Imagens da página

discipline; prescribes the course of study (within certain narrow limits); regulates the admission and transfer of pupils; adopts textbooks, and may furnish them; purchases sites and erects buildings when the district meeting has so voted; and cares for school property, whose title vests in the board of education, a corporate body. A peculiar and important power, similar to that of the Massachusetts school committee, is that the board may legally levy taxes in case the district meeting neglects or refuses to vote the necessary money for teachers' salaries.

Massachusetts has a system of district supervision that many consider the best that has yet been devised in the United States for reaching small towns. Lack of space forbids any detailed exposition of this interesting and suggestive scheme. Small towns that have not already the services of a superintendent of schools must unite to form superintendency unions. Practically all, if not all, of the towns have already complied with this law. To unions that have fulfilled the prescribed conditions the state pays $750 toward the superintendent's salary, and $500 towards teachers' salaries in the union. While it is probable that the union superintendents have a greater direct influence upon elementary than upon secondary schools, yet they unquestionably strengthen the educational system as a whole; and any improvement in the elementary schools is bound to react favorably upon secondary schools, which receive elementary graduates and build upon the elementary curriculum.

The great majority of the smaller New York high schools are without the local professional supervision that reaches every locality in Massachusetts. A union free school district with a population of 5,000 may employ a superintendent of schools, towards whose salary the state pays $800 annually. About thirty, or approximately five per cent. of the nonurban high schools are thus under local superintendents, who seem to give about equal attention to the elementary and the secondary schools in their charge. The school commissioners, who are popularly elected, may or may not have some expert knowledge of education; besides, their territory is so large that even an expert could not give anything like close supervision. Dr. Draper strongly advocates doing away with the present school commissioner districts, and dividing the state into a large number of supervisory districts.

In studying the actual administration of non-urban high schools we are hampered by a lack of extended personal visitation and observation. The buildings are, of course, not entirely satisfactory. The facilities for science work are inadequate in New York; in 1905 only thirty-two per cent. of the schools outside of Greater New York had special laboratories. The apparatus was often unsuitable and sometimes inaccessible. Several years ago Mr. Macdonald investigated 244 high schools in Massachusetts; 141 had suitable buildings, 27 fair, and 76 poor. Out of the 244 schoolhouses, the sanitary condition of 146 was ranked excellent, of 38 fair, and of 60 poor. As was to be expected, satisfactory conditions existed oftener in the cities than in the small towns. Both states no doubt show a slow but steady gain in this regard; and the New York State Education Department can bring to bear strong pressure for the improvement of material equipment.

In New York the“ academic departments " are built upon an elementary course of eight years. In 1897-1898 a considerable majority of Massachusetts high schools were preceded by nine rather than by eight grades; in our opinion, however, the tendency is to reduce elementary courses from nine to eight years. In New York the state pays twenty dollars tuition for about ten per cent. of the public secondary pupils—and these are all from rural districts. One of the ways by which they may qualify for admission to high school is by passing the Regents preacademic examinations. While this system is not universal, its extent is shown by the fact that in a recent year there were about two hundred thousand of these papers. As Massachusetts has no such system it would seem that the transition from the elementary to the secondary school is easier than in New York.

The normal schools of New York admit graduates of the course prescribed by the Commissioner of Education for admission to state normal schools and city training schools, but it is necessary to have a certificate based upon the preliminary and academic examinations. Entrance to the State Normal College at Albany is by the Regents certificate, or the certificate of the College Entrance Examination Board, as well as by examination. Graduates of Massachusetts high schools on the certificate list of the New England College Entrance Certificate Board may be admitted to any state normal school without examination in any subject in which they got eighty per cent., as certified by the school principal. Candidates from high schools that are not on this list, but are approved for the purpose by the State Board of Education, may enter without examination. Thus it is clear that the articulation between the high and normal schools is the better in Massachusetts, making it easier to pass from one to the other.

