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same within or without. The outhouses are as neatly kept as any of the rooms, which, I am sorry to say, is not always the case.
This school was organized Nov. 5th., 1855, in the basement of the Presbyterian Church, and numbered only eighty scholars. The average attendance this present term will exceed three hundred and twenty-five-showing that the school is abundantly patronized.
This addition the schools of Waukesha has greatly assisted the Common School cause in this vicinity. Indeed, people seem confirmed in the opinion that the Graded School can and ought to take the place of the Academy, and Preparatory Department of the College.
A. A. GRIFFITH, Town Superintendent.
CHRISTIANA. As I was appointed to the office of Town Superintendent but a few weeks since, I cannot reply to your circular as explicitly as would be desirable, but will state só far as I am informed. Among parents and the people in general, with some noble exceptions, there seems to be but little interest taken in the condition and progress of our educational matters. Many do not attend the meetings of their respective districts, while scarcely a parent or a school officer visits a school from the commencement of a term to its close.
Of five teachers whose schools I have visited, four I considered well qualifiedthe fifth failing principally in discipline. Teachers oftener fail of success from this cause, than from a lack of other qualification.
The greatest obsticle in the way of educational prosperity in this town at present, is the almost numberless variety of text-books. When this difficulty is corrected, and parents and school officers exercise a more thorough supervision over our schools, then efficiency will be greatly enhanced.
I think, to place the school districts in this town on an equality with respect of educational facilities, a modification of the method of distributing the public funds is necessary, so as to allow none to draw public money, save those who attend school. To illustrate the inequality of the present system: District No. 2 in this town contains 120 children, but reports only 54 as having attended school during the year; and to pay for instructing these 54 children the district draws $121 public money. In district No. 3, there are 63 children, all of whom have attended school, and the district draws $73 51. Consequently, to pay a teacher the same wages for instructing these 63 the same length of time as in No. 2, they are compelled to raise a tax of $27 49. I would recommend distributing public money according to the average number of children who shall have attended school during
WM. B. WEST, Town Superintendent.
JANESVILLE. The best evidence of the interest felt by parents and patrons of schools, is the character and progress of those schools, and the regularity with which they are kept up. In these respects, so far as I am able to Judge, the schools of this town will compare favorably with district schools generally throughout Rock county. It is true, there are some in all the districts who manifest little or no interest in the cause of educaton, but as a general thing there are enough live ones to keep the ball in motion. One district, however, seems to be an exception to the general rule. It appears to be wanting in enterprizing men; so much so, at least, that they only keep up a school three months during the year—just enough to secure their proportion of the public money. The size of their school house is exactly, 14 by 16 feet, valued at fifty dollars, six-fold less than any other school house in the town. The other districts have good substantial houses, mostly of brick. Many things which would have added greatly to the health, pleasure and convenience of scholars, have doubtless been overlooked in the construction of their buildings; but for the most part they are commodious, comfortable, and pleasantly situated.
The standard of qualification of teachers in this town, is probably as high as
WISCONSIN JOURNAL OF EDUCATION.
in most others. Indeed, the people are becoming very careful in selecting their teachers, and are willing to pay wages that will secure good ones; but occasionally those are engaged who would better grace some other calling.
The branches taught in our schools embrace all those required by law to be taught, with the addition of an occasional class in Algebra, Natural Philosophy and Analysis. In one school Geometry has been commenced, and Physiology has been studied in one or two schools during the past summer, but never before to my knowledge.
And here, sir, allow me to express an opinion with regard to the study of Physiology in our common schools.
I see among all classes of society, many and great evils, directly or indirectly the result of ignorance respecting this most important branch of education. Parents know nothing, comparatively, of the science; teachers do not understand it, or, to say the least, not one-fifth part of our district school teachers understand it, and of course our children are not instructed init. School houses are almost universally constructed with no reference whatever to the health of scholars; cheapness and durability being the main objects had in view, little is ever thought of ventilation, neatness, comfort and convenience. Children are allowed to contract habits which follow them while they live-habits which in countless instances hurry them into premature graves--shortening and embittering lives that might otherwise have been long, useful and happy.
But, sir, I need not enumerate the evils that are consequent upon the want of knowledge with regard to the laws of life and health. Your greater experience has undoubtedly led you to observe much more narrowly those evils than it is possible for me to do. I wish merely to suggest the propriety of adding Physiology and Hygiene to the list of studies already required to be taught in the common school, thereby compelling teachers to qualify themselves in this branch of learning.
