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by 51,213 than in the previous year. The average daily attendance was greater by 28,562, or 15 per cent., and the average length of the school term was one day longer. During the last two years twelve cities and towns erected school buildings, at a total cost of $190,000. “In 66 counties the collections exceeded the disbursements by $191,300, while practically only 8 counties exceeded their collections, incurring a debt in all of about $15,000.” More than 800 country schoolhouses were built, at a cost of $116,951. There was an increase of 1,018 in the number of first-grade teachers, and it is therefore presumable that better work was accomplished.
According to the enactments of the legislature the attorney-general and State superintendent of education were required to distribute the 2 and 3 per cent, fund received from the sales of Government land whenever the fund exceeded $15,000. The distribution was made in December, 1888, the amount distributed being $73,429.05. In order that as much as possible might be accomplished by means of the fund, the State superintendent issued a circular advising supervisors in the different counties to distribute the fund to those districts that would supplement it in some way, by appropriating unused balances of the common-school fund, by raising certain amounts, or otherwise. These suggestions were followed in many counties, and in nine months from the time of the distribution 475 new schoolhouses had been erected, and others were in the course of construction. In some counties the fund was prorated to the different districts, and little good was accomplished by it, while in others it was unlawfully applied to the payment of teachers' warrants. In Monroe County the fund was supplemented by an appropriation of $2,000, and forty-one new schoolhouses were erected, at a cost of from $200 to $700 each, and others were repaired and furnished with stoves and blackboards.
There are great discrepancies between the returns made by the auditors as to the number of children of school age and those made by the county superintendents. As a consequence there are no reliable data upon which a distribution of State funds can be made.
“Mississippi received from the United States in sixteenth sections 661,000 acres. In lieu of sixteenth sections in Chickasaw cession, 174,550 acres.” The leasing of these lands was variously intrusted to boards of police, county school directors, county school commissioners, and boards of supervisors. They have nearly all been leased for ninetynine years and the notes and revenues squandered. A satisfactory report of the fund of Warren County, however, was made in 1889 by the county treasurer. The sixteenth sections of the Yazoo Delta, which has lately been found to possess valuable resources, are still unleased, and should be saved to the State by appropriate legislation. The supervisors should be prohibited from leasing these lands for longer periods than eight years, and the rents should be invested in bonds and only the interest allowed to be used.
UNIFQI: M EXAMINATIONS.
The law of 1886 requiring uniform teachers' examinations throughout the State, although it met with strong opposition, has been found an eminently wise one. That it has not prevented competent teachers from passing the examinations successfully is evidenced by the fact that 1,018 persons received first-grade certificates.
While admitting that many of the most intelligent and faithful county superintendents advocate annual examinations of teachers, Superintendent Preston thinks that, in order to stimulate teachers to thoroughly qualify themselves for their work, certificates should be granted under certain conditions for a longer time than one year. He would have an annual examination of all holders of sccond and third grade certificates. All first-grade teachers who made an average of 85 per cent. should be licensed for two years and those who made an average of 90 per cent. for three years. Any person who received a three years’ license a second time should be entitled to teach in that county without any further examination. State licenses should also be granted to those who passed a special examination showing themselves possessed of broad scholarship and successful experience as teachers.
It is claimed by very many that county superintendents are useless factors in the school system and that the money paid them could be better devoted to the payment of teachers’ salaries. In those counties where the superintendents are incompetent or neglect the faithful discharge of their duties they are in reality useless appendages, but nothing can contribute more to the improvement and successful operation of the public schools than intelligent and faithful supervision. The excellence of the schools in cities and towns is attributable to careful supervision more than to anything else. Competent superintendents can not be had, however, unless they are adequately paid, and in many of the counties the salaries paid are entirely too low to secure good men.
Superintendent Preston thinks that the law enacted in 1888, making the office of county superintendent an elective one, was a great mistake, and that it will subject the person chosen to improper influence in the granting of licenses and fixing teachers’ Salaries.
Besides the graded schools of the cities and towns, there were reported 150 high schools, normal schools, and denominational colleges. Some of these enrolled from 250 to 400 students. Many of them were supported in part by the public funds, and gave free tuition during the public term. The success of these schools affords evidence of an appreciation by the people of higher education, as well as evidence of increased material prosperity.
SEPARATE SCHOOL DISTRICTS.
