Bradford County PA
Chemung County NY
Tioga County PA
Tri-Counties Genealogy & History by Joyce M. Tice
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Report of Superintendent of Public Instruction for PA - 1902
Report of the Superintendent of Public Instruction
Pennsylvania - 69th Annual School Report
Nathan C. Shaeffer
Year: 1902
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 State Superintendent - Introduction  Bradford County  Report  Tioga County Report  Mansfield Normal School Report

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new course seeks to prepare teachers for more scholarly work. The standards of all professional schools have been raised; the applications of science to agriculture, as well as to other industries, make new demands upon the school—demands that can not be fully met unless the teachers push their scholarship beyond the branches of an elementary course. The new course will diminish the number of graduates for several years, but in the end it will increase the attendance at our Normal Schools and give the public schools a generation of teachers with better training and broader scholarship.


Teaching is a growing profession. In their zeal for improvement teachers have been known to spend at summer schools from ten to twenty percent of their salaries; in some cases their entire savings. No vocation can boast of greater sacrifices. Very many teachers can not afford to attend summer schools at a great distance from their homes. Hence Pennsylvania should profit by the example of her neighboring States. The New York Legislature adds ten thousand dollars to the institute fund in order that two schools may be maintained during the summer vacation at places where study can be combined with recreation. The General Assembly of Virginia makes an annual appropriation of twenty-five hundred dollars, the Peabody Education Fund contributes from fourteen to sixteen hundred dollars, whilst the teachers who attend the summer school of methods pay a fee ranging from three to five dollars according to the grade of work taken. The board of visitors of the University of Virginia appropriated fifteen hundred dollars last summer for the school of methods, and the southern education board gave five hundred dollars more to the same school. Over a thousand teachers were in attendance, most of whom paid their own board and travelling expenses though some counties and cities relieved their teachers of this burden.

South Carolina spends each year the sum of nine thousand dollars for summer school purposes. Five thousand dollars are given by the State Legislature, two thousand by the State Board of Education, and two thousand are obtained from the Peabody fund. Not only do the teachers get free tuition, but nearly all of the city boards of education, and many of those in country districts, give each teacher a sum sufficient to defray the expenses of boarding and travel in order that she may attend the school without cost to herself. For some years the city of Columbia, S.C., gave sixteen dollars to every teacher who would attend. Last year each teacher had twenty dollars added to her last check in the hope that she would use if for summer school work. It was an experiment to ascertain how many would attend when they were not required to do so in order to receive the advance.

The sisters in charge of the parochial schools of the Catholic Church spend the greater part of their vacation in some form of preparation for the year’s work. Even at the annual retreats time is given to self examination as a lever to raise the individual to higher planes of effort. The best scholars in the Jesuit and other colleges deliver lectures to fit teachers for work in the elementary schools. What the church does for her teachers, the State can afford to do for its teachers. Experience has shown that summer schools do not pay their own way. Those heretofore established in Pennsylvania either did not pay the instructors a fair compensation, or else were conducted at a loss to those in charge. The moderate salary on which the average teacher is compelled to live, does not enable her to pay much tuition. A modest appropriation for the maintenance of one or more summer schools where ambitious teachers can combine study and recreation, would be money wisely applied. The School Department should be allowed to select for the purpose one or more mountain resorts where the temperature will be favorable for intellectual effort during the summer months.

Education is not synonymous with schooling. The pupil gets his education partly at school and partly out of school. Rural life may have educative influences which the city boy does not enjoy, but if the education out of school is not supplemented by proper schooling, the country lad is handicapped in the struggle for the highest success.

The appropriation of fifty thousand dollars was not sufficient to pay the townships the full amount of aid specified in the act of 1895. At the last distribution only seventy-five per cent of the maximum allowed by law, could be paid. By reason of the new township high schools which are springing into existence, the pro-rata share will be further diminished at the next distribution. It is earnestly recommended that this appropriation be doubled, at the next session of the Legislature. This increase will do far more to stimulate progress than an unconditional appropriation of many times the amount for general distribution. The schools make progress whenever the State’s money stimulates local sacrifice; they deteriorate whenever the State appropriation is used to reduce local taxation or is squandered in the purchase of fanciful apparatus and other questionable appliances.


Something should be done to raise the minimum salary of teachers. Good work can not be expected from teachers who get less than thirty dollars a month. The teacher who makes a bare living, can not spend money in preparing to teach. Increased appropriations have not increased the salaries of teachers. This is the experience everywhere. West Virginia has fixed a minimum salary of thirty dollars. Indians fixed a minimum of forty or forty-five dollars per month according to the grade of the certificates. Although there have been efforts to evade this law, yet on the whole it has had very beneficial results. The law has always been a school master in Pennsylvania. The time has come for the Legislature to consider whether something can be done by legislation to roll off from Pennsylvania the disgrace of the low salaries now paid to teachers in many school districts. We have counties in which the salaries of teachers are equal to those of Massachusetts, new Jersey and the Middle West, but this only indicates a more lamentable condition in the districts whose average pulls down the figures and gives such a low place in the scale of teachers salaries to the State that makes the largest common school appropriation.

When the price of living goes up, and wages advance, the people who live on a salary begin to see hard times. The salaried person is the last to be affected by an increase. The teacher and the preacher have special reason to complain of the recent increase in the price of the necessaries of life. Many of those who teach have others dependent upon them. It is the duty of every citizen to seek to better the condition of the women who teach. They do not organize strikes and have no opportunity at the ballot box to insist upon their rights. If they had the suffrage their votes would in no long time procure more adequate compensation for their services and sacrifices.


One of the most perplexing educational problems is the making of a satisfactory school curriculum. All are agreed that subjects which have become antiquated, should no longer be taught. Equation of payments is based upon methods of conducting business that prevailed several centuries ago. Pure food laws should in no long time make alligation a thing of the past. The analysis of puzzling sentences whose meaning is beyond the grasp of the pupil, is a mere waste of time. It is not a valid argument to say that such subjects must be retained for the sake of mental discipline. The sciences which beget higher forms of mental power, can be made to furnish adequate and sufficient materials for thought. Arithmetic and grammar have monopolized the biggest share of time in rural schools. How little arithmetic beyond the fundamental rules does the average farmer use! Mistakes in grammar and exercises in false syntax have no bearing upon his crops. On the other hand the laws governing the fertility of the land, the growth of crops, the destruction of noxious insects are seldom taught. The practical study of nature’s forces and laws should receive more attention, especially in country schools. Experience has shown that satisfactory changes in the curriculum can not be wrought by the publication and distribution of a syllabus or guide. Teachers can not impart what they do not know. Systematic study in the field and the laboratory is needed to put content into the most carefully prepared outlines. The work must begin in the Normal School, must be carried forward in teachers’ meetings at institutes and summer schools, and must finally be made to percolate through the township high school into the lower schools and into the every day life on the farm. The efforts to improve the schools should above all else be centered upon the agencies that help to fit the teachers for their work. The continuance of the appropriation making tuition free at the State Normal School, is, therefore, of paramount importance. Next to the appropriation for school maintenance this appropriation is the most important of all the appropriations which will claim the attention of the next Legislature.

Respectfully submitted,
Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Bradford County PA
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