Truancy and Non-Attendance in the Chicago Schools

Chapter 16: The Visiting Teacher As A Remedy for Truancy and Non-Attendance

Edith Abbott and Sophonisba P. Breckinridge

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A study of the cases of non-attendance and truancy already cited cannot fail to bring conviction as to the inadequacy of present methods of treatment. The statute provides for a corps of truant officers whose duty it is to return children to school. As to the adequacy of the service, attention might be called to the fact that the number of truant officers seems very small when compared with the number maintained in some other cities. London, for example, maintains 390, or one \ for every 1,900 children; New York felt in 1913 very inadequately equipped with only 100 officers, or one to every 7,000 children; while Chicago felt that its work was properly done, "truancy being less than 1 per cent of the enrolment in both public and private schools," with only 53 officers, or one to every 8,419 children. The statute provides also for the prosecution of recalcitrant parents and for the commitment of truant and incorrigible boys to the Parental School. But to return the child to school today, without trying to deal with the influences that kept him out yesterday, is likely to mean that he will be absent again tomorrow or at some later date, when he may or may not be discovered by an officer of the department; to prosecute the parent may effect a temporary improvement in the child's school attendance, but if a parent is so lacking in intelligence with reference to his child's schooling as to require prosecution, he probably needs help of other kinds in order that he may better understand and fulfil the duty he owes his child. Moreover, it has been pointed out that there is great waste in committing a child to the Parental School on the ground that there is no hope in his home surroundings of an improvement in his conduct or school attendance, and then in a few months returning him to the surround-

(227) -ings in which he has been demoralized. It is the old story of the vicious circle.

What seems to be needed is the application to the problems of non-attendance and truancy of the same methods of treatment that are applied to other social problems. For, while non-attendance and truancy are school problems, they are of a social rather than of an educational character. It has been difficult for the community to realize that the problems of the school are not wholly educational. A large group of questions today, such as school meals, school nurses, open-air schools, employment supervision, social centers, and all the attempts to see that the children get medical care and special treatment when necessary are obviously social problems, and only educational in that the efficiency of the educational work depends upon their being properly understood and solved. In this group of social-educational problems properly belongs, too, the prevention of non-attendance and truancy. These new school functions which have grown up with the idea that there is a responsibility on the community to see that each child is given at least a minimum of child-care have made clear the necessity of co-operation on the part of the school with the work of the various social agencies in the community.

The proposal that the school should avail itself of the services of the social worker is not a novel suggestion. The English school system, as it has taken over the various social activities involved in feeding necessitous children, securing attendance, finding employment, and establishing a school medical service and school clinics, has developed effective machinery of a social character under the form of Care Committees.[1] And in New York and Boston the use of the home

(228) and school visitor, or visiting teacher as she may be called, has been carried beyond the experimental stage.[2] In New York, the Public Education Association has maintained since 1907 a staff of seven visiting teachers, and more recently provision has been made in the public school system for an additional number of visiting teachers supported by the public funds.

The work of the visiting teacher has been described as "social work," and her work, if effective, must be based on the principles of what is known as good "case work," which means a thorough understanding and specialized treatment of each individual case. It means also knowledge of such social agencies as the community may have provided and resourcefulness in utilizing those agencies. It seems scarcely necessary to explain that "case work" was once supposed to be peculiar to the work of charity organization or relief societies, perhaps because investigation was thought to prevent relieving the " unworthy" poor. It now characterizes the work of all effective social agencies.

