« PreviousContinue »
Another light in which this coincidence between the existence of high attendance ratios and compulsory laws may be viewed, even when admittedly ineflicient, is that each is but an index to the favorable public sentiment toward education existing in those States; and that since both spring from the same cause, neither is due to the other.
The former explanation will be acceptable to the promoters of compulsion in education, while the latter will meet the approval of the opposing party. There is truth in both.
In the enrollment in public schools alone the States hold practically the same rank as before, the Southern States falling far in the rear, and the highest averages being produced in Colorado and Maine.
RATIO OF AGGZEGATE ATTENDANCE TO POPULATION 6-14.
Column 8, however, is the best criterion presented, for it shows the relation between the aggregate attendance and the population. In this, Massachusetts leads.
The instruction given in the cities of that State was sufficient to give to each child of elementary school age 174.3 days. Maine, California, Connecticut, Nevada, Colorado, and West Virginia follow in the order named, and Florida, Mississippi, and Texas are last in the list. It will be remembered that this proportion is affected by the length of the school term, a matter in the control of the cities themselves; by the number of children brought into school, which varies with the activity of the teachers and school officers; and by the rogularity of attendance, which is largely dependent upon the children and their parents. Massachusetts leads in the relative amount of school work done, because the school term is invariably long; nearly all children that could be expected to be in school are not only there, but are closely and carefully held to their work, as the bigh per cent of attendance in column 6 proves. The relative amount paid to supervising officers and teachers in Massachusetts is larger than in any other Eastern State, and this undoubtedly is a very important factor in accomplishing the result mentioned, for it is natural that more intelligent teachers would be attracted by the larger pay offered; the eifect is seen in the record of the pupils' attendance. other fact shown by the statistics that may be adduced as having a direct bearing upon the amount of instruction given is, that in Massachusetts the accommodations more nearly meet the requirements of the school population than in any other State, excepting Maine.
PRIVATE AND PAROCHIAL SCHOOLS.
In the matter of attendance in private and parochial schools in cities, New Hampshire and Vermont are entitled to precedence, for in the cities of each of these States over a third of the children in school are in institutions of that class.
The States showing the next largest proportion of private school enrollment in cities are Utah, Illinois, South Carolina, Maryland, Missouri, Mississippi, and Indiana, in all of which the percentage is over 25; and Kentucky, Michigan, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Texas, Virginia, and Wisconsin, in which between 20 and 25 per cent, of the enrollment is in schools not under public control.
To assign as a general reason for a large private school enrollment their superiority to the public schools would be fallacious, because in many of the States included in the above category the city schools are of undoubted excellence. It would be equally unreasonable to ascribe, as has frequently been done, such a condition of things to overorganization and too much centralization in the public schools, for if this were true, Connecticut and Massachusetts, the two most thoroughly organized States in the Union, would not show such a small proportion in private schools.
The truth is that no one cause is operative in all States, and the same effect is produced by different circumstances in different localities. In New Hampshire, Vermont, and in other States the cause doubtless lies largely in the general withdrawal of Catholic children from the public schools; in many of the States of the South the public school idea has not yet attained its full measure of popularity, and in many places the population increases more rapidly than the public school facilities, and private schools reap the benefit. Iosufficiency as an aid to private schools is far more potent than inefficiency, for a well-taught and conspicuously successful public school arouses a general interest in education which manifests itself first by filling the public school to its capacity and then in the increased prosperity of neighboring private educational establishments if the public school accommodations are not sufficient. On the contrary, if the instruction in the public school is indifferent-neither good nor bad, but not of the kind to arouse the enthusiasm of the pupils and maintain the interest of their parentsthe private schools must rely principally for their patronage upon the more limited class
1 See column 7, Table 13. ED 83_-49
of people in easy financial circumstances who may be expected to patronize select schools under any ordinary conditions. Others, knowing public schools to be available without direct cost, would hesitate or refuse to incur needless extra expense, and should their interest wane on account of the failare of the public school to meet their anticipations, the result is a loss to the public school, from which the private school will derive no advantage.
