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Report of Superintendent of Public Instruction for PA - 1889
Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
Pennsylvania -  Annual School Report
E. E. Higbee - State Superintendent of Public Instruction
Year: 1889
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 State Superintendent - Introduction  Bradford County  Report  Tioga County Report  Mansfield Normal School Report


Governor of the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania:

Sir: In compliance with the requirements of law, I have the honor to submit herewith the annual report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction for the year ending June 3, A. D. 1889.

Inasmuch as the Legislature is not in session, this report, while embracing full statistics, confines itself to brief general statements, without proposing any legislation.


The schools now number twenty-one thousand eight hundred and eighty-nine (21,889), an increase since last year of five hundred and forty-seven (547). The increase the previous year was only two hundred and eighty (280).

The increase in number of pupils is thirteen thousand one hundred and seventy-six (13,176), differing little from the increase of the previous year. To meet this increase of pupils, we have, as just stated, five hundred and forty seven additional schools. This shows a tendency towards better school accommodations, for it gives to each additional school only twenty-four pupils, while the general average of pupils per school is slightly beyond forty-three. This average, however, is far too high; and there must be many crowded schools in the State; but it is encouraging to know that the movement is in the right direction.

There has been a very large increase in the number of graded schools during the year, viz: Five hundred and sixty-six (566). The whole number of graded schools is now ten thousand one hundred and seventeen (10,117), nearly one-half of all our schools. This rapid increase of graded schools demands most careful watchfulness upon the part of superintendents and teachers. While we have the great gain derived from such division of labor as the graded school secures, we must seek to avoid the serious dangers involved. Teachers, confined to one line of studies, and those that are suited only to a certain age, are apt to take into view only the small section of a child’s life belonging to that age, and this weakens the great incentive to work which comes from the clear vision of the end of education in the beginning. The end is not the examination for promotion to another grade. The solid culture of the child toward a well furnished personality--—developed, intelligent life of thought and act—must be the main aim of all teaching, and this should not be broken in upon by any interruption of artificial grades. Hence great caution is required in graded schools, lost, through anxiety to promote from grade to grade, the child be fitted more for examination than for life.

The increase in the salary of teachers has been very small. Now that the amount appropriated by the State is two millions—double what it was four years ago—it is to be hoped that the average salary of teachers will be greatly enlarged. It is now, for male teachers, only thirty-nine dollars per month, and for female teachers only a little over thirty dollars. This want of proper remuneration is injuring the status of our schools. It is retarding the whole educational work of the State, and every exertion should be made to remedy this defect. Direct legislation can effect but little. Public sentiment must be aroused. Directors and parents must realize the vast importance of our schools, and the great responsibility of our teachers, and refuse to make the matter of selecting them nothing more than the employment of the cheapest candidates in the market. Our superintendents also must make the provisional certificates fewer and fewer, demanding higher grades, and insisting on more thorough examinations. By concerted action the way may be opened for a better condition of affairs as regards salaries and tenure of office.

While thankful for the legislation secured in behalf of the schools, we regret very much that the bill for a closer supervision of our schools in rural districts, failed of passage. Closer supervision is so necessary that it must soon come. The need of it becomes more apparent every day, and very many directors are only waiting for authority to organize the work.

There are many advances yet to be made before the full efficiency of our system of free public schools can be secured, to which we shall have occasion to refer hereafter.

Thanking the teachers and superintendents for their prompt cooperation during the past year, and believing that the work accomplished has been for the good of the Commonwealth, and such as my receive the blessing of Almighty God, we conclude this brief report.