A detailed account of the visiting teacher's work has been given in reports issued by the Public Education Association of New York. For example, the most recent report shows that

Out Of 873 children dealt with by the visiting teachers in 1913-14, their assistance was asked in 215 cases, or 24.6 per cent of the whole number, because of school maladjustment; in 171, or 19.6 per cent, because of ill-health; in 3 8, or 4.4 per cent, because of difficulties due to individual peculiarity; in 172, or 19.7 per cent, because of economic stress in the family; in 209, or 23.9 per cent, because of lack of family co-operation; in 43, or 4.9 per cent, because of immoral conditions in the home; in 25, or 2.9 per cent, because of adverse neighborhood conditions. To secure the necessary readjustments in these cases the city

(229) departments of Education, Police, Health, and Labor, the Tenement House Department, agencies for relief and correction, health agencies of various kinds, neighborhood agencies like settlements, employment agencies, and other educational institutions were drawn in.[3]

Through the efforts, then, of the school visitor, medical care and treatment are obtained, relief may be secured for the family through the proper agencies, employment found for a father or an older brother; the other children may likewise be aided in various ways; the child under care may be tutored or connected with some settlement group, or some special opportunity for play may be found for him, or perhaps he may be transferred to another room or school, all to the end and with the result that the purpose for which the elaborate and costly school system is established, the building erected, the trained teacher placed in that particular place at that time (namely, that that particular child, with the other children, shall receive at least the statutory minimum of education), shall be fulfilled. In rendering these services all the resources of the community are drawn upon, " to the end that conditions in the lives of

(230) children may be so adjusted that they may make more normal and more profitable school progress." Incidentally, the work of the regular teacher is rendered not only more efficient but more intelligent, sympathetic, and interesting, and incidentally, too, the families of the children cared for are enabled to understand much more clearly than would otherwise be possible, what the school system is intended to do for them and their children.

In Chicago certain services of this general character have for the past five years been rendered in connection with the "case work" done in the Employment Supervision Bureau which is now a part of the Chicago public school system. This bureau[4] attempts to find employment for the children who leave the grade schools to go to work, but many children are persuaded by the workers of the bureau to continue in school, and in other cases, in connection with aiding the children who ask help of this special character, very important services are rendered to other children in the family who are still attending school. Not only has the Employment Supervision Bureau shown the importance of a social agency at work within the school system, but in the last few months of the school year 1915-16 the employment of a visiting-teacher in the Jones School by a committee of the Chicago Woman's Club has shown the valuable results to be obtained from such work. In an unpublished report by this visiting teacher, it appears that children were sent to her for the following reasons: assistance believed to be needed by the family, non-attendance or misconduct, poor scholarship, physical or mental subnormality, illegally selling papers out of school hours, bodily uncleanliness, information as to home conditions desired by the principal, and so on. The work of this visiting teacher may be illustrated by the treatment of the following cases that were referred to her.


A teacher reported that M_____, who was absent one or two days each week, claimed that she was obliged to help with the washing and ironing for the family because her mother was ill. The visiting teacher went to the home but found that the mother showed no signs of ill-health. The visiting teacher then asked the Visiting Nurses Association to send a nurse to the home in order to find out if the mother's condition necessitated M_____'s absence. The nurse secured a statement from the mother's physician saying, " there is absolutely no reason why the children should be kept out of school to help her." The visiting teacher then reported to the grade teacher, and M_____'s excuse of being needed at home has not since been accepted and her attendance has been regular.

F_____'s teacher reported that his mother wanted to take him out of school so that he might go to work. I_____ is in the fourth grade. A visit was made to the home, and the mother was persuaded that F______'s continuance in school would be worth the sacrifice it entailed. just a month later the teacher reported F_____'s absence. Another visit was made to the home; it was found that F_____ had been staying out of school because of a sore on his neck, and the visiting teacher, suspecting tuberculosis, made an arrangement to have the boy examined by the school doctor. As a result he was taken to the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium Dispensary, where the trouble was diagnosed as tuberculosis of the glands. An application was made to place I_____ in the Municipal Tuberculosis Sanitarium for the summer. The visiting teacher kept in touch with the boy until he was able to return to school.

J_____ was reported as frequently absent. The visiting teacher found that the family of six lived in two rooms in the rear of a deplorably dirty tenement and that the little boy was kept home to care for two sisters, aged five and three, while his widowed mother went out washing, In this case the woman

(232) was found to be eligible for a "widow's pension," and steps were immediately taken to secure the pension for her.

