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intangible as to be absolutely worthless. For example, many States have made prosecutions for neglect on the part of parents and guardians dependent upon the complaint of voters or tax-payers in the district. This is manifestly an absurdly inefficient provision and consigns the law in advance to the dead-letter domain. So loose and defective in fact are many of these laws, especially the earlier ones, and so frequently are statements found in the State school reports and other sources to the effect that these laws are defective and not enforced, that there may have been some slight justification for the following sweeping verdict of the Colorado State superintendent, made in 1877: “Compulsory education in America is no longer an experiment. It is a well proven failure. ... If American experience has settled anything during the last ten years, it has established the fact that education can not be made compulsory in the United States." ; But on the whole I think that the development in educational administration during the past twenty years would go to prove the above radical statement entirely wrong and quite out of date. Several of the States, as I have said, have been marching right ahead, passing more and more stringent compulsory laws and coming nearer and nearer to a proper and effective system of administration of the same; and there is very evidentiy a growing tendency in this direction in several other States. The tendency is undoubtedly more and more towards State interference in this field.

Undoubtedly the two States which have gone the farthest in this direction are Massachusetts and Connecticut. I have purposely reserved the consideration of the present condition and tendency of compulsion in these two States

1 Col. Sch. Rep., 1877-8, pp. 28–29.

? Quite encouraging reports, for example, have been received from Massachusetts, Connecticut, New York, New Jersey, Ohio, Illinois, Maine, Rhode Island, and a few other States.

for the last part of the present chapter. And we shall at once encounter two widely different systems of administration of the same in these States, In his Report for 1888–89, (p. 470) the Commissioner of Education says: “In the two States, viz., Massachusetts and Connectiout, in which the compulsory attendance laws have been the most effective (though not the most elaborate or intricate), a tendency may be noticed towards two distinct types or systems : In Massachusetts, though the law is in its terms obligatory upon all towns, the system is practically a local-option one, and is administered by the towns. In Connecticut, on the other hand, a more centralized systein has been developed, in which the State executes the laws through its own agents, with the coöperation of the local authorities. It would seem that the latter method is more generally effective.”

Let us therefore examine the two systems and ascertain which is really the better and more effective, and which secms more certain of being permanent and of being copied by other States. First let us study the local system of Massachusetts. The prominent features of the present Massachusetts law are the following:

1. Children between the ages of eight and fourteen years, and in towns affording opportunity for industrial education, children between the ages of eight and fiftcen years, are required to attend a public or approved private school (where instruction is given in the English language) for a period of 30 weeks each school year, subject to an allowance of two wecks' time for absences.

2. Persons having control of children of the above description are held liable for the attendance of the same for the above period, and forfeit to school use the sum of $20 for each five days' absence of any such child in excess of two wecks' allowance.

1:1cts Mass., 1894, ch. 498. .

3. If any such child has been otherwise instructed for a like period in the required branches or has already acquired said branches, or his physical or mental condition renders attendance inexpedient, then said liability is removed.

4. Truant officers, appointed by the school committee of each town, are required to vigilantly inquire into all cases of neglect of the above duty, and, when so directed by the school committee, to prosecute the offender. Police, district and municipal courts, trial justices and judges of the probate court have jurisdiction.

5. Provision is also made for dealing with habitual truants and incorrigible children. Chapter 508 regulates the employment of children.

We will now inquire concerning the operation and execir tion of the above law. It might seem at first glance that a State like Massachusetts, which can show an average attendance of 92 per cent. of the children of all ages enrolled in the public schools, might be safe from criticism concerning the operation of its compulsory attendance law. But we should remember that this remaining fraction, though very small, may greatly menace the peace and prosperity of the Commonwealth. We must, therefore, look more definitely into the operation of the above law. In this we may be safely guided by the recent very careful investigation conducted by Mr. George A. Walton, Agent of the State Board of Education. The investigation, embracing 50 representative towns and cities selected from different parts of the State, shows that there must be 13,570 persons in the State who fail by reason of parental neglect to get the prescribed amount of schooling. This is over 5 per cent. of the entire school population. Furthermore, it appears that in only seven cases have parents been brought into the courts on the charge of neglect, and six of these cases are reported · Mass. Report, 1894-5, pp. 529-87.

? Ibid., p. 535

from a single town. In some of the larger cities the law seems to be remarkably well enforced. This is due to a higher public sentiment, and a well-organized local administration of the law. But the trouble lies in the fact that the law is very unequally enforced throughout the State, The following examples will illustrate the inequality: The average school population to one truant in truant schools was in Fall River, 1,355 ; in Lawrence, 601; in Worcester, 533; 'in New Bedford, 410; in Lynn, 303; in Lowell, 247. The report comments as follows on these examples: “With conditions in population and in schools so similar, the differences in the number sent to truant schools from different places can be accounted for only by referring them to the difference in the manner of executing the truant laws. That the laws are not well enforced will further appear if the ratio (488) of the number of the school children to one truant actually sent to the truant schools from the cities cited be compared with the number of truants found in the 50 places investigated. We discovered 125 truants in the investigated school population of 26,968 children. This means i truant to every 216 children, a ratio in striking contrast with that of i to 488. Applying the ratio deduced from the investigation, 1 to 216, to the above cities, it appears that less than 45 per cent. of the truants of these cities are committed to truant schools.". These few extracts from the Report prove that the Massachusetts law is by no means generally well enforced (though by far better than in any other State except Connecticut). We next inquire, Why not? Without attempting to enumerate the different reasons, it is sufficient to state that the one most important reason is that enforcement is left wholly to

' For example, in Boston there are 17 truant officers, including one chief; and in Cambridge 4.

? Mass. Sch. Report, 1894-5, p. 539.

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local officers. In the language of the report, “local officers are too closely related to the offenders against these laws to make such officers the best persons that can be found to execute the laws.” In recommending alterations in the law and its administration, the Report still more bluntly confesses the weakness of the local system, and advises centralization, as follows: “It is a well-understood fact, that in a large population, as in a city, officers, appointees of the government, treat cases which we are considering with more independence than is likely to be exercised in smaller places, where an officer is liable to be influenced by his neighbors. Without taking from the law any of the provisions now belonging to towns and school committees concerning local truant officers, it would seem to be wise to make provision in it for one or more State school attendance officers. They should supplement the local truant officers, and be possessed of all the powers throughout the State conferred by law upon these officers, and be responsible to the State board of education. In the investigation carried on in fifty towns and cities, the remedy suggested by superintendents and committees for the neglect to enforce the laws is the appointment of a State officer, with power to make presentments of cases charging parental neglect, truancy and disobedience to the reasonable rules of the schools. Connecticut, employing such an officer, has had marked success in enforcing the compulsory laws of that State. ... Upon the enforcement of the compulsory law on a few parents in different parts of the State, other parents would take warning, and a perceptible decrease would take place in the number of absences on account of parental indifference and neglect, and there would be a consequent improvement in the regularity of attendance.

. . It is in towns where there is not a proper public sentiment demanding the effective enforcement of the laws that

| Mass. Sch. Report, 1894-5, p. 540.

2 Ibid., 542.

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