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ABSTRACT OF SCHOOL REPORTS. Appended to this Report will be found a full abstract of all the reports received from the Clerks of the County Boards of Supervisors. But three counties remain to be heard fromBurnett, Dunn, and La Pointe.* Burnett has never been organized, and no report from it need be expected ; Dunn county had the misfortune, early in November last, to have its Court House and county records destroyed by fire, and thus, doubtless, its report delayed. La Pointe county has never yet made a report since the organization of the State ; it ought to enjoy its share in the benefits of the School Fund apportionment. I have repeatedly written to the clerks of the Boards of Supervisors of both Dunn and La Pointe counties, urging them, notwithstanding their delay, still to send in their reports.'
As the value of such statistics depends much upon the contrasts we make of them, I shall proceed to point out briefly some of the lessons they are calculated to teach us.
Number of Children.--The whole number of children reported between the ages of four and twenty years, adding for Dunn county 421, the same as last year, is 264,078—showing an increase over last year of 22,533. Last year's increase over the year preceding was 27,659; so this year exhibits a less increase by 5,126 than its predecessor. It may astonish not a few to learn, that according to the most recent statistics at command, only the States of New York, Pennsylvania, Ohio, Illinois and Indiana—and in this relative order—surpass Wisconsin in their number of reported children of school age. Were the 264,078 children of this State to form in single file, allowing each a space of four feet, they would make a continuous army two hundred miles in length! What an array of children,—the future hope of the State! Their educational welfare is a matter of immense importance ; and it behooves the Legislature to perform their solemn and weighty responsibilities to these children that their right education may add millions to the wealth of the State.
School Attendance.—Last year the total number of children of school age was 241,545, of which 153,613 attended school. This year, out of 264,078, there has been a reported attendance of 167,110_thus showing that last year there were 87,932 children in the State who did not attend school, and 96,968 of the same class this year. Some of these reported as non-attendants at the public schools, have attended private schools, academies and col
* La Pointe County has since reported.
leges, while ill-health and other causes have prevented the attendance of others. Still, after making all reasonable deductions for these causes, it will be found that about one third of all our youth of school age are not availing themselves of the benefits of the education provided for all. This is to be lamented. Yet even this is a decided improvement since the organization of the school system of the State ; for the First Annual Report of this Department exhibited, in round numbers, only 32,000 out of 70,000 children as attending school-considerably less than half. The last Report of the School Commissioner of Ohio, shows considerably less than one half of the school children of the State attending the public schools ; in Maine less than half; in Indiana the same; in Illinois, by the report of 1849, less than one quarter ; in New York and Massachusetts about three fourths. We are, then, doing in this particular as well as the average ; but we should not be satisfied, so long as there is a possibility of doing better. Nearly a hundred thousand children in Wisconsin growing up in ignorance, fit subjects for crime and misery, and fit candidates for the penitentiary! It ought not so to be.
What is the remedy? I confess it is not altogether clear. The idea of compulsory measures to secure more general attendance, is not exactly suited to the genius of our free government. A late writer upon this subject remarks: “In many of the European States, parents are compelled to send their children to school. In Prussia, absentees are liable to full school fees, and a fine or a day's labor in compensation. In Saxony, nothing is an excuse for absence from school but sickness, and attendance is compelled by fine and imprisonment.In Hanover, the ecclesiastical authorities are charged with the inspection of schools, where every child from the age of six is required to attend, unless sufficiently instructed elsewhere. In Bavaria, no child is allowed to leave school until he has arrived at the age of twelve years, and then not without an examination and a certificate, which is necessary to apprenticeship and marriage. In Austria, all the children from the age of six years must go to school till they are twelve years of age. A Commissioner from the French Government, who has been examining the school systems of Germany, urges the necessity of compulsory instruction-of some system which shall compel the attendance upon instruction of some kind of all the children of the State. If it is wise in the State to take authority out of the parents' hands, it is in such a case as this. Education makes the citizen, and the evils of ignorance, or a misdirected education, do not fall simply upon individuals, but are entailed upon society.” In Massachusetts, which shows so large an attendance,
ix weekeen years, to such his child, beta
every person who does not send his child, between the ages of eight and fourteen years, to school, at least twelve weeks, of which six weeks shall be consecutive, during each year, is subject to a fine of twenty dollars, unless rendering a sufficient excase.
While our State is probably not yet prepared to adopt compulsory measures, I would respectfully suggest whether persuasive influences may not be resorted to with profit? Some States are agitating the idea, whether apportionining their School Funds, not to the whole number of children, but to the attendance, might not prove an incentive to the districts to secure as full an attendance as possible? Hon. HENRY BARNARD suggests, whether this proposition might not be combined with the present practice -say one half of the amount apportioned to go to the whole number of children, and the other half to attendance; and, furthermore, whether the longer and more punctually parents send their children to school, the less in proportion should be their local school tax? We should be thus holding out powerful motives for attendance. If it should be thought, that this mixed system of apportioning the School money would not be in accordance with the provisions of the Constitution, an amendment to that instrument, in a matter of so vital importance, might be deemed not only necessary, but indispensable to the best interests of the people.
