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THE OREGON SCHOOL EXHIBIT AT THE WORLD'S FAIR, 1893. Circular letters have been issued, calling the attention of the teachers of the county to the fact that it has been decided that Oregon shall make a State educational exhibit at the Chicago Exposition, in 1893, and requesting that they assist in preparing material for this exhibit, according to instructions sent out by the Oregon State committee. Another circular letter is to be issued, requesting contributions from the teachers and pupils of the county, to aid in defraying the expenses of this exhibit.
Nearly every school which was in session in this county last April held Arbor day exercises of some kind. On many of the school grounds in this part of the State the soil is of such a character that irees and shrubbery will not grow without artificial irrigation. This is impossible to secure in some localities, hence, such grounds are and will continue to be devoid of proper ornamentation. However, some of these districts carried out the programme of exercises, with the exception of setting trees.
We regard the annual observance of this day as an eminently proper and beneficial exercise for the schools.
GENERAL SUGGESTIONS. I would suggest that with other blanks sentout by the State superinlendent, for the use of district clerks, that a blank assessment roll be prepared and furnished to the various county superintendents, to be supplied to the district clerks whenever a tax is levied, as the clerks find themselves uuable to make up such a roll in proper order.
I would further suggest that aid be asked from the State legislature to assist in making a State educational exhibit at the coming World's Fair.
EDUCATIONAL OUTLOOK IN THIS COUNTY. I can say with satisfaction that the educational outlook in this county is encouraging. School boards and patrons generally are desiring to employ teachers of good qualifications, and before employing them wish to know of their experience, grade of certificate, natural qualifications, etc. Our teachers, too, are coming to a higher appreciation of the importance of the profession, and are seeking a better fitness for it.
WALLOWA COUNTY-SUPERINTENDENT, F. M. MCCULLY.
The great difference between the total census and the number of pupils enrolled in Wallowa county is accounted for by the contour of our country, which renders it impossible to locate school houses convenient to more than 61) per cent of the families in the sparsely settled districts. The small average attendance can only be explained by the general indifference of the parents.
During the past year a system of general grade work has been handed to teachers, with instructions to put the same into effect. The general efferts upon our schools have been encouraging.
Regarding the present school law, I am of the opinion that it could be much improved by a “simplifying process."
WASCO COUNTY - SUPERINTENDENT, TROY SHELLEY.
COUNTY INSTITUTES. For a number of years past our annual county institute has been held in this county with more or less success. Last year an attempt was made to hold
a pormal institute with paid instructors in connection with the county institute. The services of Profs. W. A. Wetzel and J. H. Ackerman, of Portland, were secured, and the work done was of lasting benefit to the school interests of the county. The interests of prominent persons as well as teachers was elicited, and a step forward was made, which I hope will not be lost in the future.
So far as I know, I have held the first local institutes in the county. One was held at Hood River in November, 1890 ; one at Dufur, February, 1891; one at Wamic, October, 1891, and again at Dufur in February, 1892. Another one is to be held at Hood River soon, and possibly at Antelope. These are the only points in the county where such gatherings can he had. The success of these meetings was far beyond my expectations. They have been well attended, and teachers have almost invariably made every effort in their power to secure success. Visitors and teachers have been entertained free, local talent in music has freely given its best, and each of the five newspapers in the county has freely given its columns for advertisement. The worklius not been mine alone I do not claim it. The people in many cases have been anxious for it. I would say to all who have not tried them, the value of such meetings, though the gatherings be small, cannot be overestimated.
TEACHERS' REPORTS. I have had a good deal of trouble with some of these, but a blackboard illustration at our county institute of some of the bad forms has had a marked effect on succeeding ones. In looking them over, I mark in pencil at the top of those that are incorrect, and when the teacher comes to the office, call his attention to it The mistake is not repeated.
Some of these are very incorrect, especially in financial accounts. A dozen or more have been returned this spring. A report from teacher or clerk is worthless if incorrect. The trouble with many is that they think it is a mere form required by law, that it is never examined by the one to whom it is sent, and therefore does not matter how it is made out, whether complete or incomplete, correct or incorrect. When it is returned to them for correction they are apt to be more careful next time. I think the remedy, therefore, lies in the superintendent's hands, and when teachers and clerks are called to account for their mistakes this trouble with reports will gradually be done away.
