A. C. (Arthur Coleman) Monahan.

The status of the supervision of rural schools in the United States online

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IDUC.
U&RARY



COPYRIGHT 1913 BY
S. CHESTER PARKER

SECRETARY OF THE SOCIETY



All Rights Reserved
Published February 1913



Composed and Printed By

The University of Chicago Press

Chicago, Illinois. U.S.A.



I. THE STATUS OF THE SUPERVISION OF RURAL
SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES



A. C. MONAHAN
Specialist in Rural Education, U.S. Bureau of Education



The difference in organization for the management of school affairs
in rural and urban portions of the United States makes rural super-
vision and urban supervision in large measure dissimilar problems.
The schools in the ordinary urban system are under the charge of a
city school board. The board employs a school superintendent who
as its agent is both an administrative and a supervisory officer. In
all but the larger cities he is the agent of the board in the management
of the business of the school system, as well as in directing its instruc-
tional work. The duties delegated to him in connection with the repairs
of the school buildings, buying school supplies, and administering the
school funds are administrative; those of directing the instructional
work of the school, arranging the course of study and dictating the
methods of teaching, are supervisory. The selection of the teacher
may be said to be both administrative and supervisory, but it is a
function of the supervising officer wherever the school board employs
two separate agents, a business manager and a school superintendent.

In the majority of states the unit for the management of rural school
affairs and the unit for supervision are not the same. The administra-
tion and the supervision are, therefore, in large measure distinct. Both
were formerly the functions of the school trustees. The tendency is
now to turn over to a county superintendent the supervision, the trustees
retaining the management of the school and the selection of the teacher.
The unit of supervision for rural schools in 38 states is the county;
the supervising officer, the county superintendent. In nearly two-
thirds of the states with county supervision the unit of administration
is the "single district." This is a small area served in most cases by
one school, usually outside of villages a one-room, one-teacher school.
The voters of each school district elect a board of trustees who are
their agents in the management of the school affairs. These trustees
have, as a rule, complete control over the school and its affairs, respon-

9



10 THE TWELFTH YEARBOOK

sible only to the voters of the district. They provide school buildings,
make the necessary repairs, furnish supplies and facilities for teaching,
secure the teacher and make rules and regulations to govern the school.
They expend the school funds and in several states have the power to
levy a special tax for school purposes.

The county superintendent under this district system is largely
an advisory officer, holding whatever power he may possess by virtue
of the county and state school funds which must pass through his hands
and be expended with his approval. In many states he examines
teachers and grants licenses to teach. Without his certificate no per-
sons may be employed to teach in the district schools unless they hold
certificates granted by the state. Through this function the county
superintendent is given some power over the teachers. His principal
duties are the administration of the county school funds, the examina-
tion and certification of teachers, the keeping of statistical records,
and making reports to the county board of education and the state
superintendent of public instruction, conducting teachers' institutes,
visiting schools, and doing whatever he may be able to improve the quality
of the instruction given in the school. His task is difficult, as the superin-
tendent in the average county has to deal with as many separate boards
of trustees as there are schools in the county.

Four states with the county for the unit of supervision have t;he
township for the unit of organization for administrative purposes. In
these states the duties, powers, and limitations of the county superin-
tendent are practically as stated above. On the whole he has a better
opportunity of accomplishing more for the good of the school, as he has
fewer separate boards of trustees in his territory and, therefore, fewer
trustees to educate and to influence into progressive action for the
betterment of the schools. In eleven states the county is the unit of
administration and the unit of supervision as well. In only five of
these, however, is the actual balance of power in the hands of the county
board of education. These five are properly organized for efficient
supervision.

County supervision will probably never reach a satisfactory degree
of efficiency, except in a comparatively few cases, until the county
becomes the unit of administration, so that the county superintendent
may be the agent of the county board of education in the management
as well as in the supervision of the educational work of the schools.



SUPERVISION OF RURAL SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES II

And then he must be supplied with sufficient assistance so that the schools
may be visited frequently. The average county superintendent under
the present prevailing system visits each school in his county once
during the school year, the average length of his visit being about two
hours. In the 18 largest cities in the United States one supervising
officer, devoting half or more than half of his time to supervision, is
employed for each 19 teachers. It is probably true that the city-
school system must be more machine-like than the county system, and
that the country teacher must depend more upon her own initiative
and ingenuity and less upon the supervisor than the city teacher. How-
ever, enough supervisors should be provided so that each would have
not over 40 teachers under his oversight. It is evident that the county
superintendent without such assistance can do little to improve the
quality of the teaching in his county through personal criticisms and
suggestions coming from an actual knowledge of the teacher's strength
and weakness as an instructor or as a school manager.

Rural supervision in the United States is in the hands of city, town,
and union district superintendents in New England, town and township
superintendents in Ohio, district superintendents in New York, division
superintendents in Virginia, deputy state superintendents in Nevada,
and county superintendents in all other states.

New England school affairs are almost entirely in the hands of town-
ship officials, the county having no authority and the state only partial
authority over a few schools in townships which are receiving state
aid. All schools in the township whether in the village or in the open
country are under the management of the same township school board.
Weak townships may form " union districts " for the purpose of engaging
superintendents who divide their time between the townships hiring
them. In managing the school affairs each township remains distinct
and separate. In administration and supervision no distinction is made
between urban and rural. City superintendents with very few excep-
tions have one or more rural schools under their oversight. In all
other states except Delaware, Maryland, Florida, and Louisiana cities
and incorporated towns are usually set apart as independent school
districts under local control. The township superintendent of Ohio,
therefore, does not necessarily have under his oversight the village
schools, as incorporated villages and towns are, as a rule, independent.
The district superintendents of New York have oversight of all town



12 THE TWELFTH YEARBOOK

and rural schools in their districts, except in cities of 5,000 population
or over.

