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NEW YORK. ANNUAL REPORT OF THE SUPERINTENDENT OF COMMON SCHOOLS FOR
1846. The official documents relating to the practical working of the common school system of this great state, will always attract the attention of every friend of educational improvement. For an outline of the system we refer our readers to Educational Tract, No. 1. The following facts and suggestions, gathered from the above report of Mr. Benton, show the present state of the schools.
GENERAL CONDITION OF THE SYSTEM. Population of the state in 1845, 2,604,495. Number of counties, 59. Number of cities, 9. Number of towns, 835. Whole number of school districts, 11,017. Number of entire districts, 8,421. Number of parts of districts, 5,307. Number of districts from which reports have been received, 10,808. Number of non-reporting districts, 299. Average length of time during which schools have been taught, eight months. Number of volumes in district libraries, 1,144,579. Increase over last year, 106,183 volumes.
Amount of public money expended for teachers' wages during the year, $429,855 07.
Amount of public money expended for libraries and school apparatus, $95,182 35.
Amount contributed on rate bills for teachers' wages beyond public money, $456,141 16.
Number of children under instruction during the year, 736,150.
Amount of public money received from all sources by town superintendents for distribution,
$750,55124 Amount apportioned for teachers' wages, $572,653 82 for library &c.
95,501 06 668,244 99 Balance expended under local appropriations,
$82 611 36 Local funds arising from avails of gospel and school lots &c. $20,207 93.
No. of children who attended school for 2 months and upwards, during the year,
do. for 4 months and upwards, 336,462 do.
for 6 months and upwards, 189,374 do.
for 8 months and upwards, 91,765 do.
do. for 10 months and upwards, 48,901 do. do. for 12 months.
4,298 Number of private schools, about 2000. Number of children attending, about 56,000. Number of children attending schools for colored children, 2960. Amount of public money applied to such schools, $11,184 92. Additional amount paid on rate bills, $1,086 18.
AGGREGATE EXPENSE OF THE SYSTEM. The actual capital of moneys invested by the state, and expended by the authority of law for the maintenance and accommodation of the public schools may be thus stated :Productive capital of the school fund,
$2,090,632 41 Unproductive capital of the school fund is estimated at
175,000 00 Amount invested in school houses, other improvements and real estate,
If the principal of the income from the U. S. deposite fund, $165,000 be added as capital,
Then the capital is
$8,751,755 96 The amount invested in school houses is taken from the returns of the marshals who took the census of the state in 1845. Cost of common school buildings,
$2,997,155 97 Cost of other improvements,
135,362 26 Cost of real estate,
Total cost of buildings, improvements and real estate, $3,739,123 55
The whole annual expense of our schools may be stated as follows, but nothing more than a probable approximation to accuracy is intended in making it.
Interest at 7 per cent. on $3,115,590 55, the cost of school houses, &c, as returned by the marshals appointed to take the census,
$218,091 33 Fuel for 10,837 districts at $8 for each,
86,696 00 Fees of collectors on $222,218 raised by tax at 3 per cent.,
6,666 54 Fees for collecting $458,127 on rate bills at 5 per cent.,
22,906 35 Repairs of school houses average $4 each,
44,072 00 Compensation of town superintendents and town officers, supervisors and town clerk, say,
25,500 00 County superintendents of common schools,
28,000 00 Total estimated expenses,
$431,902 22 Add amount actually expended as ascertained by the returns of 1844, including for libraries,
$997,723 92 Making an aggregate expenditure of,
$1,429,626 14 for the support of schools, exclusive of books and stationery for the use of the scholars. "Divide the above sum by 676,732, the number of scholars instructed, and the average cost for each child is $2 11.
