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By the act of Congress of April 23, 1808, $200,000 is annually appropriated for the purchase or manufacture of arms which are distributed to the several States in proportion to the number of their effective militia. The apportionment to this State for this year is $1,919.14; this allowance for several years past has been applied to the reduction of our indebtedness.
We have 1000 old muskets, issued between 1861 and * 1865, which have been arranged to be returned at $10.00 each. This will reduce the indebtedness to $4,783.24. We also have a surplus of six-pounders, caissons, &c., &c. Negotiations are in progress for their exchange which it is hoped will not only free us from the debt, but enable us to draw a further supply of modern arms that we require.
DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION.
From the report of the Commissioner of Public Schools, I have taken the following summary of the returns for the year ending April 30th, 1877 :
Number of different pupils enrolled....
39,959 30,816 27,562
788 9 months, 1 day.
850 $98,278 84
$80 69 $298,895 14
$45 91 4 54
Number of different pupils enrolled....
3,739 2,720 1,714
152 12 weeks.
State appropriation for day and evening schools.......... $91,654 50 Town
361,609 45 for land, buildings and furniture 163,546 15 District taxation....
52,784 67 Registry taxes, school funds and all other sources.
Teachers' wages and other current expenses of day schools.. $473,326 19
16,959 37 School supervision ...
11,418 26 Land, buildings, furniture and apparatus.
COST OF INSTRUCTION.
Current expenditure for day schools per capita of pupils enrolled......
$12 13 Current expenditure for day schools per capita of average attendance.....
17 59 Current expenditure for day schools for each pupil's instruction per month....
1 86 Current expenditure in evening schools per capita of pupils enrolled....
Current expenditure in evening schools per capita of average
Average town tax for public schools on each $100, reckoned on
the basis of the State valuation of 1873.....
A comparison of these figures with those in the report of last year, will show an appreciable increase in the number of children in attendance on the public schools, and a corresponding decrease in the cost. This extension of the enrollment, with the consequent reduction in the
per capita cost of instruction, is the policy of the present administration of this department.
If, therefore, measures are presented this session for your consideration, which receive the sanction of both the Board of Education and the Commissioner, and which are asked for in the interests of a more effective and economical system, I trust that you will give to them the benefit of your most careful attention.
Whatever may be our individual views upon this question of popular education, as to its character and extent, we must agree upon the necessity for a more general education than we now secure, and also for a more complete
The lessons of our late State census teach only too plainly that the balance of political power in this State is passing into the hands of an illiterate class, who will become by force of circumstances, a caste by themselves, through whose barriers it will be found well nigh impossible to break. This result, if it comes to pass, will be the effect of the failure to reach these persons in their youth and to bring to bear upon them, in that formative period of their lives, the elevating and broadening influences of moral and intellectual culture. In view of these considerations ought we not to consider whether, as a State, we have made all the efforts to avert this impending evil, which are in our power ?
The question of the fullness of the education which the State shall give, and what shall be its elements, is to-day pressing itself for settlement upon the minds of educators and statesmen alike. What forms the requisite basis for the upright man and the good citizen demands the thoughtful attention of every lover of his country. If it shall be found that the best concurrent judgment of both the professional educator and the political economist point to the incorporation of the distinctively industrial, or manual element into the system of popular instruction, Rhode Island should be one of the first States to avail herself of the opportunity to test the value of the suggestion. Certainly no State surpasses her in adaptation of existing circumstances, and no community can hope to make the trial under more favorable auspices.
Indeed, I am further convinced that the narrow territorial limits of our State, her singular unity of interests, and lastly her peculiar political features preëminently fit her for the successful solution of the great problem which now presents itself more or less fully to every State in the Union, and to none more clearly than to us, viz:- How shall the heterogeneous and discordant elements of the
body politic, representing so many nationalities and hence reflecting as many diverse and antagonistic social and political ideas, be reduced to one compact and harmonious whole, where can be safely trusted the sacred interests of the commonwealth ? One, if not the, efficient agent in securing the desired result, must be the common school. If we, then, would secure for our State in the future that characteristic unity of sentiment and action which has been our glory and strength in the past, we must not fail to profit to the full extent, by the experience of others in adopting such measures or methods as have been proved beneficial, or to be ready to test the well conceived and carefully digested theories of those whose acknowledged wisdom and acceptable service are a sufficient guarantee of their fitness to become the leaders in an advance movement upon the intrenched lines of ignorance and idleness, of prejudice and crime.
STATE NORMAL SCHOOL.
The State Normal School has increased in efficiency from year to year, receiving its pupils from every part of the State, and in due time returning them to inaugurate better methods of teaching, to stimulate those already in the field to better service, and in some cases at least to inspire whole communities with new enthusiasm in the great work of public instruction.
The policy of the board of trustees who represent the State in the general charge and oversight of the school, is,