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The Annual Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction is forwarded to the several County Clerks for distribution as follows:
One copy to each County Clerk, County Treasurer, Township Clerk, (for the use of School Inspectors,) and District Director.
Where there is a district library, the latter Report should be there deposited; and where there is none, the Director should deliver those received while in office, to his successor, at the expiration of his term.
OFFICE OF PUBLIC INSTRUCTION,
Lansing, Dec. 15, 1866. To the Honorable the Legislature of the State of Michigan :
GENTLEMEN— In compliance with the requirements of law, I have the honor to submit the following
The general sentiment which pervades the entire State, respecting our educational interests, is most gratifying. The people are evidently in earnest in their efforts to secure good schoole.
The grading of our schools, which a few years since, met with such general disapproval, and in many places encountered most violent opposition, is now as generally regarded an absolute necessity. The erection of beautiful school edifices, in so many of our large towns and villages, the constantly increasing demand for thoroughly qualified teachers, the increase of teachers' wages, although in many instances far below what they should be, yet a large advance upon what was ever paid before, all show a constantly increasing interest in the work of education. The importance of improving the character of our public schools, is becoming more and more appreci. ated. It seems to be the parpose of many communities to furnish every facility in their power, that may aid in bringing the schools to the highest state of perfection. There is no good reason why the schools of Michigan should be inferior to any in the nation. Praise may indicate real worth, but never produces it. The mere lauding of our school "system will never produce good schools.
In order that the highest success of our public schools may be realized, certain modifications in the present school system aro imperatively demanded. To simply stand still and eulogize our wonderful school system, and boast of what has been done under it, will never remedy the defects in the system, nor supply the want which our schools suffer from these defects.
We ought to be grateful for what our schools have accomplished, and shonid not feel a contempt for the system which has aided in accomplishing what the schools have done, although that system be may imperfect. But this does not imply that we should not improve the schools and perfect the system by which thoy are to be improved.
The deep interest which the people have felt in the success of the schools, has done more, by far, in securing the results already realized, than any influence of the School System. Hence, we find that the best schools are confined to given localities, to such communities as have felt a special interest in the schools. Such towns and neighborhoods will have good schools whether there be a school system or not.
Although it may be true that no system of schools can be devised which will secure good schools by its own force, without the hearty cooperation of those who are to be benefitted by the schools, it is, nevertheless, true that a system may be inaugurated, which will greatly aid the people in their work, and encourage them to continue their efforts to render their schools more eflicient for good.
The people do not hesitate to expend money to build good, and even elegant school edifices, and to pay large salaries, if they can be assured that their schools can be made enough better to pay for the expenditure. There are many of our citizens who manifest a willingness to devote their time, and expend personal effort, in order to increase the efficiency of their schools. It is found that many of our School Laws are a hindrance rather than an aid to many of our rural districts. Letters of inquiry are constantly coming to the Department of Pablic Instruction, asking if there is any way by which money can be raised in districts of more than one hundred children bat less than three hundred, entitled to public money, and in & sufficient amount to enable them to build a school-house immediately, that will cost more than they are able to raise in one year. If there are three hundred children in any district, money may be borrowed and the bonds of the district may be issaed, bearing interest, and these bonds met from taxes raised in years following. But with a less number of pupils, there is no way in which the money can be thus obtained. Before the school house can be built in these districts, the money must be already secured, so that the people are compelled to wait to raise by successive taxes what is desired to build a good house, or to impose a single tax, which would be too large to be met by the people without very great inconvenience.
The result is, many are deprived of a comfortable school house for years, although every member of the district may be willing and anxious to build, at once, a commodious school' edifice, and raise a tax in successive years to meet the expenges. They greatly prefer to pay the interest on the district bonds, that would accrue while the money is being raised, than to be deprived of the use of a good school-house, during that time.
The present method of dividing the townships into small districts, is by no means the best. The older States are abandoning this plan of division, and are districting the State by townships. This enables the proper officers to grade the schools of the township, and also to arrange a regular course of study for these schools. By this means, the pupils in our schools would accomplish a hundred fold more than they now do. I do not now design to enter upon a lengthy discussion of this subject, bat simply, by these few words, wish to call the attention of those interested in the success of our schools, to this subject. There is, however, a question which is attracting the attention of the teachers of the State, and many others, which demands