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From the above table it appears that there are
66 2 classes
There are ninety-nine schools completely graded, eighty-nine partially graded, and fifty-eight ungraded.
The schools in the Dwight, Everett, and Lawrence districts are completely graded, each school having only one class. In the Bowdoin and Wells districts, no schools are graded.
It will be perceived also that there are eleven schools containing only the first class, and thirty-six schools containing only the sixth class. From this view it is evident that the system of gradation is not well balanced. Where it is carried out as it should be, there is an equal number of schools of each grade, or class.
The multiplication of alphabet or sixth classes, is one of the principal difficulties experienced in the management of the graded system. As a remedy for this evil, I would suggest the expediency of excluding hereafter all applicants for admission, who are under five years old, and of limiting the time of admitting new pupils into the sixth class to two weeks from the day on which the promotions are made.
The following table shows the number of Pupils of the different ages, in the Primary Schools of each district, as reported on the 20th of February last:
The subjoined statement presents the aggregates of the foregoing table, compared with the ages in 1845.
It will be observed that, in 1845, the number of pupils under seven years of age was much larger in proportion to the whole number than it is now, while of those seven years of age and upwards, the reverse is true. In the former period, twenty per cent. were four years of age; in the latter about seven and five tenths per cent. Hence, although the average age is higher than it was fifteen years ago, the average time of the Primary course is probably about the same.
Three years is long enough for a child of average capacity to remain in the Primary School, if admitted
at five years of age. A child admitted at a maturer age need not remain so long.
Our system of public education is founded on the principle, early adopted and constantly maintained by our ancestors, that it is the undoubted right and the bounden duty of government to provide for the instruction of all youth. For this purpose every man is held subject to taxation in proportion to his property, without regard to the question whether he himself have, or have not, children to be benefited by the education for which he pays. The First Secretary of the Massachusetts Board of Education described the foundation of our Common School System in the three following propositions :
“ The successive generations of men, taken collectively, constitute one great commonwealth.
“The property of this commonwealth is pledged for the education of all its youth, up to such a point as will save them from poverty and vice, and prepare them for the adequate performance of their social and civil duties.
“The successive holders of this property are trustees, bound to the faithful execution of their trust by the most sacred obligations; and embezzlement and pillage from children and descendants have not less of criminality, and have more of meanness than the same offences when perpetrated against contemporaries.”
In recognition of these principles, the fundamental law of the State enjoins upon legislators and magistrates in all future periods, the duty to cherish the interests of "Public Schools and Grammar Schools in the towns."
Our city may justly claim the merit of having, from its very origin, made liberal provision for public instruction, and experience has proved that expenditures for this object are profitable investments. The following table shows the expenses of the city for education, for five years, from May 1, 1855, to May 1, 1860, arranged under three general heads :
Within the period embraced in the above table, eight first-class Grammar School Houses have been erected, with accommodations for six thousand five hundred pupils. These are commodious and durable structures, and they are arranged with special reference to our present system of Grammar School organization and management, which was commenced in 1847.
The cost of schoolhouses, including land and expenditures for extensive alterations and repairs to the 30th of April, 1860, is estimated by the City Auditor as follows:
Grammar and High
$ 1,377,000 00
570,000 00 $ 1,947,000 00