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ELEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT.
To the Legislature :
In accordance with the provisions of law, I have the honor to submit to your body the ELEVENTH ANNUAL REPORT of this Department.
ABSTRACT OF SCHOOL REPORTS.
A full abstract of all the reports received from the Clerks of the County Boards of Supervisors, will be found appended to this Report. Probably for the first time in the history of the State have the returns been received from every County in time for the use of the State Superintendent in making up his Annual Report. Burnett County is not taken into the account, which has never yet been organized, and of course no report from it need be expected.
Number of Children. The whole number of children of school age, between the years of four and twenty years, is 278,871-showing an increase over last year of 14,519. Last year's increase over the preceding year was 22,807; and the year before over its predecessor was 27,656. The great diminution of increase for the past two years, and especially for the past year, must be attributable, in a great measure, to the check given to immigration to our State on account of the stringency of the times.
School Attendance.-Owing to an unfortunate omission in a portion of the blanks, the returns are not sufficiently complete
to afford any reliable data as to school attendance; but from the real poverty of the people in many of the newly settled counties, and their consequent inability to clad their children comfortably during the severities of the cold portion of the year, it may be presumed that the attendance has not been quite so large as last year. I have been informed, upon what I deem credible authority, that in the County of Columbia alone, fully one thousand children were unable to attend school last winter, on account of their parents being unable to provide them with the necessary shoes and clothing. As there were nearly 97,000 children of school age last year who did not attend school, we may conclude that the number the past year has considerably exceeded one hundred thousand. It is a melancholy reflection, that in this enlightened age, with all the facilities afforded for free education, with the liberality of the General Government, and the fostering care of the State, more than one-third of all our children of school age are growing up in ignorance of even the rudiments of an education, and ignorant, moreover, of the weighty responsibilities that will soon devolve upon them as citizens of a great State, boastful of its progress and intelligence. I ventured, in my last Report, to make some suggestions on this subject, and hence need not repeat them here.
Length of Schools.- Ten years ago, the average length of time the schools in the State were taught, was a trifle less than four months. This average has slowly but steadily increased, until last year it reached an average of five months and threefifths. This year, from the poverty of the people, no doubt, we find a slight diminution-the statistics showing but five and a half months. It should be a source of real gratification, that our people, amid the most oppressive poverty they have ever probably experienced, have so nobly and heroically sustained their schools-and they have doubtless been able to do so, by exercising, oftentimes, the most rigid self-denial. I should repeat my suggestion of last year, that the time required by law for the maintenance of public schools, in order to entitle them to share in the School Fund distribution, be increased from three to four months; but I am persuaded that the people in nearly all the sparsely settled frontier counties are yet too poor to meet this increased demand; and while it should be done at the earliest practicable day-and in due course of time, gradually still farther extended-it would not now, in my opinion, be wise to attempt it. We should all feel for the distresses of the poor, and not place too heavy burthens upon them. The statistics show that no less than six
an increase 87 parts one total numg upon an a
teen counties have the past year failed to maintain an average of four months school--and these, as might be expected, are all frontier counties, unless Columbia and Šauk should be regarded as exceptions.
Number of Districts.—The number of school districts in the State which have reported, is 3,538, together with 118 unreported, and 1,611 parts of districts. Last year the number of districts reported were 3,181, together with 183 unreported, and 1,566 parts of districts. The unreported districts are over one-third less than last year, and the reported districts show an increase of 357, and the parts of districts 45. Last year there were 87 parts of districts that failed to make a report; this year but 78. The total number of districts in the State, estimating two and a half parts, upon an average, to a joint district, is 4,331. •
Value of School Houses.—The total valuation of the school house property in the State ten years ago was $75,810 75; in 1857, $863,478 49; in 1858, $1,127,191 69; and now, in 1859, $1,185,191 73—showing an increase in valuation, since last year, of 58,000 04. The highest valuation of any school house in the State, is one in Milwaukee, at $20,000; the lowest valuation is one in the town of Scott, in Sheboygan County, at 25 cents. Milwaukee, as already indicated, reports the most costly school house, $20,000; Janesville one at $14,000; Kenosha one at $12,000; La Crosse one at $10,000; Sheboygan one at $8,000; Dodge and Winnebago one each at $7,000; Racine, one at $6,000; Dane and Grant one each at $5,000; Jefferson one at $4,540; Crawford one at $4,323; Brown and Ozaukee one each at $4,000; Portage one at $3,500; Sauk and Waukesha one each at $2,500; Fond du Lac, Iowa, Juneau, Manitowoc, Richland and Waushara one each at $2,000; Green and Oconto one each at $1,600; Columbia, Eau Claire, Jackson and Washington one each at $1,500; La Fayette one at $1,400; and Bad Ax and Green Lake one each at $1,000.