Length of Schools.-The first School Report of this State, nine years ago, gave a trifle less than four months as the average length of time the schools in the State were taught. This average has steadily increased, until this year's statistics show five and three-fifths months. Out of fifty-two Counties reported, thirty-five of them exhibit an average of from five to eight months and three quarters; fourteen others range from four to . five months, and three Counties less than four months. It is unquestionably a struggle for not a few of the frontier districts to provide the necessary means to maintain even a three month's school; yet does not the general cause of education demand that the State should take a step in advance, and require a four month's school to be kept, in order to share in the School Fund apportionment? Such an amendment would not, I should think, conflict with the Constitution, which requires “at least a three month's” school—this is simply the minimum, and by the same article it is provided, that “provisions shall be made by law for the distribution of the income of the School Fund ;' and among such provisions it would, I should conceive, beeminently proper, and strictly within the province of the Legislature, to elevate this standard if they thought the best interests of education required it. I should much rather suggest a six month's school, instead of four, but I feel for the poor people in the sparsely set
tled frontiers, struggling as they are with poverty; and should greatly fear that such an extension at present, like an excessive tariff, would prove prohibitory in its operation, and thus deprive them of schools altogether. "But an extension to four months, I believe, would not be oppressive, but would prove a powerful impetus to the great cause of education in our State.
Number of Districts.—The number of separate districts in the State is 3,181, and 1,566 parts of districts, which form joint districts—and estimating two and a half parts as equal to a district, we shall have 626 to add to the 3,181, giving a grand total of 3,807 districts. Last year there were reported 3,018 districts, 1,360 parts or 544 joint districts, making altogether 3,562 districts. There is an increase of 245 districts over last year; and the total number has very nearly doubled since the organization of the State. This increase has resulted from an extension of our settlements, and also from the very injurious. practice of dividing and thus ensmalling their number.
Number and value of School Houses.—Nine years ago, when the first School Report was made, 674 school houses were reported, nearly one half of which were of log construction; last year the total number was 2,945 ; this year 3,482, of which something over one third are logs—increase of school houses over last year 537.
The total valuation of the school house property of Wisconsin nine years ago was $75,810 75 ; last year, $863,478 49 ; this year, $1,127,191 69-increase in valuation since last year, $2 ;3,713 20. The 3,482 school houses in the State range in value as duly reported to this Department, from one cent to $23,000-averaging $321 53. Milwaukee reports the most costly school house, $28,000; Janesville one at $25,000; Racine one at $12,000; Dodge, Kenosha and La Crosse, one each at $10,000; Sheboygan and Waukesha, one each at $8,000; Dane one at $6,000; Grant, Jefferson and Outagamie, one each at $5,000; Brown, Portage and Winnebago, one each at $4,000 ; Fond du Lac, Green, Ozaukee, Richland and Sauk, one each at $3,000; and Manitowoc, Eau Claire, Juneau and Waushara, one each at $2,000. It is highly creditable to the liberality and enlightened zeal of these several localities, that they have done so nobly in this direction; and especially so to the new frontier counties of La Crosse, Outagamie, Portage, Richland, Sauk, Eau Claire, Juneau and Waushara. Other frontier counties have also done exceedingly well-Green Lake, one school house, $2,500; Pierce and St. Croix one each, at $1,500; Bad Ax, one at $1,300; and Chippewa, one at $1,225.
Nine years ago there were 511 school house sites containing less than an acre; last year, 2,369 ; this year, 3,060—increase over last year nearly 700. There would appear to be something
In an acre there were si at $1,225.4 $1,500; Bad , house,
over 700 school house sites containing an acre or more. There were, nine years since, 582 school house sites uninclosed ; last year, 2,470; this year, 3,099—-showing only about 700 school house sites enclosed, or one in about every five and a half. This exhibits a sad neglect; for where there are no enclosures, we can hardly expect that any attention has been paid to shade trees, and other out door culture and neatness, so well calculated to add charms and attractions to the school house and its surroundings. But few of us fully realize the influence of these apparently minor matters, in either attracting the youthful mind to, or repelling it from, the school and all its attendant blessings.
There were, nine years ago, 331 school houses without blackboards ; last year, 940; and this year, 1,072--thus showing nearly ly one quarter of the school houses destitute of this very important appendage. Nine years since, 474 school houses were without out-line maps; last year, 2,482; and this year, 2,346—thus showing nearly two-fifths of the school houses destitute.
Teachers' Wages.—Nine years ago, the average of wages paid to male teachers per month was $15 22, and to female teachers $6 92; last year to male teachers $24 60, and to female teachers $15 16; and this year to male teachers $27 02, and to female teachers $14 92—an increase on male teachers of $2 42, and a decrease on female teachers of 24 cents. In Douglas county, the highest wages were this year paid to a male teacher, $50 per month; in Buffalo county the lowest, $20 41; while in Douglas county also the highest wages were paid to a female teacher, $29 00, and in Adams the lowest, $9 63. It will be seen, that in the course of nine years teachers' wages have very nearly doubled—the wages of female teachers more than doubled; and this may be regarded as a fair index of the advanced character of the schools themselves, and the value of the instruction imparted. The following table exhibits the gratifying progress made from 1849 to the present time: '