Further evidence that the assistance of social workers is needed by the schools is to be found in the number of cases of children referred by the schools to the various social agencies of Chicago. For example, a report of the juvenile Protective Association prepared in April, 1916, discussed the cases concerning school children which were proving a heavy addition to the "case work" of that organization. According to this unpublished report, it appears that out of a total of 886 cases received by the Association during the three months of January, February, and March, 1916 126 were school cases. This does not include all cases of school children handled by the association, but only the cases in which the assistance of the officers of the association was asked in dealing directly with the child's relationship to the school.

These 126 cases involving school children (which means, of course, a total of more than 126 children) included 85 complaints which came from the school authorities themselves in addition to complaints from outsiders. Of the 85 cases coming from the schools themselves 14 concerned attendance; 26, the physical condition of school children; 8 were cases of subnormal children; 12 were cases of bad environment; 14 involved a more general problem of child welfare; 4 were miscellaneous complaints received by schools and transferred; 4 were cases of boys who were incorrigible in school; and 3 were cases of children stealing in school.

In the two following cases illustrations are furnished of the 14 cases concerning attendance submitted by the schools. In the case of the J____ family there was a complaint of bad home conditions, and the principal of the school asked the association to undertake the work of improving the home influences, while the school would at the same time exert all possible pressure to secure regular school attendance. In

(233) the case of the F_____ family there was a similar complaint of bad home conditions, and the association was asked to make a report on the family situation that would enable the school to deal more intelligently with the attendance problem. But in this case the truant officer had also been asked to investigate the home, and had the association attempted an investigation there would have been the difficulty of having two social workers representing different organizations both attempting to deal with the same family with confusing results.

The truant officer is referred to as a social worker, and so she should be. But the work of these officers too often falls short of the standard of good social work in this community. This point is best illustrated by the failure of the truant officers to make use of the social registration bureau known as the "confidential exchange." By registering a casein the exchange, it is possible for the social worker to learn whether or not any other social workers have been dealing with the child or the family and what their experience has been. The case of the M_____ family illustrates this point. Henry M_____, who was thirteen years old, was brought into the central office of the Juvenile Protective Association one Friday afternoon while school was in session with $9.83 in his pockets, which he said he had begged in the Loop district during the day. He had been "reported" to the association by a business man who had enough social intelligence to know that it was not a kindness to the child to give him money and to encourage him to go on begging. An officer of the association who went to the school which Henry was supposed to attend found that he had been absent fifty-five half-days since September and that thirty-four of these absences were on Friday. He had been absent all day Friday thirteen times, and a half-day on Friday eight times.

Later evidence showed that these regular Friday absences were for the purpose of begging. The attention of the truant officer had twice been called to Henry's absences. Each time she had

(234) reported back to the school that the family was poor and the boy had stayed out " to get bread" for the family. Now the juvenile Protective Association officer discovered by registering with the confidential exchange that the M_____ family had been known to the United Charities for a period of eight years and that during this time strenuous efforts had been made to compel Mr. M_____ to support his family. Within the last two years the United Charities had received thirteen reports of the child's begging, but the family had contrived by giving false addresses to elude the Charities visitors. The juvenile Protective Association investigator called at the home and found ample confirmation of the facts in the United Charities record. The family were living in a good home, which was owned by Mr. M_____'s father, who also owned another house on the same lot. Mr. M_____ was at home unemployed, and the mother was at first plausible and then defiant. She admitted, when she found the officer in possession of the facts, that she sent the boy out begging every Friday, but said that she thought he was doing very well if he went to school four days a week. Had the truant officer consulted the record in the United Charities office, it is quite clear that the little boy would not have been excused for his begging expeditions. One great advantage which the private social agencies of Chicago have over the truant officers at the present time is that they register and "clear" in the confidential exchange the families with which they are asked to deal.