Ten years ago there were 511 school house sites containing less than an acre ; in 1857, 2,369 ; in 1858, 3,060 ; this year, 3,367. There were, ten years ago, 582 school house sites uninclosed ; in 1857, 2,477 ; 1858, 3,099; this year, 3,301. This would exhibit about one in every five and a half uninclosed-and, as a matter of course, few of these can be provided with shade trees, and other out-door conveniences.
There were, ten years ago, 331 school houses without blackboards ; in 1857, 940; in 1858, 1,072; this year, 1,047. With an increase of 357 districts in the State, and 45 parts of
districts, there has been a decided increase in the supply of black-boards. The statistics show but comparatively a few of the school houses supplied with outline maps.
Teachers' Wages.—Ten years ago, the average of wages paid to male teachers per month in the State, was $15 22 per month, and to female teachers, $6 92; in 1857, to male teachers, $24 60, and to female teachers, $15 16 ; in 1858, to male teachers, $27 02, and to female teachers, $14 92; this year, owing to hard times, we find teachers' wages somewhat reduced, the average paid per month to male teachers being $22 93, and to female teachers, $14 29. In Oconto county, the highest average wages were this year paid to male teachers, $37 20; and in Sauk county the lowest, $12 34; while in La Pointe county the highest average wages per month were paid to female teachers, $33 83; and in Portage county the lowest, $8 87. It will be observed, in the following table, that since 1849, teachers' wages have largely advanced, and especially those of female teachers, who are so well adapted, when properly fitted, for the noble work of imparting instruction to the young :
School Libraries.- Last year the total number of School Libraries was 1,375, with 38,755 volumes ; this year only 1,250 Libraries have been reported, with 41,997 volumes. Thus while we have 125 less Libraries reported this year, they exhibit an increase of 3,242 volumes. In 1857, 19,504 volumes were loaned for reading ; last year, 34,104 volumes were taken out; and this year, 51,062—thus showing a gratifying increase in taste for reading. With the improved system of Town School Libraries, with larger collections and a greater
variety of books, we may reasonably calculate on a yet greater demand for books for reading, both by the old and the young, than ever before.
PROGRESS AND ENCOURAGEMENTS.
Thus, we perceive, that Wisconsin, notwithstanding the unequalled pressure of the times, is steadily advancing in her educational interests. The marked improvement in our Normal Schools, and especially the gratifying success which has attended the Teachers' Institutes, under the direction of Chancellor BARNARD, held during the past Autumn, should be regarded as among the most hopeful signs of the times. When teachers are alive to the great importance of their calling, and evince an ardent desire to fit themselves for their high duties, we may be sure the schools throughout the State will feel the beneficial influence which must naturally result from such feelings and such efforts. Last year the total amount paid out in the State for teachers' wages in our Common Schools, was $334,853 96 ; this year $536,860 66—exhibiting an increase of over two hundred thousand dollars in a single year, which almost staggers belief. Such an increase in expenditure for the maintenance of Common Schools-of which more than two thirds of the whole amount was raised by direct tax-is, in my estimation, highly commendable to the energy, intelligence, and self-denial of our people in such a time of unexampled severity.
year the tota result from
THE SCHOOL FUND. On the 1st of October, 1858, the School Fund proper, after deducting what goes to make up the Normal Fund, was $2,855,806 32. On the 1st of October, 1859, after deducting the Normal Fund, we find the School Fund proper amounting to $2,786,767 03. Of this, there remained in the Treasury, September 30th, 1859, $32,647 95 ; which deducted from the principal, leaves $2,754,119 08, productive, drawing interest at the rate of 7 per cent. per annum, which amounts to $192,788 34. To this is to be added 25 per cent. of Swamp Land Fund Income on hand, September 30th, 1859, amounting to $6,717 88; and School Fund Income on hand at that date, paid in since the last apportionment, $45,766 19—thus showing a total of $245,272 41, if all the interest should be paid prior to the 5th of March next, subject to apportionment by the State Superintendent in March ensuing. By the same process, we had $240,002 11 of School Fund Income which