Annual Report of the State Board of Education
Annual Report of the State Board of Education 41
Queen Anne s ...,
AxNUAL Report of the State Board of Education
The increase in the average daily attendance in the public schools
of the counties for the past year was 8,240 ; the sum of the increases
for the three preceding years was 8,209, the average annual increase
for these years being 2,736. Since the term for colored schools was
lengthened last year in most of the counties and also since the de-
mands for child labor were more acute, owing to the industrial
conditions produced by the war, it is safe to assume that the increase
in average daily attendance for last year would not have been larger
than the customary increase of 2,736, had the compulsory school
attendance law not been enforced. The difference between 8,240 and
2,736, or 5,504, fairly represents the effect of the school attendance
law on the average daily attendance. The law brought many more
children into school; but the increase in children present each day
throughout the year amounted to an average of 8,240.
During 1915-16, the year before the attendance law went into effect,
the total expenses for all public school purposes in the counties were
$3,209,101.56- The average daily attendance for the same year was
106,062 ; thus the cost of public education was $30 per child in average
attendance. At this rate, which is less than many states spend, the
education given the extra 5,504 pupils held in attendance throughout
the year, was worth $165,120. Of course school expenditures have
not been reduced this amount, as practically the same sum Avould
have been spent for education in the counties if the school attendance
law had not been in operation : but the persistent presence of more
children receiving the instruction given amounted to a saving of
Annual Report of the State Board of Education 43
$165,120 worth of school training, which otherwise would have been
lost. The salaries, traveling expenses of attendance officers, and
other costs of enforcing the law did not exceed $18,000 ; thus $18,000
additional invested in law enforcement secures $165,120 worth more of
school training. Each $3.25 spent on enforcing the law kept an aver-
age of one more child in attendance.
In June the State Superintendent prepared a questionnaire,
addressed to the county superintendents, asking for an account of the
year's work of the attendance officers.
To the County Superintendent :
Will you kindly have your Attendance Officer make out a report of his year's
work along the lines indicated below, and, after necessary corrections, adding to
it such comment as you think advisable, forward it to me?
I wish to discuss the School Attendance Law at some length in my next
annual report, including a description of what has been done in the different
counties. I think this question is important enough for j^ou to ask your Attend-
ance Officer to put at least two full days upon this report.
COMPULSORY SCHOOL ATTENDANCE REPORT.
1. What is the approximate number of children of each age, beginning with
ten years, who were brought into school this year for the first time?
2. How many children in the county of each age, beginning with twelve
years, have made one hundred days attendance? How vazny of each age, begin-
ning with twelve, were enrolled but made less than one hundred days?
3. Give the number of arrests, the number brought to trial, the number of
convictions, the approximate total of fines and costs, and the approximate total
of fines and costs suspended.
4. What has been done along the line of relief, so that children out of
school on account of poverty, poor health, or unsanitary conditions at home have
been brought back into school?
5. What methods have been used to educate parents to the need of regular
6. What is the chief difficulty which you have met in your work this year?
7. Please make a full statement of any special feature of your work which
you think will assist me in understanding more clearly what you have accom-
8. How may the present School Attendance Law be amended to make it
better serve the cause of education in your county?
9. About how many full days have you been in the field doing attendance
10. About how many full days of office work?
11. Can you make an estimate of the number of visits to families, and the
number of persons interviewed, an account of absent children ?
Very truly yours,
M. BATES STEPHENS,
Questions 1 and 2 had not been expected and in many cases the
information was not available. The days' attendance of each child
is indicated on the quarterly reports of the school principals to the
county superintendent's office, but the attendance officers had no
way of excluding duplicate enrollments. A child enrolled in two
44 Annual Report of the State Board of Education
or more different schools might be counted as two or more children,
attending less than 100 days instead of one child attending 100 days.
The report of Talbot County calls attention to this difficulty. Re-
plies to these questions are printed, but the figures are not reliable
and no attempt has been made to analyze them.
The table following summarizes the replies to question 3. Out-
side of Allegany, Baltimore, and Carroll Counties, few arrests were
made. These three counties made a total of 216 arrests, and all
other counties made a total of only 52. No arrests were made in
Anne Arundel, Calvert, Caroline, Cecil, Prince George, Queen Anne
or St. Mary's Counties. In many cases the offender complied with
the law by sending the child to school as soon as arrested and the
prosecution was dropped. Of the 160 cases brought to trial, 148
were convicted- First offenders were usually paroled, with the fines
and costs suspended, pending the return of the children to school
and their regular attendance.
