DEPARTMENT OF THE INTERIOR
BUREAU OF EDUCATION
BULLETIN, 1921, No. 26
Summary of Conclusions and Recommendations
A DIGEST OF THE REPORT OF A SURVEY OF THE PUBLIC SCHOOLS OF ELIZABETH CITY, N. C., MADE AT THE REQUEST OF THE BOARD OF SCHOOL TRUSTEES, UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE UNITED STATES COMMISSIONER OF EDUCATION
Logo of the Department of the Interior]
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|Members of the commission||5|
|From Bureau of Education||5|
|From the outside||5|
|The field work||5|
|II.||A building program||6|
|Number of children of school age||6|
|1. White schools||7|
|2. Negro schools||8|
|Lack of modern school facilities||10|
|Changed social and industrial conditions demand changes in the schools||10|
|A comprehensive building program needed||11|
|The work-study-play plan of organization||12|
|A building program on the basis of the work-study-play plan||13|
|III.||Organization and administration||15|
|A pathy of the board of aldermen||15|
|Interest of the board of education in school affairs||16|
|Powers and duties of the school board||18|
|The superintendent's report||20|
|Cost of maintaining the schools||24|
|IV.||School census and enrollment||26|
|Per cent of distribution by grades||30|
|Holding power of the schools||31|
|The schools carry an unnecessary load||32|
|V.||The elementary schools||33|
|The curriculum situation||33|
|The supervision problem||37|
|The instruction problem||38|
|VI.||The high school||39|
EDUCATIONAL SURVEY OF ELIZABETH CITY, NORTH CAROLINA.I. INTRODUCTORY.
On July 20, 1920, the board of school trustees invited the Commissioner of Education to undertake a survey of the schools of Elizabeth City, with the understanding that the cost would not exceed $1,500, and that the cost of the survey would be underwritten by the Elizabeth City Chamber of Commerce.MEMBERS OF THE SURVEY COMMISSION.
The members of the commission appointed by the commissioner to make the survey, and to report to him their findings and recommendations, are as follows:FROM THE BUREAU OF EDUCATION.
Dr. William T. Bawden, Assistant to the Commissioner, director of the survey.
Mrs. Alice Barrows Fernandez, Specialist in Industrial and Economic Relations in Education.
Mr. Walter S. Deffenbaugh, Specialist in Education in Villages and Towns.
Mrs. Henrietta W. Calvin, Specialist in Home Economics.
Miss Julia Wade Abbot, Specialist in Kindergarten Education.FROM OUTSIDE THE BUREAU OF EDUCATION.
Dr. Charles G. Maphis, Professor of Education, University of Virginia, Charlottesville, Va.
Dr. Thomas Alexander, Professor of Elementary Education, Peabody College for Teachers, Nashville, Tenn.THE FIELD WORK.
On July 24-25 Commissioner Claxton and two members of the commission made a study of the buildings and gathered data upon which the recommendations concerning the building program were based. This part of the report was submitted to the board July 30, 1920. The remainder of the field work was done during the month of November, and included an aggregate of about 70 days.
On Friday evening, January 7, 1921, the director of the survey presented an outline of the report, and discussed the conclusions and recommendations with the board in Elizabeth City. As rapidly as the work could be completed, the full text of the report was furnished to the board in manuscript, the last chapters being mailed on July 7, 1921.
II. A BUILDING PROGRAM.
The schools of Elizabeth City are badly congested. It is important that the city undertake a building program which will not only relieve present congestion but also provide for increase in enrollment over a period of years. In order to do this it is necessary to determine (1) how many children there are of school age in the city; (2) what is the present number of children enrolled in school and what is the present school congestion—that is, how many children are without adequate seating accommodations; (3) what has been the rate of increase in the school population over a period of years; and (4) the appropriation that will be necessary in order to give children not only seating accommodations but modern school facilities.NUMBER OF CHILDREN OF SCHOOL AGE.
According to the school census, there were 2,997 children between the ages of 6 and 21 in Elizabeth City in 1919-20. Eliminating those between the ages of 18 and 20, there were apparently 2,789 children of school age in the city. Of this number, 1,641 were white children and 1,148 were negro (see Table 1).
But although there were 2,789 children of school age, only 2,202 were enrolled in the public schools. Of these, 1,425 were white and 777 were negro. In other words, there were 216 white children of school age who were not in public school and 371 negro children who were not in public school; that is, 21 per cent of all children of school age were not enrolled in public school (see Table 2).
|TABLE 1.—Children of school census age; enrollment; average attendance, 1919-20.|
|Children of school census age.||White.||Colored.||Total white and colored.|
|Children 6 to 7 years old, inclusive||134||145||779||107||100||207||486|
|Children 8 to 13 years old, inclusive||368||403||771||269||325||594||1,365|
|Children 14 to 17 years old, inclusive||278||313||591||149||198||347||938|
|Children 18 to 20 years old, inclusive||63||62||125||32||51||83||208|
|Total census 6 to 21||843||923||1,766||557||674||1,231||2,997|
|Enrollment of children 6 to 21||668||757||1,425||353||424||777||2,202|
|Enrollment of children 8 to 13, inclusive||393||429||822||225||273||498||1,320|
|Average daily attendance, 6 to 21||538||634||1,132||215||249||464||1,637|
|Average daily attendance, 8 to 13, inclusive||350||380||730||150||222||272||1,002|
|TABLE 2.—Enrollment in 1914-15 and 1919-20 in public schools, Elizabeth City, N. C.; classrooms; special facilities; teaching force.|
|Names of school.||Grades (inclusive).||Net enrollment.||Per cent of increase 1914-15 to 1919-20.||Number of regular classrooms available.||Total classrooms required for present enrollment.||Excess of classrooms required over those available.||Auditorium built for purpose.||Cooking room.||Science room.||Acres in playground.||Number regular teachers.1||Principals.2||Total teaching force.3|
|In 1914-15.||In 1919-20.|
|Total for grades||4-11||621||818||31.7||16||21||5||35||3||38|
|Total for white schools||1-11||1,140||1,425||25.0||29||37||8||1||1||1||2½|
|Grand total (including children in normal school)||2,202|
Obviously, any adequate building program must provide for these children whom the public school is under obligation to care for, and who would be far more likely to attend if the school accommodations were adequate and modern. On the other hand, if they do not enter school even when new buildings are provided, then the building program proposed will provide for an increase in enrollment over more than five years.SCHOOL CONGESTION.1. WHITE SCHOOLS.
In 1919-20 there were 1,425 white children enrolled in school, or 37 classes. There are two white school buildings—the Primary, which houses grades from 1 to 3, inclusive, and the High School, which houses grades from 4 to 7, inclusive, and 8 to 11, inclusive. In the primary school there are 16 classes but only 13 regular classrooms. In the high school there are 16 regular classrooms and 21 classes. In other words, in these two buildings there are eight more classes than there are classrooms available.
The rate of increase has been about one and one-half classes per year for the last five years. For example, in 1914-15 there were
1,140 children enrolled, while in 1919-20 there were 1,425, or an increase of 285 children, approximately eight classes.
The school authorities have made every effort to meet the increasing congestion, but they have had an almost impossible task. They have been compelled to use basement rooms which never should have been used as classrooms; corners of the auditorium have been partitioned off to make room for classes; and it is understood that even the auditorium stage has been pressed into service as a classroom.
But the situation is worse than these facts would indicate, for although there are 13 rooms in the primary school, they can not be included in the building plans, since they are really not fit for school purposes. The inadequate lighting alone should prohibit their use. In fact, if the parents of the children realized that permitting their children to study in the badly lighted, overcrowded rooms of the primary school was a menace to the eyesight and health of the children, there is no question but that they would insist that the school be abandoned and adequate appropriations made for school accommodation.
To sum up the situation in the white schools, there are 36 classes of children and only 16 available classrooms (when the primary school is eliminated), i. e., there are 20 classes without adequate seating accommodations. Moreover, an increase of between seven and eight classes, about 280 children, over the next five years must be provided for. Furthermore, the 216 children of school age not now in school should be provided for. In other words, taking the children now enrolled, 1,425, those of school age out of school, 216, and the anticipated increase during the next five years, 280, it will be necessary for Elizabeth City to so plan its building program that 48 classes of children—1,921 children—may be provided for in the coming bond issue. If this is done, not only will present congestion be relieved but adequate provision made for a period of five years.2. NEGRO SCHOOLS.