The New York supervisory district is a county or a part of a county.
There are 207 districts in the 57 counties, the number of districts in
each county varying from i to 8. The "division" in Virginia is one
or more counties; 80 divisions contain i county each; 10 divisions
contain 2 each. Nevada is divided into 5 districts with from i to 6
counties in each. A deputy state superintendent has charge of each
division.

The extent of the various supervisory units is given in the following
statement:

EXTENT or THE VARIOUS SUPERVISORY UNITS

38 states with the county unit have county superintendents.

2 states, in which the unit is one or more counties, have division superin-
tendents and deputy state superintendents, respectively.

i state, in which the unit is a county or a part of a county, has district
superintendents.

7 states with the township unit have township or union superintendents, a
union being composed of two or more townships.

Several states with the county supervisory system have made
provisions for closer supervision than is possible by the county officer
unassisted. Of these West Virginia and Oregon are especially note-
worthy. As the district supervision in these two states is treated else-
where in this volume a meager outline only will be given here. West
Virginia in 1907 authorized " district superintendents" to have the
supervision of all the country, village, and town schools in the district,
exercising the same powers, duties, and privileges usually conferred
upon city superintendents. The school district in West Virginia referred
to here is the magisterial district and is about one-sixth of a county.
In 1911-12 there were 37 district superintendents working in 19 counties,
each of whom had an average of 34 schools under his jurisdiction. The
district board of education is authorized by the law to engage a district
superintendent if it sees fit to do so, or the board may be required to do
so upon the written application of a majority of the taxpayers of the
district. Oregon in 1911 enacted a school law which provides for a
county board of education in each county having more than 60 school
districts. This board is required to divide the county into "super-
visory districts" to contain from 20 to 50 schools each and to place
in each district a "supervisor." This supervisor is a county officer,



SUPERVISION OF RURAL SCHOOLS IN THE UNITED STATES 13

responsible to the county through the county superintendent. There
are now, in 1912, 24 such supervisors.

In the early summer of 1912 Kentucky authorized county boards
of education to appoint "county supervisors" to help supervise the
schools under the direction of the county superintendent. The schools
opened for the fall term of 1912 with 46 supervisors already engaged;
70 were in office by the close of the year 1912. About 34 similar " county
supervisors" have begun work in as many counties distributed through-
out the southern states, largely due to the activities and influence of the
Southern Education Board and its agents.

The school laws of North Dakota provide an office assistant to
county superintendents in counties having 50 or more schools. In
counties of 150 or more schools the county superintendent is allowed
in addition to his office assistant i deputy for every 100 schools to assist
in visiting schools and in their general supervision. There were 10
supervising deputies employed in 1912. Maryland has a similar pro-
vision in her school laws and there were employed in that state in the
school year 1911-12 "assistant county superintendents" in 3 counties.
The new school code adopted in Pennsylvania in 1911 provides for
assistant county superintendents in the largest counties. A few other
states have passed permissive legislation but little advantage of it has
yet been taken.

Another plan of aiding county superintendents in their supervisory
work has met with considerable success in a few counties where tried
in Virginia, South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisi-
ana. In these counties there has been appointed a rural school "indus-
trial teacher" working under the direction of the county superintendent.
The work of this teacher consists in visiting the rural schools of the
county for the purpose of introducing industrial work such as sewing,
cooking, gardening, and establishing cooking clubs, canning clubs, corn
and tomato clubs, and school improvement associations. While not
directly concerned with the academic work of the school, the effects of
the visit of such a teacher have been to produce an awakening in the
entire life and the work of the school. They have proved their value
by showing themselves able to make many suggestions regarding the
management of the school, the arrangement of the program, and methods
of teaching of especial value to inexperienced teachers.

There is included in this paper a large table which shows for each
state the unit of organization for the administration of the rural schools,



THE TWELFTH YEARBOOK



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16 THE TWELFTH YEARBOOK

the unit of supervision, the number, titles, manner of appointment, and
length of terms of the supervising officers. It shows also the extent
of supervision. It has been necessary to include the city and town
superintendents in those states where the township is the unit of adminis-
tration and of supervision for the reason already stated. No other
city superintendents are included except in the 4 states already referred
to, in which city and rural schools are both a part of the county system
under the same management and oversight.

The manner of appointing or electing the supervising officer has a
direct bearing upon the efficiency of his work. In every state where
the township is the unit of supervision it is also the unit of organization
and the superintendent is selected by the local school board. The
quality of the man selected depends largely upon the ideals of the board.
In some cases the selection must meet with the approval of the state
authorities where the state is contributing to the schools to be super-
vised. In the other 41 states, including those with county supervision
and New York, Nevada, and Virginia, the supervising officers are elected
by the people in 29 states; they are appointed by the county board of
education in 8; by the state board in 2; by the state commissioner of
education in i with the approval of the state board in i ; and by the
governor in i. This is shown, together with the length of the term for
which they are appointed, in the following table:

APPOINTMENT AND TERM OF THE COUNTY SUPERINTENDENTS AND THE
SUPERVISING OFFICERS IN NEW YORK, NEVADA, AND VIRGINIA*

Elected by people for 2 years 19

Elected by people for 4 years 10

Appointed by county (or district) board of education

for 2 years 3

for 4 years : 4

for 5 years i

Appointed by state board of education

for 4 years 2

Appointed by state commissioner of education

for 3 years i

Appointed by governor for 2 years i

Total 41

New York: District Superintendents.
Nevada: Deputy state superintendents of public instruction.
Virginia: Division superintendents.



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Online LibraryA. C. (Arthur Coleman) MonahanThe status of the supervision of rural schools in the United States → online text (page 1 of 1)