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ted by the inhabitants of the several districts, on rate bills, by various local funds, and by sums voluntarily raised for this purpose by the inhabitants of the towns, are applied exclusively to the payment of the wages of competent and approved teachers, and to the purchase of suitable books for the school district libraries. - - . . . . . “The substitution of a single officer, charged with the supervision of the common schools of each town, for the Board of Commissioners and inspectors formerly existing, in connection with the supervisory and appellate powers of the several county Superintendents, as defined by the law of the last session, seems to have met with the general approbation and concurrence of the people. Conventions and associations of the friends of education have, during the past year, been held in almost every section of the state, indicating a concentration of interest, and a direction of effort to this great subject, which cannot fail of producing the most salutary results. The standard of qualification of teachers has been materially advanced; parents and the people generally manifest an increased interest in the welfare and prosperity of these elementary institutions of learning; and there are the most abundant reasons for anticipating a steady and continued improvement in all the elements of our extended system of common school education.” . . . . - - . There were in the state, as appears by the annual report of the Superintendent, (Jan. 13, 1844) 10,875 organized school districts, 670,995 children between the ages of five and sixteen, exclusive of those residing in the city of New York; and 657,782 children taught during the year. “We may reasonably,” observes the Superinteodent, “ congratulate ourselves upon the accession of a new order of things, in relation to the practical workings of Our System. Through the medium of an efficient county and town supervision, we have succeeded not only in preparing the way for a corps of teachers thoroughly competent to communicate physical, intellectual and moral instruction—themselves enlightened and capable of enlightening their pupils—but also in demolishing the numerous barriers which have hitherto prevented all intercommunication between the several districts. An extended feeling of interest in the condition and progress of the school has been awakened; and in addition to the periodical inspection of the county and town superintendendents, the trustees and inhabitants are now, in many portions of the state, beginning to visit the schools of their districts; striving to ascertain their advancement; to encourage the exertions of teachers and pupils, and to remove every obstacle resulting from their previous indifference. Incompetent teachers are beginning to find the avenues to the common school closed against them ; and the demand on the part of the districts for a higher grade of instructors, is creating a supply of enlightened educators, adequate to the task of advancing the youthful mind in its incipient efforts to acquire knowledge. The impetus thus communicated to the schools of one town and county, is speedily diffused to those of others. Through frequent and periodical meetings of town and county associations of teachers and friends of education, the improvements adopted in any one district are made known to all; and the experience, observations and suggestions of each county Superintendent, annually communicated through their reports, to all. . By these means the stream of popular education, purified at its source and relieved from many of its former obstructions, is dispensing its invigorating waters over a very considerable portion of the state. “The reports of the several county Superintendents exhibit unequivocal evidence of effiicent exertions on their part, in the performance of the responsible duties assigned them by law and by the instructions of this department. To their efforts is to be attributed, to a very great extent, the revolution in public sentiment, by which the district school from being the object of general aversion and reproach, begins to attract the attention and regard of all. To their enlightened labors for the elevation and advancement of these elementary institutions, we owe it in a great measure, that new and improved modes of teaching, of government and of discipline have succeeded in a very large proportion of the districts, to those which have hitherto prevailed; that a higher grade of qualifications for teachers has been almost universally required ; that parents have been induced to visit and take an interest in the schools; that private and select schools have been to a considerable extent discountenanced, and the entire energies of the inhabitants of districts concentrated on the district school; and that the importance, the capabilities and extended means of usefulness of these nurseries of knowledge and virtue, are beginning to be adequately appreeiated in nearly every section of the state. Collectively considered, these officers have well vindicated the confidence reposed in them by the legiso :e and the people. and justified the anticipation of the friends of edu
The attention of the friends of Common School Education was now powerfully and systematically directed to the subject of a State Normal School for the proper instruction and preparation of teachers. To this end, Mr. HULBURD, of St. Lawrence, who was again at the head of the Assembly Committee on Colleges, Academies and common schools, visited, during the early part of the session, the several Normal Schools of Massachusetts, observed their parctical working, made himself thoroughly acquainted with the principles upon which they were founded, and collected a valuable body of information in regard to the general history and spécific operations of similar institutions in Europe. ; On the 22d of March, he submitted an elaborate and eloquent, report, embracing the entire subject, reviewing the legislation of the State in reference to the various appropriations made from the literature fund, to the several Academies, for the purpose of organizing and establishing Teachers Departments; showing that these institutions were wholly incomptent to supply the demand for competent teachers, throughout the state; giving a concise history of the origin and progress of Normal Schools in Europe and America, with a detailed account of their operations in Massachusetts; and strongly recommending the appropriation from the income of the literature fund of $9,600 for the establishment, and $10,000 annually thereafter for the support and maintenance of a State, Normal School, to be located in the city of Albany, for the education and proper preparation of teachers of common schools, of both sexes, and to be composed of pupils selected from the several counties of the state in proportion to the representation of such counties in the popular branch of the Legislature.