According to the statistical report of the superintendent of schools for 1914-15 there were 585 children enrolled in the Negro schools in the first five grades. (See Table 3.) In 1919-20 there were 777 children enrolled in seven grades, and of this number 595 were in the three public schools, while the remainder were in the Negro normal school, which takes children in the practice school department from grade 1 through 8. (See Table 4.) The increase in the public and normal schools of children in grades 1 to 8 was 192 in five years, or at the rate of about one class a year.
|TABLE 3.—Enrollment by grades and races in the year 1914-15.1|
|Number.||Average age.||Boys enrolled.||Number.||Average age.||Boys enrolled.|
|Number completing course||12||17||3||10||13||4|
|TABLE 4.—Enrollment by grades and races in the year 1919-20.1|
|Number.||Boys enrolled.||Number.||Boys enrolled.|
|Number completing course||21||6|
There is not only bad congestion in the Negro schools, but the buildings themselves are unfit for school purposes. In 1919-20, in grades 1 to 5, inclusive, were 595 Negro children attending school in three wooden frame structures. In Sawyer town school 173 children go to school in two rooms. One room has 27 double benches and the other has 28. The benches are old and scarred. In one room 54 children attend in the morning and in another 54 in afternoon. The building is nothing but a frame structure in such bad repair that pasteboard is tacked over a portion of a window where the pane has been broken. In Cale School there are 224 children in four rooms. In one room there are 31 double benches; in another, 30; in another, 29; and in the fourth, 22. In Shannon Street school there are 198 children. One room has 17 double seats, another 20, another 24½, another 23, and there is also a chapel, which is one long room with
a platform. All these buildings should be abandoned, for they are not fit for school use.LACK OF MODERN SCHOOL FACILITIES.
But there is not only great congestion in both the white and Negro schools, but also there are almost none of the modern school facilities, such as auditoriums, gymnasium, shops, laboratories, drawing and music rooms—facilities which are now recognized as essential in any modern school system and which it is necessary to include in an adequate building program. There are in the white schools one auditorium, no gymnasium, no shops, one cooking room, and one laboratory with very little equipment, no drawing room, no music room, and no library.CHANGED SOCIAL AND INDUSTRIAL CONDITIONS DEMAND CHANGES IN THE SCHOOLS.
It is often difficult for men and women who were brought up in the country a generation ago to realize the necessity of providing these facilities for children living in cities. In the olden days it made little difference that the school buildings consisted only of classrooms for studying the three R's. In those days the children had plenty of opportunity for wholesome work and play, which, educationally, were just as important for them as study. There is such a common tendency to identify “schools” and “education” that it is important to emphasize the fact that education has always consisted of work and study and play, and that children must not be deprived of any of these three elements in their education if they are to grow in health and strength and develop initiative, intelligence, and the ability to think for themselves.
Fifty years ago the environment of the average boy and girl furnished an education in wholesome activities that developed intelligence, initiative, and industrious habits. But during the past half century has come the growth of the modern city, until now half the population of the country is concentrated in cities, and the city with its overcrowding, its mills and factories, and office buildings, which gradually go up on the vacant lots, is depriving children of the opportunity for the healthy, wholesome work and play which are essential elements in their education. The city home, whether in a large or small city, is very unlike the farm with its many necessities for “learning by doing.” It offers few educational opportunities in the way of healthful work which develops the ability to think by attacking problems to be solved. There is no planting or harvesting to be done; few if any animals to be taken care of; and it is a rare city home that has a workshop or laboratory. Yet children until recently have received much of their education through the opportunity to handle tools, to take care of animals, and to experiment
in making and using things. But the city not only fails to educate children in the right direction; it educates them in the wrong direction, for the street, with its dangers to the physical and moral life of the children, too often becomes their only playground. And street play means education not in health and strength and wholesome living but precocious education in all the vicious side of a city's life.
For these reasons it has come to be recognized that the city school must not only supply the opportunity for study in good classrooms under wholesome conditions, but it must also return to the children the opportunity for the helpful work and play which the home can no longer supply. It must provide playgrounds and shops and laboratories and drawing and music rooms, as well as classrooms, where they may be kept wholesomely busy all day. For Elizabeth City to plan a building program on the basis of providing merely classrooms for her school population and to ignore her obligation to furnish such modern facilities as shops, laboratories, and nature-study rooms would be to fail in her duty to the rising generation and to the best interests of the city. It is said that America is the land of equal opportunity in education. This, however, does not mean opportunity for uniform education, but opportunity for the development of the varied gifts of many individuals. Democratic education means variety of opportunity in accordance with the needs of the individual. If Elizabeth City does not give this variety of opportunity in work and study and play to the children of all its people, then it is failing to tap the reservoirs of power for its coming citizenship. Moreover, it is laying up trouble for itself in the future, for nothing is more serious for any community than to have the rising generation feel balked in their power of self-expression and attainment.A COMPREHENSIVE BUILDING PROGRAM NEEDED.
It is obvious from the foregoing that Elizabeth City needs a building program which will relieve present congestion, provide for an increase in enrollment for at least five years, and at the same time provide the modern educational facilities, such as auditoriums, playgrounds, shops, and laboratories. To do this will involve considerable expenditure and careful planning. There are two chief methods of meeting the situation.
The first method would attempt to solve the situation by the usual procedure of adding classrooms without changing the traditional school organization. All children would be expected to be in school seats at the same time, and if provision were made for special activities, such as shops or cooking rooms, the classrooms would remain vacant when such facilities were in use. If such special facilities were provided, therefore, they would have to be in addition to a classroom for every class.
Let us consider the cost of meeting school congestion and growth—in the white schools, for example—on the basis of the traditional type of school organization.
As has been pointed out, it will be necessary, in order to take care of present enrollment and provide for growth in the white schools to make provision for 48 classes. The primary school should be abandoned. That leaves only the high school, with 16 regular classrooms; therefore it would be necessary to erect a building with 32 classrooms in order to provide for the 48 classes. The cost of a classroom unit at the present time is $16,000. This includes the cost of auditorium and gymnasium. A 32-classroom building would therefore cost $512,000. This amount, however, would not furnish any of the modern school facilities, such as shops and laboratories. Therefore to provide these facilities would mean an additional expense.
Elizabeth City is not peculiar in respect to her school congestion situation. Cities all over the country, even before the war, were having the greatest difficulty in meeting the increase in school enrollment. The rapid growth of population makes the congestion and financial problems extremely difficult of solution on the traditional plan of a reserved seat for every child. To keep pace with growth, therefore, merely on the basis of adding classrooms where they are needed at a given time, presents both administrative and financial difficulties. But when to this problem is added the obligation to provide the other necessary facilities, such as shops and laboratories, the problem assumes formidable proportions.
Indeed, were this plan the only alternative, the situation which the board of school trustees is now facing would be a discouraging one. Fortunately, however, there is another way out of the difficulty.THE WORK-STUDY-PLAY PLAN OF ORGANIZATION.
A second possible method of solving the building problem of Elizabeth City is what is commonly known as the “work-study-play plan,” now in operation in some 30 or 40 cities in the country. This plan developed in an attempt to solve the peculiar problem created by a modern city. It grew out of recognition of the fact that the growth of cities makes the educational problem far more difficult than formerly; in fact, has created a new school problem. The plan represents an attempt to meet these new conditions and to make it practicable both administratively and financially for school administrators to provide not only classroom accommodations, but also modern educational facilities, such as gymnasiums, shops, and laboratories, that children may be kept wholesomely occupied in study and work and play.1[note]
Let us consider how this plan can be applied to conditions in Elizabeth City.A BUILDING PROGRAM ON THE BASIS OF THE WORK-STUDY-PLAY PLAN.PLAN I.
1. White schools.—There are now 1,425 children, 36 classes, in the two white schools. This makes just about enough children for one fair-sized school. All these children should be housed in one school plant, to be located on the present high-school site. The building could be erected in the form of an H, the present high-school building forming one section, and another building erected to the rear of the present high school forming the other section, with an auditorium between the two.
