« PreviousContinue »
adoption, and provides as well a means of annulment of such adoption for just cause.
The most important part of this work of revision and constructive legislation is without doubt the compact and carefully organized code for the juvenile court in every county of the state without necessarily increasing the number of judges or court officers. For Minnesota it has seemed best to divide certain powers so that in counties of less than 33,000 population the probate court is given partial jurisdiction and in counties of more than 33,000 inhabitants the district court is vested with original and exclusive jurisdiction. The law applies only to children under the age of eighteen years, and carefully defines the meaning of the words “dependent," “neglected,” and “delinquent," as relating to children who come under the provisions of the code. It outlines definitely the duties of the officers of the court and the means for carrying out the directions of the court. Its final provision is one especially to be commended, as it embodies the principles which evidently actuated the commission during most of its deliberations and must have imprest with its sincerity of purpose those to whom it was presented. It reads as follows:
This act shall be liberally construed to the end that its purposes may be carried out, to wit: That in all proceedings arising under its provisions the court shall act upon the principle that to the child concerned there is due from the state the protection and correction which he needs under the circumstances disclosed in the case; and that whenever it is necessary to provide for elsewhere than with his parents, his care, custody, and discipline shall approximate as nearly as may be that which ought to be given by his parents; and that in all cases where it can properly be done he shall be placed in an approved family home and become a member of the family by legal adoption or otherwise.
The chapter providing for county aid to responsible mothers of dependent children has also been rewritten so as to facilitate its application to worthy homes where it was evident to the court that the interests of the state and the children could best be served by keeping the home intact during the tender years of childhood. At the same time abuses of allowance made have been guarded against by making it the duty of the state board of control to supervise and inspect homes to which such allowances have been made.
Until the revised laws were past Minnesota was one of the states which lackt a commitment act that would make it possible to send a feebleminded person to the state school without his own or his parents' consent, unless he had been guilty of some delinquency. The revised code very properly makes provision for such commitment upon the petition of any relative, guardian, or representative citizen of the country.
With this brief résumé of the laws of our state I have endeavored to place before you some of the more notable provisions. To those of you who may be interested in the laws for any particular purpose I would suggest that you secure from the Children's Bureau of the State Board of Control a compilation of the laws recently made by the director of this Bureau.
THE NEED OF A CONTINUING CENSUS OF CHILDREN
OF SCHOOL AGE
JOHN W. DAVIS, DIRECTOR, BUREAU OF ATTENDANCE, PUBLIC SCHOOLS,
NEW YORK, N.Y. If what we read of the application of business methods to the wiming of the war may be even measurably accepted as true, we have an example on the largest scale known to history of the systematic use of cumulative records of individual human beings as an indispensable means of complete adaptation of means to ends. No effort is spared to eliminate waste, to utilize to the last degree, not only all material things, but the energy of every human unit, and so far as the precautions devised by men can be made effective no man or woman available for the purpose of the war remains unknown or unused. In the later movements of industry, especially since the shortage of labor began to be apparent—that is, since the cessation of immigration cut us off from the old sources of supply-there has been a reiterated recognition of the importance of industry, not of having access to new sources of labor, but of not losing sight of the labor already at hand. Every member of the working force is henceforth to be regarded as the most valuable of its potential assets, that cannot be lost and replaced except to the detriment of the man and the plant.
It has been said that the school man always advances with halting foot because he never actually faces the consequences of his mistakes as does the business man. And can it be said that the schools have ever accepted the principle of accountability for results in the sense in which the man in the street is constantly forst to do? Where is the plan to be found in operation which seeks systematically to determine how the product of the schools meets the tests of use, and to fix responsibility for removable defects ? Who has announst his adherence to the doctrine that the machinery of registration should be so perfected that no child in the community can escape the processes of education? The manufacturer may be pardoned if he has just begun to realize that his most valuable asset is the potentialities of the men who do his work, and that in losing the services of a seasoned workman he is throwing away money, for he, professedly, is concerned only with material results and adjudged competent only so long as he remains successful. But the school man has proclaimed in unmistakable terms his duty to develop the mental, spiritual, and physical man; can it be said that he has definitely tried to assure himself of the result or to ascertain whether all the children of the community have received the benefit of his endeavors ? The spur of industry brings about the introduction of labor-saving machinery, the installation of detailed record keeping, the follow-up of the value of the human element. The absence of an equally compelling pace has enabled the schools to ignore the most obvious duty of checking up results, to disregard the wastes to the community of the children who have been overlookt.
What the conception of the school man of the part he is to play in the upbuilding of the community should be has been obvious enough in these years of war-nothing less than the development of every future citizen, not some of them, nor most of them, but all of them-a register of the raw material, a testing of the product to determine whether the results have been achieved. And not because of the community alone, but because democracy means, if it means anything, that until the individual has reacht the stature of manhood and can be charged with full responsibility for his actions he may not be permitted either to waste or to lose his own opportunities.
The school man of today in every phase of administration and pedagogy is confronted, not with the relatively simple life that characterized the rural and even urban communities of a half-century ago, but with the complex demands and connections of the varied and rapidly changing existence which affects, not only the great aggregate of population gathered together in our cities, but the remotest hamlets as well. Never were the home ties more easily loosened, and almost alone among the great nations of the earth have we failed to provide a means of preserving the identity of the individual carried on by the stream of movement. At no time has it been so easily possible for the individual man or child to become so wholly lost to view as now, whether thru accident or one's own will, and never was the search less likely to be successful.
