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DIGEST OF THE LAWS REGULATING THE ADMINISTRATION, CHARACTER, AND FINANCES OF THE PUBLICSCHOOL SYSTEMS OF THE STATES OF THE UNION.1
The following epitome deals primarily with the pedagogical as distinguished from the political features of the school law of the several States. These Statesoutside the fact of the duty of the federated nation to guarantee a republican form of government to each and the consequent desirability of a system of public education to accomplish that and the homogeneity of national intellectual interestsare each, as should be well known, an autonomous government in matters pertaining to education.
This chapter is to be considered a continuation of that on the educational provisions of the constitutions of the States appearing in the last report. Matters there appearing as broadly blocked out by the electors are here collected under certain pedagogical heads as elaborated by the several legislatures and published throughout the extent of some 4,000 pages, each State arranging and classifying its laws to suit its own convenience. The method of treating each State uniformly employed in this digest not only concentrates the facts, but at the same time, in a measure, indexes them. In the next report, in addition to the inevitable annual revision, it is hoped to lay the final chapter of this series before the public.
In considering the general character of the school laws of the States, one is impressed that there is a certain apparent if not real distinction between the varying emphasis that has been placed on the same subject. In the manufacturing East, northeast of Pennsylvania at least, there has lately been developed an intense desire to operate effectively upon the parent to cause him to educate his child; in other words, to cause him to avail himself for the good of the child of the advantages offered by the public schools at least for a short period during the year. In the South, the preoccupation seems to have been to provide competent teachers, while in the West there has been a tendency to regulate the politico-educational machinery.
It has been deemed inexpedient to attempt in this compilation to show clearly the condition of a very important and much agitated feature of the social side of school affairs called the township system. An examination of the claims for this system reveals that its merits are conditioned by the character of the environment amidst which it is to be operated. The question does not appear to derive its vitality from the extent of territory embraced by the “township," but rather from the amount of taxable property within a given territory, and perhaps at bottom upon the marked inequalities of taxable property between different portions of that territory. Thus in a rich country of many concentrations of inhabitants a plan might operate excellently within a portion of a county which, among a poorer, less dense, and comparatively more evenly distributed population, might not avail, even though the whole county were to be included. In the latter case a true township system would embrace perhaps the whole educational jurisdiction-in other words, the State. This sort of township system is in Massachu
By Mr. Wellford Addis, specialist in the Bureau.
" By Dr. Hinsdale, Part III, Chap. I.
setts at a minimum, for the interest of the permanent and only fund which it distributes is "not intended to relieve the towns from the support of their schools," but by furnishing money to the towns not obtained from them by annual taxation it "enables the State to execute the school laws and to establish a uniform system of schools" by withholding a subsidy from noncompliant school communities. It is hoped that the investigation of this and other characteristics of the local unit in school affairs is sufficiently advanced to enable it to appear in the next report of this Bureau.
It is to be remarked in passing, however, that there is a grave difference between local option in taxation, the point of view above, and enforced taxation, between allowing the smallest unit of civil government known to our political system to tax itself and causing it to be taxed to the township or "equable" limit by uniting it to its present neighbors by a State law, and thus possibly beyond what in the past either prudence or indifference caused it to fix.' The "district school meeting" is probably the only body of citizens that legislates directly, and where, to get the necessary amount of material to elevate a township system, it will be necessary to cover a civil unit, as a county, for instance, that legislature will cease to exist and its members will be "represented," thus getting school affairs away from the people, to which now it is so near, a fact dreaded by those who otherwise see in the State the proper" township" system. There would seem to be no cause for overgreat alarm at the lack of high schools, superintendents, and well-appointed schoolhouses in the agricultural districts. There are evidences that the legislature here and there has endeavored to limit the excessive desire of some school communities to hypothecate the property of its citizens by the force of numbers for the purpose of building schoolhouses, and districts are allowed to unite or to increase their boundaries for the purpose of bettering their facilities for instruction or for establishing high schools or securing a more local supervision than is given by the county superintendent. Such provisions as these have a natural outgrowth into a township system adapted to the local society among which it has been bred. So far as this question is an effort to coerce seemingly recalcitrant communities to tax themselves, or, on the other hand, to coerce richer school communities to "equably " distribute their greater revenues, though derived from a lower rate per cent, among their poorer neighbors (if the wealth of the "township" is unequally distributed), the question is political quite as much as pedagogical.3 As to the purely administrative side of the question,
1 Massachusetts school laws, 1892, remarks, page 25.
2 Due consideration being given to what is said about "unequable" distribution of taxable .property.
Value per capita of real and personal property as assessed for taxation, and density of population (number to the square mile).