As has been pointed out, the building would have to be planned to take care of a 48-class school in order to provide for a growth over a period of five years. There are, however, at the present time in the high-school building 16 regular classrooms, 4 rooms in the basement, an auditorium on the second floor, and 4 attic rooms.
Under the work-study-play plan, a school of 48 classes would require only 24 classrooms, or 8 more than are now available in the high-school building. Another building should therefore be erected to the rear of the high-school building. To do this the lot on which the present building stands should be squared, the houses to the rear of the high-school building removed, and a new building of 12 units erected, with an auditorium between this building and the existing high school. Twenty-four of the best rooms in the two buildings should be used as classrooms. That would leave 4 units, 2 of which can be used as laboratories, 1 as a drawing room, and 1 as a music room. The 4 rooms in the basement of the old building should be used as shops. In the basement of the new building a gymnasium could be provided for boys, 2 units could be used for cooking rooms, and 1 unit for another shop. The auditorium of the old building could be used as a gymnasium for girls.
In other words, with the addition of a 12-room building the following accommodations could be secured for a 48-class school: 24 classrooms, 2 gymnasiums, 2 laboratories, a drawing room, a music room, 5 shops, and a cooking room. An auditorium could be erected between the old and the new building, with entrances on the side and also with an entrance on the street, so that it could be used easily for community purposes; congestion could be relieved, and provision made for growth for 5 years.
Since a classroom unit costs approximately $16,000, which includes the cost of an auditorium and gymnasium, a building of 12 units would cost $192,000.
As has already been suggested, land should be purchased to square the present lot. Also additional playground space is needed, and for this purpose either the whole lot to the north of the present building or the lot directly across the street should be purchased. Of course, the lot to the north of the present building is preferable, as it would not necessitate the children crossing the street for play. Estimating the cost of land at approximately $30,000, the appropriation for the white schools would be $222,000.
2. Negro schools.—As has been pointed out, the present Negro school buildings are so inadequate that it will be necessary to abandon them and erect new buildings. At the present time (1919-20) there are 595 children in the three public schools, 15 classes. The increase has been approximately at the rate of one class a year. Therefore, provision should be made for at least 750 children, or 18 classes, in order to provide for growth for at least four years.
On the work-study-play plan, this would necessitate a building of nine classrooms and four special activity rooms—a shop for boys, a cooking room for girls, a nature-study room, and a library. An auditorium and gymnasium would be included. This makes a building of 13 units. At a cost of $16,000 per classroom unit, a building of 13 units would cost $208,000. Estimating the cost of land at $10,000, the building and land would come to $218,000. The total cost, then, of a building program as outlined would be $440,000.
If it is desired, however, to limit the contemplated bond issue to $300,000, making temporary arrangements for the Negro schools, and thereby postponing the erection of a permanent building, the following Plan II is suggested.PLAN II.
Erect two portable buildings of the modern type for Negro children in the northern and southern ends of the town. Each building should accommodate 10 classes. This would necessitate four classrooms, $4,000; an auditorium, $2,500; gymnasium, $2,500; a shop, $2,000; a cooking room, $3,000; a drawing room, $1,000; nature-study room, $1,000. All these units can be combined into a single building with corridor, principal's office, store, showers, and heating plant, making a total approximate cost of $30,000 for each building. This would make the total budget for the Negro schools $60,000, or with the cost of sites approximately $70,000, thus bringing the total budget to approximately $300,000.
|Cost of building program according to Plan I.|
|Erect a 12-unit building which, with present high-school building, would provide for a 48-class school—|
|Cost of building||$192,000|
|Cost of land||30,000|
|Erect a 13-unit building which will house an 18-class school—|
|Cost of building||208,000|
|Cost of land||10,000|
III. ORGANIZATION AND ADMINISTRATION.APATHY OF THE BOARD OF ALDERMEN.
|Cost of building program according to Plan II.|
|Erect a 12-unit building which, with present high-school building, would provide for a 48-class school—|
|Cost of building||$192,000|
|Cost of land||30,000|
|Two movable buildings each to contain—|
|Corridors, heating plant, etc||15,000|
|Cost of two buildings||60,000|
|Cost of land||10,000|
|Grand total cost for both white and Negro schools||292,000|
The board of aldermen is charged by law with the duty of electing the members of the board of education. Four vacancies occur each year. On Monday, December 6, 1920, at a meeting of the board of
aldermen, nine vacancies in the board of education were filled. It appears, therefore, that the board of aldermen has not taken sufficient interest in the affairs of the public schools to discharge its duties at the proper time. The fact that this lapse could occur without public protest suggests the absence of a keen interest in their schools on the part of the citizens and taxpayers of Elizabeth City.INTEREST OF THE BOARD OF EDUCATION IN SCHOOL AFFAIRS.
Some indication of the degree of interest taken in school affairs is afforded by noting the regularity with which members attend the meetings of the board.
The minutes of the board were examined, and the attendance noted for the period from August 10, 1917, to November 5, 1920, or three years and three months. During this period there were a number of interruptions in the regular order of meetings. For example, no meeting was held between December 13, 1918, and February 7, 1919; no meeting was held between October 16, 1919, and February 24, 1920.
During the period mentioned 41 meetings were held, at only 3 of which were more than 12 members present; there were 8 meetings at which only 6, 7, or 8 members were present. The average attendance was only 10 members. See table following:
|Attendance of members of the board of education at its meetings Dec. 13, 1918 to Feb. 7, 1919.|
|Number of members present.||Number of meetings.||Aggregate attendance.|
If 16 members had been present at each of the 41 meetings, the aggregate attendance would be 656; the actual attendance was 407, or only 62 per cent. The passing grade in the schools under the board's direction is 75.
During the period from August 29, 1919, to November 5, 1920, the board held 13 meetings. Only one member attended 13 meetings; only 6 members attended 10 or more meetings. The average number of meetings attended was 9.5. See table following:
|Attendance of members of the board of education at its meetings Aug. 29, 1919, to Nov. 5, 1920.|
|Number of meetings attended.||Number of members attending.||Aggregate attendance|
If 16 members had attended each of the 13 meetings, the aggregate attendance would be 208; the actual attendance was 125, or only 60.1 per cent.
The efficiency of the board, as well as the degree of active interest manifested, so far as these are indicated by regularity of attendance upon the official meetings of the board, have been deteriorating.
Selection of the school board.—The school board of Elizabeth City is composed of 16 members, 4 from each of the 4 wards, appointed by the board of aldermen for a term of 4 years.
Although the method of choosing board members and the size of the board are contrary to general practice, and to the general opinion of students of school administration, the survey committee does not recommend that the method of selecting members be abandoned, but it does recommend that the size of the board be reduced to 5 members, appointed at large for a term of 5 years, one member to be appointed each year.
Size of board.—The school board should be composed of fewer members, for the following reasons: The present board of 16 members is unwieldy and unnecessary for the transaction of business; a smaller board would consider school matters more carefully; in a large board too much dependence is placed on a few to do the thinking and the work; the individual member feels that he does not count for much in a large board, and often loses interest.
The recommendation that the size of the board be reduced is made primarily on the ground that the present board is not functioning efficiently.
Term of office.—The tendency in the best school practice is to lengthen the term of office of members of the board. A long term,
with only partial renewal of the personnel at each new election, usually insures a settled administrative policy. The present term of 4 years in Elizabeth City is satisfactory in this respect. The change to 5 years is suggested chiefly in view of the fact that it is recommended that the board be composed of 5 members.
Ward appointment.—Appointment of members of the board of education should be made irrespective of residence by wards. The schools belong to the entire city. Just what is gained by appointment by wards no one in Elizabeth City could make clear.
At present members of the board of education are virtually chosen by the aldermen of their respective wards, rather than by the entire board of aldermen, representing the entire city.
With a board of only 5 members, and only one to be appointed each year, the board of aldermen would approach the task of selecting from the entire city the person best qualified for the position from an entirely different point of view.
Method of choosing.—At present, it is recommended that the board of aldermen continue to appoint members of the board of education, in preference to popular election, which is the more commonly accepted practice.