After a full recapitulation of the previous legislation of the state, in reference to Academical Departments for the instruction of teachers the com
mittee observe: . . . - . . . . . . . . * “It will appear that the principal reliance of the friends and supporters of the common schools for an adequate supply of teachers has, from a very early period, been upon the academies—that the inability of the latter to supply this demand, induced, in 1827 an increase of $150,000 of the fund applicable to their support, and this for the express purpose of enabling them to accomplish this object: that the Regents of the University, the guardians of these institutions, characterized this increase of the fund as an unwonted and extraordinary act of liberality on the part of the state towards them— explicitly recognized the condition, or rather, the avowed expectations on which it was granted—accepted the trust, and undertook to perform those conditions and to fulfil those expectations: that, to use the language of one of the Supérintendents, “the design of the law was not sustained by the measures necessary to give it the form and effect of a system; ” that to remedy this evil, one academy was specially designated in each Senate district, with an endowment .500 to provide the necessary means and facilities of instruction, and an annual appropriation of $400 for the maintenance of a départment for the education of teachers, and soon afterwards the sum of $28,000 added to the literature fund from the avails of the U.S. Beposit furid while eight additional academies were required to organize and maintain similar departments: that finally the number of these departments was augmented to twenty-three, and every exertion put forth to secure the great results originally contemplated in their establishment; and that in the judgment of successive Superintendents of common schools, the Regents of the University, and the most eminent and practical friends of education throughout the state, these institutions, whether considered in the aggregate or with reference to those specially designated from time to time, for the performance of this important duty of supplying the common schools with competent teachers, have not succeeded in the accomplishment of that object. Having, therefore, to revert again to the language of the Superintendent before referred to, “proved inadequate to the ends proposed; ” may not now “a change of plan be insisted on, without being open to the objection of abandoning a system which has not been fairly tested ?” And have the academies any just reason to complain if they are not longer permitted to enjoy undiminished the liberal appropriation conferred upon them by the state for a ...; object—an object which they have not been able satisfactorily to accomplish #" - . . . . . The committee then proceed minutely to trace the origin, progress and practical operation of Normal Schools in Eärope and in this country, and after a general discussion of their applicability and expediency under the peculiar circumstances which exist in our own state, and the recommendation of an appropriation for the organization and support of a Normal School . the seat of government, for the education and training of teachers, ODSør-Ve . . - - “It will be noticed that the committee speak of the establishment of one Normal School: Did our present means seem to warrant it, the committee would, with confidence, recommend the immediate establishment of at least one in each of the eight Senatorial districts. If one is now established, and that is properly endowed and organized, there cannot be a doubt that not only one will be called for in each of the eight Senatorial districts, but in a brief period very many of the large counties will insist upon having one established within their limits. The establishment of one is but an experiment—if that can be called an experiment, which for more than a century has been in operation, without a known failure—which, if successful, will lead the way for several others. It is believed that several of the Academies now in operation can and will be converted into Normal Seminaries, when, the period arrives for the rapid improvement of education; in this way there will be no loss of academic investment, and the great interest of the public will be as well or better subserved than they are at present. “The committee believe the experiment should be tried at the Capital; if it cannot be tested in the presence of all the people, it should be before all the representatives of the people. As a government measure, it is untried in this state; the result, therefore, will be of deep interest. IHere at each annual session of the legislature, can be seen for what and how the public money is expended; here can be seen the exhibition of the pupils of the Seminary and of the Model