Attention may be called here to the teacher's acquiescence in Henry's Friday half-holiday when she was informed that it was a case of necessity. Reference ha. been made before to the fact that teachers assume too much latitude in determining what shall be accepted as a sufficient cause or a good excuse for absence. The real point of difficulty is that too often the teachers do not know anything about the organized social agencies of the community that might be asked to assist in cases

(235) of seemingly necessary absences. Too often, also, it appears that truant officers are likewise ignorant of the community's social resources. Another illustration of this may be found in the case of Joe L_____ which is also cited in the juvenile Protective Association's report. On November 17, 1915, Joe's teacher sent in a report to the association complaining that Joe was habitually tardy or absent from school in the morning because he was out selling newspapers. Joe's mother when interviewed claimed that the school principal had given Joe permission to come late or to remain away from the morning session. Joe had bought during the summer the right to sell papers at a certain corner from 4:30 to 10:30 in the morning and was loath to part with this valuable concession. The principal when interviewed confirmed this statement, but said that she had granted the permission for September only and would notify the parents that it was now revoked. Her excuse for ignoring the compulsory education law was that she thought the boy should be given time to sell his corner; but since he had had nearly three months to do this, she decided that the quickest way to get it sold would be to require his attendance at school. A similar case was that of a principal who sent to the representative of another social agency a small boy with a letter containing the following statement: " George P_____'s mother is well known to me. Her children are regular attendants at this school. I know Mrs. P_____ to be in sore need of George's help and I recommend he be allowed to go to work on condition that he regularly attend night school. George . . . . is the oldest of six children. He is just ready for eighth grade." The letter, which was written in November, also stated that George would not be fourteen until the following May. Under the law the principal had no discretion as to compelling the child's school attendance for the next six months. But the point to be emphasized here is not merely the ignorance of or the indifference to the law on the part of teachers and principals,

(236) but the fact that a competent social worker would have found some method of assisting the mother that did not involve a sacrifice of the child's schooling and a violation of the law. It is believed that in all cases of non-attendance alleged to be due to such causes as extreme poverty, need for child's earnings or assistance in helping to care for younger children, sickness of mother or other members of the family, or lack of suitable clothing, an experienced social worker by calling on the proper relief agencies, arranging for the care of younger children in a day nursery, arranging for the boarding out of other children during illness, and by many other devices can protect the child's right to the minimum of education prescribed by law.

Another illustration of the needless waste resulting from the failure to utilize the social resources that are available may be found in the case of a little Italian girl living in the Hull-House neighborhood, Josie D_____, whose mother died in a hospital, leaving five children, the eldest, Tony, a boy of fourteen, and the youngest, a baby of two months. Josie was only twelve. She was not old enough to work like Tony, but her father, who was a switchman earning good wages, thought that she was old enough to stay at home and to take care of the two younger children. A nurse, who fortunately was a social worker as well as a nurse, explained that this was impossible, and thought it might be best to put the children in a home. She was wise enough, however, to ask advice from a specialized social agency, and it was arranged that the two younger children were to be left by Josie at an excellent day nursery, which was only a block from their home, and that Josie was to go to the nursery for lunch and to play after school until the father came home. But the father evidently did not approve of the plan. In March, just a year later, the teacher asked a United Charities worker who happened to be at the school if she would visit the home of Josie D_____, who had not been to school for many months. The teacher said that Josie "was a very good girl and that she

(237) and the truant officer had been lenient only because they knew that Josie was not to blame."

A visit to the home was made by the social worker, who found Josie, now aged thirteen, at home, cooking and trying to iron and to look after little Nick at the same time. She had just finished washing and was weary enough to say that she would much rather go to school, but there was no one at home to do the work. She explained that the baby had died during the past year, so there was only little Nick to look after. Another visit was made when the father was at home, and it was explained to him that Josie must go to school, that the baby would be much better off in a nursery, and that with a good salary, such as he was earning, he ought to pay a woman to wash and iron. But the man had been spoiled by the year's indulgence. He had had his own way, had found it easy to persuade the school authorities that Josie ought to be excused from school, and could not be convinced now that the charity visitor was speaking any more authoritatively than the nurse who had told him a year before that he could not keep Josie at home to do the work. Further attempt to influence the man was given up, and an appeal was made to the superintendent of the Department of Compulsory Education who immediately took steps to have the child placed in school.