This recommendation is based on the belief that in the present state of public opinion in Elizabeth City those persons who are best qualified to serve on the school board would probably not be active candidates for popular election, or allow their names to be used.POWERS AND DUTIES OF THE SCHOOL BOARD.
Control of funds.—The school board of Elizabeth City has, as it should have, complete control of the expenditure of the school funds, once they are appropriated by the board of aldermen and apportioned from the State and county school funds.
Without definite recommendation of a change in the present arrangement, it may be stated that the present tendency in practice is to make city boards of education entirely independent of other branches of city government, so that they may have power to levy, within statutory limitations, a tax sufficient to maintain the public schools on a high plane of efficiency.
When the board is elected by the people, and thus responsible directly to the people, it is not likely to embark on undertakings which do not command general popular approval.
Legislative, executive, and inspectorial powers.—The work of a board of education may be classed as legislative, executive, and inspectorial.
No school board can perform all of these functions, because of lack of time, and, more especially, because its members are not
fitted to perform them all. Progressive boards limit their functions to the first and last, and employ a superintendent with special training and qualifications to serve as the executive of the board.
Legislative functions include the making of general policies, and regulations relative to their execution. These policies concern the scope of the school system, selection of sites for buildings, the kinds of schools to be established and maintained, the facilities to be supplied, and the apportionment of the school funds. The Elizabeth City school board does not give adequate time and attention to legislative functions.
The board employs an executive officer, the superintendent of schools, and apparently gives him full executive authority.
The board practically ignores its inspectorial function, so far as evidence could be found. The board does not know what the schools are doing.
Those features of the work of the schools concerning which the board should be informed include:
General school conditions.
Regularity of attendance.
Progress of the pupils.
Cost per pupil in elementary schools.
Cost per pupil in high school.
Cost per pupil in colored schools.
Cost per pupil for each item of expenditure.
Attitude of pupils toward school work.
Attitude of the teachers.
Careers of pupils after leaving school.
Board members should visit the schools occasionally to observe general school conditions at first hand. The board should keep informed upon the practice in what are considered the good city school systems of the country.
Members of the board, with the superintendent of schools, should visit other school systems from time to time, and attend educational meetings, and require from the superintendent reports upon what has been seen and heard.
If the board were better informed in school matters it would then be able to ask the superintendent questions concerning the administration and supervision of the Elizabeth City schools, such as:
What is the best practice and what the best educational thought regarding corporal punishment?
Should children 12 to 15 years of age be taught in the same classes with children 6 years of age?
What measures can be taken to reach children of school age who are not now in school?
THE SUPERINTENDENT'S REPORT.
The superintendent should keep in orderly and systematic manner statistical information concerning significant matters relating to the school. In other words, the superintendent should be making a continuous survey of the school system.
In a school system that is steadily improving in the quality of its work, there will be found, among others, the following characteristics:
(1) From year to year the school system will enroll a larger percentage of children of school age, and will carry them further along in the grades before they drop out.
(2) The percentage of pupils in school above compulsory attendance age to those of compulsory attendance ages will increase.
(3) The proportion of over-age pupils and pupils who are making slow progress will decrease.
(4) Fewer pupils will fail of promotion, and fewer will drop out of school before completing the course.
(5) Sufficient teachers and classrooms will be provided as the number of children increases, so that all may be accommodated comfortably and adequately.
(6) The professional qualifications of the teachers will be advancing steadily.
(7) There will be increasing regularity of attendance.
(8) When pupils leave school before the completion of grammar school or high school, the reasons will be ascertained, and in the light of information thus gained the work of the schools will be modified in the endeavor to meet the needs of such children more adequately.
(9) The careers of children will be followed up after they leave school.
(10) Instruction in the schools will react more and more upon the homes and lives of the people; especially instructions in health, music, art, literature, manual training, and home economics.
Definite information concerning these and other matters should be collected, compiled, and interpreted.
Records now in the office of the superintendent contain very little to show in what respects the schools of Elizabeth City are better to-day than they were 5 or 10 years ago.
The board should at once provide the means of keeping simple but adequate records, including a clerk or secretary to the superintendent, who has some knowledge of this kind of work.
The data to be collected should include:
(1) The number of children of each year of age in the city, and the number in school, both public and private.
(2) The number of children of compulsory attendance ages in and out of school.
(3) The number of children above compulsory attendance ages in and out of school.
(4) The ratio of school pupils above compulsory attendance age to those of compulsory attendance ages; also annual changes in this ratio.
(5) Number of pupils for each 100 beginners who drop out of school at each age, and at each grade; number of those leaving to enter school elsewhere; number leaving for other specified causes.
(6) Per cent of those entering the first grade who complete the elementary school course, and the high school course.
(7) Per cent of those completing the elementary school course who enter high school.
(8) Per cent of those entering the high school who complete the course.
(9) Per cent of high-school graduates who enter college; the kinds of courses pursued in college, and the quality of work done.
(10) Age-grade distribution of all pupils for the entire system, and for each school separately.
(11) Average daily attendance based on number belonging and on school population; also distribution showing the number and per cent of children attending 1 to 10 days, 11 to 20 days, etc.
(12) Present occupations of those who have graduated from the high school within 4, 5, or 10 years; and similar information concerning those who have left during the same period without completing the course.
(13) Number and per cent of pupils who fail of promotion in each grade and in each subject.
(14) Ability and achievements of pupils, as determined by school grades and standard objective tests.
(15) Various cost items.
(16) Preparation, experience, and other significant facts regarding the teachers.
(17) Significant facts regarding schools in other cities.
The facts having been collected and compiled the superintendent should use them in preparing his monthly and annual reports to the board. The annual report should be published for distribution to the public.
From the data collected, tables and charts should be prepared and published in the annual report, and also from time to time in the local newspapers.
Elementary schools (white).—The median salary paid white elementary school teachers in Elizabeth City is low in comparison with the amounts paid in other cities having a population of 8,000 to 30,000.
In a group of 68 cities located in the Eastern States Elizabeth City is next to the lowest; in a group of 64 cities in the Great Lakes States Elizabeth City ranks 62d; in a group of 33 cities in the Great Plains States Elizabeth City ranks 27th; in comparison with a group of 24 cities in the Western States Elizabeth City ranks lowest; in a group of 33 cities in the Southern States Elizabeth City ranks 23d.
These figures relate to the school year 1919-20; it is probable that Elizabeth City has somewhat improved its relative position this year.
The salary schedule would be improved by providing a greater difference between the minimum and maximum salaries, and by providing a longer period in which to reach the maximum.
The present plan offers no inducement for special industry or for sustained effort to secure self-improvement.
The following salary schedule is suggested for consideration by the Elizabeth City board:
|TABLE 5.—Suggested salary schedule of elementary and high school teachers (white).|
|Teachers.||Length of time of appointment.||Flementary.||High school.||Yearly salary increase.||Year in which group maximum can be reached.|
|One-year teachers (probationary for 3 years).||1 year||$1,000||$1,150||$1,200||$1,350||$75||Third.|
|Three-year teachers||3 years||1,225||1,375||1,425||1,575||75||Third.|
|Five-year teachers||5 years||1,450||1,650||1,650||1,850||50||Fifth.|
When the maximum of any group is reached by any teacher, the following alternative courses of action should be open to the board:
(1) Termination of the contract (permissible at the close of each year in group No. 1).
(2) Reappointment annually at the group maximum salary.
(3) Promotion to the next higher group.
Promotion from group to group beyond group No. 2 should be granted only to teachers who have shown special merit and have given evidence of valuable professional study.
Elementary-school and high-school teachers of equivalent preparation, experience, and skill should receive the same salary.
Provision should be made for the following supervising principalships, to be held only by persons who have had definite preparation for the work of supervision, and whose programs provide a definite amount of time for this purpose:
(a) Grades 1 to 6, inclusive.
(b) Junior-senior high school (providing these are both housed in the same building).
(c) The colored schools.
Principals should be assigned definite duties and responsibilities as such, and the superintendent should then not interfere within these limits.
