« PreviousContinue »
. 1. An office appropriated solely to his use, at Lansing,
2. A Deputy Superintendent of Public Instruction.
3. An Educational Journal under his supervision, sent by law to the school districts.
4. Authority to settle questions arising under the school laws finally!
The importance of these suggestions will doubtless be sustained bofore the appropriate committee, by the gentleman who is placed in charge of this department, and whose experience and knowledge on the subject will enable him to afford whatever light on this point may be necessary to secure proper legislation, so important to the interests of the educational system. While the law makes it necessary for the Superintendent to keep an office at Lansing, and while it is essential that he should have an office at that place, it is impossible for him to remain permanently in it. His duties call him in all sections of the State, and like the adage of the schoolmaster, “he must be abroad.” Due preparation for labors in the field, require much time and thought and labor, which no one can perform but himself—and while he is engaged in this preparation, and in active visitation of the schools, and attendance at Institutes, and in the delivery of lectures, he cannot well perform the manual labor required to copy letters, foot reports, and file papers in his office. Besides, there should be some one who could ac. quire a knowledge of the affairs of the office, in case of the death of the incumbent; some one who would feel an interest in the subject too, not less than the Superintendent himself. There is no such thing as conducting and arranging the manual labors of the office, without such an officer as is here contemplated. A former Legislature devolved cortain of these duties on the Librarian, but experience has demonstrated that this arrangement cannot be made effective.
The great want in the system now is undoubtedly, a class of intermediate schools, between the Primary schools and the University. There is no opinion better settled by the experience of the past in our educational history, than that expressed by successive Chief Magistrates and Superintendents, that the University was never so prosperous as when the branches were in existence. A return to the first policy of the Regents in this respect would be a return to a course of wisdom
The chasm should be filled in some way. It is thought by many whose opinions are entitled to consideration, that the Union Schools will fill the desired space. That they may be made to do so in the localities where they exist, is probably true. Most of them now fit students to enter the University. In pursuance of public opinion so often generally expressed throughout the State, the Legislature of 1851 provided in an act approved April 8, of that year, that the Regents of the University might establish and organize a branch, or branches of the institution by the creation of a trusteeship for the local management of the same, or they were authorized in their discretion and under limitations expressed in the act, to select for a branch, any chartered literary institution of the State. So earnest was the Legislature in relation to this, that it was further provided in the act referred to, that no buildings should be erected on the grounds set apart for the uses of the Universits, until one branch should be established in each judicial district of the State. Our chief educational institutions of higher grade, the University and Normal School, are situated in the eastern portion of the State, and both in the same county. Thus while ready facilities are afforded to citizens of the east and south portion of the State, the north and the west from want of such facilities, are in need of intermediate pre‘paratory Institutions, where their sons and daughters may be instructed in the vicinity of their homes. The State of New York pays mileage to such students as attend the Normal School at Albany, but this plan has not been adopted here, for want of means. There seems to be but three practical methods of obtaining these preparatory Institutions. Firstly, by the re-establishment of the Branches of the University, as contemplated in the act of the Legislature referred to: Secondly, the adoption of the Union Schools as Branches: Thirdly, by separate Institutions under the name of Academies. To either of these purposes, the proceeds of the principal arising from the sales of
, Swamp Lands, might wisely be applied. Until some one of these plans shall be carried out, the University cannot be expected to draw within its halls the greatest number of students from all portions of our State." It is yet true that numbers of our young men enter the Collegiate Institutions of other States. This ought not to be, and it will probably, to a considerable extent, cease to be, when preparatory Insti: tutions are established at home. It is not to be concealed that the Un
iversity has not yet secured to itself, the strong good will of all of the citizens of the State, and it is obvious that it never will be able to do so, till it represents itself, by means of Branches or Institutions adopted as such, in all sections of the State. Without these arteries, it must continue to remain a local and not in reality a State Institution. The best facilities for instruction are afforded to such as are actually in the Institution, and this could scarcely be otherwise, when the number of Professors is so great in comparison to the number of students to be instructed. But the number of the latter ought to be increased, and it can only be increased by a proper course of action on behalf of those who are entrusted with the management of the University. The law of '51,contemplated action in the direction of Branches or some other intermediate Institutions. The application of large amounts of money, whether accruing from the interest of the Funds belonging to the University, or donated by the liberality of our citizens, to purposes of the highest branches of science, will not act as an incentive to draw within its halks scores of young men, who do not find it within the limits of their means to prepare to enter them. None of the means at the disposal of the Regents accruing from the interest of the University Fund, can wisely be applied in the present state of our system of education, (of which the University is but a part,) to any other purpose than that which will afford some more efficient means of filling up the Institution with students. This is the great want. With a large corps of Professors, instruction ought to be afforded to double and treble the number that have ever been in the Institution at any time. There can be no question as to this policy. It is demanded by the best interests of the Institution itself, and by the people, not of a section, but of the whole State.