Comment on this case is scarcely necessary. Josie had lost a whole year of schooling and the baby had died, a double catastrophe, which could probably have been avoided if the school authorities had known that co-operation with the social agencies only a few blocks away might have worked out a plan that would have released Josie from the burdens she was trying to carry.

There are many other cases like that of Josie, and for a large number of these there is now no social agency that can render the service needed. A school visitor who had already had the training and experience of a social worker could, if attached to

(238) each school, do a great deal, not only toward making the children more regular in attendance but in seeing that they are in better condition for study when they arrive. Many families need persistent following up through a long period of years. These families who neglect their children's schooling are frequently families that are steadily going down and need to be watched closely. If this is not done, not only do the children in such families go to pieces, but they become centers of contagion through which many other children are harmed.

The history of the fruitless efforts to get the children of another family to school and to keep them there illustrates further the need for the services of school visitors who are competent social workers. In this case the work of the relief society should have been supplemented by the efforts of a representative of the school concerned primarily with the school attendance of the children.

When a visitor from the United Charities happened to be visiting the X____ school to ask about the school attendance of the children from a family that was being helped by the society, the principal of the school asked the visitor if something could not be done about the A_____ family. He explained that three children of this family, Mary, aged twelve, who was in the fifth grade, Helen, aged eleven, who was in "high first," and Johnnie, aged seven, who was in "low first," were out of school because they had no shoes. The principal also said that he had heard that the family were a "bad lot," and, as he had heard that there were three able-bodied men in the family, he was anxious to prosecute them.

The children had been out of school all fall. The truant officer had picked them up and brought them to school once. Mary's teacher said that she was a nice little girl, but her attendance very poor; she had been out of school three months before being brought in by the truant officer. A visit to the family disclosed a miserable home. The father and two sons,

(239) aged twenty-two and twenty, were all idle. The three school children looked very frail and neglected. Johnnie, aged seven, who had adenoids, had been examined by the nurse who said he could not return to school until his adenoids were removed; and since this had not been done he had lost in consequence nearly a year's schooling. The three children were fitted out and got back to school on December 2, and persistent efforts were made to drive the men to work. The children attended school regularly for two weeks in December, probably as a result of the visit made by the United Charities, and were then "chiefly absent again until transferred to the Y_____ school. "

In January the family was evicted and moved to another district. In March the family was again located and visited, and the children were found staying at home because they were " going to move," as the family had been evicted again. It was explained that the children must transfer to the B_____ school and enrol at once. Three weeks later, the home was again visited, and the children found at home, this time, because they "had moved." They promised to attend the B_____ school at once. Five days later, when another visit was made to the home, it was found that the two girls had gone to school, but the little boy, Johnnie, was at home alone with a man boarder.

These cases show how necessary is eternal vigilance in the cases where bad family conditions are interfering with the regular attendance of children. A school visitor would, it is believed, be of great service in following up such families and in making the persistent efforts which alone will prevent the demoralization and waste of non-attendance. The school visitor might also help to obviate the social waste that results in the cases in which the teacher or the principal knows that social agencies exist which might be helpful in securing proper treatment for children in the school, but refuses because

(240) of misunderstanding, to co-operate with or make any use of such agencies.

