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With all the diversified conditions of the families from which children come who attend the public schools and taking tardiness as I under. stood it, I said that it was a most extraordinary statement, and I endeavored to show it. I learned from school-magazines that, in order to secure a full exemption from repeating cases of tardiness, privcipals were in the habit of putting clocks back ten minutes and locking the doors.
When we read of the percentage of attendance and tardiness, we want to understand what is meant and how the results are obtained. I believe that there is not a school in the United States that can secure 97 per cent. of the enrollment, for daily average attendance, on a period of one inonth. When such an assertion is made, I think the case is worked up, and that on examination it will be found there is some arti. fice by which it is done. No fair showing will give such a large percentage of attendance.
I am glad that my friend avoided the use of the phrase "the average number belonging.” We hold that to belong is to be enrolled and to have an actual membership which cannot be changed every three days, at convenience. In making the percentage of attendance, we think it right to include all in the basis, not excepting the sick or those temporarily absent from cause. Suppose that fifty is the number of a certain class and five are absent from sickuess, we estimate the attendance on the fifty, and not on the forty-five.
It seems to me that great good could be done if a scheme could be devised for a uniform method of calculating statistical matter. Perhaps superintendents of schools are as much prejudiced in regard to the ways in which they make calculations as other people are about their special knowledge of business. Let us, in a proper spirit on this subject, endeavor to devise the means by which there shall be a plain, fair, and intelligent statement of all our school-statistics.
The editor of a western educational journal, in a recent number, acknowledged the receipt of many annual reports of school-superintendents, but said that among them all there was not one properly and conveniently arranged. He could not tabulate them. Such has been the experience of all superintendents whenever they have tried to do the same thing.
The whole subject of school-statistics is in need of reformation. Under existing circumstances it is impossible to make intelligent replies to the many inquiries that are sent from city to city for information.
The inquiries from the Bureau of Education are so minute and comprehensive that, though we should like to reply to them all, we have found it impossible. The management of schools is different in different places. Some have a school-census and others have not. Some know the number of private schools in a city, with the number of pupils in them; others have no legal means of obtaining this information. The whole subject is incumbered with difficulties. We should at present en
deavor to secure some common facts applicable to all public-school-systems, and make our comparison on such statistics. This will be an advance in the right direction.
Mr. ARIEL PARISH. Perhaps we shall not gain very much by a long discussion on the subject. We all understand the difficulties in attempting to get at a uniform plan of statistics. These difficulties have been presented here in the main at this time. It strikes me that, whatever committee shall be appointed, their main duty will be to aim at one thing to begin with : the number of children in the school; and, starting at that point, let them go forward to secure only that which can be made uniform throughout the country. If they can make but one thing that everybody can understand and report upon, let us have that one thing. If they can add a second and make it clear to every one, so that it can be understood and reported upon, let us have that. Let the committee that may be appointed aim to give us one thing or two things, and only go as far as they can make it a general thing, and not attempt to do any more.
The matter has been discussed so long, so many attempts have been made, that I have despaired of reaching anything satisfactory. We all know what the western men have atteinpted to do. Mr. Doty, of Detroit, some years ago and for a number of years, attempted to make a kind of uniform table, and sent his circulars all over the land, and we answered ; and when we got the result we could make nothing better of the statistics than from our ordinary reports.
There is one thing in regard to this which will always be difficult, more difficult, perhaps, than anything else; and that is, to determine what is attendance. If a child is out on account of sickness, and takes his books and goes away by direction of the parent and then comes back in a week, what is the attendance of that child? There are many circumstances which go to create difficulty in getting at the actual attendance.
I only wish that the committee shall pass upou one, two, three, or more tbings that shall be clear, that everybody can understand, and tben I think we can make a beginning. This thing cannot be accomplished in one year or two years; but we can make a beginning, and we can begin to put into the hands of General Eaton something that he can use. If we do not begin, we never shall do anything ; but, if we begin and persevere, we can go on accomplishing one thing after another.
Hon. J. D. PHILBRICK. I listened with great satisfaction to the able paper presented by Superintendent Luckey. I like his idea of simpli. fying our statistics, including only those about which we can be certain. At the same time I think my friend from New Haven (Mr. Parish) has “hit the nail on the head," by suggesting that we take one thing at a time and see what can be done with it. I think our western friends, in St. Louis, Chicago, and Cincinnati, deserve great credit for what
they bave done to improve city-statistics. I am sure these bave been made very valuable.
The fundamental element which we want, I think, is the number of children who are due at school. What is the numeration of the children who ought to go to school? There işgge: diversity in regard to the age at which this enumeration is takwi, and I hope General Eaton, our admirable national Commissioner, will fix upon some age for the enumeration of the children, which shall be recommended as the proper age for education in the public schools of the different States. If we can begin by having the school-age the same in all the States, we shall have one element upon which we can begin our comparisons.
The next thing is the enrollment or the number belonging. We use that phrase, “the number belonging.” My friend from Baltimore (Mr. Creery] does not seem to fancy that. I should be very happy to change that and adopt a different phrase, if we can all agree upon it. I find the word "enrollment" is used, but I do not understand what is meant by that.
Mr. PARISH. Is it not the same thing ?
Mr. PHILBRICK. What is the question ? I know what is meant by the pumber belonging, as we use it. We report the average number belonging for six months and the average number belonging for the year. We know exactly what it means. There is no cooking of the statistics, aud I am surprised that it has been done anywhere. I supposed that all the reports from all the superintendents, from Baltimore and everywhere else, were honest. We mean by that phrase simply that, when a scholar comes to school, his name is placed on the record-book and that he is counted as one belonging to the school ; and, if absent ten half days, he is not so considered. We adopted that practice in order to concur with suggestions from the West. Mr. Weld made some plans which were adopted by many cities, so as to be, in certain respects, uniform. It made not the slightest difference whether we counted ten half days or six half days.