TEACHERS' EXAMINATIONS. In the seven quarterly examinations I have held, there have been granted three first grade, is second grade and 25 third grade certificates, and there have been 42 failures 46 per cent. A number of the failures have been on account of not reaching the standing for next bigher grade, which by law they are required to reach each time. Still, the percentage of failures is very large, and there is considerable dissatisfaction in consequence.
SCHOOL VISITS BY COUNTY SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS.
I have endeavored to fulfill the law in this regard, visiting both in the spring and fall, and yet it has so happened that there are some schools I have never visited, not being in session when my visit was timed to that part of the county. I could, of course, make an extra trip to schools near The Dalles, but for the further ones---from fifty to seventy-five miles-it cannot be done. In this county this is the hardest part of the superintendent's work; and yet, I think the most effective work can be done by these timely visits.
CONDITION OF SCHOOL HOUSES, PREMISES, ETC. Some districts have taken great pains to build commodious and comfortable houses ; but others have never attempted any improvement, having the same old buildings for the last dozen or fifteen years. Î'he condition of things in some of these, and the surroundings, are cheerless indeed ; no paint, nor whitewash, nor any brightening up whatever; the seats consisting of rough carpenter's benches, rickety, stained, and carved ; on the outside no woodshed, no fence, nor any touch of improvement.
In visiting schools I have made a note of all improvements made, as well as needed improvements, and called the attention of the public to them in my report in the local papers. This has had a salutary effect in several instances, and will, in time, I hope, help to bring about a better condition of things.
COURSE OF STUDY.
At our last county institute the subject of grading the schools of the county was discussed. It was finally agreed to leave the arrangement of a course of study to a committee of three, consisting of the county superintendent and two others whom he should appoint, and that the work of this committee should be revised by a meeting of teachers during the holidays. All this work has been carried out according to the resolution of the institute. A graded course bas been prepared by the commitee, revised by the body of teachers called for that purpose, printed in the county newspapers, and awaits the final action of the teachers of the county at our next county institute. There is some opposition to it, but public opinion is generally in favor of some such scheme, so that the work of the schools may be systemiatized.
TEACHERS' READING CIRCLE. About forty of our teachers are members of the State Teachers' Reading Circle. No county or local circles have been held except in The Dalles. Beginning with November last, a weekly meeting of the teachers of this place was held under the leadership of Prof. M. W. Smith, which resulted in much profit to the teachers.
Last year only three schools, I think, made any attempt to observe this day. This year the circulars nailed to me were, from some cause, delayed one week. Immediately on receipt of them, I sent out the circulars to all the schools, asking the teachers to report to me the result of their exercises. A good many received the circulars too late ; nevertheless, very gratifying reports, which were afterwards published in the county newspapers, were received from seven schools. The plan for the observance of this day is a good one, and I feel quite hopeful that soon a majority of the schools will regularly unite in these exercises. As a result, the desolaté appearance of so many of our school grounds, where the children pass so much of their time, would be inade attractive and beautiful, thus helping to solve one of the vexed questions of school life, tardiness and truancy. This measure deserves the hearty support of all.
PROPOSED AMENDMENTS TO SCHOOL LAWS. No doubt the intention of the law in regard to certificates was good, but it is not working well in this county. The country being sparsely settled, the schools are quite small, and the majority of them can pay nothing but small salaries. In order to keep a corps of good teachers in the county, if they are compelled to advance to higher grades continually, better salaries must be held out as an inducement. These cannot be had to any extent, and the result is, first grade teachers leave the county and lower grade teachers from other counties take their places. Again, many third and second grade teachers who bave been successful in their schools, fail to reach the higher grade in examination. They either quit teaching or go to another county and begin again with the lower grade, their places beeng filled by lower grade teachers from other counties. In this way a class of "tramp'i teachers is formed, directly opposite the intention of the law.
