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The delegates were then severally introduced to the governor by Superintendent Wilson; after which they proceeded to the Department of the Interior, to pay their
RESPECTS TO SECRETARY DELANO.
They were received in the Secretary's office. Mr. Binford was introduced to the Secretary by General Eaton, and said the members of the convention were pleased, as educators, to have an opportunity of paying their respects to the Secretary of the Interior, who, with the aid of his Commissioner of Education, has done so much to advance the cause of education in the United States.
RESPONSE OF THE SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
The Secretary responded as follows:
I am very glad to see you, gentlemen; not less so because you are engaged in one of the most interesting and important occupations that can have a bearing upon our civilization. The stability and welfare of our institutions must necessarily, for their perpetuity, depend upon the promotion of education. A well-educated and intelligent community ought to sustain, and I trust will be able to sustain, a republican form of government, and so long as persons continue to pursue the promotion of this great interest and make it a success, so long I shall have hope of the institutions which we have established.
The delegates then proceeded to the hall of the house of delegates, where the convention was called to order by the president, Mr. Binford.
Mr. George J. Luckey, superintendent of schools at Pittsburg, Pa., then read a paper in favor of a uniform plan and form for publishing the principal statistical tables on education.
Teachers, buildings, and schools.
Average monthly enrollment in high school
Average monthly enrollment in normal school .......
Total expenditures ..........
Receipts. Value of school-property, including ground, buildings, and furniture...... Cash-value of real and personal property of city...... Assessed valuation of real and personal property of city .. Mills levied for educational purposes ....... Amount collected by tax for educational purposes... Amount raised from other sources .... Total amount raised for educational purposes....
Expenses, (not incidental.)
* In statement B.
Expended for fuel.........
In this statement the branches which are taught in the district., normal, and high schools should be given under their respective heads.
In this should be given the schedule of salaries of superintendents, secretaries, teach ers, janitors, and other school-officers.
Should head a blank, in which should be given special items which are dezmed important by the superintendent.
Hon. Mr. BICKNELL. In accordance with the plan suggested this morning, I move that this paper be referred to a committee, to report, at this meeting or at some future time, as to a uniform plau of reporting statistics for the various cities of the United States.
Mr. J. ORMOND WILSON. I have no idea that this subject can be satisfactorily settled during the short time that this department will be in session. I think that, perhaps, after a full opportunity for the discus. sion of the subject has been bad, it might be referred to a committee with full power; perhaps to a committee to consist of some gentlemen who are not present. We are not fully represented here to-day, and the superintendents in the Western States have, as I know, given great attention to the subject of statistics. I think, therefore, we should meet this question, after discussion, by the appointment of a committee, with the United States Commissioner of Education as chairman. We wish to ascertain, first, what statistics will be of general importance and general interest, and to agree upon a certain line of statistics, so far as to enable us to present uniform reports to the Commissioner of Education. Therefore, I think, we should have a committee which will fairly represept all parts of the country, and it may be three or four months, or until the meeting next summer, before the plan will be fully matured. I feel that this is a very important matter. Not long since the governor of the District took occasion to say that he thought our education was altogether too expensive. How could I meet that? I addressed super.
intendents of other cities, who reported to me what was the cost for teachers and incidentals, and I was enabled to show that education here, as compared with that of other cities, was not expensive. I knew I could fall back upon Boston, where Mr. Philbrick takes a special pride in the fact that education costs so much ; when it costs $35 or $36 per pupil for a year, this is beld up as an evidence of progress in education. There are several important questions respecting which we can all agree and upon which certain tables can be compiled, say four or five, in wbich all States and cities can agree in presenting their annual reports upon certain items, all calculated upon the same basis, to meet the same questions. That is what the Commissioner of Education wants.
