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this is doing our town good, and is appreciated-no other meetings are held on institute night.
Supt. J. M. Reed (Beaver Falls): Besides these regular meetings, I find it useful to have a meeting of teachers a few days before the term opens, to warm up for work. We then begin with more life and enthusiasm.
Supt. Rupert: I omitted to mention the library feature. We would not know how to get our literary work done but for our high school library of 2,200 volumes.
Supt. Mackey: We have 38 teachers, and meet regularly for one hour's session. Attendance is not required, but we have no trouble about that. Our work is similar to what has been described. After the
meeting we have another hour's work of a special class.
At this point adjourned to 8 p. m.
N the absence of the first gentleman on the programme, Supt. R. K. Buehrle read the following paper on
SOME NEEded legISLATION.
To expect that what shall be proposed in this paper will be unanimously adopted would be to attribute too great a share of wisdom to the proposer and to those who would adopt; and to decline to present what one thinks because forsooth it may not be approved, would be to misapprehend the function of this convention. It is right, however, that the legislation which shall be proposed shall be accompanied with reasons which render such legislation desirable or necessary, and if, in stating these reasons, institutions must be subject to criticism, it should be remembered that all progress, in institutions as well as elsewhere, is a result of discontent and dissatisfaction with what is.
The subject assigned to me implies inadequacy in the existing laws, which of course means that some educational work is imperfectly done because the legal machinery is defective. It is well, however, right here to be on one's guard lest that delinquency which is inherent in men be attributed to deficiency in law.
Compulsory Education.-Two successive legislatures have been wrestling with the question of compulsory education, but so far the results have not been very satisfactory. It is true, laws are now found on our statute books providing for the minimum time which each child of suitable age shall attend school in cities and towns, but comparatively nothing has as yet been done in this direction in rural districts, and even in cities no machinery is provided to secure the en
forcement of the laws, and an increase in the attendance at school. The reasons are not far to seek. As long as cities are unwilling to tax themselves to secure sufficient schools for the children entitled by law to common school privileges, they will make no efforts to bring more pupils to school. Moreover, the spirit of freedom is inimical to all compulsion, even though the object aimed at be commendable. But I have no doubt an important reason for the non-enforcement is found in the fact that the laws made are rather prohibitory of employment than obligatory of school. It is indeed unfortunate that education has been so largely identified with an acquaintance with schools and books which are by no means the exclusive educa tional means. There have been educated men who did not attend schools, and virtuous, useful and upright citizens who could not read. I am inclined to think that work, steady employment, is a blessing and not a curse; that it, too, is an educative means of no little power and importance, provided always that it be adapted in quality and in quantity to the growing child or youth. The very success of manual training and industrial schools is a proof of this, and a protest against the continuous pressure brought upon the nervous, to the uttter neglect of the muscular system.
But assuming as we well may that there are many children in the commonwealth whose scholastic and intellectual training is utterly neglected, who should unquestionably receive mental training, who are not in school, and whose parents or guardians for various unjustifiable reasons do not send them there, the first step toward legislation, if that is to be intelligent, is to ascertain how many such children are growing up in the state. To do this, a census of persons between 6 and 21 years of age should be taken once every three years in each school district, by the schools directors or controllers thereof and under the supervision and direction of the State Department of Public Instruction, which census should form a constituent portion of the annual report for that year, and its omission whether from neglect or otherwise should work forfeiture of state appropriation until complied with. Such a census should reveal not only who are not in school, but why they are not, and consequently whether the cause of absence can be removed, and what remedial measures must be employed. Until such facts as a properly taken census would reveal are known and considered, no just and efficient compulsory education act can be formulated or passed. Moreover, were such
census taken and the facts generally known, the public conscience would most likely be aroused to such an extent as to obviate the necessity of resorting to compulsion, for the results should be embodied in the minutes of each school district, as well as in the annual report; and few districts, in our state would look with indifference on a
large number of youths growing up without education.