“Following the policy and practice of other States, Mississippi has from the beginning of her free-school system allowed her towns and cities to become separate school districts. “In the first public school law, enacted in 1870, the privilege was granted to towns having 5,000 population; in 1873, by amendment, to towns having 2,000; by the code of 1880, to towns having 1,000; by the revised law of 1886, to towns having 750. “Many of our towns have special laws granting them full local control of their schools and power to levy a tax in support thereof. This legislation was demanded by their peculiar conditions, and is in exact accord with the universal practice of the other States of the Union. “Educational progress and activity are to-day most prominent in our separate school districts. Thirty-five towns are maintaining their schools from seven to ten months each year, their average school levy being four mills, and some of them levying as high as seven and one-half mills.” The State distributes $300,000 to the counties for school purposes. About twothirds of this arises from liquor licenses, fines, and forfeitures; the other $100,000 is given from the general State fund. The funds distributed by the State would only maintain the school about one-third of the required term of four months; each county must maintain its own schools for the other two-thirds of the term. In this way the State seeks to equalize the burden of taxation and to encourage local support of the schools. Upon the same principle the separate school districts are allowed to retain their local levies, for while they pay about one-third of the whole State fund, they only receive about $23,000 from it. Besides, “reports from seventeen towns show an enrollment of 1,401 country pupils. Estimating the other eighteen towns at 1,000, we find the separate school districts carrying 2,400 country pupils, or 12% per cent. of their entire attendance. “The counties pay the tuition of these pupils for four or five months, and the towns let them continue in the schools the rest of the session absolutely free of charge.”
NEW TEXT-BOOK LAW-COUNTY UNIFORMITY.
A law approved February 22, 1890, provides for a uniform series of text-books in each
county, to be selected by county boards of seven teachers each, and not to be changed for five years.
| decrease. PoPULATION AND ATTENDANCE.
White youth of school age (6 to 20) ............................ - - .." 804,978 816,886
Whole number of school age .... i 852, 430 865,364
Whole number enrolled................................. .................. • 610,550 611, 541 Total number of days' attendance by all pupils. ......................... 45,999,882 53,266,590 Average number of pupils attending each day............................ 377, 502 376,977 Average number of days attendance by each pupil.................. - 67 60
Number of schools for white pupils ............................................. 9, 272 9, 178
Whole number of schools................ 9,819 9,687
Number of men employed............................................................ 7, 118 6, 195
Whole number of teachers...................................... - - - - - 13,677 13,634
ARBOR. D.AY. Districts observing arbor day........ * - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 490 610 I...........120 Number of trees planted................ - - - - - - - - - - - - - * - - - • 9,736 9,334 D........ .402 EXPENDITURES.
Teachers' salaries ............. • * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * - - - - - $3, 185,237 $3,220,264 I.....S35,027 Sites, buildings, furniture, and apparatus............ ..... ................. 412, 940 340,573 D.....72,367 Repairs and rents....................................................... - 165,098 168,788 I........3,690 Libraries....................... -- - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - - 22,863 16,417 | ID ...... 6,416 District clerks............ - 96,042 60, 136 D.....35,906 Incidentals............................................ .......................... •- I 637. 206 746, 255 I.....109,049
For all purposes excepting bonded indebtedness............... 4,519,386 4,552,463 I...... 33,077
The general condition of the schools was better than it has ever been, more and better teachers were employed, and they were paid better salaries. The financial condition of the schools, too, was excellent. The settlements of the clerks and treasurers show that at the close of the year nineteen out of every twenty districts had paid all indebtedness and had a balance on hand. All schools hereafter will have a term of at least six months. The citizens of the State may well congratulate themselves upon the excellent condition of the schools, for it is a well-recognized fact that the social and material welfare of a State depends, to a large extent, upon the education of its people.
CRITICISMS OF THE PUI}LIC SCIIOOILS.
There are many persons who are continually urging objections to the public schools, They allege that the public schools are Godless, that the Bible is not used in them, that the public schools are responsible for the increase of crime, and that they develop in the children indifference, profligacy, and unstableness of character. Before considering the objections of such persons it is well to ascertain whether these are the real causes of complaint, whether such persons would favor the public schools if these objections were removed, or whether, on the contrary, they have brought forward these objections because they dare not disclose the true ones. “What do they mean by Godless schools? Nothing more nor less than this, their peculiar ideas and notions of religion are not sanctioned, espoused, and taught. They want the Bible introduced and used as a textbook; but what Bible? Introduce it, which can not be done without violating the constitution of our State, and these same parties will be the first to find fault, for they will soon see that this is a two-edged blade that cuts in both directions, for and against their preconceived views and notions.”
But it is asserted that the public schools are responsible for the large number of crimimals. Where is the proof of such a charge? Although the public schools draw large numbers of pupils from the poor, the vicious, and the ignorant, the classes most likely to furnish criminals, and who are debarred from entering private schools, we find very few criminals who have attended the public schools long enough to secure a good education. If enrolled at all, they probably attended only a short time, their attendance was irregular, and they were already so vicious that they properly belonged to the reform schools. But even if it be granted that many of the criminals were educated in the public schools, is it probable that they would otherwise not have been criminals? The censors of the public schools say nothing of the hosts of tradesmen, mechanics, laborers, teachers, lawyers, ministers, and statesmen who were educated in the public schools, and many of whom received there the impulse which resulted in their success.
Hereafter the minimum length of the school term of each district shall be six months instead of four, provided a tax of 40 cents on cach $100 of assessed valuation, together with the public funds, will be sufficient to maintain the schools for six months. JDis. tricts can not now rely entirely upon the public funds, but the boards of directors are authorized to make out a tax of four mills on the dollar without any vote of the people. As the school terms will now be longer, it will be possible to secure a better grade of teachers.
