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COMMON SCHOOL SYSTEM
STATE OF NEW-YORK,
THE SEVERAL GENERAL LAWS RELATING TO COMMON SCHOOLS,
VILLAGES OF THE STATE.
TO WHICH IS PREFIXED
A HISTORICAL SKETCH
ORIGIN, PROGRESS AND PRESENT OUTLINE
OF THE SYSTEM.
Prepared in Pursuance of an Act of the Legislature,
UNDER THE DIRECTION OF THE
HON. CHRISTOPHER MORGAN,
SUPERINTENDENT OF COMMON SCHOOLS.
BY SAMUEL S. RANDALL,
DEP. SUP'T COMMON SCHOOLS.
TROY, N. Y.:
In submitting the following work to the inhabitants and officers of school districts, the various town and county officers charged with the local administration of the common school system in its several departments, and the pub. lic generally, the compiler has been actuated by an earnest desire to diffuse as widely as possible, a more thorough and accurate knowledge of the history and details of that system than has hitherto appeared. Having been connected with the department of Common Schools, with a slight interval, for the past fourteen years, during which period five successive Superintendents have been in office, and the system has undergone numerous important modifications, the necessary materials for a complete digest of its various provisions, as well as for the requisite adaptation of the numerous expositions, decisions, and instructions of the department, to the present state of the law, were probably more fully within his reach than that of any other individual.
The volume of Laws and Decisions prepared and published by Gen. Dıx in 1837, however valuable for its intrinsic interest, and for its clear and lucid exposition of the fundamental principles of our system of public instruction, has become to a very great extent inapplicable to the existing details of that system; and where relied upon as a guide, by officers of districts, of towns and counties, must necessarily embarrass and mislead. The compiler of the present work has therefore deemed it his duty to obviate this result so far as may be in his power, by giving first, a general abstract of the existing provisions of the law in reference to the powers, duties and liabilities of each clase of officers connected with the administration, of the system, and of the inhabitants of the several school districts; and secondly, a digested view under each head, of the various instructions, expositions, and decisions of the department, or rather of the principles of such instructions and decisions, in their application to the law as it now stands : preceded by the general laws and the various local provisions applicable to the several cities and larger towns.
A historical sketch of the origin and progress of the system from its inception to the present period, accompanied by a brief exposition of its present condition, has been annexed to the work, with the design of rendering it more acceptable as well to our own citizens as to those of other portions of the Union, who may feel an interest in tracing the gradual advancement of our legislation on this important subject, and in ascertaining the prominent features of our system, as moulded by the successive improvements consequent upon an experience of nearly forty years.
The importance of an uniform and enlightened administration of a system embracing so great a variety of interests and forming so material an ingredient in the intellectual, moral, and social civilization of the community, has not been one of the least among the considerations which have led to the publication of this work: and if through its means any facilities shall have been afforded for the accomplishment of this desirable result, the time and pains spent in its preparation will not have been regretted. That it is free from imperfections and errors it would be presumptuous to assert; but in commending it to those for whose use it is specially designed, and to the friends of popular education generally, the compiler can accompany it with the assurance that no efforts on his part have been spared to render it worthy of their attention and regard.
ALBANY, May, 1851.
Albany, May 15, 1851. Having examined the following “ Digest of the Common School System of the State of New York,” I take pleasure in saying that it is a full and correct exposition of that system; and entitled to the confidence of officers and inhabitants of school districts, Town Superintendents of common schools, and others interested in the cause of popular education.
Sup't of Common Schools.
ORIGIN, PROGRESS, AND PRESENT CONDITION
COMMON SCHOOL SYSTEM OF NEW YORK,
From the Origin of the State Government to the Year 1861.
Ar the first meeting of the State Legislature after the adoption of the Constitution, the governor, Geo. CLINTON, called the attention of that body to the subject of education. The following is an extract from his speech :
Neglect of the education of youth is one of the evils consequent upon war. Perhaps there is scarce any thing more worthy your attention than the revival and encouragement of seminaries of learning; and nothing by which we can more satisfactorily express our gratitude to the Supreme Being for his past favors; since piety and virtue are generally the offspring of an enlightened understanding."
In this year, the act incorporating the Regents of the University was passed.
In 1789 an act was passed, requiring the surveyor-general, to set apart two lots in each township, of the public land thereafter to be surveyed, for gospel and school purposes.
The following is an extract from the report of the Regents of the University, for 1793:
“ On this occasion we cannot help suggesting to the legislature the numerous advantages which we conceive would accrue to the citizens in general, from the institution of schools in various parts of the state, for the purpose of instructing children in the lower branches of education, such as reading their native language with propriety, and so much of writing and arithmetic, as to enable them when they come forward into active life, to transact with accuracy and dispatch, the business arising from their daily intercourse with each other. The mode of accomplishing this desirable object, we respectfully submit to the wisdom of the legislature.
“The attention which the legislature has evinced to promote literature, by the liberal provision heretofore made, encourages, with all deference, to suggest the propriety of rendering it permanent by setting apart for that salutary purpose some of the unappropriated lands. The value of these will be enhanced by the increase of population. The state will thus never want the means of promoting useful science; and will thereby secure the rational happiness, and fix the liberty of the people on the most permanent basis—that of knowledge and virtue.”
At the opening of the session of the legislature in 1795, Gov. Clinton thus again alluded to the subject :
" While it is evident that the general establishment and liberal endowment of academies are highly to be commended, and are attended with the most beneficial consequences, yet it cannot be denied that they are principally confined to the children of the opulent, and that a great portion of the communi