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provement of the schools, and they will themselves be more and more enabled to recommend proper measures, from their better acquaintance with the subject.”—Instructions of Spencer, Sup’t, 1841. - A certificate cannot be annulled by the Town Superintendent until ten days’ previous notice in writing has been given to the teacher and to the trustees of the district in which he has been employed, of the intention to annul the same. As the complaint must necessarily be stated, and its truth investigated, before any decision, it would be more convenient to the Town Superintendent, and more fair and just to the teacher, to apprise him of its nature. in the notice of intention to annfil.
Certificates of qualification granted by Town Superintendents to teachers must, in all cases, be in conformity to the form prescribed by the Superintendent of Common Schools. They cannot be granted upon the gröund of ability to teach a particular school, for a particular term, or in a particular district. When granted in the form prescribed by the Superintendent, they authorize the holder to teach any school in the town for which they were granted, during any part of the year commencing at their date. . . .
The examination of candidates for teachers should in all cases be thorough and strict, and no certificate should be granted unless the examining officer is satisfied as to all the qualifications required by law. “A certificate of qualification in any other form than that prescribed by the Superintendent is not a compliance with the statute ; as for instance, that A. B. gave the examining officer good satisfaction in certain enumerated branches, and that his moral character is good. The law authorizes him to give a certificate in a certain event, and then it must be in the form specified. If he is satisfied as to the qualifications of the teacher in respect to moral character, learning and ability, he is bound to give him such a certificate as the Superintendent shall have prescribed. If he is not satisfied he should give him no certificate all. He is wholly unauthorized to take a middle course by giving a qualified certificate.” —Per Dix, Sup’t. Com. School Dec. 236.
The certificate must also bear date on the day of examination, and cannot be ante-dated. - . .
In cases where a school district is composed of parts of two or more towns, the Town Superintendent of the town in which the school house is situated, is exclusively authorized by Sec. 40, (No. 66,) to examine into and certify the qualifications of any teacher offering to teach in such joint district, and for sufficient causes to annul the certificate of such teacher. His jurisdiction in this respect cannot in any manner, or under any pretence, be interfered with by the superintendents of either of the other towns from which such joint district is partly composed.
The qualifications of teachers are left to the discrimination and judgment of the legal examiners. They must determine the dégree of learning and ability necessary for a teacher. They ought to be satisfied that a certificate is given to those only whose learning and ability fit them in all respects to instruct common schools. In revising the school law, the revisers inserted a provision that no candidate for teaching should be deemed qualified, unless upon examination he should appear to be well instructed in reading, orthography, penmanship, English grammer, geography and arithmetic, including vulgar and decimal fractions.” This provision, however, was stricken out by the legislature, and the whole matter is left discretionary.—Com. School Dec. 42. - ‘. . . In judging of the moral character of a candidate for teacher, if the examining officer knows of any serious imputation or defect of principle, it is his duty to refuse to certify. A certificate may be annulled for immoral habits generally, notwithstanding the ieacher may perform all his duties during school hours.-Id. 46. In relation to the moral character of the teacher, much is left to the discretion of the examining officer. He must be satisfied that it is good, because he has to certify to its correctness. On this point what would be satisfactory to one man might be unsatisfactory to another. Every person has a right to the enjoyment of his own religious belief without molestation ; and the examining officer should content himself with inquiries as to the moral character of the teacher, leaving him to the same liberal enjoyment of his religious belief that he asks for himself. If, however, a person openly derides all religion, he ought not to be a teacher of youth. The employment of such a person would be considered a grievance by a great portion of the inhabitants of all the districts.-Per FLAGG, Sup’t. Id. 60. . . . . . . Neither the trustees nor the inhabitants of school districts are the judges of the qualifications of teachers. The law has confided the power of examining teachers to the officers expressly designated for that purpose; and its object was to secure the employment of competent persons. If the trustees or inhabitants are to determine what their district require, and the certifying officers are to be governed by their opinions and wishes, the officers themselves might as well be dispensed with. In his annual report to the legislature for the year 1835, the Superintendent of Common Schools (Gen. Dix) observes: “One of the most responsible and delicate trusts to be executed under the common school system is that of inspecting teachers and pronouncing upon their qualifica tions. If this is negligently conducted or with a willingness to overlook deficiencies, instead of insisting rigidly upon the requirements of the law, it is manifest that men without the necessary moral character, learning or ability, will gain a foothold in the common schools, and present a serious obstacle to the improvements of which they are susceptible. This would be an evil of the greatest magnitude, and there is no remedy for it but a strict inspection of the candidates. It has been the practice in some instances for the inspectors to have a reference to the particular circumstances of the cases in giving a certificate. Thus they have sometimes given an individual a certificate with a view to a summer school, in which the children taught are usually smaller and require less of the teacher, when the certificate would have been withheld, if it was asked with a view to. qualify the teacher for a winter school. But it is obvious that such a distinction is wholly inadmissible. A certificate must be unconditional, by the terms of the law. The inspectors must be satisfied with the qualifications of the teacher “in respect to moral character, learning and ability;” and the certificate when once given is an absolute warrant for the individual to teach for a year, and to receive the public money, unless revoked before the expiration of the year, in which case it ceases to be operative from the date of its revocation. The standard of qualification for teachers, so far as granting certificates is concerned, is of necessity, arbitrary. The law does not prescribe the degree of learning or ability which a teacher shall possess, but virtually refers the decision of this important matter to the inspectors, who have not, neither should they possess the power of relaxing the general rule with reference to the circumstances of any particular case, by departing from the standard of qualification which they assume as their guide in others.”