This section is from the book "Principles Of Sociology With Educational Applications", by Frederick R. Clow. Also available from Amazon: Principles of sociology with educational applications.
This large-scale form of inspection has been applied during the last half-dozen years to the school systems of several states and cities. It consists in setting a corps of inspectors to examine the system as a whole and in all its parts, as preliminary to a thoroughgoing reform. As practiced recently it has been in part an outgrowth of the inspection and reconstruction of systems of accounting for cities and large corporations which was attracting considerable attention twenty years ago. More recently the Carnegie Foundation contributed to the beginning of this practice through the thorough investigation which it makes of a college before granting pensions to its retired professors.
One of the early surveys was that in Wisconsin which was made by the New York Bureau of Municipal Research. There were three parts of it, first the survey of the rural schools, then of the normal schools, and lastly of the university. The results of each survey were published in a pamphlet. Stenographic reports of recitations, both good and bad, were one feature of the reports. On the publication of the report on rural schools in the fall of 1912 there was an immediate outcry, which continued through the other two investigations, making about three years in all. The prevailing attitude in educational circles was one of resentment. In 1913 the Wisconsin Teachers' Association refused to appoint a committee to cooperate in an investigation of the high schools. But there is also no doubt that many weaknesses in the system were exposed, and that improvements followed, especially after the report on rural schools.
About the time the Wisconsin survey was started there was one in progress in New York City. Professor Hanus, of Harvard, was in general charge. He appointed ten of the most eminent educators in the United States, each one to inspect personally some feature of the schools and make a written report. Besides publication officially by the city, these reports have been published separately in a series of volumes called the "School Efficiency Series" one of which, by Professor Elliott, was quoted a few pages back. But this survey caused a turmoil also. The city officials refused to receive one of the reports, and appointed two experts to make a new investigation. A review of one of the volumes says:
It is a good one-sided report. The system might have been more severely censured. It is barely possible. - Educational Review, Vol. 47, p. 153, J. M. Greenwood.
So much exposure of weakness in the school system gives occasion for irresponsible or light-headed or sensation-loving persons and publications to descend to mere muck-raking and give publicity to such sentiments as the following in the Ladies1 Home Journal for December, 1914. No one, however, should be alarmed at such remarks, because no person of any consequence takes them seriously; perhaps the persons who utter them do not mean them seriously.
. . . The school system should be abolished. Our educators are narrow-minded pedants, occupied with the dry bones of textbooks and the sawdust of pedagogics, who are ignorant of the real, vital problems of human interest. - Boris Sidis, Harvard University.
American boys are being turned by education into a race of white Chinese, all cast in the same mental mold, incapable of any independent thought. - Sir Alfred Harmsworth, publisher, London.
Even the child of the tenement is better off out of school than in school. The whole system is fundamentally wrong. I think it ought to be abolished. - Woods Hutchinson, physician and author, New York City.