I see no more difficulty in teaching the science of Physiology to the smallest scholars, even, than in teaching Geography or Arithmetic. Were teachers required to understand it, they would not fail, I think, to impart something of their knowledge of the subject to their pupils, though without text-books. An interest in the science would then be aroused-parents would eventually see its great importance-and Physiology would become one of the most pleasing and interesting, as well as the most useful studies pursued in school. It will not do to say that it belongs to High Schools, Seminaries and Academies, because but few comparatively, have the privilege of attending such schools; while all, both poor and rich, low and lofty, are equally subject to those fixed and immutable laws of nature, upon the observance of which life and health must depend. But enough, sir, of this subject. I have trespassed too much already upon your patience; and my only apology is, that I feel warmly interested in the matter, and shall labor to interest others.
In regard to text-books I cannot say that we have a uniformity. During the past summer a change was effected in most of the schools, and I think will be made in the remainder the coming winter. The books adopted are those recommended by the Department of Public Instruction.
I have endeavored to induce people to try the recommended series, and where they have done so the books have given good satisfaction. A fresh impetus has been given to the schools by the means, and none, I am confident, can fail to notice its effect. I regard the uniformity movement as an effort in the right direction, and one that must receive the sanction of all who really have in view the good of schools.
A. 0. WARNER, Town Superintendent.
SUMMIT. To your circular of July 1st, I reply: The interest manifested in the schools of this town by parents is very small; very few ever visiting them, or putting forth any direct efforts towards improving them. Most of our districts are liberal in roting taxes, and I think are disposed to raise sufficient to sustain good schools. But as a general thing our teachers have not been as well qualified as they should have been. What, as it seems to me, is especially needed, in order to render our schools “more efficient and useful" is, teachers better qualified both in education and in the art of teaching. And in order to this there ought, in my opinion, to be some provision made by which some part of the School Fund income shall be appropriated to this special object. A great deal of our school money is thrown away, and sometimes worse than thrown away, on poor teachers.
There ought something to be done to make the attendance of children more uniform and regular. Here is an immense waste. Parents should be made to see and feel it. Superintendents and teachers can and ought to do much in this matter.
There is no uniformity of text books in our town, though McGuffey's Readers and Ray's Arithmetics are generally used. I suppose an effort will be made this fall and winter to introduce different books.
I think, that, by all means, there should be some change in the Library Regulations. I find that it is utterly impossible for districts to comply with them.
E. J. MONTAGUE, Town Superintendent.
The interest felt in the subject of schools, though increasing, is far from what it should be. The Journal of Education is having a good influence in this direction.
The village of Marston, our most important point, is truly waking up to the importance of the great interest-Education. Heretofore they have been very unwisely divided into two districts, and have supported two schools. We have recently effected a consolidation, and are determined upon having a good school-one which, we hope, will be an honor to the place and a blessing io posterity.
One grand obstacle in the way of educational prosperity is the multiplicity of text books, which I will notice under another head.
Another obstacle is the newness of the country, the sparseness of the population, the want of school houses, black-boards, maps, libraries, &c.
I have long thought that certain changes ought to be made with respect to the office of Town Superintendent, and am glad of this opportunity to express my views in relation thereto. I think the office is faulty-not in itself, but in its recompense and its relations. Few men well qualified to discharge the duties of this office, are willing to accept its trusts and responsibilities, at the price now paid; and the consequence is, our best men, in many instances will not consent to serve in the capacity of Town Superintendent. And when such men do consent, the temptation to neglect duty is well nigh overpowering.
Again, as we have intimated, the office suffers by reason of its relations to the strifes of political parties, which frequently absorb the question of fitness altogether, and men are elected who are wholly unqualified. So that, instead of a vigorous soul to our Common School System, which should be embodied in the Town Superintendent, we have merely a nominal officer to distribute the School Furd and grant certificates to Teachers.
In view of the foregoing facts, I contend that provision should be made for the liberal remuneration of talent adapted to the work of township supervision; and that the employment of this talent should be left to an appointing power, -say the town Board of Supervisors.
We are as far from having a uniformity of text Books as we well can be. Families removing here from all parts of the country, bring their old books along with them, and insist upon using them, either because too poor or too penurious to buy others; and we have delayed urging any change until we could introduce the books recommended by the Department of Public Instruction. So we have almost every kind published in the United States in the same school. If uniformity could be introduced, it could not fail to prove a great blessing, especially in our new country.
H. V. TRAIN, Town Superintendent.
CITY OF BELOIT. By the provisions of our City Charter, adopted last April, the schools of the city and town were entirely separated, so that now I have the superintendence only of those within the city limits. These are two in number, one upon each side of the river upon
which the city is situated. Herewith I present some statistics printed froin my annual report dated September 15th, which will show something of the condition of the schools during the past year.
