« PředchozíPokračovat »
this be so, then with what show of consistency or reason can they object to the children of both classes sitting side by side in school?
That the custom of separation on account of color must disappear froin our public schools, as it has from our halls of justice and of legislation, we regard as but a question of time. Whether this unjust, unreasonable, and unchristian discrimination against our children shall continue at the capital of this great republic is for the wisdom of Congress to determine.
We deem it proper to add that a bill now before the honorable Senate, entitled “A bill to secure equal rights in the public schools of Washington and Georgetown," (Senate No. 361, forty-first Congress, second session,) reported to that body, May 6, 1870, by Mr. Senator Sumner, meets our approbation. It is plain and simple, and prescribes the true rule of equality for our schools. This bill is in the nature of a • cornerstone.” Beyond this bill the trustees further recommend certain other requirements essential to a school system worthy of the District of Columbia.
1. Provision should be marle for a large increase of the number of members constituting the board of trustees for the city of Washington. Even the number which would be formed by adding together bɔth school boards, as now constituted, would in our opinion be insufficient. In order to secure a proper and vigilant supervision of the schools, and due attention to the various details on which their success depends, a board of trustees consisting of not less than twenty-one members for Washington alone, or three for each ward, is needed, and five for Georgetown. These trustees should be residents of the ward for which they serve, and, after the first term, should hold their office for three years, one third to retire annually; and they should be appointed in such a manner that their tenure of office shall be as little as possible affected by local politics. Should Congress see fit, as hereinafter urged, to make an appropriation in aid of our schools, it would, in our judg. ment, be just and proper that the Government, through the President of the United States, should appoint a part of the trustees, proportionate to the amount of aid afforded.
2. This board of trustees should be authorized to employ a competent superintendent of schools, who should be a person of the highest qualifications for the position, and should hold his office for the term of three years. They should also have anthority to employ and properly compensate a secretary and a treasurer outside theirown umber; the treasurer to be placed under suitable bond for the security of the funds intrusted to his care.
3. The trustees shonld be also be authorized to establish schools of a higher grade than now exist, and especially a school for the preparation of teachers fortheir work. The present law contemplates only the institution of primary schools" for colored children, though the term "primary has been presiuned and construed to include the elementary branches usually taught in our grammar schools. But the demand for a high school, in which some portion of these pupils may obtain fitness for higher departments of usefulness, is 30W urgently pressed upon us, and preparatory ste;'s have been taken to meet it. A still more urgent necessity exists for the establishment of a school for the special training of teachers. We carnestly invite your attention to the weighty considerations on this point embodies in the accompanying report of our superintendent. These considerations apply with especial force to the schools umder our charge. The great majority of the pupils are not only suffering the hereditary effects of the cleprivations and wrongs of centuries, but the poverty of their parents affords them at best but a brief period in which they can enjoy the advantages of schools. Hence the importance of providing for them teachers so trained and skilled in their work that they shall be able to impart the greatest practicable amount of instruction in the shortest time.
4. It should also be provided that any action taken by the board of trustees calculated directly or indirectly to subserve the private interest of any member, to the detriment of the public good, shall be mull and void, and that such member thereafter be disqualitied for the office. All temptations or opportunities to use the oftice of school trustee for private emolument should be as far as possible removed. This is rendered desirable from the fact that the office, which, in former years, when there were small funds to be handled, went begging for incumbents, is now eagerly coveted and urgently sought for.
5. We would further earnestly advise that whatever changes may in the wisdom of Congress be determined upon in the organization or management of the schools, such changes should not take effect until after the close of the current school year, that is, after June 30, 1871. Arrangements and plans for the present year, including the introduction of a new system of gradation and course of instruction, calculated, as we believe, to greatly improve the condition of the schools, have already been entered upon, and we are now in conrse of successful application. One-half of the year has already expireil. To interrupt these plans and to disturb these arrangements, by a change of organization or administration in the midst of the term, cannot be otherwise than disastrous to the progress of the pupils. Besides, as alreally stated, the schools which we represent are now under the superintendence of a gentleman of whose competency and efficiency there is no question, and whose past success in the position is a gnarantee of progress and improvement for the future; and we consider ourselves fortunate in the selection of a corps of teachers who for the most part have proved competent and faithful, among whom are several whose qualifications are of the highest order. And measures have been taken to remedy vieticiencies as rapidly as possible.
