As far as statistics can speak, the state of public-school education in the West will be best shown by the following table, wherein the items which tell the plainest story are compared with the same data from Massachusetts: —

Expenditure per Capita of School Population. Monthly Pay of Male Teachers. Monthly Pay of Female Teachers. Percentage of School Population Enrolled
Massachusetts $21.74 $93.65 $34.14 .98+
Illinois 10.18 52.92 40.51 .72+
Indiana 5.63 No Satistics. - -
Michigan 7.47 51.94 27.13 .75+
Minnesota 4.80 36.50 29.08 .66+
Wisconsin 4.80 43.66 27.34 .64+
Iowa 8.61 36.28 27.68 .72+
Kansas 7.94 38.43 30.64 .68+
Missouri 2.64 42.43 31.43 .56+
Nebraska 11.91 39.60 33.80 .56+
California 14.92 84.28 63.37 .51+
Colorado 17.50 - - -
Idaho 8.46 - - -
Utah 4.69 - - -

Though from the above table it appears that between one half and three quarters of the Western school children are enrolled, the actual school attendance is not more than half that. It is not surprising, there-

fore, that the Western superintendents take up much space in their reports with the subject of compulsory education. Michigan has a law looking to this, but nearly all the county superintendents report that it is a dead letter, though some think that the passage of the law had a good moral effect on the parents. There is great outlay and pride in school buildings in the West, the most extraordinary example of this being in Omaha, Nebraska. The superintendent of Indiana, however, warns against large school-houses, thinking that “ as a rule five or six hundred pupils are enough for one building.” The superintendent of Iowa also complains of mistakes and waste in building. Co-education, from the district school to the college, is almost universal at the West, the only exceptions to it being in private or denominational schools, principally Catholic and Episcopalian.

The status of the public schools varies as much in the Western as it does in the New England States. In Michigan, Wisconsin, Illinois, and Kansas, they seem to be comparatively in advance, and the Territories of Utah and Colorado are following after them. But in Indiana, Minnesota, Missouri, and Iowa, the standard is low. Owing to the immense German population of the West, German is taught in many localities as one of the regular branches, but we do not find that anywhere sewing (or any industrial art), drawing, or music is taught by state law. Indiana has the largest school-fund of any State, but her schools seem about on a level with those of Vermont, and the people not more interested or liberal toward them. School grounds are entirely neglected, and there is great lack of everything that decent school -houses require. There is no general high-school system, and neither languages, music, drawing, nor physical geography are taught in the public schools. The state of things in Minnesota is very similar : neither ancient nor modern languages are taught even in the normal schools; the sciences and general history are almost entirely ignored in them, and in that at Markato only a “ brief United States history” is taught during the first out of six terms. “The intellectual condition of those who resort to this institution to prepare for the work of teaching is a sad commentary upon the character of our schools as a whole. Vagueness and superficiality seem to be the order of the day.” The University of Minnesota, “pending its rise into college rank”! (as says the report), instead of setting its standard and expecting the schools to come up to it, “ begins where the schools leave off,” and thus has had to perform the work of the high school since its foundation. Tired of this rôle, the unfortunate institution is now speculating how to get students properly prepared for a college course, and its president recommends the plan which we have already seen strenuously condemned the State of New York; that, namely, of state aid to private academies. It is a touching fact to know, however, and tells one what the struggle for education is in these young States, that out of two hundred and seventy-eight students of the university, one hundred and fifty-eight are dependent wholly or partly on their own earnings.

In Missouri there are over one hundred and fifty thousand children who could not go to school if they wished to do so, from want of school room. Only four months of school annually are now provided by law. County superintendents are so hampered and ill-paid that the office has not been efficient, and at the date of this report popular feeling was threatening to abolish it. The schools suffer from changing the boards of directors too often, and the state superintendent is borne down by the burden of office work. The greater part of the teachers in the rural districts are farmers who possess a limited education and whom “it is amusing as well as painful to see at work. All the aim they have in view is to ‘ get through the book,’ and as to a knowledge of their subjects, they don’t seem to know that they are doing anything more than stuffing a gourd with cotton.” Superintendents are sometimes so lazy, or so incapable of examining teachers as to their qualifications, that perhaps an entire stranger will be asked some such question as “Can you make a wooden nutmeg?” and a certificate will be granted without further inquiry ! The device of one board of directors for rousing up their teachers is rather funny. They abolished the teacher’s chair, and congratulate themselves that the pedagogues being kept on their feet, their wits also are more active. The best friends of the education of the colored people are said to be the old slave masters. The negroes prefer the teachers of their own race, but at present there are not enough of these to supply their schools. There is considerable prejudice in Missouri against women teachers, and the men teachers outnumber them nearly two to one. Yet the superintendent thinks “that for the majority of the schools they make the best teachers, and the same amount of money will produce better teaching talent among women than men.” In St. Louis the women principals receive the same salaries as men for the same grade of school.