The county superintendents have visited 9,306 school houses during the year ending on the 1st of October, 1815 ; 7,566 of which were of framed wood; 567 of brick ; 519 of stone, and 552 of logs. The number found in good repair was 3,783 ; in ordinary repair 2,701 ; and in bad repair 2,761. Only 672 were found containing two or more rooms, leaving 8,643 with but one room ; 2,641 were furnished with suitable play grounds, and 6,462 were entirely destitute of such grounds ; 2,133 were furnished with a single privy, 1,480 with double privies, and 5,194 were wholly destitute of this appendage. The number furnished with suitable and convenient seats, desks, &c., is stated at 3,811; and the number not so furnished at 5,440. The number provided with proper means for ventilation is 2,950, leaving 6,950 not so provided. Every district in the counties of Kings, Monroe and New York, is provided with suitable privies; while in Allegany 190 out of 251 districts visited; in Broome 110 out of 156 ; in Chautauque 228 out of 309; in Chemung 89 out of 122; in Columbia 118 out of 182; in Franklin 87 out of 107; in Greene 104 out of 134; in Lewis 96 out of 130; in Putnam 132 out of 163; in Seneca 72 out of 111; in St. Lawrence 243 of 329; in Steuben 65 out of 78; in Suffolk 76 out of 119; in Sullivan 73 out of 87; in Tioga 94 out of 134; and in Warren 83 out of 107, are wholly destitute of privies.
The whole outlay for school houses and their necessary appendages is derived from taxes voluntarily imposed by the tax paying inhabitants of the school districts upon themselves in accordance with an uniform rule prescribed for all, while about one-fourth part of the annual expenses incurred for the support and maintenance of the schools is contributed from the public treasury, and another fourth raised by the boards of supervisors in the counties; the remainder is mostly paid by the patrons of the schools. The law inflicts no other penalties upon the inhabitants of school districts for refusing or neglecting to provide a suitable school room, and to cause a school to be kept a limited time each year by a competent teacher, than the forfeiture of a sum not equal to one half of the annual expense of instruction; hence every burthen beyond the mere tax raised in the towns is voluntarily assumed, and this, it is believed, constitutes the chief excellence of our system of education. The indications of advancement are neither feeble nor doubtful; and when called to witness the construction of new and in many instances commodious school houses, it is painful to notice so much inattention in providing those appendages so necessary to promote the physical comforts of the young and protect their moral sensibilities against the indelicate exposures which must inevitably happen for the want of conveniently arranged privies.
CONDITION OF THE WINTER SCHOOLS, 1814-5. 'The whole number of districts visited during the winter term was 5,845; and the aggregate number of pupils in attendance at the time of such visitations respectively, was 225,510.' The number of pupils engaged in learning the alphabet, was 11,376; in spelling, 51,627; in reading, 221,880; in arithmetic, 117,075; in geography, 74,788; in the use of globes and other scientific apparatus, 14,298; in history, 14, 161; in English grammar, 49,711; in algebra, 3,620; in geometry, surveying and the higher mathematics, 900; in natural philosophy, 7,100; in mental philosophy, 537 ; in physiology, 1,395; in book-keeping, 022 ; in composition, 20,601; in definitions, 29,268; and in chemistry and astronomy, 4,532. The number of male teachers employed was 4,751; of female teachers, 1,907; of the former, 154 were under 18 years of age; 1,052 between 19 and 21; 1,874 between 20 and 25; 909 between 25 and 30; and 563 over 30; of the latter, 165 were under 18; 521 between 18 and 21; 516 between 21 and 25; 212 between 25 and 30; and 84 upwards of 30. The number of males who had taught, in the whole, for a less period than one year, was 1,603; and of the females, 318. The number of the former who had taught in the whole more than one year, was 2,911 ; and of the latter, 1,222. The number of male teachers who had taught the same school for a period less than one year was 3,213— for one year, 710; two years, 339; and three years, 290. The number of females who had taught the same school for a less period than one year was 1,003—for one year, 311; two years, 110; and three years, 100.
The whole number of districts visited was 6,434 ; aggregate number of pupils in attendance, 209,802; number in the alphabet, 19,571 ; spelling, 62,830; reading, 193,751 ; in arithmetic, 117,075; in geography, 69,142; use of globes, &c. 14,406 ; history, 9,094 ; grammar, 31,217; algebra, 1,706 ; geometry and higher mathematics, 906; in natural philosophy, 5,015; physiology, 2,172; definitions, 26,549; chemistry and astronomy, 4,372; number of male teachers, 1,229; female teachers, 5,918; number of male teachers under 18 years of age, 23; between 18 and 21 years, 170; between 21 and 25, 401 ; between 25 and 30, 208; over 30, 228. Number of female teachers under 18 years of age, 1,018; between 18 and 21, 2,048; between 21 and 25, 1,551; between 25 and 30, 580; over thirty, 238. Number of male teachers who had taught over one year in any school, 897; less than one year, 203; of the females, 3,157 had taught over one year, and 2,209 less than one year.