WHAT SIIC ULI) BE TAUGHT.
“The law should fully set out the subjects to be taught in all the public schools of the State, and empower the board and the teacher to require each pupil to pursue the same until completed, and higher branches should be admitted only ‘by order of the board’ or by a vote of the people. Boys are well advanced in arithmetic who know nothing about grammar; girls apply themselves to grammar, but do not want to study arithmetic and United States history. The result is, there is no gradation in the school, and education—in such school--simply means a partial knowledge of two or three textbooks. s
“The law on teaching the evil effects of alcoholic stimulants and narcotics upon the human system is a farce and fraud. It is virtually a prohibition against temperance instruction in the public Schools. And strange as it may appear, those who claim to favor proper legislation upon this st:bject favored this measure, while they rejoiced over the defeat of senate bill No. 52, which required such instruction in all the schools of the State. The law as it stands is worthless, and should be repealed or amended.”
LANGUA (#E OF THE SCIIOOLS.
“The law should specify definitely in what language the instruction in our public Schools is to be given. It is a shame and a disgrace to American institutions to have the English language ruled out of our public schools and German substituted, as is done wholly or in part in many districts in this State. The average legislator appears to quake when this matter is brought up for consideration. Right and justice are forgotten or smothered, for the sake ct the German vote. No reasonable argument can be adduced why German should be taught in any primary schools. JRepresentatives and senators admit that German can be put out of a public school by an injunction served upon the board; but why shall a citizen lee compelled to resort to the courts to secure that which should be provided by legislative enactment? Men have said to me, “You should not agitate this question; it is impolitic to inaugurate a fight along that line.” My purpose in bringing this matter to the attention of the public, and before our legislature, is that justice may be administered to the citizen, and the children be taught to speak, read, and write the English ianguage. The same spirit that deprives the children of any community of the benefits of instruction in the English language would, if it dare, subvert the very joundations of this Government and subject our children to a thraldom and tyranny as despotic as that from which many of these innovators emigrated, only to try to bind the shackles upon others that they themselves could not endure.
“This is not a fight against Germans, but against the introduction of the German language into our primary schools. This wrong will not much longer be tolerated; it should not be, for where it now is practiced there is an alarming stage of affairs; law is disregarded, our institutions derided, and all that is held sacred ruthlessly trodden under foot; and nothing else can be expected of such a community.”
“Your attention is again called to the fact that in many localities in this State that provision of our constitution which prohibits the use of public funds to build up and foster sectarianism is violated with high-handed recklessness. Here again, allow me to speak plainly; it is not my purpose to conceal my true meaning; all the trouble from this quarter has arisen in Catholic communities, where they have control. In such communities the tenets of the church and the study of the catechism are made part of the daily instruction in the public school; and in more than one community the priest openly dictates who shall and who shall not teach the public school of such community. The State constitution is plain upon this subject; but it needs proper iegislation to enforce its provisions, and not compel the citizens to have to resort to law to secure their rights.”
A great mistake was made in the revision of the school law in not providing for a county superintendent for such county. The legislature was opposed to this; it, however, passed a measure providing for county Supervision for all those counties which may vote to adopt it.
Many of the teachers employed in the rural districts are thoroughly competent and successful in their work, but there are others who are sadly deficient. The county teachers’ institutes are doing much to improve the qualifications of teachers, but the normal schools especially are sending out many excellent teachers, who are exemplars of enthusiasm, tact, and skill to other teachers.
More school buildings were erected during the year than ever before. They were also larger and better buildings. The value of school property increased during the year more than $1,000,000, making a total value of school property at the present time of nearly $11,000,000. Many of the schoolhouses in rural districts are too small to accommodate the children of the districts. Many of them are not fenced in, and some are not even locked at night. They are also used for other than school purposes, such as meetings of societies, clubs, etc. The schoolhouses are frequently very much injured on such occasions. No one feels responsible for the condition of the schoolhouses. The school boards expect the teachers to attend to them, and the teachers expect the school boards to do so. The condition of the water-closets is often disgraceful. If a teacher has no regard for the hygienic surroundings of his pupils he should not be allowed to have charge of them.
Twenty-seven cities and towns have high schools with a course of four years, thirtyeight with a course of three years, and sixty-five with a course of two years. Nearly all of these are in an excellent condition. Their success depends to a large extent upon the school boards. If the board is always anxious to economize by securing the cheapest teachers and having a short term, the schools will not meet with that success which should attend them. In some of the high schools which have courses of three or four years, where there are only three or four pupils in the last year's course it would be advisable to shorten the course by one year.
In November, 1888, the superintendent of public instruction sent out circulars to the schools asking them to observe Thanksgiving Day by making donations to the needy children, so that they might be provided with the necessary books and clothing for attending school. The experiment was so entirely successful that it was repeated in November, 1889, and many a child went home with a Smiling face and a happy heart on account of the present it had received, While the contributors fully realized the truth of the expression that “it is more blessed to give than to receive.”