District Libraries.-Pennsylvania is perhaps the only State in the Union in which the school authorities are by law prohibited from purchasing books for school libraries out of the funds of the district. This prohibition should be repealed, and it should be made the duty of the State Department to publish annually a list of books from which selections for such libraries may be made by the School Boards who desire to do so. Such lists should be accompanied with the names of the publishers and the prices, to prevent imposition and dishonesty.
The Increased State Appropriation. The increased State appropriation has in many cases not brought the results expected by the friends of education, and will not, unless made dependent on responsive action by the school boards. Probably the least objectionable method of bringing this about would be to limit the amount of State appropriation to each district to one-third of that raised by taxation in the respective districts. This would directly make for longer terms and better salaries-the two most important objects now to be accomplished.
School Architecture.-Both Dr. Wickersham and Dr. Higbee recommended to the legislature that a work on school architecture be prepared and published under the direction of the Department of Public Instruction for free distribution to the school boards of the State. The Legislature has not heeded this request, and is not likely to do anything in this line in the near future. There can scarcely be a doubt, however, that a law requiring the plan of every new schoolhouse to be submitted to the respective superintendents for approval before the contract is made, and providing that in case he does not approve, the reasons for such nonapproval be recorded on the minutes of the board whenever it determines to proceed with the erection, notwithstanding his nonapproval, would go far towards calling a superior class of school buildings into existence. Such a law would secure greater attention to details with which school boards are often not familiar. It would subject the plan to the intelligent and responsible criticism of an educational expert, who may fairly be supposed to be thoroughly acquainted with the wants to be met, and it would nevertheless allow the utmost freedom to the board, coupled with an extra degree of responsibility by requiring the reasons for the superintendent's non-approval to be entered on the minutes.
Teachers' Certificates.-As regards the certificating of teachers, the time has probably arrived when the whole subject should be entered upon de novo. The law should limit the time during which a teacher may teach, as the holder of a provisional certificate merely, to four years. At the expiration of this time the holder should have made the necessary progress in his literary qualifica
tions to entitle him to receive a professional certificate, or if he has not, such failure should be considered conclusive evidence of his unfitness to pursue the calling permanently with advantage to the educational interests involved.
A similar course should be pursued as regards the professional certificates. These are now limited as regards their validity without renewal, but only one renewal should be legal, after which the standard for the permanent certificate should be required, or no renewal; and this standard should be the same as that required to pass the junior examination at the state normal school. Indeed, all permanent certificates hereafter issued should be granted only after examination by the State Board of Examiners, and should be good in the normal school district where issued.
Such a law would elevate the literary standard all over the state; it would stimulate teachers to study, and afford superintendents the necessary support when they put forth efforts to raise the standard of scholastic attainment of those employed in the schools under their jurisdiction. The different certificates would gradually attain to something like a uniform standard all over the state, and teachers would not begin to die professionally as early as they now do. Moreover, as it is generally conceded that knowledge like matter attracts in proportion to quantity, great acquisitions made early in life would continue to stimulate to additional study later on.
It is now thirty-seven years since the Normal School Act was passed, and it is but reasonable to assume that educational affairsto-day differ sufficiently from what they were then, to demand changes in the law governing these semi-state institutions.
In the first place these schools should be subject to the official visitation and inspection of the county and city superintendents of their respective districts, and these officers should be required to make an annual report of such visitation to the Department of Public Instruction, including such suggestions as they deem proper and calculated to promote their efficiency. Surely the men under whose supervision the students of these institutions teach, and who must examine into and certify to their literary and professional qualifications, might justly be supposed to be competent to point out ways. and means of still further improving the in-struction and training there given.
Corresponding to this it should be made the duty of the principal to visit public schools in his district for at least two weeks. in each year, for the purpose of observation. and also to make a report thereof to the State Department.
Tuition should be made absolutely free, the State simply increasing the annual appropriation sufficiently for this purpose; and no pupil should be admitted under sixteen years of age, and no one who shall not sign
a written declaration that he or she intends to teach in the schools of the state. It would naturally follow that the preparatory departments should be abolished, and the schools be made so strictly professional that no one not preparing to teach could afford to attend them. The scientific aud classical courses should be abolished, and a special one year's course in professional or rather pedagogic work only should be established for the admission of college graduates desiring to prepare themselves for an educational careers.