A wider gap exists between the high schools and the colleges. Admission from New York high schools to the leading universities depends on passing examinations, either those of particular institutions, those of the College Entrance Examination Board, or the Regents examinations, upon which there is issued a certificate that is accepted for entrance by many of the leading higher institutions. Similarly, admission from Massachusetts

, high schools to the most important universities of the East depends on examination; but graduates of high schools certificated by the New England College Entrance Certificate Board are admitted without examination by the strong colleges of the East and by at least some of the great universities of the West. The connection between the high schools and the colleges is much less close in Massachusetts and New York than in some of the Western states, notably California.

Probably the most influential factor in any school is the teaching force. Teachers in Massachusetts high schools are examined and certificated by the school committee, while in New York the state issues their certificates. Outside of Boston, less than one-fourth of the teachers have anything like a permanent tenure of office after probation. Most cities and towns elect teachers annually; in 1905-1906 only eighty-two communities had taken advantage of the law that permits school committees to elect teachers after one year " to serve as such at the pleasure of the committee." Altho New York seems to place no limit upon the term for which boards of education may contract to employ teachers, the contract is usually for one year. Teachers may be removed only for cause. Towns in Massachusetts and New York are allowed by law to establish pension funds, but probably no villages avail themselves of this provision or grant sabbatical leaves of absence

with pay.

The partial statistics in the report of the United States Commissioner of Education for 1907 indicate that the number of teachers to the school is not very different in the non-urban high schools of the two states; in the average high school of this size, however, there are one-third more students in Massachusetts than in New York. In New York about thirty-six per cent. of the secondary instructors are men, as compared with thirty per cent. in Massachusetts. Most of the men at work in the small high schools of New York are principals; the same is probably true in Massachusetts, in spite of the complaint that the principalships are falling into the hands of women. In the smaller places of New York one person is usually principal of the secondary and elementary grades, but in Massachusetts he devotes all of his time to the high school.

Our figures indicate that with the Massachusetts system, faulty as it is, of lay examination and certification, its teachers are on the whole better trained than those of New York. An attempt to increase the number of well trained high school teachers is made by the Bridgewater (Mass.) Normal School, which gives a four-year course based on high school graduation, and designed to prepare for secondary teaching. The same school also offers a course of one or two years for college graduates. New York has a State Normal College, with a four-year course, and with the power to confer degrees, for the training of high school teachers; for college graduates it has a one-year course leading to the degree of B.Pd. The low ratio of college graduates in New York—forty-one per cent. of the principals and thirty-seven per cent of the assistant teachers—is attributed to an insufficient supply of college graduates, attractions of other professions, etc. Outside of cities the man principal receives on an average $977-37; the woman principal, $742.56; the man assistant, $716.95; and the woman assistant, $490.43. For economical reasons, therefore, Dr. E. J. Goodwin thinks college graduation can not be required for a license to teach in the New York secondary schools, even tho we can not have “adequate and scholarly instruction without it." No statistics are available for the salaries of Massachusetts high school teachers. An indication of the low salaries is found in the argument that since the small towns are unable to pay sufficiently large salaries, the state should give more help than at present. Some such plan as that employed in California, whereby the state aids in the payment of the salaries of high school teachers, might be feasible for Massachusetts and New York, altho there might possibly be greater objection than in California to paying heavy state taxes.

A comparative statement of the extent of their experience is not at hand. For Massachusetts, however, Mr. Macdonald states that the teachers in high schools receiving the state grant of $500 are as a rule fresh from college, with little or no experience, but with many faults. In New York the majority of beginning teachers in high schools and academies are either ignorant of the principles of education and of the art of teaching, or else have the pedagogical training of the normal school without the broad scholarship of the university.

From what has been said, it is very evident that there is need for improvement of teachers in service. Both states conduct teachers' institutes, which were described in the former article. The best means, however, of making teachers more efficient is efficient supervision by superintendents. It has been shown that Massachusetts has a system of professional supervision covering the whole state, while New York has no such provision for towns of less than 5,000.

The course of study is determined in Massachusetts by the school committee of each town; besides the subjects selected from the elementary curriculum there shall be taught "such additional subjects as may be required for the purpose of pre

« AnteriorContinuar »