— Ja. 326. 1. The act does not require the superintendents to notify the trustees of their visits and invite their attendance. The Superintendents should, however, give notice to the trustees of the districts, of the time when their schools will be visited. To enable them to comply with these provisions, they should make a previous arrangement of their visits, in reference to the means of traveling, so as to reach as many districts as possible in the shortest time. Having fixed the time for visiting the schools, they should at once give ample notice, by transmitting a copy of their arrangement to the trustees of the districts embraced within it, and request them to attend. . The inhabitants of the district, and particularly parents who have children attending the school, should be invited to be present at the inspection by the superintendent ; and trustees of districts are hereby required, whenever they receive information of an intended visit, to communicate it as generally as possible to the inhabitants. Their attendance will afford an opportunity for the public addresses of the superintendents, herein suggested. 2. Eacamination of the School.—Preparatory to this, the superintendent should ascertain from the teacher the number of classes; the studies pursued by each ; the routine of the school ; the successive exercises of each class during each hour of the day ; the play spells allowed, &c., and thus obtain a general knowledge of the school, which will be found greatly to facilitate his subsequent duties. Every superintendent is enjoined to call for and examine
the list of scholars in the book which the Statute requires the teacher to keep, in order that he may see whether the names are correctly and neatly entered. He will also examine the day roll and the weekly roll, which by the the succeding regulations, teachers are directed to preserve, and will ascertain by the proper enquiries, whether they are exact in entering all who are present. The superintendent will then hear each class recite the ordinary lesson of the day. It will then be examined on the subjects of study. Generally it will be better to allow the teacher to conduct the exercises and examinations, as the pupils will be less likely to be intimidated, and an opportunity will be given of judging of the qualifications of the instructors. - . . . To enable him to compare the school with itself at another time, and with other schools, and to comply with the regulations hereinafter contained, respecting the annual reports, the superintendent should keep notes of his observations, and of the information he obtains on all the subjects on which he is required to report; and he should particularly note any peculiarities which seem to require notice, in the mode of instruction, in the government and discipline of the school, and the appearance of the pupils, in respect to their cleanliness of person and neatness of apparel. 3. The superintendent will also examine the condition of the school house and its appurtenances; whether the room has the means of ventilation, by lowering an upper sash, or otherwise; whether it is sufficiently tight to protect the children from currents of air, and to keep them warm in winter; whether there is a supply of good water; the condition of the privies, and whether they are provided for both sexes; and the accommodations for physical exercise. Their attention will be given to the arrangement of the school room; whether the seats and desks are placed most conveniently for the pupils and teachers, and particularly whether backs are provided for the seats, a circumstance very important to the comfort and health of the children. They should also inquire whether blackboards and alphabetical cards, or any apparatus to assist learners are furnished. The preceding topics of inquiry are suggested, rather as hints of the most important, than intended to embrace the whole field. The judgment and observation of the superintendents will discover many other subjects deserving their attention. 4. The superintendents will also inquire into the condition of the district, in relation to its ability to maintain a school; whether its interest and the convenience of its inhabitants can be promoted by any alterations, without injury to others; and they will suggest whatever occurs to them, to the trustees. In case of any gross deficiency or inconvenience, which the proper officers refuse or decline to remedy, the superintendents will note it in their annual reports to the county clerks. - r
5. They will also examine the district library, and obtain the information respecting it, hereinaster required to be stated in their reports.
Advising and consulting with the trustees and other officers of school - districts. .
This is made a special duty of the town superintendents by these instructions; they are to advise the trustees and other officers in relation to all their duties, and to recommend to them and the teachers the proper studies, discipline, and conduct of the school, the course of instruction to be pursued, and the elementary books to be used. The notes which the superintendents make during their inspection of the school, will much facilitate the discharge of this portion of their duty. • .
1. In regard to proper studies. If they find any important one omitted, or that pupils are hastened on without thoroughly understanding the preliminary or previous branches, they should point out the error and its consequences. For instance, they should urge the absolute necessity of children being thoroughly and frequently exercised in spelling, so that they make no mistakes in any words in common use. Without this it is impossible for them to be good readers. And in the exercise of reading, they should insist on clear and district articulation, more than any other quality; and generally the ability of the superintendent is relied upon to detect bad habits in the manner of reciting, erroneous ideas on the subject and superficial acquirements.
2. The discipline and conduct of the school. It can scarcely be necessary to remark on the importance of order and system in the schools, not only to enable the pupils to learn anything, but to give them those habits of regularity so essential in the formation of character. Punctuality of attendance, as well as its steady continuance should be enforced. Parents should be told how much their children lose, to what inconvenience they expose the teacher, and what disorder they bring upon the whole school, by not insisting upon the scholars being punctually at the school room at the appointed hour; and above all, they should be warned of the injurious consequences of allowing their children to be absent from school during the term. By being indulged in absences they lose the connection of their studies, probably fall behind their class, become discouraged, and then seek every pretext to play the truant. The habit of irregularity and insubordination thus acquired, will be apt to mark their character through life. Trustees should be informed that the omission of parents to require the regular and punctual attendance of their children will justify their exclusion, on account of the effect of such irregularity upon the other pupils.
The superintendents should also observe whether the teachers are careful to preserve the respect of their pupils, not only by maintaining their authority, but by a becoming deportment, both in the School room and out of it.