This last change would render a far better return to the State than the establishment of chairs of pedagogy in the colleges and universities, while it would tend to elevate the normal schools by giving them students of liberal culture pursuing a strictly professional course. Moreover, these students would be placed in an atmosphere instinct with professional enthusiasm, and at an incomparable advantage as far as regards the apparatus for laboratory work.
City Training Schools.-But the normal schools, whose number has now reached the legal limit, cannot supply a sufficient number of trained teachers to take charge of the schools of the Commonwealth. In the Second district the class of 1893 numbered 82 and the number of teachers who ceased to teach in one of the three counties constituting the district (Lancaster) was 150, of whom 50 taught elsewhere and 100 ceased absolutely. Assuming the same conditions of things in the other two counties, the whole number who absolutely left the profession last year was 234, as over against 82 who graduated. Moreover this is the oldest and probably, on the whole, the most flourishing institution of its kind in the State, and these counties contain a very conservative population, whose teachers are therefore likely to remain longer in the work than those of other parts of the state. We do therefore not err when we assert that were the thirteen normal schools filled to their utmost capacity, they could not supply a sufficient number of trained teachers.
Several cities having realized this, have sought to supply the want by establishing training schools of their own--notably Pittsburg, Reading and Harrisburg-while others have established normal classes, often under the care of and instructed by the superintendent; and the State Department has so far recognized this as to require the number of such students to be reported every month. County superintendents also have established summer normal schools to such an extent as to provoke sufficient opposition to bring about the passage of a law prohibiting them from doing such work.
In view of these facts, the time has surely come when legislative encouragement and State aid should be given to cities which desire to establish training schools. Cities containing a population of 30,000 might at least be granted an extra appropriation of
$1000 on condition that they establish a training school for teachers, while cities of 60,000 might receive $2000, and so on for those of larger population. The course of study and training, indeed the whole establishment, might be subject to the approval of the State Department as now provided in the normal school act, and a form of certificate granted by the State Department to those who have completed the course and can produce proper evidence of competency to teach and govern a school. This would be simple justice to the cities, which now pay more toward the State appropriation than they receive, and for whose supervision the State pays nothing, while it pays the whole cost in the rural districts.
But the most important of all is the fact that a city school system affords the best possible field for the establishment of a training school. Here are found the best teachers, whose work can be made a practical object lesson of the most impressive kind, and whose schools can be made schools of observation. The successive grades would offer work in gradation far beyond what is possible in the best so-called model schools, and the fact that the person in training has passed through these successive grades as a pupil would give her an excellent insight into and an acquaintance with the work to be performed, the difficulties to be met and overcome, as well as the means at her command.
The discussion was continued by Supt. H. S. WERTZ, of Blair county, who read the following paper, having special reference to legislation designed to correct the
UNEQUAL DISTRIBUTION OF STATE AID.
My remarks will be based on a subject which is not merely of local interest, but of general concern to the State. We believe that our view of the subject under discussion, if considered by fair and unprejudiced minds, will meet with general approval. We applaud, and with just cause, our free school system. Not only Pennsylvania, but the nation, admires the liberality of the State for its munificent gift of five and a half million dollars for the support of our schools, a gift which we scarcely hoped as many years ago as our appropriation now numbers millions.
But is this gift measuring up to our expectations in the general advancement of education? Our answer must be, emphatically, No. Not because the appropriation is inadequate to raise our schools to the standard of excellence we should expect, but because of its inequitable distribution. It is bostowed upon some districts with a lavish hand, while in the more needy districts its allotment is stinted and inadequate. The wealthy and more populous districts of the State have been enabled by State aid to lengthen school terms, advance teachers' salaries and increase all the facilities for the progress of the schools, without increasing,
in some instances decreasing, the rate of taxation, which we should rejoice to see were it not done to the detriment of the poorer districts.