6. We would urge the need of adılitional legislation for the purpose of providing more ample funds for the support of our schools and the supply of school accommodations. We have already exhibited, under the appropriate liead, the meagerness of the provisions we have thus tar been able to make for the nine thousand children placed under our charge; also our plans for increasing these provisions to the extent of the means at our command.
When this shall have been accomplished, considerably more than one-half of the coloreil children of school age will still be improrided with seats in school. Besides, it should be noted that a part of the buildings now owner by the trustees, containing nearly 1,000 pats, are of a temporary character, and, for safety as well as convemence, must speedily be replaced by more permanent and properly adapted structures.
Not less than one hundred thousand dollars, beyond the anticipated Terenne, ought to be expended in the coming year in school-houses alone, and an equal sum in the next following year. To what source shall wé look for the supply of this neeil? Northern philanthropy has already lone more for us than could be expected. The corporation of Washing. con has done all that can be asked, especially when it is considered that the great bulk of the population to be provided for has been brought hither
, not by the business growth of the city, but as a result of the great civil commotion which of late swept over our land.'
A law of Congress, already on the statute book, requires the attendance upon school of all children of school-age for some portion of each year, but until far more ample accommodations can be provided, no such law can be enforced.
Congress alone can supply this great need. And we feel that those for whom we plead have peculiar claims upon its attention—claims which we should be recreant to our trust if we did not urge. They are the children, for the most part, of parents who have spent the best years of their lives in unpaid toil, deprived of every opportunity of education, and are now thrown upon their own resources, disqualified by enforced ignorance to compete in the struggle of life with the more favored classes of the community. It is not to be expected that these people, though now free, can at present, under such disadvantages, lo much toward providing the means for educating their children. Surely something is due from a great and prosperous nation by way of compensation to those whose unrequited labor has contributed to the nation's wealtlı, but who have themselves been prohibited by positive law from the acquire. ment of even the ability to search the Scriptures,” in obedience to the divine command. No compensation more valuable or acceptable can be made to them than that of furnishing their children with the education of which they themselves were so wrongfully deprived.
In conclusion, the trustees suggest that those equal educational advantages to which all children are entitled in accordance with the great principle of equality before the law, can be obtained only through the common school, where all children meet together in the enjoyment of the same opportunities, the same improvements, and the same instructions. Whatever then is done for white children will be shared by their colored brethren, and all shall enjoy the same care and supervision. Respectfully submitted.
Trustees of Colored Schools. Hou. SECRETARY OF THE INTERIOR.
STEVENS SCHOOL BUILDING, TWENTY-FIRST STREET,
I'ashington, D. C., December 27, 1870. GENTLEMEN: You have requested me to report to you the condition of the schools at the close of the last school year, as it may appear from information obtained from any of the school records; also the state of the schools as I have found them since assuming the duties of my office, with such suggestions for their improvement as I think proper. In compliance with your reynest, I have the honor to submit the following report:
By your election, I resumed the duties of Superintendent of the Colored Schools on the 20th of October last, atter an interruption of a little more than two years.
The only records I have been able to time in the office relating to the condition of the schools, during these two years, are the monthly statistical reports of the several teachers, with the registers and diaries from which these reports are derived. No record of the results of the annual examinations at the close of either year appears to have been preserved, and not even a summary of the statistics presented in the teachers' reports, for either year, or for any part thereof, appears to have been made. Cousequently, in order to obtain any data for a report, it has been necessary to collate an consolidate these monthly reports; and since the statistics for the last month of the school year alone would afford but an inadequate view of the condition of the schools, (the attendance at that time being usually much smaller than in other months.) the consolidation has been extended over the entire school year of 1869–70. Some of the teachers' reports, however, were found so defective and inconsistent with then selves, that it was necessary to have recourse to the registers and diaries, in order to secure any approximation to accuracy in the most important items.