In Maine, New Hampshire, and Vermont the number of persons to a square mile is, respectively, 22, 42, and 36; on the other hand, the very large negro population south of the Potomac and the Ohio may be considered as cutting down the square-mile population from one-third to over one-half, inasmuch as the races must be educated apart. The fact that there are numer. ous concentrations of population in cities and towns in the North Atlantic Division may make for or against the "township" system as one considers them as reducing the agricultural population in the townships or as increasing their wealth by propinquity.
such especially in regard to the exceeding multiplication of petty political officers, such as treasurer and secretary of a school board, and their fees, it is possible to think that though the district school meeting and board may remain, the numerous hands through which the district money passes may be made fewer.
[States following in order of geographical divisions as given in the statistical summaries of these volumes.]
1. ORGANIZATION OF THE SYSTEM.
State superintendent.—Town [ship]' superintending school committees or a supervisor.-Truant officers.
State superintendent.-The governor, with the advice and consent of the council, shall appoint a State superintendent of common schools, whose term of office is for three years or during the pleasure of the executive; vacancies to be filled by a new appointment for like term. His office is at the seat of government, where all reports, maps, plans of buildings, models, and other articles of interest to school officers and teachers as may be procured without expense to the State are to be preserved. His duties are:
I. To exercise a general supervision of all the public schools, and to advise and direct the town committees in the discharge of their duties, by circular, letters, and personal conference, devoting all his time to the duties of his office.
II. To obtain information as to the school systems of other States and countries and the condition and progress of common school education throughout the world, to disseminate this information, with such practical hints upon the conduct of schools and the true theory of education as observation and investigation convince him to be important, by public addresses, circulars, and articles prepared for the press, and to do all in his power to awaken and sustain an interest in education among the people, and to stimulate teachers to well-directed efforts in their work. III. To take such measures as he deems necessary to secure the holding of a State educational convention once each year for consultation in reference to the interest of common schools and the most approved methods of instruction.
IV. If sufficient encouragement is afforded by citizens, to hold in each county once a year a public meeting or institute for teachers and educators.
V. To prepare and cause to be printed and distributed such portions of the proceedings of State institutes or teachers' conventions as he deems important in the furtherance of education.
VI. To prescribe the studies to be taught in the common schools, reserving to town committees the right to prescribe additional studies.
VII. Annually to report to the governor and council the result of his inquiries and investigations and the facts obtained from the school returns, with such suggestions and recommendations as in his judgment would best promote the improvement of the common schools.
VIII. Biennially, as soon as practicable after the adjournment of the legislature, to compile and have printed in pamphlet form 3,000 copies of the amended school law of the State and distribute the same to the municipal and school officers of the several towns.
IX. To prepare and issue, biennially, such circulars of information and advice to school officers, relating to new school enactments, as he deems necessary for the intelligent and effectual enforcement of such enactments.
X. To prepare and have printed forms for all returns required by law or deemed by him necessary, and shall on the 1st day of each March forward to town clerks blanks for the annual school return and registers for the school year commencing on the 1st day of April following; and the town clerk shall forthwith deliver these blanks to the school committee of the town. In case he shall fail to receive during May the return from a town, he shall on the 1st day of June notify its school committee of the fact.
