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In a former report I ventured to invite the attention of the school committees of the Commonwealth to this subject, urging its importance to the community, and its intimate relation to the duties devolving upon them as the guardians of the Public Schools. Recent enactments have brought the class, of which I speak, more closely within their view, and thus more emphatically urge upon their attention its need of educational privi. leges.
By the law of 1874, the school committee and not the assessors, as heretofore, are required to ascertain the names and ages of all belonging to their respective towns and cities, on the first day of May, between the ages of five and fifteen years, to make a record thereof, and to transmit a certificate, under oath, to the Secretary of the Board of Education. The proper discharge of the duty thus imposed brings the class of which I speak, plainly within the knowledge of the committee. Indeed, the list thus made being the basis of pecuniary returns to the towns, there is little likelihood that the deaf-mutes will be left out. .
Moreover, the recently enacted law relating to enforcing school attendance, is to be executed by officers chosen by the school committee, and always acting under their direction.
Now, the intent of these Acts, and of the body of enactments of which they are a part, is to give to every child in the Commonwealth that education which alone prepares him to discharge the duties of citizenship. And, by virtue of their provisions, and of the suffrages of their fellow-citizens, the school committee are made the guardians, so far as the business of education is concerned, of the youth of their respective municipalities.
I respectfully submit, therefore, that while the education of the deaf-mutes and the blind is not, in terms, committed to the charge of the school committee, yet the plain intent and spirit of law do so plainly bring these unfortunate classes within their appropriate sphere of duty, that the neglect or ignoring of their claims to aid can hardly be excused; while they cannot, by the aid of a compulsory law, force the parent to send his mute child away from home to the appropriate school, still they can show him that the Commonwealth has provided the means for instructing his child, and is pledged to give them for the asking.
Would it not be a notable and honorable feature in their annual report, that every child in their town, of the proper age, not only those who are physically and mentally" whole,” but also the deaf and mute, the blind, and the feeble-minded even, are gathered into their appropriate places of instruction. Such a report would be a record of duty thoroughly discharged, and richly merit the plaudit, "Well done."
Liberal extracts from the annual reports of the American Asylum, and the Clarke Institution, together with the terms of admission to each, will be found in the Appendix.
LEGISLATION. The following "Act relating to Institutions for the Education of the Deaf and Dumb, and the Blind," was passed at the last session of the legislature :
Be it enacted, &c., as follows :
Such duties with reference to institutions for the instruction of the deaf and dumb, and of the blind, as are now vested in the board of state charities, are hereby transferred to and vested in the board of education ; and such institutions, when aided by a grant of money from the state treasury, shall make report to the said last-named board instead of to the former, as prescribed by chapter two hundred and forty-three of the acts of the year one thousand eight hundred and sixty-seven. [Approved April 10, 1875.
So far as the deaf and dumb are concerned, this Act enjoins no new duties upon the Board of Education. The Act of 1867 required the performance of the same, together with additional ones. The main scope of the Act is to place the education of the blind under the same general supervision as that of the deaf and dumb. The object in view, in respect to both classes, was to give a practical recognition and emphasis to the fact, that the provision made by the Commonwealth for their education, is not an act of charity, but of simple duty, the same both in principle and policy, as that which is the basis of all her legislation respecting the education of her youth.
It is to be hoped that the time is not far distant when, following the example of most of her sister States, Massachusetts will make the education of these unfortunate classes, as in the case of those whose faculties are unimpaired, absolutely free to the children of the poor and the rich alike.
In the case of the institutions for the education of the deaf and dumb, the aid granted by the Commonwealth is not a gross sum paid to the school, but a specified amount paid for the tuition, and board when furnished, of each pupil sent thereto by the governor. With respect to the blind, the mode is different: an appropriation is annually made in aid of the " Perkins Institution and Massachusetts Asylum for the Blind,” in consideration of which the Institution holds itself responsible for the education of such persons as shall be sent thereto by the governor as state pupils.
The amount so granted has for several years been $30,000. This has been expended for the general purposes of the Institution, and no specific account of its expenditure in distinction from that of other funds is practicable. The treasurer's account accompanies the annual report of the director, which forms one of the sering of "permanent documents,” and is annually bound with then.
No report has been made to the Board from the Perkins Institution, an omission doubtless owing to the waning health, during the summer and autumn, which has since terminated in the lamented death of its distinguished and philanthropic director, Dr. Samuel G. Howe.
The following paragraphs from the report of the Trustees, pleasantly recognize the foregoing Act of the legislature :
“We take pleasure in informing the Corporation that the Institution has been placed by law under the supervision of the Board of Education, instead of that of the Board of State Charities.
“ Although purely educational in character, aims and purposes, it was liable, until last year, to be classed among the eleemosynary establishments of the State. This change of jurisdiction, removing as it does all risk of misunderstanding regarding the character of the Institution, has given great satisfaction to its pupils and friends."
I invite attention to extracts made from the late annual reports of the Perkins Institution, which cannot fail of being read with interest, especially by those who may not have been conversant with its purposes, its methods of training, and their grand results. (See Appendix.)
As suggested in the commencement, and for reasons which have, I believe, met your approval, this Report has been confined to a statement of the ordinary topics which are expected to be noticed, while others requiring a fuller treatment have been reserved for a supplementary report.
BOSTON, January, 1876.
[From the Report of the Principal.]
The manual labor performed by our pupils is an important part of their education, not only for the sake of forming habits of industry and usefulness, but as actually furnishing a reliable means of support Forty-nine of the smaller boys, and five girls, have worked in the tailor's shop during the year, and have made by hand ninety-nine pairs of pantaloons, sixty-six coats, forty-four vests, and sixty-eight aprons, most of which have been used within the Institution. Besides this, they have done a large amount of repairing. The tailor's trade is not thoroughly taught, as the boys prefer to go into one of the other shops when about fifteen years old Many of them, however, can make a good use of their skill at tailoring for their own benefit. The few girls who can work in this shop, usually learn to be good tailoresses.
Thirty-three boys have worked in the shoe-shop, and have made about eight hundred pairs of shoes, and one hundred pairs of boots, and also have done considerable custom-work, besides all the repairing for the pupils. A large part of what is made is furnished to the boys, and the remainder is. sold to dealers. Three hours a day are spent in the shop, and ordinarily it requires about four years for a boy to become a good workman. Ten of the boys are able now to earn two dollars a day at this trade.
Forty-one boys have been employed in the cabinet-shop, and have made one hundred and fifty-two plain leaf-tables, and two hundred and seventythree ironing and saloon tables, and a quantity of fine work to order. They turn out bureaus, book-cases, wardrobes, counting-house desks and secretaries. Their work, being all done by hand, is substantial, and the best of it will compare well with that of other shops. The boys have also been engaged in supplying a number of the school-rooms with new double desks, made of ash, in the place of the old ones which had become dilapidated. Besides this, they have done small repairs upon the building and its furniture. Ten of the boys have learned the cabinet-making trade sufficiently to go into a shop and support themselves.
The girls, although most of them are taught no trade, learn many useful household arts, and accomplish a great deal of work. They sweep, make beds, wash dishes, knit, mend their own clothing and that of the boys, make their own clothing, and also the linen for the establishment. Their work is