The condition of our schools is very much like that of our country at the present time. Our storehouses are ready to burst because of their fullness. And while the wealthy and more fortunate have plenty and to spare, the poor are suffering for the necessaries of life, because somebody has blundered. So many of our school districts are favored with all the advantages of well-regulated schools, afforded not only by their pampered condition but by an undue apportionment of the State funds.
To substantiate our statement, we shall offer statistics gleaned from the late report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction. Beginning with the counties alphabetically, we first notice a few of the districts in Allegheny, the wealthiest and most populous county in the State, Philadelphia alone excepted.
In Allegheny City the State appropriation per school (school meaning per teacher) for the year ending June, 1893, was $284.53; The school term was 10 months; number of mills levied for school purposes, 2; average salary of males per month $143.50, and of females $56.71. The appropriation received by Pittsburg per school was $280.07. The school term was 10 months; tax rate not given; total amount of tax levied $586,043.21; total appropriation received $192, 968.66. The average salary of males was $150, and of females $55. The appropriation received by Wilmerding, in the same county was $63.60 per school; school term, 91⁄2 months; tax levied for school purposes, 5 mills; average salary of males per month $90; and of females $44.
The appropriation per school for Summit Hill, Carbon county war $238; school term 9 months; mills levied for school purposes, 13; average salary of males $65, and of females $40. In Lower Towamensing, Carbon county, appropriation per school was $143.38; school term 6 months; mills levied for school purposes, 13; average salary for males and females was $33.33
The appropriation received by Cambridge boro, Crawford county, per school was $168.72; school term 8 months; tax levied for school purposes 6 mills; average salary males $100, females $35. Beaver district in same county received $91.96 per school from the State; school term 6 months; tax levied for school purposes 221⁄2 mills; average salary of males $17, and of females $20.39. In Highland, Elk county, the appropriation per school was $65.37; school term 74 months; tax levied for school purposes 71⁄2 mills; average salary paid, $33.40. The appropriation received by Lathrop district, Susquehanna county, was $71.18 per school; school term 8 months, and 8 mills were levied for school purposes; average salary $13.66.
Have we not cause to blush when it is known that there are districts in our State in which the salaries paid teachers are but $13 and $17? Would it not be wisdom to ask for legislation authorizing the Superintendent of Public Instruction to withhold the State aid from districts receiving $70 or more per school, where the average salary per month for the minimum school term is less than $25? Until some measure is passed to inc ease the efficiency of the public schools in such districts, they will be more likely to remain a reproach to our school system than a credit.
The appropriation received by Altoona per school was $204.40. The average salary of males was $75.44 and of females $38.77. The largest appropriation paid to any one school in Blair county was $362.78; tax levied for school purposes 11⁄2 mills; school term 8 months, and teacher's salary $40 per month. The appropriation received by Juniata township, Blair county, was $60.33 per school; length of school term, 6 months; tax levied for school purposes, 7 mills; average salary, $28 per month. In the last two districts referred to, the former has one school numbering 55 pupils, and receives more appropriation than the latter having six schools in which there are 157 pupils. It is true these 157 pupils might be placed in three schools were it not for the sparseness of the population, which necessitates six schools to make them accessible for the pupils and to meet the requirements of the law.
Do these comparisons indicate justice and equity in the distribution of the school funds of the State? Reason and conscience say No! These children and school patrons who are deprived of their just portion of this aid, which would afford them better schools, say No! The paternal design of the State to help the poorer districts says No! Shall we, as honorable citizens of this great Commonwealth, cognizant of this injustice, seal our mouths and lock the secret of this wrong within our breasts, rather than disclose it and appeal to the next Legislature for such distribution of this appropriation as shall accord with the purpose of the State to bestow it equally upon the rich and the poor? If any difference be made, it should rather be in favor of the poorer districts, because the wealthier and more populous districts have ample means for the support of good schools, without resorting to burdensome taxation. Again, there is no necessity for small schools in such districts-every school may have its complement of pupils without requiring them to go an unreasonable distance, which is not true of the sparselypeopled districts. No one will deny that the education of the children in outlying districts is just as important as the education of those more favorably located for educational advantages. These children have not only brawn and good morals, but brain power as well, which, if properly developed, will make of them a class of men and women
upon whom the State can depend for patriotic support.