School Statistics, Sept. 15th, 1856.- From the annual report of James W. Strong, City Superintendent of Schools
, we are permitted to extract the following statistical items, which may be of interest to our readers :
Number of children over four and under twenty years of age, who have attended the public schools in the city during the year ending August 31st, 1856– In district No. 1, (East of River,)
2, (West of River,)
Total, Number of children over four and under twenty years of age residing in the city
Total. In district No. 1,
1310 Amount of money raised in the said districts
Dist. No. 1.
$1,566 00 For building house,
4,350 00 For fuel, 150 00
150 00 For other purposes, 1,393 11
1,893 00 $2,343 11 $5,616 00
$7,959 11 Amount of money expended-For teachers' wages, $2,123 4
$9,021 50 For building school house, 958 44
5,508 44 For fuel,
196 50 For other purposes,
$9,223 60 Amount of public money, (i. e., money from the State Fund and Town School Tax,) received and apportioned at $0.967 per scholarTo district No. 1,
$598 55 To district No. 2,
499 91 Total,
$1,098 46 Average number of months schools have been taught,
97-10 Average amount of wages paid per monthTo male teachers,
$65 00 To female teachers,
25 46 One reason why there are so many children reported as not attending the public schools, is that there have bec: several private schools in session during most of the year, besides the Female Seminary, and Preparatory and Normal Department of Beloit College, which have been considerably patronized. Another reason is, that in district No. 2, there has been no public school since last spring, owing to the erection of a new school building, which is to be completed in a few days.The new house is modeled nearly after the “Racine High School Building" and costs about twelve thousand dollars-six teachers are to be employed, and the school is to commence early next week, when, it is hoped amends will be made as far as possible for the great loss the children of the district have suffered during the past few months.
In district No. 1, the school is in successful operation with its six teachers. The prospective prosperity of both schools is highly gratifying. One of the darkest signs, however, is the want of interest so strikingly apparent in parents and those who ought to be heartily engaged in the cause of education. I think there has been some improvement in this respect within a year, and I have been expecting as one of the results of holding the late State Teachers Association in this place, an increased interest on the part of our citizens in all that pertains to our schools. Were I to compare the citizens of Beloit with those of many other places in the State, perhaps I should not make this accu sation, as very many here are deeply interested in in schools, and this is pre-eminently an educational community, but judging from the number of visits made to the public schools, and keeping in mind the importance of their co-operation, I can but feel that they come far short of reaching the standard of educational enthusiasm which ought to be attained in every community.
The standard of teachers' qualifications is high. The wish is often expressed that every Principal of our Union Schools, should be capable of filling a Professorship in our college; and corresponding qualifications are desired in the assistant teachers,
Besiles the ordinary common school branches. there are taught Algebra, Geometry, Philosophy, Physiology, Latin, Greek and Vocal Music.
There is not a uniformity of text-books, and the disadvantages arising from this are especially felt here in the city, where there is so much more moving from one district to another, than in the country, and consequently so many obliged to purchase new books, although supplied already with one series. For the past year the text books have been as follows: DISTRICT NO. 1.
DISTRICT NO. 2. READERS AND SPELLERS :- McGusey's. Sanders' (New). ANITHMETICS:-Colburu's Mental, Thompson's Chills and Colburn's Mental, Thompson's Series.
Practical & Higher, and Ray's Third Part. GEOGRAPHIES :- Monteith's and McNally's. Monteith's 1st and 2d parts, and Smith's
Loomis'. Disirict No. 2 has just adopted for the term about to commence, McGuffey's Series of Readers, Ray's Series of Arithmetics, Cornell's Geographies, and Pinneo's Grammars.
“What is needed to render the Schools more efficient and useful ?"
I answer:-A complete transformation of the School System,—at least as far as our city is concerned-the organization of a “Board of Elucation," and the adoption of a series of local laws and regulations, which will be adapted to the wants of a community like ours. I am contemplating the preparation of a series of School Laws for the city, which may be proposed to the next Legislature for adoption-in the form of amendments to the City Charter. Perhaps, however, a single amendment, giving to the City Council control of the Schools, leaving all local legislation to a Board of Education elected by them, would be sufficient.
I believe that modifications might be made in the general school laws which would render the necessity of special legislation less frequent than at present, but I cannot now enter into the discussion of such modifications. I will simply mention two or three changes which in my opinion would be beneficial.
Our School District Boards should be made more permanent in character-cach member having his term of office lengthened, and the time of its expiration so arranged that the Board will not be changed at any one election. Too often officers neglect to perform their duties, just before an annual meeting, from fear that the new Board may not endorse their action.