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The Pamphlet Collection of Sir Robert Stout: Volume 49

Costliness of Common Schools

Costliness of Common Schools.

But business men long ago learned that no job was so expensive as a government job, and no wonder that they are now turning their attention to this monopoly of State education, as a financial interest of general and deep concern in these hard times. There are others who can give figures and statistics of school work beside State and City Superintendents of public schools. The Cincinnati cor page 29 respondent of the New York Daily Bulletin, a paper strictly commercial, writes under date of Jan. 17, 1876 :—

"Our schools, the best of our institutions, represent, for instance, fully as much miseducation as education; and the Boards having charge of them are, compared with other bodies, least regardful of proper economy, because they act under a popular, and therefore the least analyzed, public feeling. If you will examine, you will find that, of all taxes, school taxes have for that reason increased fastest. Compare our school expenses with those of any German State, and you will find that ours cost more and perform least. The heaviest taxed German State for these purposes is Hesse Cassel; it taxes 34 cents per head, and it makes up 7 1-2 per cent, of all the taxes levied. Now, there are levied for school purposes in Cincinnati, $774,894, which is full $2.50 per head, and is about one-sixth of all the taxes, or 16 per cent. In Hesse Cassel the tax includes libraries, universities and art schools; with us it includes only the schools up to high schools, and a good part of their expense is borne by trust funds. As to the culture, the German schools reach a larger proportion of the youth of the State, and is very thorough from the lowest to the highest grade, the teachers being much better qualified than ours. Had I taken Saxony or Baden, both more economical and efficient than Hesse Cassel, the comparison would have been still more against us. Zurich, the highest taxed city in Europe for these objects, takes but 54 cents per head, and there school taxes are one-fifth of all taxes; but there also it includes libraries, a university, polytechnicism, lyceums and common schools; and surely no city on earth has a superior culture than this city."

Strongly as this writer puts his case, he fails to do it justice; for he omits to state that more than half the children of the city in schools are in parents' schools, or denominational and private schools. In New York City school taxes are $4.00 per head for each one of its million inhabitants; and large numbers of its children are in other than State schools. Boston, which has a less num page 30 ber of pupils in private and religious schools, shows a marked increase in the per capita cost. In 1873, for teachers and incidental expenses, not including new schoolhouses, the cost per head of its 250,000 inhabitants was $5.52; and including the buildings, it reached nearly $7. These figures are for tax-payers.

Let me say to you just here, that if the scheme of higher education extending from the elementary school up to a full university course, now broached, is attempted to be carried out in its fulness and universality, all the revenues of all your cities, towns and states, and all the revenues of these United States would not suffice to pay the cost.

Intelligent, wise, earnest parents, and friends of sound education, will watch with interest the gradual unfolding and development of the State system of schools. Their attention will be given to this crushing out of denominational schools for the humbler classes of society, to see in it the inexorable destruction of all denominational seminaries, academies, colleges and universities.