In one school, for example, the principal appealed to an investigator for some clothing for the M_____ children to wear to school. The children were out of school on the plea of insufficient clothing. The principal was very angry when his request was referred to the United Charities, and was at first unwilling to listen to the facts that were found in the records of that society. Mrs. M_____ had been refused a pension by the juvenile Court because she was immoral-flagrantly so. The United Charities had tried to improve conditions in the home but had finally, after the mother had given birth to an illegitimate child, referred the family to a probation officer. The two boys were committed to an institution for dependent children, but were never admitted because the institution at the time was under quarantine. The United Charities had recently sent a visitor to the home, who had found that the woman was employed in a good tailoring shop, earning $8 a week, but frankly admitted that she was living with a young man of her own nationality, who had not yet been persuaded to marry her. The United Charities found the children warmly and sufficiently dressed, and warned the woman that they were about to ask the interference of the court because the home was not fit for the children. The eleven-year-old girl was sufficiently provided with clothing to go to school, but the mother found it convenient to keep her at home to care for the four-year-old illegitimate child. Although an effort was made to secure the co-operation of the principal in getting such action from the court as would make the woman give up her evil relations or place the older children in some other borne, he persisted in his belief that the children were absent from school on account of lack of proper clothing, and maintained that it was the duty of the society to give clothing to the children since their mother excused their non-attendance on this ground, and made no

(241) further inquiries. He persisted also in his refusal to discuss any cases with representatives of the society, which he said "no doubt made a very efficient investigation," but had never to his knowledge during a long period of years given "actual aid to needy children." When pressed to give illustrations of such neglect he could give none except the case of an equally disreputable home which the society with the co-operation of a settlement, the officers of a children's society, a representative of the juvenile Court, and every social agency in the community, except the school, had tried to make a fit place for the children to live in. Here again, the principal, who had never visited the home, persisted in believing that the only obstacle to regular attendance on the part of the children was the unwillingness of the society to pour in a supply of shoes and clothing, at his request, even when the society knew that the children were already supplied with both.

Conditions as untoward as this exist in many families which are not yet known to any social agency and with which the school alone comes in contact. If, then, there could be a good social worker attached to every school, not only cases of neglect but extreme poverty, sickness, incapacity on the part of the mother of the family, and unfavorable home conditions of many other kinds would be discovered at the earliest possible moment, and if there were in the community agencies for dealing with such cases, their aid could be promptly secured, or, if special forms of need could not be met, the attention of the community could be effectively called to that lack. In this way a great step forward might be taken toward the prevention of destitution in the next generation and a great deal of present suffering might be relieved.

Attention must also be called to the services of the visiting teacher in the innumerable cases in which the child is falling behind or getting dissatisfied with school. Sometimes this is due to an undiscovered physical or nervous cause that might

(242) be counteracted if discovered in time. In connection with these children there is great opportunity for preventive work. Then, too, in the case of the children who are sent to the Parental School, much could be done during the period of their commitment to render their homes safer places for them to return to. In some instances families might be moved away from demoralizing neighborhood conditions, or the father could be helped to keep in work. In fact, all those influences hostile to the child's well-being could be studied and dealt with as effectively as the resources of the community would allow. Obviously great waste occurs every time a child is needlessly absent from school or present in such condition that he cannot take full advantage of the opportunity offered. A skilled home visitor would greatly reduce both these forms of waste. Moreover, she could discover conditions at so early a period that other agencies could be promptly called in. The services of the physician, the nurse, the dispensary, the sanitary bureau, the charitable society; the juvenile Court or the friendly assistance of a neighboring settlement; these and other agencies could be invoked in the beginning of the family decline or before the family trouble became incurable or chronic.

At the present time the teacher or principal may ask the co-operation of the relief society or an agency for caring for children, such as the juvenile Protective Association, but every agency is greatly overworked and understaffed, and none is in so good a position to keep track of changes in the family, whether they be for the better or for the worse, as the school would be if it were only adequately equipped. In fact, at the present time, the family may be visited by the school nurse, the visiting nurse, the relief visitor, and the representatives of, perhaps, other agencies; and in spite of the efforts of all these visitors the real source of demoralization may not be discovered because no one of them may be responsible for more than temporary service to the family. If the school were enabled

(243) to discover hostile influences, the co-operation of other agencies in combating them could be sought and obtained, and the task of each efficiently performed, because in the attendance of the children at school there would be found a fairly adequate test of the conditions prevailing in the family.