Number of male teachers who had taught the same school less than one year, 510; one year, 270; two years, 150; three years, 173. Number of females who had remained in the same school less than one year, 3,905 ; one year, 1,025; two years, 333; and three years, 157,
COMPENSATION OF TEACHERS, The average of the wages paid to male teachers during the winter term, was $13 37 per month, and during the summer, $14 25, exclusive of board; and the average paid to female teachers during the former, was $7 00, and for the latter, $6 00 per month, also exclusive of board. This compensation does not vary much from that of the previous year, but the average is somewhat less than was paid in the year 1813, occasioned probably by the employment of a larger num. ber of female teachers during the past than in the former year. It is also believed that the considerable number of males and females under eighteen years of age who are employed by the trustees as teachers and for small wages, tends consid. erably to reduce the average rate of compensation. The superintendent cannot believe that the services of competent teachers are not at this day duly appreciated, or that the advantages to be derived from the employment of such only, as hy their zeal and fidelity in the discharge of their important duties, are not properly estimated by parents and school trustees. Those who “make the business of teaching a permanent profession,” should and in most cases no doubt have, acquired an education equal to every requirement for that profession, and possess "an aptness to teach," and a facility to impart instruction to others, which should not fail to place them high in public estimation. The young and talented of either sex in the state, should not hesitate to make choice of this as an honorable, and in the end, a remunerating profession, and those who have commenced in this career of usefulness, should not doubt of ultimate success. By industry and application in their pursuits, and amenity of conduct in their intercourse with others they will soon conciliate the public favor, and the competent, faithful and zealous instructor will find no cause to complain that his services are not justly rewarded. Devotion to duty, excellence of attainments, and correct inoral de. portment, are qualifications that merit and must receive from parents and the patrons of our schools, their warmest commendations and liberal support. Those parents who have had an opportunity of testing the effect upon the minds and conduct of their children, produced by such teachers, would gladly contribute any reasonable sum to secure such services. Parents ever watchful of the progress and best interests of their children, are not unmindful of their improvement in the branches of education to which they have been devoted, the unfolding of the youthful mind, their propriety of conduct, and desire for advancement. If these are the results and the fruits of the instructors' labor, the proof will be evident that more than an equivalent has been rendered for the price of instruction paid by the employer. Parents should remember that it is more important their children should be correctly and thoroughly instructed in those branches of education assigned to them, than a rapid superficial progress can under any circumstances be expected to accomplish: that the inquiry with them should be, how well has this child been instructed ? and not how many studies has he pursued disregarding all thorough proficiency? and that in the first instance it is far easier to impress truth into the youthful mind, than to eradicate an error once fixed there. The teacher must consider how much his own success and his usefulness in his profession depends upon himself. He should also bear in mind that he is entrusted with the education of those who may in a short time control the destinies of a large and wide spread people, and that, if he fails in duty, he commits a moral treason against his country and its institutions.
MUSIC IN COMMON SCHOOLS. In 1843 the aggregate number of pupils, who attended the common schools, engaged in the study and practice of vocal music in the winter schools was 10,220 ; in 1544 the number increased to 47,618; and during the year 1845 to 71,890. In the summer terms of 1813 the number was 17,632; in 1811 the num. ber had increased to 43,213; and in 1815 to 77,925, or about one-ninth of the whole number instfucted in the schools. These results afford the most pleasing satisfaction at the favorable reception given to an exercise so conducive to health, innocent enjoyment and instruction; and should the ratio of progression continue we shall soon see hundreds of thousands of children engaged at proper intervals in the “study and practice of vocal music” in our common schools.
