Page images

3. With regard to the course of instruction, the advice of the superintendents will often be of great value. The usual order has been found by long experience to be the best, viz: the alphabet, spelling, reading with definitions, arithmetic, geography, history and grammar. No child should be put to any study beyond his capacity, or for which he is not already prepared. English grammar particularly demands so much exercise of the intellect, that it ought to be delayed until the pupil has acquired considerable strength of mind. s + . 4 The books of elementary instruction.—It is believed that there are none now in use in our schools that are very defective; and the difference between them is so slight, that the gain to the scholar will not compensate for the heavy expense to the parent, caused by the substitution of new books with every new teacher; and the capriciousness of change which some are apt to indulge on this subject, cannot be too strongly or decidedly resisted. Trustees of districts should look to this matter when they engage teachers.

One consequence of the practice is, the great variety of text books on the same subject, acknowledged by all to be one of the greatest evils which afflicts our schools. It compels the teacher to divide the pupils into as many classes as there are kinds of books, so that the time which might have been devoted to a careful and deliberate hearing of a class of ten or twelve, where all could have improved by the corrections and observations of the instructor, is almost wasted in the hurried recitations of ten or a dozen pupils in separate classes; while in large schools, some must be wholly neglected. Wherever the superintendents find this difficulty existing, they should not fail to point out its injurious consequences, and to urge a remedy by the adoption of uniform text books as speedily as possible. To accomplish this, let the trustees, under the advice of the teacher, inspectors and superintendents, determine what text books shall be used in each study, and require eve y child thereafter coming to the school to be provided with the dosignated books. This very desirable uniformity may, perhaps, be facilitated by exchanges between different districts, of the books that do not correspond with those in general use, for such as do. For instance, in one school the great majority of spelling books may be those of Webster with some of Marshall's, while the latter may predominate in another district in which there are also several of Webster's In such cases, an exchange of the different books between the two would obviously be mutually beneficial. The superintendents might assist in the execution of such an arrangement by noting the proportions of the various books in the different schools.

5. The Erection of School Houses.—It would be well for the town superintendents to give particular attention to this subject Whenever they learn that the building of a school house is contemplated, they should advise with the trustees respecting its plan. He must be a superficial observer, who has not perceived how much the health of pupils, the order and discipline of a school, and the convenience of the teacher, depend upon the arrangements of the school room. This is not the place to state the best models. Information upon that point, collected with great care from Europe and America, has already been given, in the District School Journal, and in Mr. BARNARD’s admirable volume on school architecture. Whenever repairs are about to be made to school houses, the superintendents should avail themselves of the occasion to recommend such improvement as may be desirable. 6. In their consultations with trustees and teachers, the superintendents should be especially careful to communicate their suggestions in a kind and friendly spirit, as the most likely means of success, and as the only mode of preserving those harmonious relations, which are essential to their own happiness as well as usefulness; and whenever they observe any thing in the mode of instruction, in the government or discipline of the school, or in any other point, which, in their judgment, requires correction, they will make it a point to intimate their views to the teacher in private, and never, on any occasion, suffer themselves to find fault with him in the presence of his pupils, Children cannot discriminate, and they will feel themselves at liberty to blame, when the example has been set by others. The authority of the teacher should be preserved entire while he remains. If his conduct is worthy of public censure, he should be at once dismissed, rather than be retained to become an object of the contempt of his scholars.


By $ 19 (No. 44) of the school act, and the succeeding sections, it is made “the duty of the Town Superintendent in each town, between the first day of July and the first day of August, in each year, to make and transmit to the county clerk, a report in writing bearing date on the first day of July, in the year of its transmission, and stating, 1. The whole number of school districts and neighborhoods, separately set off within their town : 2. The districts, parts of districts, and neighborhoods, from which reports shall have been made to him, or his immediate predecessors in office, within the time limited for that purpose: 3. The length of time a school shall have been kept in each of such districts or parts of districts, distinguishing what portion of that time the school shall have been kept by qualified teachers: 4. The amount of public moneys received in each of such districts, parts of districts and neighborhoods: 5. The number of children taught in each, and the number of children over the age of four and under twenty-one years, residing in each : . . . . . . . . . 6. The whole amount of moneys received by him or his predecessors in office, during the year ending at the date of his report, and since the date of his last preceding report; distinguishing the amount received from the county treasurer and from any other and what source: . . . . . . . . . 7. The manner in which such moneys have been expended, and whether any and what part, remains unexpended, and for what cause: 8. The amount of money paid for teachers' wages, in addition to the public money paid therefor, in the districts, parts of districts and neighborhoods from which reports shall have been received by him or his immediate predecessors, in office, with such other information as the Superintendent of Common Schools may from time to time require, in relation to the districts and schools within his town. . . - - . .

