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REPORT

OF THE

COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION

FOR

THE YEAR 18 7 3.

REPORT.

DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR, BUREAU OF EDUCATION,

Washington, D. C., November 15, 1873. SIR: I have the honor to submit my fourth annual report. The disasters which have fallen upon the finances and industries in portions of the country have, in some instances, embarrassed the progress of education by delaying the payment of teachers and by depriving many poor children of the opportunity of attending school; but, on the whole, the year has been one of substantial progress in this important interest. Especially is this true as respects the work assigned this Office.

The facts now ready for use present, as respects amount, definiteness, and freshness, a striking contrast to the condition of educational information when my first report was commenced, in 1870.

Doubtless we cannot expect that the result of efforts in this direction for any year will be wholly satisfactory until every child is brought under the influence of elementary instruction and there is a sufficient number of youth in the secondary, superior, and special grades of training to assure the progress of the Republic in the improvement of all its vast opportunities.

At present, however, these facts cannot be fully, accurately, and promptly collated ; Fet any report of them must carry with it a certain useful impression, as it reveals the extent of ignorance that prevails in quarters and the evils that flow from it to individuals, society, and the state. It is of interest to the sailor to know whether his chart and his observations enalle him to compute accurately his position and bearings. It is of no less consequence to the patriot to know whether his country is responding to the necessary conditions of growth and perpetuity. This he can never know if he leaves out of view what is transpiring with the rising generation. He may compare the facts relating to the material condition of his country with those respecting other nationalities, and may find them flattering to his pride; and yet, if he has not taken into consideration the educational factors—the efforts for the culture of the young-and their effects, and the other facts which may be definitely known, showing whether ignorance or intelligence, vico or virtue, crime or justice, honesty or dishonesty, are on the increase, he has luft out the one element most essential to a correct conclusion.

Commerce, industry, legislation, and administration would go back towards barbarism, if the care of the young were neglected for a single generation. The lack of these data for our whole country has for a long period been a standing complaint among students of American civilization. No officer could make satisfactory replies to foreign inquiries. No statesman could find facts for the formation of his opinions or the guidance of his conduct. There was much pompous boasting of American intelligence, but nobody could exactly describe it.

The most cminent investigators in this field had confessed their embarrassment. The demand for something comprehensive and complete was increasing from every quarter and every interest. Leading minds in other countries, as they saw the restored Union rise above the commotions which had been thought by monarchists certainly fatal to it and to republicanism, more universally accepted education as the primal cause of national safety as well as of national progress and in this belief came here to study it anew. At the same time the transition through which our own society was passing, especially in those sections wbere slavery had been abolished, increased the public solicitude in this direction. The desire for information was not satisfied with the

opinions of the most eminent educators, nor with local experiences, records, and statistics, nor with the widest theoretical generalization.

Almost every one who endeavored to understand the diverse facts in connection with education in this country complained of the lack of a general summary. Great and noble efforts had been made to supply this desideratum; particular features, methods, or systems bad been examined ; some very valuable special statements had been published; but there was no report for my guidance. There was not anywhere in existence any complete list of colleges, academies, or high schools; there was no summary of the work accomplished by the several State- and city-systems. Forty years ago, Jared Sparks had sought to make out a list of colleges, to show the annual work doue by them; thirty-five years ago, Dr. Henry Barnard secured the insertion of some inquiries respecting the intelligence of the people in the schedules of the census; yet, in 1870, when engaged on my first report, I was told by persons of great intelligence that they considered the reports of Dr. Fraser and M. Hippeau the best to be found on the snbject of American education. The preparation of the report for that year was like cutting a path through an untrodden forest.