SCHOOL DISTRICT LIBRARIES. The number of volumes in these libraries was on the 1st day of January, 1845, 1,145,250, there having been an increase during the preceding year of 106,854 volumes.
The fourth section of the act, chapter 237 of the laws of 1838, appropriated annually the sum of fifty-five thousand dollars to be distributed to the support of common schools in the manner and upon the conditions that other school moneys were by law distributed, but the trustees of school districts were directed to apply the sums received by them to the purchase of district libraries for the term of three years, (afterwards by § 6 of chap. 177, Laws of 1839, extended to five years,) and after that time to the purchase of libraries, or for the payment of teachers' wages, in the discretion of the inhabitants of the districts.
The sixteenth section of the act, chapter 133 of the Laws of 1813, repeals the limitation contained in the above section and directs the whole fifty-five thousand dollars, together with an equal sum to be raised in the counties, to be applied to the purchase of books for district libraries until otherwise directed by law, but in a district having over fifty children between five and sixteen years of age, and a library exceeding one hundred and twenty-five volumes; or in a district numbering fifty children or less, between the ages aforesaid, and having a library exceeding one hundred volumes, the inhabitants of such district qualified to vote therein, at any special meeting, duly notified for the purpose, and by a majority of votes, may direct the appropriation of the whole or any part of the library money belonging to such district for the current year, “to the purchase of maps, globes, black-boards, or other scientific apparatus for the use of the schools” of such districts.
The whole amount of money received and paid out by the trustees up to the Ist day of January, 1845, on account of these libraries was $577,648 78, covering a period of six years. The average number of books for each library is over one hundred, and in many of the strong school districts having the required number of volumes, to admit of the diversion to that object, the trustees during the past year have in accordance with the provisions of the statute before noticed, applied the library money to the purchase of school apparatus, and it is supposed a more extensive application of these means will be made the present, than has been during the past year, in procuring these essential aids to the teacher and the pupil.
TEACHERS' INSTITUTES. “Teachers' institutes" and “teachers' drills” have been held during the past year in nearly thirty counties in the state, and were attended by more than three thousand school teachers, for periods varying from two to four and eight weeks of continued session. These voluntary associations are rapidly spreading over our entire state, and are destined soon to occupy much of the public attention. An ardent desire for improvement is seated in the minds of professional teachers; the “schoolmaster is abroad” in search after that educational knowledge which will qualify him to discharge the important duties of his profession, and elevate him and his vocation in public esteem.
The principal of the state normal school, and the professor of mathematics, attended a number of these county “institutes" during the last autumn, and several of its graduates and pupils were called upon to preside over their proceedings and conduct the courses of instruction pursued in them; the pertinent and instructive lectures of the former, and the eminently successful efforts of the latter, have been duly appreciated by the members of the institutes where these services were performed, and that appreciation has been manifested in the most decided terms of approval.
THE COMMON SCHOOL, NOT A PARTY BUT A STATE INSTITUTION. The successful progress and practical results that have hitherto marked the steady advance of our common school system, present to the mind of the philanthropic statesman, the patriotic citizen, and the moralist, a theme for profound reflection on the prospects of the future, and of grateful recollections of the past thirty years. During this time, amidst all the asperities that have marked the conflicts of mind with mind on other topics, civil and social, the revolutions of political parties, and a material change in the fundamental law of the state, this great and invaluable institution has stood like an ocean rock unharmed and unmoved.
It is an institution of THE STATE; all the powers, however, essential to its successful operation are exercised by the school district electors, on whom it mainly acts, and by the local town and district officers elected by the people, but the authority to supervise, inspect and visit, extends no further than is necessary to produce a uniform and harmonious action in the different counties, towns and districts, and to ensure a faithful execution of the law, and preserve the funds appropriated from misapplication and waste; and in this every parent and every tax-payer, whether a patron of the schools or not, has a common as well as an individual interest to be protected.
Many of the provisions of the present system have been in operation for years, and should be considered as having received the sanction and approval of the popular judgment by long acquiescence, while others more recently engrafted upon it, may perhaps be regarded as not having received that consideration, and this institution, like every other of our country, must be subjected to "the voluntary action of the people," whom it affects, and from whom it receives all its