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gest that the blanks for teachers' reports be so revised as to enable them to give the average attendance, as provided in our statistical statement.
This could be done without increasing the labor of keeping the school register. It would only be necessary for teachers to enroll the boys on a separate page from the girls, and continue the distinction in the monthly summaries,
CLERKS' REPORTS. Section 12 of the school laws says : “Districts shall not be entitled to their proportion of the school funds at the disposal of the county superintendent unless they shall report to him by the first Monday of March of each year, etc," while subdivision 5, Section 54, gives specific directions for making out, correcting, and signing this report at the annual school meeting on the first Monday of March, and gives until the fifteenth day of March to file this report with the county superintendent.
It is plainly stated that this annual report shall be made upon blanks furnished by the State board of education, and as said board furnishes but one blank to each district, is manifestly evident that only one annual report is required, and that one is provided for in Section 51. Yet many district clerks, not wishing to hazard the financial welfare of their districts, attempt to comply with Section 42, and as an unfailing result, send in a report previous to their annual meeting that is in every sense worthless and unnecessary. Sometimes the State blanks are used for this first report, which invariably results in confusion and delay in getting acceptable reports from those districts. I attempted once to set this matter right in the minds of the district clerks of this country by means of a circular letter, but as these superfluous reports still make their annual appearance I thought best to withhold further advice in that direction until adherence to my opinion by the clerks would not be in direct opposition to an act of the legislature, involving, as this does, the possible forfeiture of the public funds so essential to the the maintainance of their schools.
It will be readily conceded that no sensible county superintendent would hesitate to apportion funds to a district that had fully complied with section 54, and had totally disregarded the portion of section 42 quoted above. Yet these confusing requirements do make unnecessary work, and might be used as an excuse for inflicting an irreparable injury. If my view of the relation these sections bear to each other is correct, the next amendments to the school laws should extend to the clearing of this part of the district clerk's duty of its present ambiguity. We have experienced no other difficulty worth mentioning in receiving full and accurate reports from all the district clerks of this county.
TEACHERS' EXAMINATIONS, QUALIFICATIONS, ETC. The present rules governing teachers' examinations are sufficient safeguard against partiality in awarding certificates to applicants, unless the examiners purposely and very dishonorably violate them. The lists of questions furnished by the State board for quarterly examinations for county certificates are not uniformly difficult enough to establish the thoroughness, educationally, that should prevail in the army of teachers from whom the vast majority of the children of this State must receive their instruction. It often occurs at the close of the examinations, after the result has been announced to the class, that the opening of the envelopes and a comparison of the names with the standing of the applicants reveals the fact that individuals have reached the required average to entitle them to certificates, who, to the personal knowledge of the board, are not fit for the important work of training the young minds in our public schools.
There is no tme in the whole course of the examination when an examiner's knowledge of the teaching ability of any applicant can be of any benefit to our school system without resorting to means discreditable to the board and in flagrant violation of the frules of the examination. These examinations should be a practical test of the educational attainments--in the common school course-at least of the examined, but this is possible only so far as the questions furnished for that purpose will permit. Every incompetent added to the teaching force has a weakening effect on our public school system. Hence the necessity for means that will exclude, if possible, this class of would be teachers. The most direct way to raise the educational standing of our teachers, is for the State board of examiners to prepare lists of questions for every quarterly examination, the successful answering of which would require as thorough knowledge of every branch presented as was required by the one subject of grammar in the February lists of 1891 and 1892. The preparation of such lists would require no inconsiderable labor. Every problem and every question should have no other object in view than the testing of the applicant's practical knowledge of the studies he is expected to teach. Our schools demand fully qualified, practical teachers, and to such there is a growing pecuniary inducement to continue in the work.
TEACHIERS' REGISTERS, ETC. I carefully examined the register kept by each teacher in commission last year, and, with few exceptions, found them neatly kept. The condition of the register is generally an index of the exactness as well as neatness of the teacher.