But how shall the State appropriation be apportioned to make its distribution equitable? We believe a method of apportionment similar to the one now in use in New York State would prove more satisfactory than our present plan. If an allotment of $100 were made to each public school in the State, and the remainder, which would approximate two million dollars, apportioned according to the present plan, it would afford a fair distribution of the school funds and raise our schools to a standard of greater excellence than probably any other enactment within the province of our Legislature. A general advance of teachers' salaries could then be made in rural districts without burdensome taxation, which would insure better teaching talent and consequently better results in school work. We may not have suggested the best plan for the distribution of the appropriation, but we believe it better than that now in force. It behooves us as friends of popular education to ask for prompt and intelligent legislation on this subject, and thereby insure an equitable distribution of the funds appropriated for school purposes.
Supt. Buehrle: In reference to the paper just read, it is well to remember that in comparisons involving the tax levy it is not safe to rely upon the number of mills alone. One system of valuation may make the tax heavier at six mills than another at twelve. The average attendance and the aggregate of money raised, is a better basis. Comparison of wages should also take into account that where salaries are high living is proportionately high, and the State cannot equalize the conditions. In some places the schools are very small, more buildings have been erected than are needed, perhaps that particular directors may have a school conveniently near home; this matter could be remedied in the districts themselves.
Supt. Keith: I may instance the two cities of Lancaster and Altoona. As things now are, it requires a higher rate to raise the same amount of money in Altoona than in Lancaster. If property were correctly valued, Lancaster would be far above Altoona. There is no standard of valuation.
Supt. Coughlin: Perhaps where these minimum salaries are reported the teachers "board round," and that is not counted in. [Laughter.]
Supt. S. A. Baer (Reading): I wish to call the attention of the body to the legal situation in cities of the third class.
The Act of '89, which repealed that of '74, was declared unconstitutional as relates to these cities, which are now left with no code at all. We should include in our resolutions some reference to this matter, and also to the unnecessarily large number of directors in some cities. We have 60, with prospect of increase; Lancaster has 36; Williamsport has 40;-there is room here for reform. In these large boards there is more log-rolling than in the city councils. The more we can take school affairs out of politics the better. I am in favor of training schools, libraries, census, and the other matters suggested, and hope to add this subject, which is very important to cities of the third class.
Supt. Buehrle: Some of our cities (among them Allentown and Lancaster) had not accepted the legislation of '74, but used the privilege given in the new Constitution, of retaining their older special law. These are not in the unpleasant predicament described by the superintendent of Reading. We do not all have politics in our boards to the same extent; our Lancaster law equalizes the party strength, and vacancies are filled by the proper party, so we escape that kind of log-rolling at least. We shall not get rid of all of it this side of heaven.
Supt. Coughlin: We fell back upon the general act of '54, and now have six directors, elected on a general ticket. This meets our wants, and we hope nothing will be done to disturb us.
Supt. Baer: Nobody ought to object to that. We are operating under a charter granted in '64. We have four controllers from each ward, two from each party, and vacancies are filled by the party affected; nevertheless we have politics in school affairs, and we hear of some even in Lancaster. We want to improve in the direction of smaller numbers, and I believe our directors at the last meeting would have accepted such a law, if they had known what to accept. I understand Altoona, like Wilkesbarre, is working under the act of '54. Can those superintendents tell us how we could get there?
Supt. Coughlin: I do not know how to answer the question; but whatever is done, I hope we will not get where you are, with such large numbers. We are all right now, and want to stay so.
Supt. Keith: I remember the discussion at the Harrisburg convention before the law of '89 was passed. Newcastle wanted a ward system, and could not get