Mr. A. P. MARBLE. In case a pupil is absent ten half days, are these half days counted among the absences ?
Mr. PHILBRICK. Yes, sir. Now see how perfectly easy it is to obtain an average. You simply take the number“ belonging," or that are “enrolled;" then, counting each day and averaging for a month or year, you will have the average number “ belonging" or " enrolled.”
Mr. GEORGE L. FARNHAM. Suppose a pupil has left and takes his. books, do you count him as belonging ?
Mr. PHILBRICK. Of course not. If we agree on that point, the rest will be easy. I learn that in the great State of New York there are some 225,000 pupils. I look at the attendance and I find it is about 90,000. The enumeration is made up for a certain purpose, to meet certain requirements in regard to the distribution of the educational fund. But, when you come to actual attendance, we know what that is. There
is no difficulty about actual attendance, because it is the actual presence of the child; and when I get that from any State I always feel that I am on terra firma. i!'
I think there has been a great deal of progress in this matter, and especially since the orgadis'in of the Bureau of Education ; and to that I look for improvement in the future, I think, if General Eaton will make a programme of what he wants, we can all gradually conform. (See Appendix A.)
Mr. PARISH. I would suggest another point. Suppose a child is with. drawn from school, he should not be counted for ten or twelve days as still belonging. The difficulty is to know when he left. I will give an illustration. Take a case where a child is withdrawn by the parents from school; we must cut him off from the register; we will not count his absences any more. I am aware of a case where, in a large district, the scholars got into the habit of saying they had withdrawn whenever they were absent, and the teacher counted them as belonging only when they were present. The difficulty is to know what is real attendance and when we must stop counting the scholar as withdrawn from the school.
Mr. R. W. STEVENSON. Wheu pupils are absent five days they are, with us, considered as no longer belonging to the school ; they are no longer members of that school. If a pupil is withdrawn by the parent, notwithstanding, the teacher may give a withdrawal-card, we count the absence for five days. The reason is this: The parent may change his mind and the pupil come back to school in two days.
In regard to statistics in the West, I know that those who have the management of the schools there are endeavoring to do everything they can in an honest way. The reports that come from eastern cities we always read, and get a great deal of good from them; and, notwithstanding soine things in connection with their statistics that we do not understand, we take it for granted that they are honest at any rate.
In regard to finding the cost per pupil, I think the proper basis is the amount paid for tuition and the number of pupils enumerated during the year. By tuition, I mean the amount for teachers' salaries. If inci. dentals are considered, there will be a great discrepancy. Some one suggests that you cannot tell how many children are enrolled in the city-schools. We can tell how many are en rolled in Columbus and we can find out for one term what is the cost per capita. We know just how much we have paid for the teaching force, including all connected with instruction—the superintendent and all. I would not include the superintendence of buildings. The matter of heating buildings and their care is so different in different places that the expense on that account will greatly vary. If we had these other things, we should have means of comparison that would be very valuable indeed.
In regard to the enumeration of children, the law of Ohio compels it to be made by those who are under oath to make a fair and honest return of all children between the ages of 6 and 21. That is an item of our statistics upon which we can rely.
Mr. FARNHAM. I would like to say that there have been some points omitted in the suggestions that have been made. I would like to ask the gentleman from Ohio whether he would report every name registered, and make that number the basis of calculation of the cost per capita for the education of the children. For instance, having the aggregate paid for teachers' wages, would be divide that aggregate by the whole number registered to ascertain the cost per capita ?
Mr. STEVENSON. Yes, sir..
Mr. FARNHAM. It seems to me there should be a limit to this: that, if a pupil is absent from school more than a week, he should not be counted for that time.
I think we should have some reference, too, to scholarship, or to the grade of the school, the scholarship being measured, as it usually is, by years of attendance. What are counted as primary schools in some places are not the same as those which are so called in Binghamton. It seems to me that, during a certain number of years of instruction, they shouid come under one head and for so many more years they should con;e under another head so that we may know pretty nearly what classes are included in the statistics presented.
Mr. STEVENSON. I would have three groups: the high school, grammar-school, and the primary. I would find the cost of instruction in the high school by dividing the whole cost by the number in that school; and so of the rest.
Mr. FARNHAM. But, to meet the point, we want to know what grades are entitled to these respective denominations, if they are to appear by those names in our statistics.
Mr. BICKNELL. That is a point to which I referred, that there must be a unity of basis for the whole country. We should first determine the number due at school, then ascertain the attendance, and then the average attendance.
Hon. J. P. WICKERSHAM. I am very much interested in the details in gathering statistics, as they are secured in different portions of the country ; but it occurs to me that this is a national association and that it would be wiser for us to take a broader view of the subject. What we want is to know, not how they are gathered in this State or that, but whether we cau bring about a uniformity in collecting them. First, we should understand what school-statistics we ought to gather—what we need, not in any particular State, but in the nation as a whole.
Then, we want to know how best to gather these statistics. I take it, the Bureau of Education will advise the State- and city-officers as to the statistics which should be gathered, and then we are ready to conform to that. And if the Commissioner, in addition, will tell us how to gather them, I think there will be an agreement. What we want is uniformity. We are not gathering the same statistics, nor in the same