PROPORTION OF PUPILS IN CITY HIGH SCHOOLS. 1
In the proportion of pupils in city high schools, Vermont, with 9.9 per cent., leads the list, and Nevada, New Hampshire, West Virginia, Wyoming, and Maine follow. The tendency of pupils to stop before completing the course is very much less pronounced in small than in large cities, and it will be noticed that all the cities of the States just named are only of moderate size at most. This accounts in part for the superiority of the percentages shown by these States, but full credit is nevertheless due them, for in cities of the lowest class in 1887-88 the percentage of high-school pupils was 7.3, or less than that in any State mentioned except Maine.
WHAT PROPORTION OF THE PUPILS RECEIVE HIGII-SCHOOL INSTRUCTION ?
No item of school statistics is misunderstood oftener than that referred to in the foregoing paragraph. Even the friends of public high schools sometimes fall into the error of considering that the percentage of pupils in the high schools at any one time represents the proportion of the children who receive high-school instruction; their opponents, similarly erring, make free use of this alleged insignificant proportion and reference to it may be found in every paper whose object is to belittle the work of public high schools.
A conspicuous use of this wholly erroneous use of statistics may be found in an entertaining little book on “Our Common School System,” which emanated from the pen of a well-known lady writer a few years ago. This author presents many of the old arguments against public high schools, clothed, however, in new and attractive dress, and among them places this:
“It is true that the high school is, in theory, open to all, but actually it is only the very few who can and do take advantage of it. Of every hundred pupils who attend the lower schools, statistics show that not more than five, in many places not more than three, attend the high school. The majority get no benefit from the high schools, other than that indirect benefit which they get equally from private academies and colleges. They yet reap, indeed, disadvantage; for too often the instruction in the lower schools is shaped, not to the greatest good of the great number who are to find their only schooling in these schools, but to the demands of those who are to go into the high school, The grammar school aims to fit pupils for the high school. It shapes its course of study for the five pupils who will graduate at the high school. It ought to fit pupils for entering active life intelligent. It ought to shape its course of instruction for the ninetyfive or ninety-seven who will have no course of instruction except that which the grammar schools furnish."
The same erroneous assertion is made in the same chapter to prove that we do not get the masses into the high schools after we establish them, for “the high school plucks only from 3 to 5 per cent. out of the masses to guide their studies, while the remaining ninety-five are left to regulate their own reading just as if there were no high schools at all;" and again in bewailing the “evil * * * that the best teachers, the most highly educated and most highly paid, are not put into the primary schools, where all the children have the benefit of their culture, but into the high schools, where only 3 or 5 per cent. of the children come in contact with them.”
These extracts are not introduced here in order that the arguments they contain might be refuted, but merely to show an instance of the glaring misuse of statistics, the fallacy of which almost invariably escapes notice.
The ratio represented in the table shows the relative popularity of the high schools sufficiently for comparison between cities, etc.; nothing more.
If it is desired to know what per cent. of all the children enrolled receive the benefits of instruction in the high schools, it is necessary not only that those now in that department be considered, but all those yet in the elementary grades who eventually reach the high school must also be taken into the calculation.
A concrete example will make this plain. Suppose that every child in the United States were in school in that grade which corresponds to his age according to the usual classification, and that every child were annually promoted to the next higher class un
1 See also page 774.
til he completes the course, or until his death, if that should occur prior to his graduation. In such a case, taking the census of 1880 as a basis, the number in the eight. elementary grades would be 9,766,696, i. l., the total population between 6 and 14 years of age. At the same time there would be 3,941, 365 pupils in the four high-school grades, whose ages would be from 14 to 18 years. Only 23.7 per cent. of the whole number would be in the high schools at any one time. But, according to the hypothesis, all who live long enough graduate, and "the proportion who reach the high schools" would therefore be 100 per cent. Now if 28.7 per cent, represents the high-school enrollment when all reach that school, 4.5, which is now the actual proportion for the United States, indicates that 27, or 15.7 per cent. of all the pupils enrolled do actually reach the high schools.
This proportion can not be far from the correct one.
COMPARISON OF RATIOS FOR THE LAST THREE YEARS.
The statistics of cities have been presented in a form similar to that of Tables 12 and 13, in two Annual Reports prior to the one of which this is a part.
In order that the idea of comparison may be further carrieri out, the principal ratios developed in the cities reporting in those years are reproduced below in connection with the corresponding percentages for 1888-89.
