Exhibit of the City Club Committee on Public Education
"The Education Committee has three sub-committees. One deals with the use of schools as possible social centers, one with hygiene in the schools, and one with vocational work.
"The exhibit which deals with the schools as possible social centers needs no explanation. It is a very eloquent exhibit, which shows the possibilities and results of this use of the schools.
"Another part of the exhibit presents to those who examine it a statement of the very extensive work that is done by the physicians and nurses in the care of children in the schools. It shows the result of this work in the diminution of contagious diseases. At the bottom of this chart you will also find a statement which presents a real problem in the hygiene of the school, and that is divided authority between the janitor and the principal. Anyone who is familiar with the school situation knows that we are having very unhygienic conditions in our schools, solely because we have such a diffusion of authority there that nobody is responsible for those conditions.
Vocational Work in the Public Schools
"The third committee, that on vocational work, has attempted to present a very interesting situation that I do not think has come home to the people of Chicago. That is the break between the compulsory school law and the attendance of the children upon the elementary schools. The theory is, of course, that the child enters the first grade at the age of seven, and finishes at the age of fourteen, having completed his elementary education. But there are actually 43 per cent of the children who never get into the eighth grade, and 49 per cent who never complete the eighth grade. Therefore, half of our children in Chicago never get an elementary school training, which we have always regarded as essential to American citizenship. The fault is not necessarily with the compulsory law. It is evident that the school itself does not have the hold upon the children, when they have reached or approached the age of 14, that it ought to have. These charts represent this break, showing that the children often drop out of school at the sixth grade.
"We must introduce the vocational motive into our education. We must make the vocation an essential part of the elementary school education. I hope that you will give some study to the figures on these three series of charts, for I think that they are very important to a real understanding of the situation. The term 'retardation' is used in this connection -- a somewhat unfortunate term. The term which we use is that of 'over-age.' A child who enters the eighth grade after the eighth period, or who fails to be promoted every year, is 'over-age.' With the increase of 'retardation' or 'over-age' in the school, you soon find a group of children who drop out as soon as they reach the limit of the compulsory attendance law. It is not the only instance in which a permissive law has become unwittingly a standard of the community. Very often in our communities we find that this permissive law lets the children leave school at fourteen has left in the minds of the people the idea that education should stop at the age of fourteen.