More efficient enforcement of the compulsory education legislation is needed. The truant officer stated that he hardly ever receives a report of truancy on the part of the colored children. The superintendent stated that no earnest attempt is made to compel regular attendance on the part of colored children.
The school nurse and attendance officer service might be combined to advantage.
Special teachers of the following subjects should be provided, whose duties should include teaching classes of the older children and assisting the regular teachers of the lower grades to plan the work done in the regular classrooms:
|(e)||Physical education and athletic sports.|
|(f)||Nature study, gardening, agriculture.|
The better teachers in the lower grades should be promoted with their classes for periods of two or three years, and the poorer ones eliminated.
There should be a gradual reorganization of the method of instruction, which now consists largely of questions and answers based on formal textbook assignments; there should be more use of the problem method, the socialized recitation, and supervised study.
One member of the board of school trustees now serves as secretary of the board, and for this service is paid $300 per annum. This arrangement should be discontinued, and a capable full-time secretary employed, who will serve as secretary-clerk to the superintendent of schools and also secretary to the board.
The office of the superintendent should be provided with means for the safe-keeping of the school records.
Examples of school programs offered for consideration by the Elizabeth City board may be found in Bulletin, 1920, No. 21, pp. 24, 25, and Bulletin, 1918, No. 48, p. 39.
The Elizabeth City schools depend to a great extent upon examinations held at stated intervals to determine the “marks” to be given to a pupil and to determine whether he should be promoted.
These examinations have led to “cramming,” to undue worry, and to the practice of working with the sole end in view of passing the examinations, thus causing the entire work of the school to center about this one idea. These examinations have helped put a premium upon worry methods, and they have occasioned a vast amount of unnecessary and unprofitable labor for the teacher in reading an endless number of papers.
A test is a useful means of showing the teacher where her instruction has been weak, and where steady, but it is practically useless as a means of determining what pupils should be promoted.
The formal examination has fallen into disrepute, and is but little used in progressive school systems to determine promotions.COST OF MAINTAINING THE SCHOOLS.
The cost of maintaining the Elizabeth City schools is much below the average for cities of its size, when measured by cost per pupil in average daily attendance, cost per pupil enrolled, and by the tax rate on the real valuation.
The cost per pupil in average daily attendance in Elizabeth City is $29.39, while the average for all cities in the United States in 1917-18 was $49.41; the average for cities of 10,000 to 25,000 population was $44.81.
The average cost per pupil enrolled in Elizabeth City is $21.88, while the average for the United States, including rural schools, was $30.91 in 1918.
When compared with a list of cities whose schools are considered good, the cost per pupil in Elizabeth City is very low.
The total tax rate in Elizabeth City for school purposes is 49 cents on the $100. This includes the State, county, and city rates for schools. The tax levied by the board of aldermen is only 16 cents.
In order to maintain the schools as they should be, the city tax rate for school purposes should be doubled. To this rate should be added enough to take care of interest and sinking fund on indebtedness. This would possibly add 16 cents more, making a total tax rate of 48 cents to be levied by the board of aldermen.
Adding to this the 33 cents now levied by the State and county, Elizabeth City would be taxed 81 cents on the $100 for school purposes. The average rate for cities the size of Elizabeth City is 66 cents (1917-18); some cities have a rate of 100 cents and more.
If the tax rate were to be increased, say, 30 cents on the $100, very few persons would have more than $15 additional tax annually to pay, since 1,219 of the 1,602 individual white taxpayers are assessed at less than $5,000 and only 6 of the 770 colored taxpayers are assessed at $5,000 or more.
The following table shows the number of taxpayers and the estimated average amount of the assessed valuation of each:
|TABLE 6.—Real and personal property of individuals subject to city taxes, Elizabeth City, N. C.|
|Amount.||Number of individuals assessed (white).||Estimated average amount.||Estimated aggre-amount.|
|Less than $1,000||590||$500||$295,000|
|$1,000 to $1,999||629||3,000||1,887,000|
|5,000 to 9,999||204||7,500||1,530,000|
|10,000 to 19,999||98||15,000||1,470,000|
|20,000 to 29,999||23||25,000||575,000|
|30,000 to 39,999||25||35,000||875,000|
|40,000 to 49,999||11||45,000||495,000|
|50,000 to 99,999||14||75,000||1,050,000|
|100,000 to 199,999||6||150,000||900,000|
|200,000 and over||2||275,000||550,000|
|Amount.||Number of individuals assessed (colored).||Estimated average amount.||Estimated aggregate amount.|
|Less than $1,000||630||$500||$315,000|
|$1,000 to $1,999||108||1,500||167,000|
|2,000 to 2,999||21||2,500||52,500|
|3,000 to 3,999||3||3,500||10,500|
|4,000 to 4,999||2||4,500||9,000|
|5,000 and over||6||11,000||66,000|
|TABLE 7.—Real and personal property of corporations subject to city taxes, Elizabeth City, N. C.|
|Amount.||Number of corporations assessed.||Estimated average amount.||Estimated aggregate amount.|
|Less than $1,000||6||$500||$3,000|
|$1,000 to $4,999||10||3,000||30,000|
|5,000 to 9,999||9||7,500||67,500|
|10,000 to 19,999||9||15,000||135,000|
|20,000 to 29,999||3||25,000||75,000|
|30,000 to 39,999||7||35,000||245,000|
|40,000 to 49,999||5||45,000||225,000|
|50,000 to 99,999||4||75,000||300,000|
|100,000 to 199,999||11||150,000||1,650,000|
|200,000 and over||3||350,000||1,050,000|
The following summary, taken from the books in the assessor's office, is added in order to supplement the “estimates” in the preceding table:
|TABLE 8.—Summary of assessed valuation of property subject to city taxes, Elizabeth City, N. C.|
On the showing of these figures, it is evident that the tax rate for school purposes could be greatly increased, and that very few would have more than $10 to $15 additional tax to pay.IV. SCHOOL CENSUS AND ENROLLMENT.
A school census, taken early in the school year, shows that there are in Elizabeth City 1,857 white children from 6 to 20 years of age. The number of white children enrolled is 1,410. There are thus 462 children from 6 to 20 years of age not in school. Since 154 of these are 19 or 20 years of age, the number of school age not in school is 308. Practically all of these are from 14 to 18 years of age. The following table gives the number of census children by ages and the enrollment by ages:
|TABLE 9.—Census of white children—School enrollment.|
It may be noted that at several ages the enrollment is more than the school census. This discrepancy is small and may possibly be accounted for by the fact that the enrollment figures for June included all children in school since September.
Some of these children may not have been in the city when the census was taken and others may have moved in after it had been taken. Then again some children may have been transferred and possibly counted twice.
The important point to note is that many boys and girls in Elizabeth City from 14 to 18 years of age are not in school. This point should not be overlooked by the school board in planning for a new highschool building, for it may be safely predicted that many more of the
older boys and girls will remain in school when a modern high-school building is erected and interesting courses of study are offered.
There are in Elizabeth City 1,314 colored children from 6 to 20 years of age. Of these, 692 are enrolled in school, leaving 632 not in school. The following table shows the number of children at each age, the number in, and the number not in school:
|TABLE 10.—Census of colored children of census age—School enrollment.|
|Not in school||29||42||11||18||34||15||19||43||38||84||60||63||61||67||48||632|
Of the children 6 to 14 years of age, inclusive, 31 per cent are not in school, while of the children 15 to 18 years of age, inclusive, the high-school ages, 86 per cent are not in school. It is a well-known fact that few of the Negro children in Elizabeth City reach the fifth grade; many barely complete the third. Thus the 86 per cent of children over 14 years of age not in school have scarcely the hare tools, reading and writing, and are but a few degrees removed from illiteracy.
In order to understand the degree of success with which a school system is functioning, it is of prime importance to ascertain the facts concerning the children in the schools, their ages, their stages of advancement, their rates of progress through the grades, and the extent to which they continue in school to the completion of the course.
There is at present no adequate system of records to give these facts concerning the children in the Elizabeth City schools. A special form was prepared on which the teachers gave the information from which it has been possible to derive certain of the more important facts.AGE-GRADE DISTRIBUTION.