I am unable to say what should be the remedy for this. I do not think the standing required is too high ; but am inclined to think that each grade should be issued more than once; possibly an unlimited number of times. I believe, also, that the provision allowing certificates to be valid only in the county where issued, should be repealed. In this county we are generally short of teachers and it makes only expense to the incoming teacher, and an interruption of the school for examination.
I am of opinion that one director for country schools, instead of three, and that one elected each year, would secure better management of the schools in each district than as at present. The clashing interests of the three, the desire of each to be a leader; or, in other cases, the disposition to shift the responsibility on the others; the inconvenience of the three, often widely separated, in uniting together to transact business, all incline me to think it would be better if only one held the office with its honors, duties, and responsibilities.
EDUCATIONAL OUTLOOK. Many things combine to make any educational progress in the county very hard work. The change in the occupation of the people lately taking place, from grazing to agriculture, the scattered condition of the settlements, and the partial failure of crops of late years, all work against the school business.
That conservatism, also, which accompanies the progress of the human mind in anything, is especially present in school affairs.
Any advancement, therefore, is quite slow. But, notwithstanding all these drawbacks, educational prospects are brighter, in many ways, than ever before, and with steady work in the future, I feel quite hopeful of the result.
WASHINGTON COUNTY -SUPERINTENDENT, CLARK
COUNTY INSTITUTES. The annual meeting of the teachers in the county institute is productive of good in many ways; to the teachers, in affording an opportunity for acquaintance and friendship, for the formation of higher and better ideals, and for increased knowledge of methods and systems of instruction; to the schools, in the renewed vigor and improved methods of the teachers. The fund from certificates and permits is not often large enough to cover the expenses of a session of more than three days. With the best of management this length of time is inadequate for the proper discussion of all the subjects in which the country teacher should be instructed, and rather than
skim lightly over all it is usually better to take up only such subjects as canle thoroughly investigated, and leave the others for treatment at the next insti. tute. Many of the country teachers are not able, financially, to attend a lengthy institute however much they may desire to do so, and it is only fair that the institute of three days should be so appointed that they may bave the benefit of their salaries for two days of the time.
TEACHERS' REPORTS. The form in present use is very complete in its minuteness, and one feature that might well be omitted is the registration wbich takes up one full half of the blank. As there is a registration of the pupil's age, sex and parents in the teacher's register, and also in the clerk's record and in his annual report, it is not very obvious why these items are repeated in every teacher's report, per haps three or four times in a year from the same school. By omitting this registration and condensing somewhat the other matter, the blank could be printed with a self-sealing edge, so that no envelope would be needed in mailing it the superintendent. As it is a large envelope cannot always be obtained and to crumple it into a small one destroys its form and appearance for tiliny.
The clerk's report presupposes good penmen and accurate accountants. When such is the case the blank now in use is satisfactory for the ordinary district. But another form should be furnished for use in the joint districts. It should be made with spaces for the items necessary to be reported from eaili county, such as the number of pupils in each county in the district, the amount of money received from each county, etc. In this-Washington Countrthere are parts of sixteen joint districts, one of which is in three counties.
TEACHERS' EXAMINATIONS. The time now appointed for the examinations is perhaps the most satisfactory of any, and the rules and regulations prescribed by the State board are complete and practicable. It has been the custom in this county to strictly follow these regulations, and, as a consequence, there has been very general satisfaction among the teachers.
TEACHERS' QUALIFICATIONS, A knowledge of algebra and book-keeping ought to be added to the requirements for a first-grade certificate, Pupils are beocming numerous who wish to pursue these studies, and they should not be compelled to leave their home districts for this reason alone. Teachers should also be able to teach musical notation and instruct the school in vocal music.
TEACHERS' MIGRATIONS. Notwithstanding the law allowing the teacher to have but one certificate of each grade, it is believed there are some teachers who migrate from county to county, and obtain certificates of the Power grades rather than qualify themselves for a first-yrade certificate. If directors would employ for longer terms there would be much less changing and the improvement in the schools would be greater.
SCHOOL POPULATION AND ATTENDANCE. There has been a very marked increase in the children of school age in this county during the past year, and the enrollment has so increased that about nine elevenths of all the children in the county have been in school during the past year.