TABLE 2.--Comparative statistics for three years of all cities from which information has been
Ratio of av-
ture for salschool prop
aries of su
pervising erty per
officers and capita of
teachers per capita of
Prct. Prct. Prct. Prct. Prct. Days.
Prct. 1886–87.. 120.4 92.9
66.6 70.1 140,5, 127.4 37.4 124,1 337.5 4.5 $57.23 $85.00 $10.77 $15.96 1887-88.. 117,2 92.5 21.0 65.8 70.1; 133, 7' 123.3 37.0 128.6 3:4.2 4.5 52. 64 80.54; 10.85 16.29 1888-89.. 109.7 87.2 20.6
71.4 136.9. 119,3 38.1) 127.2 328.5 4.5 53.59 86.10 9.99 16.05
It appears, therefore, that during the period included the school population has increased more rapidly than the schools. From one-fifth greater than the population six to fourteen in 1886–87 the whole enrollment in all schools has fallen to one-tenth greater in 1888–89. In the public schools there is a smaller proportion of the population, but a slightly larger proportion of the whole enrollment, showing a gain of 1.8 per cent. upon the private institutions. In regularity of attendance there has been a gain of 1.3 per cent., and in the length of time each enrolled pupil remained in school there was an increase over last year, though the standard of 1830-87 was not reached. In the aggregate amount of instruction as compared with population six to fourteen there has been a decrease of 4 days from last year and 6.1 days from 1986–87. The proportion of eurollment in high schools is the same as the two previous years, and though the other items show slight changes they are not indicative of a general tendency either for the better or for the
C.-REMARKS AND SUPPLEMENTARY STATISTICS SUGGESTED BY THE
TABLES OF DETAILED STATISTICS (Nos. 14 TO 19, INCLUSIVE).
In the following tables are presented the facts necessary to a full exhibit of the educational conditions of 711 cities and villages, representing a total estimated population of 19,787,991. This number of cities is the largest that has ever been represented in the reports of this office, a fact all the more gratifying because the similar tables of previous reports included a great many New England "towns" which contain no communities sufficiently thickly settled to entitle them to be classed as “urban." This
error was due to the peculiar signification of the word “town” as it is used in New England, New York, and New Jersey. There the name is applied to a division of a county, a portion of territory corresponding very nearly to what is called in the West a “township” and in some parts of the South a “beat." In all other States the same word is commonly applied to a thickly populated community somewhat more pretentious in size than a village; to this differeace in usage was probably due the improper consideration of some of
the New England towns upon the same basis as cities containing the same number of inhabitants. In this report they have been eliminated as far as possible, though a few may yet remain because of the uncertainty felt regarding their exact status.
To avoid if possible any misapprehension as to the scope of these tables and to prevent incorrect returns, the word “town” is no longer employed in this connection. To indicate, howerer, that any assemblage of houses in which 4,000 or more persons reside may be included, whether or not designated a city by local laws, the term "village" is used, since that will not be liable to be misunderstood in any section, and will exactly apply in many States.
NUMBER OF SUPERVISING OFFICERS.
An attempt is began in Table 15 to show the number of officers in the several cities whose time is devoted wholly or principally to supervision. Being entirely new to many correspondents as an item of statistics, the replies were not as numerous nor the information elicited as satisfactory as might have been desired, but it is hoped that the next report will show a great improvement in both respects. The question of supervision is an important one and is receiving incrcased attention. The relative number of supervising officers and teachers, showing the degree of the closeness of supervision, and the relative increase in the number of supervisors from year to year, showing the growth of the system of supervision, can be best exhibited by statistics.
In the table referred to 484 cities report 1,9:28 supervisors, or an average of 4 to each city. If this average hold good for all the 708 cities in the United States, the whole number of supervisors would be over 3,000, but it will be noticed that the majority of the cities not reporting the item are small, and in many instances the blank is undoubtedly equivalent to a cipher. It is not likely that the unreported 284 cities employ more than 400 persons who devote enough time to supervision to be properly considered supervisors. If this conjecture—it is no more-approach the truth, the whole number of supervising officers in all the cities would be not far from 2,300.
WHOLE NUMBER OF PERSONS EMPLOYED IN INSTRUCTION.
