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The only States in the group in question that show an increase since 1870 are Massachusetts, Rhode Island, and Indiana, and in these the increase is slight.
In the Southern States the proportion of the school population who are enrolled in school is considerably less than in the Northern (columns 8-11). The division which shows best in this respect is the North Central, which has more than 76 per cent of its population 5 to 18 years of age enrolled in school.
Kansas has the largest percentage of its school population enrolled in school (S7.66), then comes Maine (87.12), Iowa (86.33), and South Dakota (81.04).
The two States, viz, Massachusetts and Connecticut, which have perhaps made the most persistent and systematic efforts to enforce compulsory attendance, and in which the conditions regarding density of population seem especially to favor such efforts, report only about 72 per cent of their population 5 to 18 enrolled. This rises only slightly above the average for the United States (about 69), and is less than that of Tennessee (78.29), or West Virginia (75.71).
At the other end of the line come Louisiana, with only about one. third (33.73 per cent), and South Carolina, with less than one-half (48.31 per cent), of their population 5 to 18 years enrolled in school.
Why the enrollment has fallen off in New York.-State Superintendent Draper, of New York, in attempting to account for the falling off in the proportion of the school population enrolled in school in that State said in his last report:
The most ready suggestion which will be offered in explanation is the organization of church or parochial schools. This explanation seems inadequate. It will undoubtedly explain somewhat, but not fully. I am, of course, familiar with the extent to which the great Roman Catholic Church and some other denominations of Christians have felt impelled to organize schools under their own auspices. But it can hardly be said that the growth of these church schools has been sufficiently regular and uniform for forty years to account for the uniform falling off in the attendance upon the public schools during that time. Moreover, it must be said that nondenominational private schools were much more common and much more generally attended in former years than now. While, therefore, it is undoubtedly true that the organization of church schools will account in some degree for the comparative falling off in the attendance upon the public schools, still it is but a partial explanation of the fact.
Another partial explanation may be found in the fact that records are more completely and correctly kept and statistics are more accurate than formerly. It is within the knowledge of all connected with the schools that very, special attention. has been given this subject in recent years, with a view to more extended and reliable information upon which to base educational action. Figures are the result of investigation rather than of estimates much more generally than in former years, and the fact may place the later years in an apparent disadvantage when compared with the earlier ones. This, however, is no adequate explanation of the unfortunate fact to which the attention of the State is called.
The proportion of the total population enrolled in the schools is generally greater in the Southern States than in the Northern; but this proportion has been shown to be, and is, misleading.
There is no full explanation. The fact can not be explained away. The statement that the attendance upon the public schools does not keep pace with the growth in population is true. It may be said with equal truth that the attendance upon public and private schools combined is not as great relatively as it was in former years. The reasons why this is so will appear to all who will inquire.
As cities increase in population, the indifferent, unfortunate, dissolute, vicious, and criminal classes increase, not normally and naturally, but out of proportion to the increase in population. One thousand persons living in the country will not have in their number as many persons who must be cared for, directed, and regulated in the interest of the common safety as 1,000 persons living in a crowded city. This fact has vital relations to attendance upon the schools. Yet we have done little or nothing in the way of providing against it.
Again, there has been much legislation in recent years for the purpose of preventing the employment of children in factories and elsewhere. What is of more consequence, the State has provided the machinery for vigorously enforcing this legislation. Public officers, in the pay of the State, have traversed its territory through all its length and breadth, driving children out of employment. The employers of labor have been required to report the names and ages of their employés, and have been threatened with severe penalties for employing children below 13 years of age. I agree with the wisdom of this policy, providing measures equally vigorous are taken for making these children go to school. If children are not to go to school they had better be at work. But while we have been driving children out of the shops, we have done nothing to compel them to go to school.
TABLE 3.-Average attendance and its relation to enrollment,
Gain or loss the last
State or Territory.
4, 545, 317 6, 144, 143 8, 153, 635 8, 329, 234 I....201, 240 I... 2.48
d Average attendance of pupils above and below the scholastic age estimated.
c In 1890.