DISCIPLINE, FAILURES IN TEACHING, ETC. Better discipline prevails in our schools now than was witnessed by visitors a few years ago. Good government is characteristic of the successful teacher, and its possessor is never without a remunerative position. This fact leads teachers to look more to the discipline of their schools than formerly. No fewer than six teachers, whose work in the schoolroom was practically valueless, have visited this county within the last three years. With one exception these individuals held first-grade certificates and seemed well versed in the theory of teaching, but their inability to govern rendered ineffectual years of careful preparation for the work. Last year two of these teachers were discharged before they had finished a three months' term of school. So far as my observation goes, failures in teaching are invariably the result of the teacher's lack of government.
SCHOOL VISITS BY COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT. Unless the school was in some remote part of the county and not in session when I was in that vicinity, I have visited every school taught in this county during the last three years, spending usually from a half day to a day in each school.
This labor occupies nearly all of the summer, and requires about a thousand miles of travel to make the round.
CONDITION OF SCHOOL PROPERTY.
The improvements in school property of all kinds for several years past has marked the growing interest in the public schools of the county. Since 1888, the value of school houses, grounds, etc., has increased over 100 per cent. At that date only two or three school houses were supplied with confortable furniture, while apparatus of any kind was almost a total stranger to our schools. At present fully one fourth of our school houses are well equipped with the best patent desks and all needed apparatus, while nearly every school is supplied with many of the indispensible aids to successful teaching.
ARBOR DAY-OBSERVANCE OF, ETC. The observance of Arbor day in this county is limited to four or five schools. As stated in previous reports, our school year begins the first Monday
in May, nearly a month after Arbor day, consequently its general observance by our schools is quite impossible. Even the few schools that are in session on the second Friday in April can only carry out the literary part of the programme, owing to the exposed condition of the school grounds. The last four years have witnessed considerable activity in building, repairing, and furnishing school houses, but this interest in improving the condition of school property has not extended, in a single instance, to fencing and preparing the grounds for tree planting. This will probably be considered by the next generation.
COMPARATIVE STATISTICS. The clerks' reports give 3,537 as the number of persons of school age residing in the county March 7, 1892. During the year 1891, 2,246 pupils were enrolled in the public, and 708 in the private schools of this county. The average daily attendance in the public schools is placed at 1,616, which is ten less than reported for 1890. Since the total enrollment for 1891 was 122 greater than for the previous year, this comparison of those in daily attendance is not altogether encouraging, yet I think the falling off in last year's daily attendance was due principally to the continued spring and summer rains, which greatly interfered with school work in the rural districts.
TEACHERS' CERTIFICATES. The present grading of certificates as first, second, and third, places teachers not holding the first grade in an unfavorable light. The average school board seldom looks at the standing marked on a certificate, but are content with knowing the grade of the certificate held by the applicant for their school. Those holding second and third-grade certificates are supposed to be inferior, educationally, and if employed are paid wages to correspond with this supposed mental inferiority. The result of this is that beginners accept any position they can get, regardless of wages, anxious only to attain an experience that will place them in the ranks of the first-grade teachers, where they are permitted to have at least something to say on the question of salary. Penurious directors take advantage of these conditions to employ cheap teachers, who in turn, for want of pecuniary encouragement, often teach very cheap schools. Small districts are not the only sufferers from cheap management, but large schools are sometimes run in the same way.
I would suggest as a remedy for this that all certificates issued to teachers be alike, so far as appearances are concerned, differing only in the length of time for which they are valid, to correspond with the holders' experience in the school-room.
DOUGLAS COUNTY.-SUPERINTENDENT J. A. UNDERWOOD.
The annual institutes have been held in this county as required by the school law. These have been successfully carried out, and well attended by the teachers of the county, who have taken a great interest in the work. Without a doubt, these institutes have been of much benefit to our teachers.
The local institutes are held quarterly, the attendance being good. Formerly these local meetings were held monthly, but the attendance was not what could be desired, owing to the expense attached, and the distance some of the teachers were compelled to come. These meetings generally consist of one day and an evening session. During this time various subjects pertaining to the school work are discussed. These meetings are held at various places usually selected by the teachers at the previous meeting.
So far Douglas county has not been favored with a normal school for the teachers. There will be a strong effort made to hold one this year. These can not be overestimated, and the teachers generally feel the need of such schools, and without doubt will support one liberally.