The first step is to arrange the pupils according to their ages and the grades in which they are enrolled. A table showing these facts is called an age-grade distribution; see Tables 11 and 12. Such tables should be prepared for the entire school system at least twice each year, and carefully studied and compared with those made previously.
|TABLE 11.—Summary of enrollment in white elementary schools, Elizabeth City.|
|TABLE 12.—Summary of enrollment in colored elementary schools, Elizabeth City.1|
|5||6||7||8||9||10||11||12||13||14||15||16||17||18||19||21 and over.|
The usual age at which children enter school is 6 years, though many do not enter until they are 7. In considering the age-grade table, therefore, it is customary to regard children of 6 or 7 years of age as “of normal age” for grade 1, and children of 7 or 8 years of age as of normal age for grade 2, and so on.
The first facts to be noted in these tables are the excessive proportions of children who are beyond the normal ages for the grades in which they are enrolled, and the wide spread of ages represented in individual grades, especially grades 1 and 2.
It does not require expert professional knowledge to understand that something is wrong, for example, when white children of all ages from 6 years to 15 years are grouped together attempting to do the same work. Here is a spread of 10 years in the ages of the children, 3 years more than the span of the entire elementary school course. Included in this group are little tots of 6, as well as youths who have entered upon the adolescent period and are old enough to be in the second or third year of high school, and children of all ages in between; and all are trying to do second-year work.
The situation is even worse in the colored schools, where children of all ages from 5 years to 16 years are found in the first grade.
The facts with regard to acceleration and retardation of pupils are summarized in Table 13.
|TABLE 13.—Acceleration and retardation—Summary of enrollment in Elizabeth City.|
|Grades.||Number of pupils.||Per cent of pupils.|
|Accelerated.||Of normal age.||Retarded.||Total.||Accelerated.||Of normal age.||Retarded.||Total.|
From this summary it is observed that more than one-third of the white pupils and nearly two-thirds of the colored pupils are
“retarded,” that is, behind the grades that they would be in if they had entered school as late as 7 years of age and had then progressed at the normal rate of one grade each year. For the white children the amount of retardation is greatest in grades 4 and 5, 42 per cent and 44 per cent, respectively, and for colored children 91 per cent in the seventh grade.
For comparison with other school systems Table 14 has been prepared.
|TABLE 14.—Per cent of children under age, of normal age, and over age.|
|Cities.||Under age.||Of normal age.||Over age.|
|Elizabeth City, white||3.0||62.0||35.0|
|Elizabeth City, colored||1.9||33.3||64.8|
|Average, 29 cities2||29.0||34.0||37.0|
From these figures it appears that the amount of retardation in the Elizabeth City schools is not excessive when compared with other cities, though in grades 4 and 5 it is considerably greater. The comparison shows in a striking manner, however, the deficiency of Elizabeth City in the proportion of children who are under age for the grades in which they are enrolled. Only 3 per cent of white children and 2 per cent of colored children are under age, whereas in other cities the proportions are about one-fourth or more.PER CENT OF DISTRIBUTION BY GRADES.
Next to be considered is the proportionate distribution of the children through the grades. (See Table 15.)
|TABLE 15.—Per cent of pupils (white) in each grade.|
|Grades.||Elizabeth City.||Four States having the 7-4 plan.[note]||Grades.||Elizabeth City.||Four States having the 7-4 plan.[note]|
In comparison with average conditions in other school systems having seven years of elementary school and four years of high school, Elizabeth City has fewer children in the first grade and more in the high-school grades.
Table 16 has been prepared to show conditions in the elementary schools separately.
|TABLE 16.—Per cent of elementary school pupils in each grade.|
|Elizabeth City.||Four States having 7-4 plan.1||Elizabeth City.||Four States having 7-4 plan.|
From these figures it appears that for the white schools, with the exception of grade one, the distribution does not vary significantly from that of other cities. The distribution of pupils in the colored schools, however, is so abnormal as to suggest the complete lack of systematic grading.HOLDING POWER OF THE SCHOOLS.
Another measure of the efficiency of a school system is the success with which it retains the pupils until the completion of the course. For each 100 children who enter, how many complete the elementary school course, and how many complete the high-school course?
Answers to these vital questions can not now be found for the Elizabeth City schools; for the essential facts are not available. In the absence of definite knowledge as to the number of children entering school each year for the first time, the answers can be approximate only.
It is possible, for example, to compute the number of children in each grade for each 100 children in grade 1. (See Table 17.)
|TABLE 17.—Number of children in each grade, based on 100 in the first grade.|
|Grades.||Elizabeth City.||Average of 30 cities (white).1||Grades.||Elizabeth City.||Average of 30 cities (white).1|
It is to be observed, first, that these figures are not based on 100 beginners, for, as will appear hereafter, there are many repeaters in grade 1. Here, again, the figures for Elizabeth City compare favorably with those of other cities.
However, further analysis is necessary before conditions can be fully understood.
It is possible to arrive at the approximate number of children reaching any given age each year by computing the average of the numbers over a period of years. For this purpose ages 7 to 12 years are chosen, in order to include the groups least likely to be affected by late entrance to and early withdrawal from school. (See Table 18.)
|TABLE 18.—Number of pupils 7 to 12 years of age in Elizabeth City.|
|Ages in years.||White.||Colored.|
The total number of children arriving at school age each year on the average, for whom school facilities should be provided, is thus shown to be approximately 140 white and 83 colored, or 223. If all children enter at about the same age, and progress through the schools at the normal rate of one grade each year, there would be approximately 140 white pupils and 83 colored pupils in each of the seven grades.
If more than these numbers are found in any grade, it is evident that children are repeating their work, or else, in some cases, possibly they have entered school earlier or later than the normal age at entrance. Adequate records in the superintendent's office would assist in determining causes and in planning remedies.
Whatever the causes, Elizabeth City is now maintaining six first-grade classes for white pupils, with a total enrollment of 209, whereas four classes of approximately 35 pupils each should be sufficient. There are seven first-grade classes for colored pupils, with a total enrollment of 360, whereas three classes of less than 30 pupils each should be sufficient.THE SCHOOLS CARRY AN UNNECESSARY LOAD.
With 140 beginning pupils each year (assuming a stable population, not affected by fluctuations in birth rate, death rate, and other factors), and with normal progress through the grades, the total enrollment in the white elementary school would be 980, and in the
high school, 560; and in the colored elementary school, 581. (See Table 19.)
|TABLE 19.—Number of pupils enrolled in each grade, compared with number of appropriate age for the grade.|
|Approximate number at each age.1||Number in school of appropriate age for grade.2||Number enrolled.||Approximate number at each age.1||Number in school of appropriate age ade.2||Number enrolled.|
In column 2 of this table is shown the actual number of pupils in school who are of ages appropriate for each grade. For grade 1 is entered the average number of children who are 6 years and 7 years old; for grade 2, the average number of those 7 years and 8 years old; and so on. These groups total, for the white schools, 953 elementary pupils and 324 high school pupils; and 535 colored elementary pupils. In the third column is shown the actual enrollment for the current year.V. THE ELEMENTARY SCHOOLS.THE CURRICULUM SITUATION.
The curriculum of the Elizabeth City elementary schools does not meet the requirements of a modern elementary curriculum. It contains no subject that was not taught 30 or 40 years ago in practically all of our schools, unless we except domestic science, and omits still some subjects that our better schools taught fully 50 years ago. The curriculum makes no provision for physical training. It is the first business of any school system to build up the bodies of its children. While the children in Elizabeth City schools have
brief setting-up exercises every day, there is no well-planned course of physical activity and play. Physical education in public school does more to improve the results of instruction than almost any other single factor. The citizens of Elizabeth City should wish to have their children trained in body as well as in mind.
Next, there is practically no music in the schools. What singing was heard was very poor. It should not be necessary to argue for the cultural and moral and physical values of good music. There can be no real community life and unity without it. The churches, civic organizations, clubs, and the like all need members who can sing. It is not a responsibility of the schools? The citizens of Elizabeth City should expect their schools to assume a large share of the burden of the musical education of the children.