In most counties local organizations supplied the needs of the few
families who could not send their children to school regularly with-
out some form of relief. The methods employed to educate parents
to the needs of regular attendance included the distribution of printed
notices, the use of local newspapers, discussions in school improve-
ment associations, and personal visits to the homes of absent children.
A novel experiment is reported from Baltimore County, where the
parents of children continually absent without lawful excuse were
called to meetings in the larger schools to discuss the provisions of
the law and the value of regular school attendance. Such meetings
were held in six of the larger schools. For each meeting notices
were sent to about thirty-five parents giving them their choice of
either attending the meeting or appearing at a later date before a
magistrate. About 95% of the parents notified attended the meet-
ings, and. the results are reported as quite satisfactory.
The chief difficulty encountered in most counties was a general
apathy on the part of parents of absent children, and a lack of the
proper appreciation by such parents of the benefits of school train-
ing. The keen demand for child labor brought about by the in-
dustrial conditions produced by the war was also felt in all counties.
Several counties reported some interesting special feature in reply
to question No. 7, but very few suggestions were received for amend-
ing the law, in response to question No. 8. The replies to questions
Nos. 9, 10, and 11 are summarized in the following table.
It would seem that the variation in the distribution of the attendance
officer's time between office and field work is hardly justifiable.
Annual Report of the State Board of Education
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46 Annual Report of the State Board of Education
In some counties the attendance officer should have spent more
days in the field and visited more homes of absent children. The
attendance officers who got into more homes and studied more cases
at first hand developed more school sentiment and usually secured
better results in enforcing the law. It is probable that inadequate
means of travel, and in some counties poor roads, tended to limit
the amount of traveling.
The replies are of so much interest that most of them are printed
in full. Each county being left during the year to meet its attend-
ance problems largely in its own way, the reports show considerable
variation in the methods used, as well as in the results obtained.
The reader will be interested in comparing the following accounts
by counties with the statistical tables of school attendance :
lOyrs. 11 yrs. 12yrs. 13 yrs. 14yrs. 15 yrs. 16yrs 17yrs.
1. 48 19 10 1 i 1
12 yrs. 13 yrs. 14 yrs. 15 yrs. 16 yrs. 17 yrs.
2. Attending 100 days -.897 862 734 370 202 92
Less than 100 days 128 116 145 87 Z1 15
The great majority of the pupils enumerated above who have not attended
the full 100 days v^^ere boys in the rural schools, who stopped to work on their
farms. Just about that time the papers began to surmise that the Legislature
would possibly permit boys to work on the farms, so I found it very difficult to
compel them to attend without using the drastic features of the law, and did not
feel this action was advisable at that time.
3. We had about 50 pupils and their parents brought before the Juvenile
Court, and the magistrates of the county, who, after interpreting the law,
allowed them to go on a promise that they would attend school regularly. This
was done without any cost to the parents or the county, an'd in most cases was
4. We have done some special relief work, such as arranging through the
local Charity Boards and individuals for funds to secure clothing and shoes.
We also succeeded in getting friends to assist us in furnishing clothing and
shoes for a few children whose parents could not afford to buy them, these
cases occurring in places that had no local Charity Boards.
5. I have done considerable work among the patrons of the schools, have
attended a number of public meetings, and have visited a great many lodges, in
every instance urging upon parents the necessity of complying with the law.
6. The chief difficulty I find is the indifference of the parents and guardians
about the education of their children.
7. ^^'hatever success I have had has been due, in my judgment, to the fact
that I have been able to make the boys who haye been violating the law feel
that I was their friend. I thereby gained their confidence, and at the same time
avoided the attitude of an officer of the law who wanted to make trouble for
Annual Report of the State Board of Education 47
I have, moreover, kept in touch with the boys who were truants, following
them up every week. We have had the most persistent cases send us a report
from the teacher every Friday, showing how many days they were at school
that week; these reports were brought to the office, or mailed to me, or taken
either to the Juvenile Court Judge or to the magistrate. In this way I have
been able to see or hear from the boys every week.
8. I would suggest the following amendment to Section 162, page 78, of
the School Law. The law now reads as follows:
jVny person wlio has a child under his control and who fails to comply
with any of the provisions of this section, shall be guilty of a misdemeanor,
and shall be fined not exceeding five dollars for each offense.
I would add, "Or, upon failure to pay the fine, days in the County
9. I have been in the field almost constantly from September 18th to June 1st.
10. I have not worked in the office more than one full day in each week.
11. I have made 643 school visits, have visited 867 homes, and have talked
personally to at least 1,000 individuals about their children's attendance at school.
In addition to this, I have sent out and delivered in person a copy of the
attendance law to every patron of the schools, both public and parochial, and
have sent through the mails to parents and guardians 2,618 personal or circular
THOS. H. MORGAN,
Attendance Officer, Allegany County.