The necessity for a permanent school census as the only adequate means by which the identity of each future member of the community can be establisht and maintained is slowly coming to be recognized. New York state has been the pioneer in this line, and in every city of the state a permanent school census has been installed. Over two years ago Massachusetts also adopted a system of registration for minors, setting an example for the other commonwealths to follow, and I urge upon you the need of exercising your influence to secure the adoption of an adequate measure for the registration of minors in your own state. There is, however, a most important phase of this follow-up work of continuing identification of the individual which cannot be accomplisht by legislation alone, namely, the notification of the removal of children from one state to another, and from one community of a state to another community within the same state. In our present circumstances there is a transfer of population going on, without precedent in amount, the circumstances of which are peculiarly favorable to the loss of children in great numbers from the processes of education. I advocate the adoption of a universal system of transfer between the different states of the Union, and the different communities of the individual states, without delay, and the indorsement of this proposal by this Department of Superintendence now in convention assembled.
I also urge upon your attention the importance of continuous follow-up records of the employments and occupations of children thru minority as the fundamental basis for testing the results of instruction with the character and amount of instruction given the same child while at school. We meet from the business man the charge that the children of our schools are inefficient and unable to meet even the modest requirements of those who first employ them. We have no answer ready except the assertion of contrary opinion. When such complaints are made, and they will be made again, we should know from whom they come and how representative they are of employers as a whole; whether there are certain groups, unrepresented, who demand other traits, obtain them and consequently have naught to say, since they are satisfied. We should know whether the labor opportunities exist in sufficient numbers to justify training, or whether disappointment is bound to overtake any significant proportion of our children in spite of preparation. The study of the specific defects of particular courses and particular methods might very properly start from the data derived thru the automatic follow-up of all the children in the community during minority. These and many other collateral advantages will readily suggest themselves and furnish abundant and convincing argument to all those candid minds who rejoice in the opportunity to test new achievements against the requirements of reality.
There are many other direct applications of the permanent school census or permanent registration of minors to the general purposes of public education. They have been pointed out many times and will require repeated restatement until they become part of the regularly accepted principles of competent school administration. The most important are as follows:
1. A permanent school census is the only adequate basis for the enforcement of the compulsory-education law. It identifies each child, keeps track of him, and locates him at all times.
2. It provides an accurate forecast of the number of children for whom instruction must be furnisht each year and each term.
3. It minimizes late entrance to school and consequent retardation.
4. It takes note of the shifting of population as well as of its increase, and this indicates in advance the need for new school accommodations.
5. If any given area is affected by immigration, increase or decrease, it registers the fact and the amount.
6. It provides a follow-up of employed children, and thus enables school authorities to list and compare the occupations of pupils with the character of instruction given them.
7. By the organization of its information concerning occupations and employments it provides the facts necessary to the development of industrial and vocational courses.
8. Enforcement of compulsory attendance at continuation schools and evening schools is peculiarly dependent upon the permanent census.
9. Its child-population statistics are necessary for the development of recreational facilities.
10. It affords a true and accurate basis for conscription of minors and registration of new voters.
The corollary: Intercity and interstate transfer system.
CAUSES OF ABSENCE FROM RURAL SCHOOLS
EDWARD N. CLOPPER, SECRETARY FOR NORTHERN STATES, NATIONAL CHILD
LABOR COMMITTEE, NEW YORK, N.Y. Child labor in agriculture has hitherto not received public attention because it has been generally assumed that the child on the farm is in every way more fortunate than the child employed in manufacturing, mining, and trade and consequently has relatively little or no need of protection other than that afforded by his parents. Indeed, in states whose childlabor laws have a blanket provision forbidding the employment of children under a certain age in all gainful occupations, agricultural work is specifically exempted. As such exemptions are based merely upon this general assumption it is opportune to inquire whether this kind of labor is altogether advantageous to the child, or whether there are conditions connected with it which endanger his welfare and interfere with his proper development.
Every decade the report of the United States Census on occupations shows that nearly three-fourths of our child laborers are employed in agricultural pursuits, yet the widespread and determined movement for childlabor reform has not even toucht this greatest field of all. It has resulted in protective legislation concerning employment in mines, factories, mills, and mercantile establishments, but the only legislation which in any way protects children from premature or excessive work on farms is the compulsory-education law, and this is effective only during certain hours of certain days for the school term from five to nine months of the year. Moreover, the greatest agricultural activity comes usually in the school vacation period when there are no restrictions whatever upon the labor of children on farms.
Of the total number of children from ten to fifteen years of age reported in 1910 as engaged in agricultural work, 1,157,464, or 80.8 per cent, were farm laborers on the home farm, and 260, 195, or 18.1 per cent, were “farm laborers working out.” That many of the laborers on the home farm also are daily required to do fatiguing work thru long periods of seasonal activity and are at the same time deprived of schooling is beyond question. Of the total number of farm laborers from ten to fifteen years of age, on the home farm and working out, 81.8 per cent were found in thirteen southern states.
For the purpose of making a study of this subject in Colorado, thirtythree typical school districts in representative counties were selected in the