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FOR THE UNITED STATES COMMISSION TO THE PARIS EXPOSITION OF 1900
MONOGRAPHS ON EDUCATION
NICHOLAS MURRAY BUTLER Professor of Philosophy and Education in Columbia University, New York
EDUCATION OF DEFECTIVES
EDWARD ELLIS ALLEN Principal of the Pennsylvania Institution for the Instruction of the Blind,
THIS MONOGRAPH IS CONTRIBUTED TO THE UNITED STATES EDUCATIONAL EXHIBIT BY THE
STATE OF NEW YORK
EDUCATION OF DEFECTIVES
Systematic care of the defective classes began in America in 1815, when a young theological student, Thomas Hopkins Gallaudet, started for Europe to study methods of teaching the deaf and dumb. A school for this class was opened in 1817, one for the blind in 1831, and one for the feeble-minded in 1845— practically fifteen years apart. In each case the first schools were in New England, the second in New York, the third in Pennsylvania; and these schools followed one another quickly. All started in the face of more or less distrust as to their feasibility. At first all were experimental, being started through private initiative. A few pupils were taught and exhibited before the amazed public, when in the case of the deaf and the blind private funds in abundance were contributed and the schools quickly established as private corporations. In the case of the feebleminded the first school to be incorporated was a public organization — that is, it was supported by the state. Before 1822 the state had not been educated to the point of supporting schools for the special classes, but by 1848 it was ready to see its duty towards even the idiotic, though wealthy people were by no means prepared to contribute directly to schools for them.
The three states named having sed the way, the movement spread quickly into Ohio, Kentucky, Virginia and Illinois — in almost identical order for each special class. Here, however, the schools for the three classes arose as state institutions. It had become an accepted part of public policy for the state to provide a means of education for all her children. The superintendents of the early schools for the deaf and dumb were generally clergymen; those of the blind and the idiotic, generally physicians. The institutions were necessarily boarding schools; and the early ones were
established as a rule in or near the state capitals, chiefly that their achievements might be kept before the members of the legislatures, on whose practical sympathy the continuance of the schools usually depended.
The large private or semi-public institutions are confined to the eastern states, where the movement began. Their support comes chiefly from private bequests and the interest on invested endowment funds. All, however, receive what is termed state aid, and all make annual report to the state legislatures, to the commissioners of public charities or of public education, as the case may be. All these institutions are governed by honorary boards of trustees or managers, who appoint the superintendent or principal. In the semipublic organization the managers form a self-appointing, close corporation; in the public, they are appointed usually by the state governor, by whom they may also be removed.
The semi-public institutions are usually well endowed. Their expenditures are, therefore, not limited by legislative grant; and, moreover, these institutions are free from political interference, an interference which, in the case of several of the state organizations, has seriously affected from time to time the efficiency of the institutions themselves. As a rule, the institution plants are large and well equipped. Even when within the built-up cities the buildings are surrounded with ample lawns and playgrounds. The appropriations of money are generous, whether the schools are public or semi-public. The earlier institutions were built on the congregate plan ; the later and those that have been rebuilt have generally adopted the segregate or cottage plan.
The pupils are not committed to these institutions, but are admitted or rejected by the boards of trustees on the recommendation of the superintendents.
The early institutions for all three classes of defectives began purely as schools And all those existing to-day, except those for the feeble-minded, discharge or graduate all pupils after these have completed the course of instruc