The Reports of the Board of Regents, of the Visitors, and of the Board of Education, are respectfully submitted herewitb.
STATE NORMAL SCHOOL,
The Normal School continues to improve in its condition, and each term adds to the number of its pupils, and the reputation of the Institution. By an act of the last Legislature, the sum of $30,000 00 was appropriated for its maintenance, out of the avails of the swamp lands.
The whole amount of sales of the salt spring lands, which constitute the basis of the Normal School Fund, will be found appended hereto. In justice to the School, and to those who desire to participate in its benefits, the Legislature should advance the amount appropriated by the last Legislature. Its income is not sufficient to meet its wants, which are based upon the most practical necessities.
It is appropriate here to say that since the organization of the Institution, three of its most distinguished and earnest friends, members of the Board, have been removed from the field of their earthly labors, viz: Hon. Isaac E. Crary, Hon. Samuel Barstow and Hon. E. N. Skin
Each of these gentlemen was distinguished for zeal in behalf of education, and each devoted himself with great fidelity to the interests of the Normal School. It is the desire of the remaining members of the late Board to give their hearty co-operation, and whatever aid they may be able to furnish, to the Board who succeed them, in advancing the reputation and usefulness of the School.
THE PRIMARY SCHOOLS.
The condition of the Primary Schools under the laws relating therethereto, is believed to be constantly improving. Two things are especially desirable in the way of legislation, relating to improvement of this class of Schools, and of the system. The first of these is the securing of Teacher's Institutes, by appropriation for that purpose, and the other is, a change in the basis of apportionment. The tax of one mill on each dollar, of the valuation of the taxable property of the townships, under the equalization now established, is sufficient to meet the requirements of the Constitution, for the term required by law. For this year this tax has raised $63,879.
The apportionment of the income of the Primary School Fund is now made upon the number of children residing in the District, between the
ages of 4 and 18 years. If the apportionment to the townhips should be based upon this number, and a law should be passed, requiring the Township Clerk to apportion this amount to the several School Districts in the townships, on the personal daily attendance of the scholars in the Schools, it would be an improvement upon the pre. sent plan, which would tend to secure, at least, two results the cassation of Select Schools, and what is of more consequence, the attend
ance of thousands at the District Schools who are not now found in them,
The whole number of school districts in the State is 4,404. The number of children in the State between 4 and 18 years, 160,45 3. The amount raised by rate bill, $59,111 34. No. of volumes in the Libraries, 112,538. Amount of dollar tax voted by the Districts, $11,672. [See Tabular Statement.
It appears from an examination of the tables, that the difference between the number resident in the District, and the number in actual attendance at the schools, is over 5 1,000. Where are these children? Many of them are found in select schools, but it is fair to presume that a very large number are not in attendance at any school. Large numbers of such are to be found in the City of Detroit, and the larger towns. The change recommended in the system of apportionment, will be the means of sending into the schools large numbers of this class, but there is no reason to believe it will embrace the whole. For those who for the most part are left without parental care, and who live without the restraints of good advice, something ought to be done. There can be no doubt as to the policy of creating such an institution, nor if its ultimate economy as a part of our social regulations. Every dollar expended in the rescue and education of such, will give an additional security that society will be saved the expense of punishment and doubtful reformation in the Penitentiary. Loss of parental protection and neglect to attend school, are the great causes which lead to early malpractices in life. Institutions for the care and education of such have existed in other countries, and in other States of the Union; and it would be an act of wisdom, as it is indeed of necessity, to endow such an institution with some of the means of which the state is now amply provided. Such an institution should be a State Institution, connected with the system of Public Instruction and located at the Capital, where it could be subject to the personal visitation of those to whom the interests of the State are committed, and especially of the Legislature. Such institutions have sometimes been denominated in other countries, Houses of Rescue, which is doubtless a term better adapted to express the object of such an institution than any