TEACHERS' REPORTS. The teachers, as a rule, are careful and painstaking in preparing their reports. The average number belonging, and average attendance seem to cause some trouble, but this is growing less, and in time the reports will be comparatively accurate.
CLERKS' REPORTS. While the reports from the clerks have been good there is room for considerable improvement. Not enough attention is given to the financial part of the report. The reports, in many instances, have the appearance of being hastily made out and sent in without being corrected as they should be at the annual school meeting. In many districts the clerks receive no pay for their work, and, perhaps, this accounts for the inaccurate reports in a measure. I think that, if the clerks were paid a reasonable sum for their services, and could hold the office for a longer term, this would have a tendency to give us more complete and exact reports. Taken altogether the reports show an improvement over those of the past year.
TEACHERS' EXAMINATIONS. Without a doubt the law that was recently passed in regard to teachers' examinations is having the desired result, and much is being done to give us teachers better qualified to take up the work. Those that are not qualified will drop out sooner or later, unless they better prepare themselves for the work. This is often done, as the applicants who fail, with a few exceptions, apply themselves, and try the following examination. This is very encouraging and speaks well for our teachers. Under charge of such teachers, our schools will continue to be, as they have been in the past, a success.
TEACHERS' QUALIFICATIONS. The teachers of this county stand high in their marking, as a general rule, and are well qualified to take charge of the schools. With the aid of institutes and county normals this will be improved.
TEACHERS' PERMANENCY. A great many of our schools only bave a three months' term during the year, many of our teachers having to move about from place to place. This occurs frequently in our small schools. Our larger schools are becoming more particular in employing and retaining their teachers longer.
TEACHERS' REGISTERS. These are generally kept in a good condition; the rules and instructious laid down are in most cases followed faithfully.
ENTERPRISE, ZEAL, ENERGY, ETC., OF TEACHERS. The teachers in their school work show great enterprise, energy, and zeal, and in some instances it seems that they have a great deal to overcome,
requiring the above qualifications in a large degree. It seems our teachers are equal to any emergency, and it is very rare that a teacher fails to teach the time for which he has been employed.
DISCIPLINE, PROGRESS, ETC., IN THE SCHOOLS. The work that is being ne in our schools is very satisfactory, the iscipline and progress being very good. It seems that the parents have taken more interest in the school work during the past year than ever before, and this naturally would have a tendency to help in this respect, as in other lines of the work of the teacher.
FAILURES IN TEACHING.
There have been no decided failures here. The causes of partial failures are due, doubtless, to the lack of zeal, energy, and to carelessness.
SCHOOL VISITS BY THE COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENT. The schools of the county now number 105, including three joint districts, and to visit each school would take at least five months of the year, if a visit of a reasonable length of time was given to each school. During the past year I have traveled about 1,500 miles, visiting about 75 schools. We find with the other duties of the office it will be quiie impossible to visit each school as required by the school law unless a deputy is employed.
CONDITION OF SCHOOLHOUSES. The condition of the schoolhouses, generally speaking, is good. New buildings are fast taking the place of those erected years ago, and are good subssantial buildings, with many modern conveniences.
CONDITION OF SCHOOL PREMISES, OUT-BUILDINGS, ETC. As a general thing the school premises need improving. Many schoolhouses and grounds are not enclosed with a fence. Out-buildings are in fair condition where they are erected, but many schoolhouses are without these conveniences. The grounds do not receive the attention that they should, but probably will in the future. The districts are slowly but surely beginning to appreciate the value of these things, and a decided improvement will naturally follow.
COURSE OF STUDY FOR COUNTRY PUBLIC SCHOOLS.
It seems that the law intends to give every person a knowledge of the elementary branches. It seems to me a graded course of elementary work is what is needed in our public schools, and should not include the higher branches. I think legislation is needed to bring about this end.
AVERAGE ATTENDANCE. The average attendance as compared with the enrollment averages about 65 per cent, and compared with the census about 50 per cent.
This is a very low per cent, but doubtless will be much better during the year, as the more remote settlements have organized districts, and are building school houses.
TEACHERS' READING CIRCLE. The teachers' reading circle is designed to do much good when properly brought before the teachers. At present the interest is not what it might be in this respect, but will increase when the objects of the circle are better under