School; here, if unsuccessful no report of interested officials can cover up its failure, or prevent the abandonment of the experiment; here citizens from all parts of the state, who resort to the Capital during the session of the legislature, the terms of the courts, &c., can have an opportunity of examining the workings of the Normal school system, of learning the best method of teaching, and all the improvements in the science and practice of the art; those who in the spring and autumn, pass through the city, and to and from the Great Metropolis, and those who from all parts of the union make their annual pilgrimage to the Fountain of Health, will pause here to see what the Empire State is doing to promote the education of her people.” & . . . . . . . On the seventh of May, succeeding, the bill reported by the Committee was passed into a law, by which the sum of $9,600 was appropriated for the first year, and $10,000 annually for five years thereafter and until otherwise directed by law, for the establishment and support of a Normal school to be located at Albany, and to be under the supervision, management and direction of the Superintendent of common schools and the Regents of the University, who were authorized and required, from time to time, to make all needful rules and regulations; to fix the number and compensation of teachers and others to be employed therein; to prescribe the preliminary examination and the terms and conditions on which the pupils should be received and instructed; to apportion such pupils among the respective counties, conforming as nearly as might be to the ratio of population; and generally, to provide in all things for the good government and management of the school. They were also required to appoint an executive committee, consisting of five persons, one of whom should in all cases be the State Superintendent of common schools, to whom the immediate government and direction of the institution should be committed, subject to such general rules as the Regents might prescribe, and whose duty it should be to make full and detailed reports from time to time to the Superintendent, and Regents, and to recommend such rules and regulations as they might deem proper for the school. The Superintendent and Regents were likewise required annually to transmit to the legislature, an account of their proceedings and expenditures. . . . In pursuance of this act, the Regents of the University, proceeded on the 1st of June thereafter, to the appointment of an Executive Committee, consisting of the Superintendent of common schools (Col. YoUNG) Rev. ALONzo PotoR, Rev. WILLIAM. H. CAMPBELL, Hon. GIDEON HAwLEY and FRANCIS Dwight, Esq., who held their first meeting on the 20th of June. Having obtained from the corporation of the city of Albany, the lease for five years of a commodious building for the use of the school, they adopted the necessary measures for its organization and establishment, by requesting the Board of Supervisors of the several counties, to appoint on the nomination of the county Superintendents, a number of pupils, corresponding to their respective representation in the Assembly; by the appointment of DAVID P. PAGE, of Newburyport, Mass., as Principal, GEORGE R. PERKINs, of Utica, as Professor of Mathematics, FREDERICK T. IISLEY, of Albany as teacher of Music, and J. B. HowARD, of Rensselaer, as teacher of Drawing; and by making such general rules and regulations as they deemed expedient and necessary, in reference to the course of study, management and discipline of the school. On the 18th of December, the school was opened, by a public address from the Superintendent of common schools. Twenty-nine pupils only were in attendence; this number, however, speedily increased to upwards of one hundred; and an experimental or model school was at the commencement of the second term, attached to the institution, comprising upwards of a hundred children of both sexes, At the opening of the session of the legislature of 1845, Gov. WRIGHT, in his annual message to both Houses, thus adverted to the subject of common school education : . . . . . “No public fund of the state is so unpretending, yet so all pervading—so little seen, yet so universally felt—so mild it its exactions, yet so bountiful in its benefits—so little feared or courted, and yet so powerful, as this fund for the support of common schools. The other funds act upon the secular interests of society, its business, its pleasures, its pride, its passions, its vices, its misfortunes. This acts upon its mind and its morals. Education is to free institutions what bread is to human life, the staff of their existence. The office of this fund is to open and warm the soil, and sow the seed from which this element of freedom must grow and ripen into maturity ; and the health or sickness of the growth