A column is also given in the same table designed to show the number of substitute teachers regularly employed, but the information it contains is even less satisfactory than that in relation to supervisors. Three hundred and thirty-nine cities report that they employ a total 1,953 substitutes. In this case, too, many of the blanks that appear mayi ndicate a negative answer, but the item is not reported by a number of large cities in which it is known that a great many substitutes are absolutely necessary. One thousand would be a moderate estimate of the number employed but not reported; this would make the whole number of substitutes 2,955.
Now, if to the 51,981 regular class teachers reported in Table 11 we add 2,300 supervisors and 2,955 substitutes, the whole number of persons directly and continuously employed in the instruction of children in city schools is shown to be 57,236. This number is not made a part of the table of totals upon page 783 for obvious reasons, but it is given here for what it is worth.
AVERAGE SALARY OF TEACHERS.
The statistics relating to the average salaries of teachers presented in Table 15 have not proved to be as useful as it was hoped they would be. It is evident that the figures reported were not obtained according to any uniform method, and it may be doubted whether they present an altogether trustworthy basis of comparison. The information conveyed by the average annual salary of teachers" is at best vague and uncertain, and to be of any value for statistical purposes it is necessary that it have the same signification in all cases.
In column 14, Table 15, are placed the replies to the question relating to the system of supply of text-books. Six hundred and thirty-five cities responded, 115 reporting that the free text-book system has been adopted, 16 that books are furnished free either in certain grades or in certain studies, and 2 that books are purchased by school authorities and sold at cost to pupils. The remaining 502 replies iudicate that the pupils themselves purchase their books in open market. A considerable proportion of the cities of the last class loan books free to pupils unable to buy them; 75 superintendents mention the existence of this custom, but it is known that this number does not include all the cities in which indigents are thus supplied.
The geographical location of the 115 cities in which the free text-book plan prevails is shown by the following table:
TABLE 3.-Location and number of cities employing the frce text-book system.
In Massachusetts a State law requires that all books be furnished by the cities and towns, and thus it happens that of all the cities reported 42 per cent. are in that State. Similar laws have since been enacted in Maine and New Hampshire. In addition to the 19 cities in New Jersey in which the free system has been adopted in full 3 cities furnish a part of the books used, and only 6 report no provision. In New York 18 of 67 cities furnish books gratuitously, 2 furnish a part, and 1 city sells them to the children at cost. In Pennsylvania 10 cities furnish all books and 3 furnish a part.
One hundred and three of the 115 cities are in the North Atlantic, 4 in the South Atlantic, and 8 in the North Central Division. The South Central and the Western Di
, visions are entirely without representation in the list, which includes no city south of Portsmouth, Va., and none west of' Eau Claire, Wis., excepting Omaha, Nebr. It may be said, therefore, that the practical application of the free text-book idea is contined to the northeast quarter of the United States, and in the northeast quarter of that quarter are found the great mass or its supporters.
THE WEALTH OF CITIES.
One of the most important items to be considered in comparing the statistics of cities is the wealth of the city and its ability to support schools and other public institutions. To show this properly and in such a manner as to do justice to all concerned is an everrecurring problem. The assessed value of all taxable property has been presented as an index to the cities' wealth in all previous reports and also appears in Table 18 in this volume, but it is a well-known fact that the methods of assessment differ so widely that little reliance can be placed in comparisons instituted upon such a basis.
For purposes of taxation it is immaterial whether property is assessed at its true value or any part thereof, provided that all is assessed at the same proportion of value. The rate of taxation necessary to produce a given amount of revenue will vary inversely with the assessment, but the actual amount paid upon any piece of property will be unaltered. Thus it happens that a ten-mill school tax in one city does not necessarily imply a weightier burden than a two-mill tax in another. But if no heavier taxation is shown by the higher rate, the item is worse than useless for statistical purposes, for it is misleading; and the same is true of the cause of the incongruity, the uncertain “assessed valuation." But in order that there may be some test by which a city's wealth may be judged more fairly than is possible with no other criterion than the varying assessment or the still more unreliable “estimate” as it is usually made, the form of inquiry recently sent out included a question by which the official basis of assessment in every case was obtained.
The assumption is, of course, that there is always a definite plan pursued by the assessing officers, and that their valuation represents either a fair cash value of property or some uniform part thereof. Then, the assessor's figures and the basis of assessment being given, it is a simple matter to find the true value of the property assessed. Col