue by tax. It provides for the condemnation of worthless school-houses, and for building suitable ones. It requires school officers to execute these purposes under penalty of fine, forfeiture of salary, and removal from office.


Number of school districts....

11,750 Number of children of school age, five to twenty-one, September 30, 1869.........

1,463, 299 Number enrolled in the public schools during the year...

998, 664 Number of teachers who taught twenty-eight weeks or more during the same period........

17, 140 Number of private schools..........

1,491 Number of pupils attending private schools..

125, 931 Percentage of children attending schools.....

76 Total receipts for school purposes.........

$11, 312, 325 36 Reported value of school-houses and sites.......

... $18,449, 048 00 The total payments do not differ much from the total receipts. More detailed statements appear in the following groups of statistics and in the tables.

THE SCHOOL SYSTEM OF NEW YORK. In 1853 a law was passed permitting school districts, either severally or jointly, to resolve themselves into union free-school districts, with boards of education having authority to grade and classify the several schools under their charge, to establish departments in which the usual academic studies may be pursued, and to exercise other powers over educational matters either not possessed or infrequently used by the trustees of common-school districts.

But the State does not monopolize the work of school instruction, nor attempt to exclude others from it. On the contrary, outside and independent of its own public system, it tolerates unincorporated private schools, and, up to the present time, has

chartered about 40 literary colleges and 420 academies. Twenty-two of the colleges, with some changes in names and plans, are still in operation. Of the academies, about 200 are conducted under their original charters; about 80 have been absorbed in the organization of union free schools, and the others are either dormant or dead. The last two classes of institutions named constitute collectively what there is of the University of the State of New York, and are subject to the visitation of the board of regents. They are required to report to that body, and observe other regulations conducive to the purposes for which they were established. To such of the academies as comply with this and other specified requirements, the sum of $61,000 is annually distributed by the regents, according to the number of scholars who sustain the prescribed examination, and the number of students in the teachers' classes. These colleges and academies are to some extent regulated, assisted, and used by the State; but they are private corporations, organized by the voluntary act of their proprietors, and operated on their account and at their pleasure. The State has no authority to fix the charges for tuition, nor even to keep them in existence.

The colleges are nominally, and the academies are in fact, under the supervision of the regents, whose duty it is to prescribe the course of study to be pursued in the latter, and to apportion to them the moneys above referred to, from the revenues of the literature fund, with such further sum as may be appropriated from the income of the United States deposit fund. Besides having the legal power to incorporate such institutions, and to grant diplomas and honorary degrees, they “are authorized and required by themselves or their committees to visit and inspect all the colleges and academies in this State, examine into the condition and system of education and discipline therein, and make an annual report of the same to the legislature.” They also have charge of the State library and State cabinet of natural history, and, jointly with the superintendent of public instruction, have control of the State Normal School at Albany.

The board of regents, who have supervision over the medical colleges and academies, practically can do nothing but visit and report. If the academies and colleges have not exhibited the vigor and thrift that characterize the common schools, it is because they have not had such ample resources and thorough administrative discipline as those schools; and the reason why they have not enjoyed those advantages is, that the State has never undertaken to provide free academic instruction.

The academic departments in the union schools are free only by voluntary local taxation. The statute expressly provides that the public funds, apportioned to such schools, shall be applied to the support of departments below the academic. Many of the academies have availed themselves of the privilege to become public schools; and all may, whenever the communities where they are located shall adopt them.

The State itself has but one system of education, which it maintains and enforces, and that is organically a unit. It is the system of publio instruction, embracing 11,750 schools, organized and supported upon one general plan.

The primary object of the State, in bestowing free education upon its citizens, is not to benefit individuals as such, but to qualify them properly for their relations and duties to each other as members of the same community.

In the matter of supervision of the schools, a school commissioner has charge of all the free schools in each assembly district, of which there are 113, with an annual salary of $800. In certain districts where the demands upon the commissioner are unusually great, boards of supervisors have discretionary power to increase salaries.

Speaking of these district commissioners, the superintendent says:

“Their supervision reaches to every village and hamlet of the State; and upon the intelligent as well as faithful discharge of their official duties devolves in an important measure the advancement and success of our free-school system. No part of the educational work is more important. It is indispensable to efficiency and success. It cannot, indeed, produce good schools without qualified teachers and adequate funds; and the converse of this is almost as uniformly true. It would be as reasonable to expect any other comprehensive enterprise to prosper without direct local oversight, as public instruction. What the schools need is not indifferent supervision, costing little or nothing, but honest and thorough supervision at fair compensation. Paying for such service, the State is entitled to receive it."

To secure greater promptness on the part of the district commissioners in making their annual abstracts of the reports of the school trustees, he recommends the passage of a law fixing the date upon which it will be obligatory upon them to make their reports to the superintendent; failure to cause absolute forfeiture of the salary for the current quarter, unless excused by the superintendent.