One question would be, how many children have been educated to any extent; how many names have been on the school-register? Another, what is the average number of names; and what is the daily attendance; and a fourth, more important in this District than any other, what burdens do the people of the community sustain to support education ; or, in other words, what tax do they pay? I ask Chicago, Cleveland, Buffalo, and other cities, “ What tax do you pay ?” Perhaps I get this auswer, that they pay 663 cents on the hundred dollars, or a little over six mills on the dollar. But I learn that Buffalo assesses property at one-half its value. We should know the real value of the property of a city, and then the rate of taxation, in order to settle the burden on any community. Then there may be a State-tax, a city-tax, or there may be a permanent fund, and the revenues for the support of education may be derived from three or four sources.
I feel a great interest in this subject, and am very glad it has been brought before the department. After it has been fully discussed, I hope it will be referred to a committee with full powers, of which the Commissioner of Education shall be the chairman. I think we may then arrive at an agreement upon certain tables which shall be national, and can be filled up uniformly throughout the country.
Hon. Mr. BICKNELL. I think this subject one of the most important that can be brought before this body, and I am glad it meets us at the outset. The question was put to me by the governor of Rbode Island on the same point as that referred to by Mr. Wilson. The governor wished me to show him the exact cost, per capita, of education in Rhode Island. I immediately turned to General Eaton's reports and showed him the statement of the whole. I found various bases established by the several States. First, in regard to enrollm ent. In some States all are enrolled who are under 21 years of age; in some the school-age is from 6 to 21; in some from 5 to 15; and others 6 to 14. So that I found it impossible to determine anything in reference to the question of school. attendance on which to base a comparison.
Again, I found that some States show the number of pupils educated at school; in other States it is the average attendance throughout the year, or during four terms. The question as to the amount of educa
tion in each is wholly undetermined. I could not tell, and I think no one of the superintendents here to-day can tell. Again, in regard to expenditures; wbat are the regular expenditures and what are the incidentals? So, as to the other points already referred to, they certainly should be unified, in order that all the facts may be brought to the same basis and that our judgment may be equal in reference to education in the different States.
I concur in the desire that General Eaton may be chairman of the committee, which I hope will be appointed, to report at another time.
Mr. WILLIAM R. CREERY. It has been a question with me whether we could discuss this subject at the present time, a motion having been made to refer the whole subject to a committee. As the president, however, has already permitted some debate on the merits of the question, I will say that it was my pleasure two years ago to present a paper op this subject to the convention at St. Louis. Allusion has been made to what was done by western saperintendents at that meeting and wbat has been done since. In my opinion, what they did amounts to nothing.
At that convention I took strong ground against statistics generally, and pronounced them worthless for purposes of comparison, as they simply deluded the unwary. I used some plain language on the subject, which created a little feeling among my brother-superintendents who prided themselves on their splendid exhibits, the effort 'seeming to be in many cases to present school-statistics in their best light, and not in the truest light.
I have had the question put to me as to the cost of education per pupil in the city of Baltimore. I have said in reply, “Upon what basis do you wish me to calculate the cost ? Shall I include salaries, rents, ground-rents, books and stationery, incidentals, interest on cost of buildings? Or shall I omit some of these charges? I can calculate it just as you wish and make the cost per pupil all the way from $10 to $23 per annum. If I wish to make the cost per pupil small, I take a large divisor and a small dividend; that is, I take all the pupils who have been in during the year for a divisor, and only a part of the total cost for a dividend. The truth is, as things are now, the calculation of cost is a kind of sliding scale, to be used as superintendents find it necessary.
Superintendents are sometimes publicly attacked about the expenses of their schools. They must frequently defend themselves by using the statistics of other cities. How important is it, then, that these statistics should be made up in some generally known way. We should have a common language on statistics, that could be understood, on the mere reading, by any one of ordinary intelligence.
I found it stated in the report of a western city that in a certain school, for a period of six months, there had not been a single case of tardiness. I pronounced this marvelous. It was so to me. It almost surpasses human belief. I could not receive the statement as true.