In Iowa the school population increased in 1872-73 by 29,062 persons, but school attendance decreased 7522, while the number of persons attending private schools in the same year rose from 6163 to 12,132 — figures which show some very unusual state of things, for the general rule is that the public schools are gaining, and the private schools losing, all the time. There are no normal schools in the State, and no highschool system. Consequently, inefficient teachers are the rule, and teachers’ institutes are “ much set by.” Teachers are required to pass an examination in physiology, but as yet it is taught only in the graded schools, or in about one in twenty. No general history is required for first-class teachers’ certificates, and the questions on United States history are absurdly superficial.

In Kansas the school system is promising, and the local superintendents seem to be wide-awake and energetic. One of them actually wishes the study of our national history and constitution to be made compulsory, and another, that the children be taught to “fear God and speak the truth ” ! This State is so afflicted with the text-books which her children have brought with them from all parts of the Union, that she is talking of the Maine plan of the text-books being owned by the town. The superintendent is anxious to have drawing introduced, and the report eulogizes women teachers. " They attach more importance to the improvement of morals, and pay more attention to cleanliness than the men. When the mind of the child has gone astray, they will lead it back into the right path more gently and more successfully than men.” The University and the Agricultural College of Kansas are both open to women, and in the latter they are taught sewing and dressmaking, as well as printing and telegraphy. (Pity’t is that cooking had not come first!) In the high-school course the historical instruction covers two school years, which is nearly twice the time that most other high schools vouchsafe to it. Mathematics, however, are pressed upon the scholar from the beginning to the end of the course, and botany and zoölogy are brought in only at the end, thus imitating the colleges in making studies which involve perception and memory come after those which require reason and reflection. “ An increase of nearly twelve thousand children of school age in one year shows plainly that Nebraska is rapidly filling up with actual settlers, and an increase of three hundred and eighty-six good, substantial school-houses conclusively proves that these settlers bring with them intelligence and enterprise.” But many of the earlier school-houses are entirely destitute of the necessary conveniences and decencies. The superintendent dwells upon the benefit of neat and pleasant school-rooms, and is anxious to have teachers chosen who, both by precept and by example, can teach morals and manners. “ I have placed morals and manners as of more importance than the knowledge of scientific truths. I consider them a greater means of happiness and success in life than all the learning hidden in ten thousand books.” At the same time he urges increased facilities for study. At present, the state university has its own preparatory school, and in the six years’ course laid down for the two, the study of history holds an almost inappreciable place.

In Michigan the interest in the public schools is said to be “ marked and universal.” She is called the " Massachusetts of the West ” in educational matters, and certainly they are alike in paying less to their women teachers, in proportion to the men, than any other States in the Union. Though her school attendance is greater, however, Michigan has only one normal school to six in Massachusetts. In Detroit, drawing is taught in the public schools, but it is said that only three eighths of the school population of that city attend school. One of the local superintendents writes highly of the influence of female teachers. “ Could I say as much for my brethren in the profession, no comparison would be necessary.” The superintendent of Grand Rapids has a suggestion which we have never before seen. It is that each teacher should have but thirty scholars instead of fifty or sixty, and that she should not only try to do them good in school, but also become acquainted with their parents, and use her influence with the latter to prevent irregular attendance, truancy, and all immoral conduct at anytime.

Under the influence of her enlightened superintendent, Hon. Newton Bateman, who in his turn seems to have been stimulated by the example of Mr. Harris, of St. Louis, Illinois has the honor of being the first State in the Union to make the study of the elements of the natural sciences —i. e., botany, zoölogy, natural philosophy, pliysiology, and hygiene — compulsory throughout her schools. The testimony of Mr. Harris was that the effect in a single year, in St. Louis, of preparing and giving one hour’s exercise a week in natural science had been to increase the general efficiency and power of the teachers in that city at least fifty per cent. Similarly says Mr. Bateman : “ Never before has such a spectacle been presented to the people of Illinois. From the time the new law was fairly promulgated, in April last [1872], till the schools opened in the autumn, the whole State became, as it were, one great camp of instruction, and everywhere great numbers of teachers were assiduously engaged in preparing themselves for examination in the elements of natural science.” In October “ the number of teachers who passed a successful examination was 3114, which added to those who were previously qualified made the total number of teachers in line on the new branches, for the first day of school, about one fifth of the entire teaching force of the State.” From the local reports we do not glean much concerning the state of the schools in Illinois, the most striking remark in them being one from a county superintendent, to the effect that, while the pupils under twelve are remarkably intelligent, after that age they seem to become altogether dulled and lifeless. He pronounces it a delusion, inculcated by educational platform speakers, that children can learn without study, and says that before the teacher can “ draw out ” something from the child’s mind, he must first “ pound in.”