For the reason given for all deficiencies—no money—handwork and drawing have been sadly neglected. The little that is given in manual arts is very poorly done. There are no well-defined courses in these subjects. The citizens of Elizabeth City can not afford to have the latent artistic possibilities of its future citizens go undiscovered because the schools fail to arouse them.
Home economics is very poorly provided for.
Civics is an unknown subject in the elementary grades. Many of the children leave school before reaching the eighth grade, where civics are taught; hence they receive no systematic, well-organized civic training, and they are the ones who need it most of all.
Nature study, or elementary science, is entirely neglected except for brief unorganized series of lessons, often connected with language or geography work. Do the citizens of Elizabeth City desire that their children's love of nature be undeveloped? The love for natural and physical sciences should be aroused and developed. The children of Elizabeth City will experience difficulty in competing with children from other communities in technical fields if no basis for this work is laid.
What do the schools teach? Reading, writing, language, arithmetic, physiology, geography, history, spelling, and some drawing and home economics. Important features of modern public school systems are lacking.
It is a commonly accepted principle of curriculum making that the courses offered should reflect in some measure the local community, to help the child interpret his own environment. Such is not the case in Elizabeth City. The course offered would fit just as well in , , , or . The course is made out according to adopted texts from page to page. Most modern school systems write out a course of study to meet their own needs. Elizabeth City has no such course, but should have one.
Modern courses of study are generally differentiated, so that the slower children are not required to do the same amount of work in the same time as the brighter children. The practice of making every child progress at the same rate through school ought to be discontinued. Study of the results in Elizabeth City show that the bright child gets little more from school than the dull child and according to his ability not nearly so much. Is there any reason for holding a child back and giving him less than he wishes to do simply because he was created with more ability than his fellows? The course is entirely inflexible, except as the child bends it to suit his own mentality.
The courses in the subjects offered are much the same as those found in many American communities. The child is occupied chiefly with acquiring facts which, while interesting, perhaps, in some instances, are entirely useless now or hereafter. Practically none of the subjects have anything at all to do with shaping his character or establishing practical, sound ideals. Many of the facts he gets will never be used.
Recommendations.—1. There should be prepared and printed a modern, flexible course of study, adaptable to the needs of individual pupils.
2. Music, art, handwork, home economics, civics, gardening, elementary science, and physical training should be added to the curriculum.
3. The subjects now taught should be reorganized, with the elimination of worthless fact material and the inclusion of useful knowledge.
4. The curriculum should be adapted to the needs of the children of Elizabeth City. It should be stamped with characteristics of the Elizabeth City community.
5. The course should be organized around the large units of study, problems, or projects suitable to the grades in which they are used. Such a course increases interest and is essentially of the type to stimulate activity and initiative on the part of the children.EQUIPMENT PROBLEM.
Seats, desks, blackboards, and buildings just about complete the list of equipment, and we might well eliminate most of the buildings from the list. The buildings are almost impossible of use, except the high-school building, and it will need modification to be of its greatest use.
School equipment costs money, and since it is used a great deal it will have to be replaced constantly. There is no way in these days of providing good but cheap education. The citizenship of Elizabeth City is responsible for the condition of its schools to the extent
that they have not provided ample funds for the maintenance of well-equipped schools.
Lack of equipment makes it impossible for teachers to do first-class work. Lack of equipment always gives teachers an excuse for doing poor work.
The following essentials in school equipment, without which the instruction in the schools will be greatly handicapped, are recommended:
1. Provision should be made at once for better buildings—particularly for the primary grades and the Negroes. These buildings should be correctly built for light, ventilation, and heating. These factors affect instruction.
2. Laboratories for manual training, home economics, and elementary science are necessary before these subjects can be even introduced into the curriculum properly.
3. There is a need of well-equipped playgrounds, open the year round. The children of Elizabeth City should be permitted and trained to play.
4. The buildings should have gymnasiums and playrooms. Health is the foundation of all good school work.
5. The schools need libraries, open all the year.
6. The classrooms need libraries.
7. The schools need a great many supplementary reading and reference books.
8. The schools are in need of illustrative material: Maps, pictures, charts, globes, manufacturers’ exhibits, stereographic and stereoscopic apparatus, moving-picture machines, stereopticons and slides, weights and measures, and a school museum.
9. Space and equipment are needed for school gardens.
10. The primary grades need paper, cardboard, and all sorts of media for handwork and construction.ORGANIZATION PROBLEM.
The present system of elementary schools consists of seven grades, promotions being made once a year. We recommend the reorganization of the whole system to consist of a kindergarten for children of ages approximately 4-6 years; an elementary school for children 6-12 years; a junior high school, 12-15; and a senior high school, 15-18. The reasons for this are set forth elsewhere. The following recommendations refer to the school organization problem:
1. There should be a kindergarten, a six-year elementary school, a three-year junior high school, a three-year senior high school.
2. Promotions should be made twice a year at least, and more often if possible.
3. There should be special classes for especially gifted children.
4. There should be special classes for retarded children, with care not to put together those mentally weak and those retarded merely because of health.
5. Children in the several sections of one grade should be classified according to ability rather than by physical age or size. This principle should be used with some reservations that will become apparent in its application.
6. The course of study should be flexible enough to fit a flexible grading system, providing more work for the better pupils and full work for each according to his ability.
7. The daily schedule should provide for laboratory and field work.
8. Departmental teaching should be provided in the intermediate grades, if specialists can be secured.
9. There should be a longer school day, made up of recitation, study, manual activities, and play.THE SUPERVISION PROBLEM.
The chief cause for deficiencies in the elementary schools is the complete lack of supervision of the instruction and leadership for the teaching staff. The schools, both primary and intermediate, are virtually without principals. The teachers acting in this capacity have full-time teaching duties, while the superintendent of schools, who has part of the responsibility in supervision, is entirely too busy to give the attention really needed.
Supervision of instruction means briefly these: The establishment of common aims of work among the teachers; discussion of means to attain these ends; measuring the results of the instruction; and remedial measures to correct and improve the teaching.
No one in the entire system has these things as his duties at the present time. Each teacher does what she can. Skilled advice and helpful inspiration are wholly wanting.
In addition to the instructional side of supervision, there is an administrative routine demanded of a principal. This routine consists of schedule making, discipline, parents’ meetings, class organization, reports, physical conditions, janitors, and many other such matters. These things are taken care of now, as added burdens, by two full-time teachers. As a result, their work or the administrative duties must suffer.
The following suggestions refer to supervision:
1. There should be appointed a supervising principal for the primary school and one for the intermediate school. These principals should not be required to teach more than 8 or 10 hours a week.
2. These principals should be persons who have had special training for supervision.
3. With the introduction of music, art, physical training, and home economics, supervisors should be appointed for these subjects, who will devote part of their time to assisting and directing the work in these special subjects done by the regular teachers.THE INSTRUCTION PROBLEM.
The results obtained in the Elizabeth City schools compare favorably with the results found elsewhere in spelling, reading, and problem solving in arithmetic, while the results in the four processes in arithmetic are far below standard. The work in geography, language, literature, history, and physiology is of the usual sort, and done in about the same study-and-recite fashion common to the average American school. The instruction is neither good nor wholly bad. It is disconnected with modern educational practice. The teachers teach as they were taught and as they have been taught to teach. They make an assignment, the children learn it, and recite it. The ability and power of the ordinary child are never discovered, never utilized.
Such conditions are traceable to the teacher training methods in this country more than to anything else. It is much the same elsewhere as it is at Elizabeth City. Better work can be done. Does Elizabeth City want it? We believe that Elizabeth City would be willing to pay for high-class teaching if it had the opportunity.
The following suggestions refer to the teaching situation:
1. Teachers should be trained both in subject matter and in the methods of instruction.
2. The teachers should be selected because they are intellectual leaders as well as educated persons.
3. The teachers should be required to be social and civic leaders, and should be selected in part for ability along this line.
4. Employment should be open to married women, if necessary, in order to retain good teachers in the system. Good teachers are too scarce to permit marriage to render them ineligible.
5. Teachers should be given a definite course of study, with thoroughly understood objectives to be reached in every grade.
6. The teachers should be given thorough and inspiring supervision.
7. The results of instruction should be constantly measured and necessary remedial steps taken.
8. Teachers should be encouraged to get away from mere parrot-like learning of a book. Children learn more from direct observation and experience than in any other way.