Among other agencies which would greatly profit by the development of such co-operation within the school would be the medical inspection and school nursing service of the Department of Health. The city expends nearly $350,000 annually on the Child Hygiene Division of the health service, and the development of any machinery that will enable it more completely to fulfil the purpose for which it is established can be regarded only as sound economy. The report of the juvenile Protective Association, which has been frequently quoted in this chapter, showed that in three months 28 cases of school children had been referred to the association because of their physical condition. Among these was the case of a child who came to school in a verminous condition. The school principal wrote to say that the school nurse had been sent once to the home, but the child's mother had used obscene language and therefore the nurse could not return. In another case a child was sent in from a near-by school with the request that the association arrange for a medical examination without any statement as to why the school medical service had not been utilized, and in two other cases the school principal complained that the children of a certain family came to school filthy and that a little boy was so offensive in his physical condition that other children did not like to sit near him. But in none of these cases had the school nurse been asked to see what could be done for these neglected children. A similar failure to utilize school resources was indicated in the cases of the subnormal children referred to the juvenile Protective Association. Five of these children proved to be in need of commitment, but in two cases only had they been reported to the Department of Child-Study. One of

(244) these was a subnormal girl of school age who for five years had not been in school at all. It is believed that a social worker in the capacity of "visiting teacher" could make such social resources as the schools already possess more effective in meeting the needs of such neglected and afflicted children.

It is not suggested that the school visitors or visiting teachers would replace or supplant the officers of the Department of Compulsory Education. They would supplement the work of that department, and, to the extent to which they could do preventive work, they might influence that department to specialize in the care of those cases in which there remains a considerable disciplinary element. To the extent to which such specialization took place, the efficiency of the department would doubtless be raised. In this connection the following statement from the final report of the New York Committee on School Inquiry may be quoted:

The investigation of causes of irregularity of attendance, delinquency, and unsatisfactory progress of school children; preventive treatment for minimizing and removing these causes; and disciplinary treatment for the application and enforcement of remedial measures are integral and indispensable elements of educational administration . . . . . The (compulsory attendance) service, at present limits itself unduly to the performance of police functions, aiming chiefly at the immediate explanation and checking of truancy and irregularity, rather than the prevention of truancy and irregularity, by attempting to discover and control their causes. Such control of truancy by police methods alone is quite inadequate and often inappropriate. The harmful effect of irregularity of attendance on the education of children was pointed out above in the discussions of promotion. and non-promotions. The evil effect of irregularity and truancy on character and conduct during and outside of school hours is obvious. The prevention of irregularity and truancy by striking at their causes is therefore even more important than the attempt to cure them.


  1. See Margaret Frere, Children's Care Committees (London, 1909); Douglas Pepler, The Care Committee: The Child and the Parent (London, 1912); and Finding Employment for Children Who Leave the Grade Schools to Go to Work, pp. 41-48: "Public Care of Working-Children in England and Germany," by E. Abbott.
  2. Dr. Richard C. Cabot, "Body and Soul in Work for Children," in The Child in the City, p. 18. See also the annual reports of Boston Home and School Association.
  3. See Public Education Association of City of New York, Bulletin No. 15, April 5, 1913, The Visiting Teacher, a report by Mary Flexner; also The Visiting Teacher in New York City, a statement of the function and an analysis of the work of the visiting teacher staff of the Public Education Association from1912 to 1915 inclusive, by Harriet Johnson, June, 1916. Attention should be called to the fact that the visiting-teacher work was not initiated by the Public Education Association, but was taken over after the value of the work had been demonstrated by the employment of visiting teachers by several settlements. See also Truancy, A Study of the Mental, Physical, and Social Factors of the Problem of Non-attendance at School, by Elizabeth Irwin, published by the same association in June, 1915; and see Schools and Social Reform, report of Unionist Social Reform Committee on Education, by S. J. G. Hoare, M.P. It is interesting to note that the first National Conference of Visiting Teachers was held in New York in July, 1916, during the meeting there of the National Education Association.
  4. See Appendix VII, "The Development of the Chicago Bureau of Employment Supervision."

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