In Wisconsin the number of children reported as attending private schools in 1872 was 18,020, and in 1873, but 9581, while the public schools gained largely in excess of the addition to the school population. The superintendent urges the introduction of the natural sciences into the public schools, after the example of Illinois and St. Louis. The reports presented at the annual meeting of the State Teachers’ Association exhibit an unusual amount of earnestness and thought. They recommend that the superintendents of county schools should have a plan of correspondence with each teacher and school, instead of trusting to visits “ few and far between; ” that they should encourage the permanence of good teachers “ by an unflinching and outspoken recognition of merit, making itself felt in tangible reward ; ” that drawing should be taught in the public schools throughout the State ; and that the state university should have a thoroughly equipped art department, and also departments in journalism and pedagogics, and that an appropriate degree should be conferred after a course in the latter, in order “ to secure for teaching a public recognition as a profession.” We note with alarm, however, among the committees appointed for 1874, one on the “reform of spelling.” We trust that the scholars and philologists of America will take warning in time, and not let this maggot of phonetic spelling get into the pedagogical brain, and so history be hunted from our many-voiced English tongue, as it already has been from the school-room. The visitors to the three normal schools of the State, contrary to the usual practice of visitors, really do criticise those institutions. At the Oshkosh Normal School, for instance, they avow the conviction that instructing third-grade teachers merely in the common branches which they are to teach “ does not give culture and breadth of thought, but tends to narrowness and bigotry.”

In California the truancy and non-attendance is forty per cent., to nine per cent. in Connecticut, and the superintendent is urgent for a compulsory law. He devotes many pages to the subject of trained teachers. “ No wonder,” he says, “ that the attention paid to the manners and morals of the pupils is so unsatisfactory, when the manners of the teacher are never inquired into, and his morals are sufficient if he has not been guilty of any gross or notorious violation of the decalogue.” The superintendent finds the only remedy to be that every teacher should pass through a normal school, and he thinks that California could get a thousand such teachers in one year from other States, if only she would offer “ wages ” enough, which is a wild idea indeed. By the way, we do not like the speaking of the salaries of teachers as ” wages,” which is so common throughout these reports, as this in itself alone is sufficient to degrade the office in popular estimation to the level of the mechanic or the domestic servant. The superintendent of San Francisco reports that the examination papers of the schools of that city for several years past “ have shown conclusively that while many pupils are well up in definitions, parsing, and analysis, comparatively few are able to write English with even a tolerable degree of accuracy or elegance; ” facts which are, doubtless, as true for the whole country as for his locality. The new law for the choosing of school directors in San Francisco provides for their election at large from the whole city, instead of their being chosen from each separate district. The special interest of this lies in the fact that it is the first experiment we have heard of in the simplest or “ natural ” form of proportional representation. The principle of it is simply that of the unit of our form of government, i. e., the commune or village, in which each member of the community casts one vote for the candidate whom he thinks fittest to hold a particular office, and the one who gets the highest number of votes is the one elected. When school committees, aldermen, and members of the city councils are thus chosen at large from our cities, and members of the state legislatures and of Congress at large from our States, the American republic will at last rest on those foundations of common sense and ancient precedent upon which it should have originally been based. The district and ward system for our heterogeneous population is the real source of our political corruption, and of our inability to bring our best men to the front.

— Dr. Calderwood’s little essay1 was suggested by considerations which occurred to him as an officer under the new Education Act, by which the public-school system of Edinburgh was made to conform somewhat to the systems of Prussia and America. There is, however, very little in the essay of direct local significance, and what there is will be found of value to the American teacher by the comparison it suggests. The author aims to state the principles for guiding the teacher, especially in primary schools, and the chapters of his essay are thus upon Self-Government, School Discipline, and Instruction. The positions which he takes are sound, and many of his doctrines pregnant, but the worth of the book is in its protest against a mechanical system of teaching, and its insistence upon education as a training of character. He sees clearly enough the tendency of organized school systems to run to seed in a dull routine, and he finds the remedy where it must be found, in the living teacher: we think he is somewhat disposed to underestimate the power of general discipline over the individual scholar, and to credit the teacher of a large class with more opportunity for individual training than he is likely to possess, but with the principles of the essay we are in hearty accord. There is one passage in the book which is well worth considering by American teachers : “ Taking now a somewhat wider survey of the requirements of our national life, a teacher’s attention would need to be turned to our prevailing national vices, and the best means for fortifying the young against them. Early school life should do much to guard against the rudeness and coarseness which turn domestic life to bitterness, and prepare the way for outbreaks of violence. A constant stream of refining influence should flow through the minds of the pupils. Everything favorable in the reading-book, in history, or in the incidents of the schoolroom, should be utilized for this end.” We conceive that a most excellent special op portunity now opens to our own teachers Centennial memorials are in the air, and a teacher possessed of right knowledge and quick sympathy will find in the early annals of our history characters and events which he may well use for their educating influence. The democracy of the schoolroom may be made helpful to the spirit of true democracy in the state, and the doctrine that some men are better than others will not be found to interfere with the political doctrine of equality before the law.

  1. On Teaching: Its Ends and Means. By HENRY CALDERWOOD, LL. D., F. R. S. E., Professor of Moral Philosophy in the University of Edinburgh, and Chairman of the Edinburgh School Board. New York: G. P. Putnam’s Sons, 1875.