9. The problem or project method of instruction should be employed where applicable in all grades. This will provide opportunity, interest, attention, self-activity, and objectiveness in instruction.
10. Demonstration lessons should be given for the benefit of the teachers.
11. Teachers should be permitted to visit other good teachers.
12. The amount of home study in the intermediate grades should be reduced.
13. The amount of time devoted to spelling, arithmetic, and grammar should be reduced, and the time saved given over to history, geography, literature, music, civics, nature study, physical training, art, etc.
14. Much time can be saved in instruction if the work is organized around big problems, if the child learns by doing, and if useless, unimportant material be eliminated.
15. Supervision should emphasize those types of instruction which develop initiative, responsibility, and self-activity on the part of the child.KINDERGARTENS.
1. Kindergartens should be established for children from 4 to 6 years of age.
2. The spirit of the kindergarten should be carried on into the elementary school through the application of kindergarten principles to primary work.
3. The primary teachers should have expert supervision and inspirational leadership in applying these principles in the teaching of the regular school subjects and also in teaching manual arts, singing, and games.
4. Modern schoolroom equipment and playground equipment should be provided to carry out this program.
5. Children should be carefully graded by development and not by age.
6. Health inspection and health instruction should be a part of the regular school program.VI. THE HIGH SCHOOL.
1. The high school should make a definite attempt to meet the needs of those who drop out after only one, two, or three years of study, as well as of those who complete the course.
2. The work of the high school should be based upon consideration of the following main objectives of education: (a) Health; (b) command of fundamental processes; (c) worthy home membership; (d) vocation; (e) citizenship; (f) worthy use of leisure; (g) ethical character.
3. The present plan of seven elementary-school grades and four high-school grades is defective in a number of particulars, among which are:
(a) Inadequate provision for the needs of individual pupils.
(b) Large amount of retardation of pupils through method of promotions.
(c) Large numbers of students dropping out at end of seventh and ninth grades.
(d) Secondary school course is begun at too late period in the child's life.
(e) Unnecessary repetition of the subject matter studied.
(f) Wide divergence of interests and needs can be met better by segregation of adolescent children from younger primary children.
(g) Poor adjustment between the elementary school and the high school.
(h) Poor adjustment of school activities to life activities.
(i) Elementary methods too long continued and too suddenly changed.
(j) Inadequate provision for individual guidance and direction.
4. Some advantages of the proposed reorganization on the basis of six years elementary school, three years junior high school, and three years senior high school:
(a) An expected decrease in numbers of pupils who drop out of school in grades 7, 8, and 9.
(b) More suitable training for the majority of the pupils.
(c) More adaptation to individual needs.
(d) More adequate provision for vocational guidance.
(e) Better plan of promotions.
(f) Better adjustment between elementary and secondary education.
(g) Fewer failures and repeaters.
(h) Conditions more favorable for improvement in the quality of instruction.
(i) Economy of pupils’ time.
(j) Better adjustment between school activities and life activities.
(k) Conditions more favorable for study.
(l) Better supervision of social and recreational activities.
5. The high-school course should definitely recognize the fact that the young people are about to enter agriculture, business, trades, home making, and other occupations.
6. A printed circular should be provided for the guidance of children and their parents, with full description of the work of each course.
7. A limited number of curriculums should be offered, with a minimum of electives, based on the experience of successful junior-senior high schools.
8. Provision should be made for cooperative part-time classes, evening classes, and vacation classes.
9. The quality of the instruction averages up well with that observed in other high schools.
10. There should be a definite salary schedule for teachers, with a plan of promotions based on merit.
11. The present high-school building falls very far short of accepted standards for a modern high-school building, being especially defective in regard to lighting, heating, ventilation, fire protection, general equipment, and provision for special classes.VII. HOME ECONOMICS.
Home economics instruction should include something more than just the technic acquired in the preparation of a few foods and the making of a few sewing models. It should awaken in the child appreciation of the value and possibilities of a real home.
The instruction should be adapted to the girl's age, interests, mental development, and the racial, religious, social, and economic conditions of her home.
The school must recognize that the physical health and economic stability of the Nation are vitally affected by the wisdom or ignorance of the mass of women as to the laws of health and the use of material goods.
For white pupils two types of course should be provided, general and intensive. The general course should be required of all girls in grades 5 to 9, inclusive, who are of normal age for their grades. The intensive courses should be open to all girls 14 years of age or over.
Instruction should deal with problems related as closely as possible to home conditions and should be correlated with other school subjects.
For the present, emphasis in home economics should be given to work in grades 5 to 9; elective courses for the higher grades may be developed later.
For all colored girls, home economics should occupy an important place in education from about 11 years of age until completion of school; the work should be of the most practical type, with strong emphasis on sanitary practices, good workmanship, and hygienic personal habits.
At least one-fourth of each school day should be devoted to this work.
There should be four teachers of home economics in the white schools and three in the colored schools.
In the white schools there will be needed two rooms equipped for food work, two for clothing work, a small dining room, with suitable storeroom and closets.
In the colored schools there should be provided three rooms for food and clothing work, and one for meal service and practical housekeeping.VIII. MANUAL TRAINING.
A well-organized scheme of manual training throughout the schools, white and colored, should be developed, both for its general educational value and as an essential foundation for subsequent vocational work.
Manual training is here used in the accepted sense of an educational agency involving not only a method of instruction and a content of valuable subject matter, but a means also of self-directed, purposeful activity.
The object in view should be to incorporate the best features applicable to local conditions that have been developed by progressive communities, with lines of work of such variety and scope as may be practicable.
Handwork should be developed first in the lower grades, and throughout the elementary school should be employed in its various phases for the accomplishment of at least three distinct educational ends: (1) To develop manipulative skill and the ability to “do” things; (2) to impart knowledge of materials and processes of construction; and (3) to vitalize the instruction in the various subjects of study, such as geography, history, language, and science.
In the earlier grades the best results are secured when the handwork is taught by the regular grade teachers. It is much easier for these teachers to relate the work to the other studies and activities of the children. With the progress of the children through the grades, however, the work becomes more and more complicated and the tools and processes more difficult of manipulation. In time the point is reached beyond which it is impracticable to expect the grade teacher to acquire the necessary technical skill and knowledge to carry on this work in addition to all the other requirements of her position.
From this point, probably the fifth grade, the situation may be met by employing special teachers or by a plan of departmentalized teaching.
During the earlier grades the handwork should be substantially the same for boys and girls. With the beginning of departmental teaching a gradual differentiation in the work should be introduced.
In general, the interests of the girls will tend in the direction of sewing, cooking, and homemaking, and the interests of the boys toward shopwork and drafting. Both boys and girls will manifest interest in commercial subjects when properly presented.
For obvious reasons the teachers of drafting and shopwork, as well as of agriculture, for boys in the upper grades should be men.
In the lower grades not less than 30 to 60 minutes per week should be allowed for handwork, but a more liberal time allowance should be made as soon as suitable equipment can be provided and teachers are prepared to do the work. Ultimately from two to three hours per week should be provided.
Supplies of materials in sufficient quantity and variety to make the work profitable and educational should be provided by the board.
In the upper grades.—Even more time must be allowed for manual training in the upper grades if the expected results are to be secured and if boys and girls who now drop out of school in such large numbers are to be retained.
With the right kind of equipment, properly qualified men teachers, and appropriately modified courses of study, from 5 to 7 hours weekly may be devoted to manual training in grades above the sixth, and in special prevocational classes at least one-half the school time should be devoted to practical activities in shop, laboratory, and drafting room.
With the beginning of departmental teaching the lines of work should include thin wood, bookbinding, clay, cement, and plaster, and such other groups as further study of conditions may indicate.
Beginning with the seventh year, the boys should carry still further the problems in bookbinding and woodwork, and to these should be added suitable work in copper, brass, iron, leather, cement and concrete, electricity, mechanical drawing. The woodwork may well include some simple framing and carpentry.
All the shopwork and drafting should be made as practical as possible.
Practical work in gardening, agriculture, and commercial subjects should be developed parallel with the manual training.