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TO THE BOARD OF EDUCATION.
In compliance with a law of the Commonwealth and a vote of the Board, I herewith submit, in a printed form, the Annual Abstract of the School Returns for the year 1839-40, accompanied by selections from the reports of the School Committees.
In performing this work, substantially the same principles have been observed, as were adopted for making the Abstract of the year 1838-9. . Those principles were stated in the brief Report, prefixed to that Abstract. To save repetition, I ask leave to refer to, instead of re-stating them.
Returns have been received from three hundred and one of the three hundred and seven towns in the Commonwealth,-a larger proportion of the whole number, than has ever before been heard from.
Reports have been received from almost all the towns, which failed to make them for the preceding year. Both Abstracts, therefore, taken together, present a picture of the condition of the schools of the Commonwealth, at this period of their history.
The committees' reports were more voluminous than those for the previous year, amounting in the whole to more than two thousand compactly-written letter-paper pages. They varied in length, from five lines to fifty pages. Hence, it will at once be seen how difficult and delicate has been the task of making selections, where something was to be taken from each and not too much from any.
Two principal objects were to be answered by making selections from the school committees' reports.
First, to make known, from the most authentic sources, the actual condition of that great institution,
our Common Schools,—with a view to the removal of such defects and the adoption of such improvements, as that condition should suggest ; and,
Secondly,-considering the general intelligence of the school committees, and their personal acquaintance with the actual working and wants of the school system,-it was also desirable to make known their views, wherever they had thought proper to express them, on a great variety of topics connected with Common School Education.
In a word, the people of the Commonwealth, through the Legisla