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A. Albany Board (3 members)
January 9, 1907 1. Seven communications acted on 2. Report of Superintendent heard and approved 3. Board of Estimate and Appropriation requested to
work out a new salary schedule
March 3, 1907 (next regular meeting) 1. Three bills ordered paid 2. Three communications acted on 3. Board of Contract and Supply instructed to secure
printing estimate 4. Report of Superintendent heard and approved 5. Two principals and a high school instructor ap
B. Rochester Board (5 members)
January 25, 1907 1. Five communications acted on 2. Recommendations of Superintendent approved 3. Budget disposed of 4. Secretary instructed to advertise for two sets of es
February 4, 1907 (next regular meeting) 1. One communication acted on 2. Report of enrollment and attendance ordered
C. Boston Board (5 members)
January 20, 1908 I. Twelve communications acted on 2. Superintendent reports on 14 topics—acted on 3. Schoolhouse custodian reports on 5 matters--
acted on 4. Five communications referred to the Superinten
dent or the schoolhouse custodian 5. Report of the business agent heard and accepted 6. Five miscellaneous motions past
February 3, 1908 (next regular meeting)
D. Philadelphia Board (21 members)
January 8, 1907
four acted on
These seven committee reports, which contained 40
E. From these contrasts it becomes apparent that the small board of education is a truly deliberative body, rece ing the reports of educational experts, and acting upon them; directing school policy, and intrusting to its paid agents the detailed work. On the other hand, the large board of education exists as a deliberate body only in theory. In reality it approves the work of its committees, usually without deliberation. The work of the committees is painfully detailed, as may be gathered from a perusal of the committee reports.
The following analysis of the Report of the Philadelphia Committee on Elementary Schools (January 8, 1907) will give a definite idea of the detailed, administrative work performed by the committees under the large board.
Committee on Elementary Schools recommends :
1. Appointment of 25 teachers
teachers 4. Appointment of a principal 5. Establishment of a new class 6. Establishment of a new class 7. Authorization of three new classes 8. Dropping of one class 9. Election of a clerical assistant 10. Election of three attendance officers II. That a certain salary be paid 12. Appointment of ten telephone operators 13. That 18 teachers be relieved from loss of salary
under Rule XXX 14. That Rule XXVII § 3 be suspended for the purpose
of confirming the Principal of a grammar school 15. That a new salary schedule be adopted (schedule
given and covering 13 pages of the minutes) Under a small board, the above detailed work is wholly performed by paid experts, the board merely passing judgment upon their work. Under a large board, unpaid amateurs struggle to solve the intricate problems of educational detail and the board approves the result of their efforts.
F. These summaries of typical business meetings of the boards in question show that with a small board of education, in the absence of committees, all business comes before the board directly. The detailed business is presented by experts and is received or rejected by the board. The board is primarily a director of educational policy.
In Philadelphia the Board transacts little business. It exists for the purpose of approving committee reports. The detail work that is performed in other cities by paid experts is largely performed in Philadelphia by the committees, so that, instead of securing high class professional service, Philadelphia is receiving low class amateur service.
Scott NEARING UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
REMARKS, MATURED AND OTHERWISE, ON
Our present system of education endeavors to follow a single, unbroken, straight line from the lowest grade of the elementary school to the highest degree of the university. It is an ideal line and an impractical line. It is ideal because it attempts to carry out the democratic idea in education. It is impractical because it makes this attempt in a most undemocratic manner. Democracy no longer asserts that all men are equal; it asserts merely that the opportunities of all men should be equal to their abilities. Our present educational system is based on the false notion that all have the same ability and that the opportunity to develop this ability should be offered to all. The result is not equal opportunity, but unequal opportunity. The opportunity the system offers is that of scholastic training, and since the great majority of our young people has not the ability to progress along this line, it deprives this majority of its rights. The present dissatisfaction with the whole system, from elementary school to university professional school, is not without its good and sufficient reasons.
Until recent years our colleges laid the course and set the pace in educational affairs. More recently our newly fledged universities have undertaken to be the arbiters in the educational world. Secondary schools submitted humbly to this dictation on the part of their scholastic superiors, and the elementary schools trailed along after their superiors. The consequences are fairly well known. The one overshadowing consequence is a scholastic system of education. Here are some of its practical results:
Hardly 50 per cent. of the scholars enrolled in the first elementary grade complete their course.
Less than 15 per cent. of the scholars enrolled in the first year of our high schools continue to graduation.
Over 40 per cent. of our college freshmen“ drop" before their senior year.
Our system of professional education is no system at all, except in a single branch, that of the training for scholastic positions. In this one respect the ideal straight line is unbroken, and since it represents the dominant idea in our whole system, this idea has produced the geometrical paradox of making a straight line equal a circle. Scholastic training from the elementary grades thru to college and university, may be very well for the future teacher, but whom is the teacher to teach? Evidently, according to our present system, in the last analysis, only future teachers. The despised “commecial school ” became a necessity. The professional schools, willing to admit the applicant without sufficient preparation, became necessities. Colleges with university affiliations, or our collegiate-universities, began to protest, and proceeded to raise their requirements for admission to the professional schools of law, medicine, divinity, etc.; some requiring the equivalent of a secondary training, some of a two-years' college course, some of a three years' college course, some of the full college course. In consequence our professional degrees represent absolutely different standards. Moreover, scientific or technical schools became a necessity, as adjuncts to our colleges or as independent institutions, and since young men entered these without a college training of any kind, they found themselves forced to couple the task of “liberal” training with that of technical training.
These are some of the consequences of the "system.” It would be a merry spectacle, this upward pull of theoretical scholasticism and this downward pull of practical education, were it not for the harm done to true education. And we are beginning to realize that it is a serious problem in the life of this nation. To the writer it has seemed as if the remedies thus far proposed touch merely the method and not the principle of the system. Any remedy, to be effective, must
, be truly democratic in principle, and however blandly we may