The schools of New York not having been rendered absolutely free to all the children in the Stato until 1867, the report, and the reports of the district commissioners appended, are of great interest, as showing the marked improvement that has come from rendering the scbools absolutely free. Upon this point the superintendent says that, “taking any former year as a standard, and considering the length of school terms and the number of scholars in attendance as material elements of comparison, the effort to extend to all the youth in the State the advantages of education during the year was more

than ordinarily successful. The public school system of this State is but an orderly plan of the people to educate themselves. For more than half a century they have been engaged in perfecting it, adopting every known improvement with little regard to expense. From a partial and bumble provision at the outset, they have built it up to the present comprehensive proportions, which embrace every locality and every class, and manage it with a liberality that offers to all a free and sufficient education. The strength of the system consists in the general conviction of its necessity, and in the unoffending fairness with which its advantages are dispensed. Nothing is taught by authority in the public schools except plain elementary facts and principles, which it is good for all to know, and which, if the State has any right to educate, may properly be inculcated."

The general school statistics of this State are as follows:

The number of school districts in tho State, as reported, was:
In 1868 ..........
In 1869

11,736 . 11,748

Increase .........


1869 ...........

The number of school-houses, and their classification according to the materials of which they are constructed, are as follows: Years. Log. Frame. Brick. Stone.

Total. 1868.


11, 674 ................. 151

1,140 518

11,703 Their number and classification, as reported for the years 1859 and 1869, are as follows: Years.

Log. Frame.


Total. 1859

9, 801

11,576 1869..

9,894 1, 140

11, 703 Increase ..

237 Decrease............... 130




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The sums spent in each year, since 1859, for school-houses, out-houses, sites, fences, furniture, and repairs, were as follows: Years.

Rural districts.

Total. 1860

$361, 321 80
$280, 968 83

$642, 290 63 1861...

427,786 17

228, 390 85

656, 177 02 1862...

389, 316 56

210, 852 44

600, 169 00 1863...

242, 547 53
186, 961 40

429, 508 93 1864...

370, 815 34

276, 485 89

647, 301 23 516, 902 04

282, 258 66

799, 160 70 485, 348 67 480, 875 92

970, 224 59 1,012, 482 87

700, 624 14

1,713, 107 01 1, 166, 076 28 1, 017, 988 67

2,184 064 95 1869..................

1, 401, 464 03
1,053, 988 98

2, 455, 453 01 Total............. $6, 379,061 29

$4,719,395 78 $11, 097, 457 07






The reported value of school-houses and sites was: In 1863..

$16, 459, 485 In 1869 ................ ............................................ 18, 449, 048

The average value of school-houses and sites is : In the cities.....

.... $29, 400 52 In the rural districts........

678 17 In the previous years the average value of school-houses and sites in the rural districts was as follows: in 1868, $604 98; in 1867, $593 92; in 1866, $433 02. These figures show that the average value of school-houses in the rural districts is nearly 57 per cent. greater than it was three years ago. This rapid increase in value proves that the people appreciate the importance of comfortable and commodious school-houses, and tbat, encouraged by a State system which promises stability, and which affords increased facilities each year for the acquirement of useful instruction, they are willing

to tax themselves largely to assist in carrying out the plan. The government of school districts is a pure democracy.

CHILDREN AND ATTENDANCE. The whole number of children between the ages of five and twenty-one years, as reported, wasYears.

Cities. Rural districts. Total.

...... 605,924 858,745 1,464,669 1869............

.................... 607,583 855,716 1,463,299


The average daily attendance in all the schools, excluding fractions, during the last three years, was as follows: Years.

Cities. Rural districts. Total. 1867

164,565 255,392 419,957 1868..............................

.... 166,645 279,223 445.868

178,607 289,814 468,421



The returns for 1867 represent the attendance during the last year of the existence of the rate-bill system. Since it was abolished, although the school terms have been consideraly lengthened, the attendance, both in the aggregate and upon the average, has largely increased. Notwithstanding the fact that the average length of school terms in the rural districts has advanced from thirty weeks and three days in 1867, to thirty-two weeks and four days in 1869, the average attendance for each day of the lengthened term is 48.464 greater than it was for the shorter one in the most prosperous year under the discarded rate-bill system.

The average length of terms in the cities was forty-two weeks and two days; for the whole State, thirty-five weeks and one day. The actual expense of maintaining the common schools during the year, was In the cities......

$5,080, 455 71 In the rural districts.........

....... 4, 806, 330 58

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The following table shows the entire amount expended during the year for the support of our public educational system, but not including the appropriations in aid of orphan asylums and other charitable institutions : For the wages of common school teachers.

... $6,092, 180 59 For district libraries.................................................

26, 897 85 For school apparatus................................................

201, 483 48 For colored schools....

64, 370 00 For buildings, sites, furniture, repairs, &c....

2, 455, 453 01 For other expenses incident to the support of common schools.

1,046, 034 84 State appropriation for support of academies..

45, 778 91 State appropriation for teachers' classes in academies..........

14,267 00 For teachers' institutes......

18, 703 86 For normal schools....

71,081 07 For Cornell University ........

18, 000 00 For Indian schools..

6, 834 44 For department of public instruction.

20, 828 64 For regents of the University.....

6, 899 91 For printing registers for school districts...

12, 700 00 For balance due for printing Code of Public Instruction..

5,775 75 Total

..$10, 107, 289 35


The whole number of teachers employed in tho common schools wasYears.

Malos. Females. .................................... .......... 5,918 21,865

............. 6,230 22,080


Total. 27,783 28,310


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