will measure the extent and security of our liberties. The thankfulness we owe to those who have gone before us, for the institution of this fund, for its constitutional protection, and for its safe and prudent administration hitherto, we can best repay by imitating their example and improving upon their work, as the increased means placed in our hands shall give us the ability. - “Few, if any instances, are upon record in which a fund of this description has been administered, and its bounties dispensed through a period of forty years, with so few suspicions, accusations, or complaints of the interference of either political or religious biases to disturb the equal balance by which its benefits should be extended to our whole population. This should continue as it has been. Our school fund is not instituted to make our ehildren and youth either partizans in politics, or sectarians in religion ; but to give them education, intelligence, sound principles, good moral habits, and a free and independent spirit; in short, to make them American freemen and American citizens, and to qualify them to judge and choose for themselves in matters of politics, religion and government. Such an administration of the fund as shall be calculated to render this qualification the most perfect for the mature minds, with the fewest influences tending to bias the judgment or incline the choice, will be the most consonant with our duties, and with the best interests of our constituents. Under such an administration, education will flourish most and the peace and harmony of society be best preserved.” - - - From the annual report of the Superintendent, (Col. Young) it appeared that the whole number of school districts in the state, was 10,990; the whole number of children between the ages of five and sixteen, was 696,548; the number of children of all ages, actually taught in the common schools during the year reported, 709,156, or more than 50,000 beyond the number taught during the preceding year; the amount paid for teachers' wages $992,222; of which $447,566 was raised on rate-bills; the amount paid for library purposes $94,950.54; and the number of volumes in the several district librarries 1,038,396. - - - . “A more just appreciation on the part of the public,” observes the Superintendent, in concluding his report, “not only of the importance of adequate intellectual and moral culture in our common schools, but of the responsibilities of teachers, is beginning to prevail. There is much in the prospect thus opened to us, cheering and encouraging to the friends of free institutions, to the friends of education, and of civil, social and moral progress. The great idea of education, in its most comprehensive acceptation, consists in that development, culture and discipline of all the faculties of our nature, which shall fit us for the highest sphere of usefulness, and the highess degree of enjoyment of which that nature, in the circumstances by which we are surrounded, is susceptible. “This conception of that preliminary training which is to give us the eomplete and efficient control of the energies, physical and moral, of our common humanity, has at length, it is to be hoped, assumed its plate as the foundation of the science of elementary instruction. Institutions for the preparation of teachers upon the most approved models, are already diffusing far and wide, a more enlightened and practical system of mental culture, by furnishing to the schools instructors of a high grade of qualifications, intellectual and moral; and these instructors, in their turn, communicate elements of knowledge and the means of self-improvement, to the pnpils committed to their charge. The general substitution of knowledge for the parrot-like rote, by which a vigorous and retentive memory was made the principal test of mental capacity, may be regarded as one of the strongest indi. cations of the prevalence of sounder principles, and of a progressive revolution in the theory and practice of education. - ". “These are the principal agencies through whose united influence our common schools have imbibed that spirit of improvement which is perceptible in nearly every section of the state, and which must ultimately renovate our entire system of public education, and exert a beneficial influence upon all our institutions, civil, social and political. In the late strongly contested election for the chief magistrate of the United States, the result was determined for good or for evil, by 237,600 votes cast in this state ; and the result will, doubtless, eventuate in a course of measures which will affect, beneficially or otherwise, the interests of some twenty millions of human beings, for a series of years to come. The whole number of children now under the course of instruction in the common schools of this state, exceeds