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schools for the education and training of exceptional children is to lessen as much as possible the line of demarcation between normal and exceptional children. Many parents are more willing to have their blind, deaf, crippled, or subnormal children attend a public school and be at home when not in school than to have them sent to private institutions.
In undertaking the education of any one of these special classes of children, the Board of Education decided to enter upon the work in a modest and tentative way, and to let time and experience determine the question of future development. To have awaited ideal conditions before entering upon the work would have been to make no beginning.
The course followed has been to organize small classes; to afford individual care and instruction; to select specially qualified teachers; to encourage kind and sympathetic management; to provide a suitable course of study, giving emphasis to manual training; to afford an education eminently practical; and to offer medical treatment to all in need of it. The number of exceptional children in the city was little realized at the time of opening the doors of the public schools to them.
Backward or Over-age Pupils.-Several years ago the attention of the school authorities was called to the fact that there were many over-age pupils in all the grades. An earnest effort was made to study the causes and to apply remedies. The causes of this retardation appeared to be: the large number of pupils of foreign parentage, some of whom lacked any previous education, while others were merely ignorant of the English language; irregularity of attendance through parental neglect, frequent transfers, poor health, or truancy; slow mental development; physical defects, such as defective hearing and eyesight, adenoids and enlarged tonsils; and poor nutrition. Many of these children were below grade in certain studies only, while others were deficient in all subjects.
Close attention has been given to each individual case, the causes of trouble have been removed, as far as possible, and remedial work has been undertaken. A large number of special classes have been formed and authority has been given to the teachers to interpret the course of study to meet the needs of individual pupils. Classes of the so-called "C" grade
have been formed for training children of foreign parentage in the use of the English language; classes of the "D" grade, for advancing pupils who would soon apply for labor certificates; and classes of the "E" grade, for advancing pupils rapidly in the hope that by so doing they may be kept in school until graduation. In many cases these over-age pupils, with the help of strong teachers, have been able to cover the work of three terms in two terms. Hundreds of these special classes have been formed to the untold advantage of thousands of children.
A year ago ninety classes were organized in the summer vacation schools for the purpose of coaching those pupils who failed of promotion in June, or of assisting those who desired to strengthen their grade work, or of enabling those who needed time credit to complete the number of days required by the compulsory education law in order to secure employment certificates. The sessions were from nine to twelve o'clock. Only teachers with a high record were selected for the work. Admission to these classes was by certificate made out by the regular class teacher. The certificate indicated the subjects in which the child was weak, usually arithmetic or English. The. main work of the summer school was thorough drill. There was no problem of discipline, as all of the pupils were interested and earnest in their work. Of the 2,798 pupils who entered these classes for the purpose of making their promotion, 1,935 succeeded, while the remaining 863 made good progress. All of the 702 pupils who entered simply for the purpose of making themselves strong in grade work, succeeded in a very marked degree.
Truants and Incorrigibles.—Since good citizenship implies virtue and intelligence, and every child has the right to an elementary education, it is the right and duty of the State to compel every child to receive such education. In view of these facts, the compulsory education laws have been strengthened of late, juvenile courts and truant schools established, and the corps of truant officers enlarged.
The causes of truancy are parental neglect, either through ignorance, selfishness, or intemperance; bad environment, including cigarette companions; physical or mental defects;
desire to work, a commendable boy-activity in the line of selfsupport; or poor teaching and poor management.
The treatment of truancy is first through earnest effort at cooperation with the home, assignment to a specially strong and enthusiastic teacher, or transfer to another school. If these efforts fail, the truant is committed by the Judge of the Juvenile Court to the Truant or Parental School. The Parental School, located in Queens, has 107 acres of land, an administration building, and cottages to accommodate six families of 32 boys each. Several additional buildings are to be erected in the near future, and shops are to be equipped for the teaching of several trades. The boys are now taught farming and gardening, printing, tailoring, laundering, and breadmaking.
The Brooklyn Truant School has 14 acres of land,. and accommodates 165 boys; the Manhattan Truant School accommodates 60 boys. The maximum commitment to either school is two years.
For several years Public School 120 on Broome Street has been used as a school for truants and delinquents. This school is located in the crowded section of the lower East Side, Manhattan, and is a remarkable example of what may be done with troublesome boys by the right kind of management and instruction. The boys-usual attendance about 120-are sent there from other schools by the district superintendent. The classes are small, ten or fifteen pupils in each; the instruction distinctively practical, with emphasis on manual training; and the management kind, sympathetic, and firm. The success of the school is due largely to the good sense and inspiring personality of the principal, Miss Olive M. Jones. Rarely is a boy in that section of the city taken to the court for commitment to any institution; this school serves every purpose.
Mental Defectives.-From a small beginning made eight years ago in the education and training of children of defective mentality, the number of classes has increased to over one hundred with more than 1,500 pupils in attendance. These classes are located in 78 school buildings as follows: 41 in Manhattan, 28 in Brooklyn, 4 in The Bronx, 3 in Queens, and 2 in Richmond. The number of classes is increasing rapidly. The effort in the training of these children is to arouse dormant
energies, to cultivate self-control and self-direction, to stimulate muscular and nerve forces, to cultivate and strengthen the intellectual, moral, and aesthetic powers, to train to self-dependence and to the mastery, if possible, of some useful occupation. Mental deficiency is hereditary or congenital, or is due to disease, accident, poor nutrition, or fatigue. Often what appears to be defective mentality is merely slow development, and what is needed most is intelligent and patient treatment.
The class room selected is, if possible, large and sunny, and accessible to the street, toilets, gymnasium, and playground. The equipment usually provided is fifteen movable and adjustable seats and desks, a number table three feet square, workbenches and tools for four or six children, physical training apparatus such as wands, dumb-bells and Indian clubs, a piano, and an abundance of illustrative material.
Before a pupil is admitted to one of these so-called ungraded classes, the principal of the school from which the pupil is taken, fills out a card indicating noticeable peculiarities (4). No pupil is registered in an ungraded class until he has been examined by the Inspector and the Medical Examiner, and has been pronounced a fit subject for admission (B). During the time the children are in an ungraded class, the teacher records four detailed entries per year on the progress of each child (C). Crippled Children.-The Board of Education provides teachers, books, and supplies for 23 classes of crippled children. Private and philanthropic organizations in most cases provide transportation to and from school, luncheons, nurses, and medical treatment. The rooms are equipped with special furniture in order that the pupils may sit and work in comfort. The training provided is eminently practical.
Tuberculous Children.-For the past year or two the city hospitals have been establishing day camps for children who were suffering from tuberculosis. These children, refused admission to the public schools, were anxious to receive an education, and the school authorities, on application, at once provided teachers, books, and supplies. The ages of the children range from 6 to 16 years. There are at present day camps on four abandoned ferryboats, and one on the roof of the Vanderbilt Clinic. The children remain in the open air through