The results of this consolidation are presented in the following table, in which are given, tirst, the totals for the month of June, 1870, and, secondly, the totals or averages for the entire school year ending with that month.
Summary of teachers' reports, 1869-'70.
Total for the entire
Average for the entire year.
Number of schools
Incomplete. Some reports say, "A few.” One says, “Couldn't begin to tell.” † Not fully reported.
These statistics, though incomplete in some details, and plainly inconsistent in others, give, doubtless, an approximately correct representation of the extent to which the school advantages provided by the board of trustees during the last year were made use of by the class for whom they were intended. It appears that of the 9,327 colored children of school ages in Washington and Georgetown, D. C., only 3,650 attended the public schools for any portion of the year, while an average of but 3,032, of about one-third of the whole, were connected with the schools through the year; also that of those enrolled as belonging to the schools the average attendance was but 2,327, or 89 per cent. The largest number connected with the schools in any inonth was in February, averaging 3,334, and the largest average attendance was 2,914 in the kame month.
The state of discipline in the schools as a whole, as indicated by the number of cases of tardiness, absence, corporal punislıment, and expulsion reported, appears not to have bren of the most satisfactory character, especially when it is noted that the figures given under the last two items are evidently mucli too small. The number of corporal punishments inflicted, it seems, was 1,741 plus several “fews,” and at least one couldn't begin to tell,” the precise total of which is difficult to conjecture. It need not be said that excellence of discipline in a school is usually in inverso proportion to the prevalence of such punishments, since it shows a want of governing power on the part of the teacher. The number of expnlsions is reported as 52, whilo the number of suspensions is given as 452, of whom but 245 were readmitted. The remaining 207 not having been restored, should, under the rules, have been reported as expelled.
As regards the very important points of the progress and proficiency of the pupils in their various studies, the number of promotions from lower to higher grades, the improvement of the pupils in morals and manners, the faithfulness, skill, and efficiency of the teachers, their progress in methods of teaching and discipline, or as regarıls any efforts to improve the general organization and character of the schools, these statistics furnish little or no information; and I am left to such inferences as are suggested by the present state of the schools. I will, therefore, proceed to comply with the second branch of your request, and state what I have been able to learn of
THE PRESENT CONDITION OF THE SCHOOLS.
In doing this, your attention is first invited to the following
Summary of teachers' reports for September, October, and November, 1870.
Summary of reports.
Number of schools.
1 3, 031 1, 358 1,016
6 2, 391
117 95, 841 8, 644 2, 533 2, 7:26
239 1, 245
5 $3 10
* These figures are evidently erroneous, the questions being doubtless misunderstood by some of the teachers. The number in both instances should equal the sum of the numbers left, expelled, and be longing the last day-that is, 3,154. f One teacher reports, “ Did not keep account.”
These reports show an increase in the number of pupils in attendance over the corresponding months of last year, of 295 in September, 19 in October, and 79 in November.
They also show that in the city of Washington but 2,811 colored children were connected with the schools on the last day of November. According to the census recently taken, (see statement upon the following page,) there are in this city 8,532 coloret children of school age, (3,8:22 males and 4,710 females,) which is an increase of 141 over the census of 1867. Of this number only 605 are reported as attending private schools." It follows that there are about five thousand colored children in Washington alone not connected with any school.
In Georgetown, the number of pupils in school, November 30, 1870, was 307. The total number of colored children, of school age, as shown by the census, is 795, a decrease of 93 since 1867. It thus appears that nearly five hundred colored children in that city are not receiving the advantages of the public schools ; and, so far as I cau learn, no private schools for this elass of children are in existence in that borongh.
The vacant seats reported are chiefly in the higher grades of schools, and result in general, not from lack of applicants, but in part from lack of qualifications to enter the higher grades, and in part from the rule that new pupils are to be received ordinarily on the first day or first Monday in the month.
* Of these private schools I feel it my duty to say that. judging from the scholarship of pupils who enter the public schools from them, they are in general little better than no schools. They appear to be characterized by an almost utter lack of mental training, and a want of thoronghness ibat is destrnctive of all true scholarship, while in most of them some branches deemed essential to a public school course are entirely oniitted.