Under this provision the Superintendent has required the following additional items of information to be comprised in such annual reports of the Town Superintendents: 1. The number of times the school in each district has been inspected by Town Superintendents, to be taken from the abstract furnished by the trustees: 2. The number of volumes in the library of each district, as returned by the trustees: - - 3. The whole number of school districts, the school houses of which are situated in their town : . . . . . 4. The amount of money expended in each school district for teachers' wages, besides and beyond the public money apportioned to such district; that is they will condense from the reports of the trustees the amount paid by individuals, on rate-bills or otherwise, and the amount collected from any local funds. 5. The attendance of pupils in the several district schools for the following different terms, viz: Those who attended less than two months; “ “ two months and less than four ; four months and less than six; six months and less than eight; eight months and less than ten ; ten months and less than twelve; - twelve months; 6. The amount of taxes levied in the several districts of the town during the year reported for purchasing sites, building, hiring, repairing and insuring school houses, fuel, books, bookcase, school apparatus and other purposes : - 7. The number of select and private schools in their town, other than incorporated seminaries, and the average number of pupils therein, as stated in the reports of the trustees of the several districts: . 8. They are also required to condense, from the reports of the several trustees, the number of schools for colored children taught in their town, specifying the districts in which such schools have been taught, the number of colored children, between the ages of

[ocr errors]

four and twenty-one attending such schools; and the amount of public money apportioned to the respective districts from which such children attended, specifying such districts. The most common mistake committed by the Town Superin

tendents is in their report of moneys received by them, or their predecessors, since the date of the last report. They often confound this money with that received by trustees of districts, which is an entirely different item. This last item is received on the first Tuesday of April, and reported by the trustees on the first of January following, and is embodied in the report of the superintendent among the abstracts of the trustees’ reports, in the columns headed “amount of money received in each district.” But the money received by the Town Superintendents is that paid to them by the county treasurer and town collector after the first of January, and apportioned by them on or before the first Tuesday in April, and is not contained in the reports of the trustees.

In making their annual reports, the Town Superintendents should see that the several columns of their table are correctly footed, and the figures plainly and distinctly made.

Town Superintendents neglecting to make such report within the limited period, forfeit severally to their town, for the use of the common schools therein, the sum of ten dollars; and the share of school moneys apportioned to such town for the ensuing year, may, in the discretion of the Superintendent of Common Schools, be withheld, and be distributed among the other towns in the same county, from which the necessary reports shall have been received. When the share of school moneys apportioned to a town shall thus be lost to the town by the neglect of the Town Superintendents, the officer guilty of such neglect forfeits to his town the full amount, with interest, of the moneys so lost. It is the duty of the supervisor of the town, upon notice of such loss, from the Superintendent of Common Schools, or county treasurer, to prosecute without delay in the name of the town, for such forfeiture; and the moneys recovered are required to be distributed and paid by such supervisor to the several districts, parts of districts, or separate neighborhoods of the town, in the same manner as it would have been the duty of the Town Superintendent to have distributed and paid them, if received from the county treasurer.—$ 22, 23, 24. (No. 47, 48, 49), r

By $ 15, of chap. 382, Laws of 1849, it is provided that “whenever it shall be satisfactorily proved to the State Superintendent that any county or town superintendent, or other school officers, has embezzled the public money, or any money coming into his hands for school purposes, or has been guilty of the wilful violation of any law, or neglect of duty or of disobeying any decision, order or regulation of the Department of Common Schools, the State Superintendent is authorised to remove such officer from such office, by an order under the seal of office of the Secretary of State.


By subdivision 8 of § 8, Rev. Stat. (No. 33,) the Town Superintendent is to sue for and collect by his name of office, all penalties and forfeitures imposed by the title relating to common schools, where no other provision is made ; for the penalty of five dollars prescribed by § 57, (No. 79.) upon the refusal or neglect of any inhabitant of a district to serve the notice of the first meeting; the same penalty for altogether refusing to serve in a district office; and the penalty of ten dollars for neglecting to perform the duties of a district office, not having refused to accept the same ; and for the penalty of $25, against Trustees neglecting or refusing annually to render an account of the moneys received by them, given by §130 (No. 150) of the school act.

He is also to prosecute for the penalty of twenty-five dollars imposed by §123 (No. 143,) upon every trustee who signs a false report, with the intent of obtaining an unjust proportion of the school moneys of the town. Justice to the several districts requires that the Town Superintendents should be vigilant in detecting such errors, and in applying the remedy provided by law in all cases where they arise from design. ,

The sums collected by him in suits for penalties, after deducting his costs and expenses, are to be added to the school moneys received by him during the year, and apportioned among the several districts. .


By $ 25, (No. 50,) and the succeeding sections, the Town Superintendent in each town is required to keep a just and true account of all school moneys received and expended by him during the year for which he shall have been chosen, and to lay the same before the board of auditors of the accounts of other town officers at the annual meeting of such board in the same year. Within fifteen days after the termination of his office he is required to render to his successsor in office a just and true account, in writing, of all school moneys by him received, before the time of rendering such account, and of the manner in which the same shall have been appropriated and expended by him ; and the account so rendered is to be delivered by such successor in office to the town clerk, to be filed and recorded in his office. If, on rendering such account, any balance shall be found remaining in the hands of the Town Superintendent, the same is immediately to be paid by him to his successor in office. If such balance, or any part thereof. shall have been appropriated by the Town Superintendent to any particular school district, part of a district or separate neighborhood, and shall remain in his hands for the use thereof, a statement of such appropriation is required to be made in the account so to be rendered, and the balance paid to such successor in office, to be paid over by him, according to such appropriation. His successor in office may bring a suit in his name of office, for the

« PreviousContinue »