The law indeed required this Office to collect such statistics and facts as wonld shoir the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories ; but it will be readily seen that under these requirements many serious questions arosu as to how the collection should be made and what class of facts and statistics should be included. I could not divest my mind of that comprehensive conception of education suggested by a most eminent philosopher, who declared that “education, in its larger sense, is one of the most inexhaustible of all topics. Though there is hardly any subject on which so much bas been written, by so many of the wisest men, it is as fresh to them who come to it with a fresh mind, a mind not hopelessly filled with other people's conclusions, as it was to the first explorer of it; and, notwithstanding the great mass of excellent things which have been said respecting it, no thoughtful person finds any lack of things, both great and small, still waiting to be said or waiting to be developed and followed out to their consequences. Education, moreover, is one of the subjects which most essentially require to be considered by various minds and from a variety of points of view; for, of all many-sided subjects, it is the one which has the greatest number of sides. Not only does it include whatever we do for ourselves and whatever is done for us by others, for the express purpose of bringing us somewhat nearer to the perfection of our nature; it does more; in its largest acceptation, it comprehends even the indirect effects produced ou character and on the human faculties by things of which the direct purposes are quite different: by laws, by forms of government, by the industrial arts, by modes of social life; nay, even by physical facts not dependent on human will: by climate, soil, and local position. Whatever belps to shape the human being to make the individual what he is or hinder him from being what he is not-is part of his education."

I decided that it would be inadmissible to treat in a national Office education in any partial or limited sense of the word and that it was proper to seek first those results least liable to future modification. In carrying out this purpose, it seemed to me that certain limitations were absolutely essential for the proper conduct of the Office, and I have endeavored to have them ever present for the guidance of whatever was undertaken in it. I felt that a work coming into so close relations to the instrumentalities for the training of the youth of the nation should regard most scrupulously all the great principles on which depends the perpetuity of our institutions and of the spirit which leads and assures the progress of our civilization, such as that sacred privacy and responsibility of individuals and localities and institutions, in which none should intermeddle.

Resolving that no effort of the Office should with my consent infringe this freedom, I saw, or seemed to myself to see, in the facts and experiences which each institution,

*Address on “Literary and scientific education," by J. Stuart Mill, delivered at the University of St. Andrews, February 1, 1867

system, or educator thought it desirable to make public, either for self-benefit or the good of others, an ample field for the collation of results which would be inost usefu. for all to know.

SOURCES OF MATERIAL.

It has been found impossible to give credit to each source of information from which the first portion of tbe appendix to this report was compiled.

Every State now, except Delaware, makes some kind of periodical report on education. These and other official reports are, of course, our first sources of information and are formally credited. It would, doubtless, be well if every State- and territorial report included all the items mentioned in our abstracts; but in many instances they do not. In regard to several States, no summary of information similar to those given in the appendix can be found; though brief, they require great labor in preparation and are made as comprehensive as possible. In comparing the abstracts of this year in detail with those of 1870, great differences will be recognized. It will be noticed that the amount of information drawn from city-reports, wbich is not contained in Statereports, is increasing year by year. The practice of permitting a municipal schoolsystem to be in action for several years, without the publication of complete reports for the information of the people, is becoming less and less common.

In addition to these sources of information there are very many facts communicated directly otbis Office by letters from State-, city-, and county-superintendents, members of boards of education, teachers, and by the heads of the different institutions for superior, secondary, professional, or special instruction. Moreover, the tabulated summaries in regard to superior, secondary, and professional instruction, which will be found in the abstracts, are drawn from returns made by these institutions directly to this Office, and the information will be found in full in the tables at the end of the appendix. These tables are brought up as closely as possible to the date when the report passes through the hands of the printer.*

In order that the increased value of the statistical portion of the present report over that of past years may be more clearly understood, the number of institutions, instructors, and students reported in several tables in the reports for 1870, 1071, and 1872, and in the appendix to this volume, have been brought together in the following statistical summary to present to the eye the growth of this material in a single view, as follows:

* In my last report there was an effort made to describe the condition of educational reports and in. formation in the country: what the officers of the State- and city-systems and institntions knew about theit iondition and were able to include in their reports. This some writers interpreted to mean a disinclination on the part of educational officers to report to a central national Office; but the fact is that none are so well aware of these deficiencies as the superintendents and officers themselves, and none are more earnest or determined to correct them; and as for readiness to report to this Bureau and to render it any assistance in gathering information, the greatest willingness and kindness have been manifested by every State., county., and city, or town-school-officer, from the highest to the lowest, witbont exception. The summary then presented, so surprising to many, was only the gathering-up in a single statement of certain deficiencies, which all efforts had so far failed to remedy, and was done solely as a means of awakening more general convictions of the necessity of, and arousing the public mind to, greater efforts in this direction. It will be impossible to find better appreciation of these efforts than is presented in the general improvement of these reports

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