Viewed from the state superintendent's office, or from the position of an advocate of efficient schools, it is largely a matter of indifference what shall be the source of the funds for financing elementary schools. If sufficient revenues are forthcoming to pay the expenses of employing good teachers and of providing adequate equipment for the schools, no further questions need be asked. In Pennsylvania, however, these funds have come from two sources: local taxation and the state appropriation. It is conceivable that a state superintendent might appeal both to the legislature and to the local taxing authorities for more ample financial support. But the latter were numerous and difficult to influence. Furthermore, since the superintendent was a state officer, and since he had the dispensing of the state appropriation, it was but natural that his appeal should be most frequently made to the General Assembly. It must not be assumed, however, because of the frequent reference made in his reports to the inadequacy of the state appropriation, that the blame for lack of funds was always to be laid at the door of the legislature. The problem of getting the necessary revenue must be considered from two points of view. In the first place, when funds are said to be inadequate an explanation of the failure of the localities to increase taxation must be sought. And, in the second place, the reason for the inaction of the state legislature must also be explained.

The progress of the school system and the varying proportions in which the state and the localities contributed to the support of the schools from 1874 to 1888 is shown in the following table:

The Average Number Of Children Attending The Public Schools, The Number Of Teachers Employed, And The Finances Of The School System, Philadelphia Excluded, 1874-1888

           

Excess of

Proportion of

 

Average

Num-

     

total expen-

total ex-

 

number

ber of

State

Tax

Total

ditures over

pendi-

Year11

of pupils

teach-

appropria-

levied

expendi-

state appro-

tures

 

attending

ers em-

tion

locally

tures13

priation

borne

 

school

ployed

paid12

     

by state appropriation

1874

468,309

17,664

$521,345

$5,787,884

$6,848,788

$6,327,443

7.6%

1875

472,283

18,101

533,625

5,983,005

7,438,756

6,905,131

7.2

1876

495,743

18,314

728,207

6,003,443

7,079,208

6,351,001

10.3

1877

491,038

18,710

823,785

6,627,944

6,735,114

5,911,329

12.2

1878

515,198

18,912

723,083

5,289,646

6,346,759

5,623,676

11.4

1879

595,918

19,153

497,031

4,923,875

6,103,359

5,516,328

8.1

1880

509,246

19,305

747,297

4,818,594

6,001,175

5,253,878

12.5

1881

504,912

19,277

865,820

5,031,780

6,443,922

5,578,102

13.4

1882

519,423

19,715

684,128

5,452,902

6,657,348

5,973,220

10.3

1883

532,874

19,875

696,478

5,676,546

8,378,180

7,681,702

8.3

1884

549,304

20,290

700,341

6,313,833

7,653,425

6,953,084

9.2

1885

559,606

20,639

802,103

6,519,928

8,100,449

7,298,346

9.9

1886

570,293

21,481

803,344

6,672,185

8,237,606

7,434,262

9.8

1887

570,293

21,481

802,411

6,946,949

8,306,479

7,504,068

9.7

1888

573,041

21,168

803,191

7,134,702

9,544,828

8,741,637

8.4

10 Supt. of Public Instruction, Report (1914), pp. 616-617. The total of all receipts as set forth in the report from which these data are taken is not given, because it appears to contain amounts received from loans and balances carried over from previous years.

11 Fiscal year ending first Monday in June.

The increase in the needs of the school system is best measured by the increase in the average number of children attending the schools. In 1874, as shown by the table, the number was 468,309; in 1888 it was 573,041, or an increase of 22.4 per cent. The number of teachers increased from 17,664 to 21,168 or 19.8 per cent, in the same period. If allowance is made for the expansion of curricula during this time and for the grading of many schools, *14 it would seem that the increase in the teaching staff had certainly not been as rapid as the increase in the need for teachers as measured by the growth of school attendance. On the other hand, it must be remembered that in 1874 the attendance in many schools was below the maximum that the teaching staff could care for. Although it is not possible to obtain an exact numerical equivalent of the need for teachers, the data presented show clearly that the teaching staff did not increase as rapidly as the total expenditure for school purposes, or the number of pupils.

12 The variations from year to year in the amount of the state appropriation— e.g., 1876 to 1879—are partly due to payment of a portion of the subvention due in one year in the succeeding year.

13 The excess of total expenditures over the sum of the state appropriations and taxes locally is due to loans and miscellaneous revenue and in some instances to accumulated balances.

14 It should be remembered that the data for Philadelphia are not included in this table.