ANNE ARUNDEL COUNTY.
1. This would be rather hard to answer at all accurately, as I did not
receive my appointment until November 8th. The compulsory law had just
gone into " effect ; and as the newspapers were full of what was going to be
done, it is almost impossible to estimate the number of children that this law
forced into the schools.
2. No data.
3. There were no arrests made in this county, as we thought it best not
to antagonize unless the case was an extreme one. I found very little trouble
with the parents or guardians when they were approached in the proper manner
ai;d the law explained to them.
4. I have kept in touch with the District Nurse when the case was close
enough to her. In the more rural districts I have gone to the different women's
organizations throughout the county ; and while these cases have been few, we
have never failed to get the child or children back into school.
5. There have been organized teachers and patrons' clubs wherever it was
6. Ignorance of the parent or guardian.
7. The parochial and private schools in Annapolis give me quite a lot of
trouble in that, when I pick up a child on the street he or she will invariably
say, "I go to such and such a school, and my teacher is sick or away." There
have been so many cases of this kind that I could spend my entire time in
Annapolis and be kept busy. In the rural districts I have very little trouble;
but where the smaller children have a distance of over a mile to go over such
bad roads as we had last winter it was impossible to keep a good attendance.
This last winter the lower end of Anne Arundel County was swept with
48 Annual Report of»the State Board of Education
measles, and, indeed, a large part of the upper end. Since January 1st I have
traveled in my machine on school business alone 3,780 miles. Have paid 74
visits to white schools and 22 to colored schools.
8. If all the counties of Southern Marj-^land have as large a negro popu-
lation as Anne Arundel, I would advise an officer for each race, as one person
can hardly attend to both properl}'. The negroes are almost impossible, as j'ou
may put them in school one day and they are out the next.
9. Seventy-eight full days spent in the field.
10. Thirty-eight full days in the office.
11. Thirty-one visits to white families and eighteen to colored families.
BENJ. WATKINS, JR.
Attendance Officer, Anne Arundel County.
1. Since compulsory school attendance has been in effect for several- years
in Baltimore County, there are very few children who have not been placed in
school. Only ten children were found this year who had never entered any
2. It is impossible for me to answer No. 2 with any degree of accuracy,
owing to the fact that we did not have the teachers make the usual quarterly
3. The number of arrests for the year was 122 ; the number brought to
trial, 108; and but 14 failed to appear when summoned, for various reasons.
All cases were found guilty.
Seventy-five dollars was the total amount of fines, and the approximate
number of fines suspended was 15. This does not include the amount of fines
which I understand were supended in the case against the Gathmann 'Company,
which was convicted for unlawfully employing about 50 girls under 18 years
of age, 20 of whom were under 16 years of age. These cases have not been
included in the number of arrests for the year.
4. It has been our policy to relieve cases of poverty as quickly as time
would permit. It was not possible to visit all cases reported; however, I should
say that at least 50 families were visited by Aliss Lucas, Agent for the Children'.^
Aid Societj^ and myself, and relief given in each case. Many other cases were
referred to the Children's Aid Society and also to the Federated Charities,
whose reports I do not have in writing. A number of children were taken to
hospitals for examination and treatment. Many homes have been made more
sanitary by the co-operation of the Juvenile Court Agent. Miss Johnson, and
Miss Lucas, of the Children's Aid Society.
5. The work has been largely one of education. Every opportunity to
have personal interviews with parents or their friends has been made use of.
Public meetings have been held in the school buildings ; addresses have been
made to Patrons' Clubs on the subject, and personal visits were made to homes.
6. One of the chief difficulties in the enforcement of the law is the lack
of a provision by which the attendance officer might have children examined
where there is doubt as to the truth of the statement of the parent in reference
to the health of the child. Poor health was given more frequently than any
other excuse for keeping a child out of school ; and this excuse has a strong
effect upon magistrates in prosecutions.
Annual Report of the State Board of Education 49
7. There are two special features of work in addition to answer No. 5,
v/hich, it seems to me, are worth while :
First. The fact that we are scattered over such a wide territory makes
visiting rather difficult. As an experiment, I tried in six of our largest schools
the holding of meetings of delinquent parents, teachers and attendance officers,
sending out from 30 to 35 notices to parents of each school, giving them their
choice of either attending these meetings or appearing at a later date before a
magistrate. About 95 per cent, of the parents attended the meetings, and the
results were rather satisfactory.
. Second. Perhaps the second piece of educational work in importance, to
my mind, was settling disputes arising between teachers and parents, because