XI. To furnish the State treasurer on the 1st day of July the number of children between 4 and 21 years of age in the towns from which returns are received. Superintending school committee (or supervisor).—Every town shall choose by ballot at its annual meeting a superintending school committee of three, as provided below, and shall fill vacancies arising therein at each subsequent annual meeting, or shall, in the same manner, choose a supervisor of schools who shall perform the duties of said committee; and his election shall terminate the office
1A New England "town" is not necessarily a collection of houses, but a well defined and represented political entity. It is not a mere municipal organization, nor yet a block of land containing 36 square miles, as the "Congressional township" of the West and the newer States of the South.
of all members of such committee. Women are eligible to these positions. School committeemen or the supervisor shall be sworn. At their first meeting school committees shall designate by lot one of their number to hold office three years and another two years, the remaining member retiring after one year's service, and each member elected to fill these vacancies as they occur shall hold office for three years. Vacancies caused by death, resignation, etc., are to be filled by the board, the appointee to hold until the next annual town meeting. Two members constitute a quorum, and if there is but one member he may fill vacancies: Provided, That if the one thus remaining in office declines or neglects to fill vacancies the municipal officers shall fill the same; and they shall fill all vacancies arising in the office of supervisor until the next annual election. The duties of the superintending school committees (and supervisor) shall be:
I. They shall appoint suitable times and places for the examination of candididates proposing to teach within their jurisdiction, and shall post notice of the same in two or more public places within the town at least three weeks before the date appointed, or publish the facts in one or more newspapers having the largest circulation in the county. They shall employ teachers for the several districts in the town.
II. On satisfactory evidence that a candidate possesses good moral character and a temper and disposition suitable to be an instructor of youth, they shall examine the person applying in reading, spelling, English grammar, geography, history, arithmetic, bookkeeping, physiology, the elements of the natural sciences, especially as applied to agriculture, and such other branches as they desire to introduce into public schools, and particularly into the school for which he is examined; also as to his capacity for the government thereof.
III. They shall give to each candidate found competent a certificate that he is qualified to govern a school and instruct in the branches required, or they may validify by indorsement any graded certificate issued to teachers by normal-school principals, county supervisors, or the State superintendent.
IV. They shall direct the general course of instruction and select a uniform system of text-books, of which due notice shall be given. No text-book may be changed during five years from the date of its adoption, unless by a vote of the town. Any person violating this provision shall forfeit not exceeding $500, to be recovered in an action of debt by any school officer or person aggrieved. When the committee make a selection of school books, they shall contract with the publishers for the purchase and delivery thereof, and make such rules as they deem effectual for their preservation and return. [See also under "Schools-Text-books."]
V. They shall examine the schools and inquire into the regulations and discipline thereof and the proficiency of the scholars, for which purpose one or more of the committee shall visit each school at least twice in summer and twice in winter, and use their influence to secure regular attendance of the youth of the town.
VI. After due notice and investigation they shall dismiss any teacher, although having the requisite certificate, who proves unfit to teach, or whose services they deem unprofitable to the school, and give to the person thus dismissed a certificate of dismissal and the reasons therefor, a copy of which they shall retain, which shall not deprive the recipient of compensation for past service.
VII. They shall expel any obstinately disobedient and disorderly scholar, after a proper investigation of his behavior, if found necessary for the peace and usefulness of the school, and restore him on satisfactory evidence of his repentance and amendment.
VIII. They may exclude any person not vaccinated.
IX. They shall determine what description of scholars shall attend each school, classify them, and transfer them from school to school.
X. They shall make a written report of the condition of the schools for the past year, the proficiency of the methods of instruction and government, and shall transmit a copy of the same to the State superintendent. They shall also make a statement annually showing the amount of money raised and expended for the support of schools, designating what part is raised by taxation and what from other sources, showing how such other sources of income accrued, the number of children 4-21 within their town, the whole number corrected to April 1 preceding, and the average number of scholars attending the summer schools and the winter schools, also the total number of different scholars attending school two weeks or more of the preceding year as shall appear from the teachers' register, the average length of the summer schools and of the winter schools, in weeks (of five days each), and the average length of the schools for the year, the number of male and female teachers employed in the public schools during any part of the year, the wages of male teachers a month and of female teachers a week, exclusive of board. Truant officers.-Cities and towns shall annually elect one or more persons, to be designated truant officers, who shall inquire into all cases of neglect of parents
to have their children attend school and report thereon to the superintending school committee. The truant officer shall, when so directed, prosecute in the name of the city or town any person liable to the penalty, as set forth under the heading, "Schools, age of attendance," below. It is his duty, when notified by the teacher that any pupil is irregular in attendance, to arrest and conduct the delinquent to school. He also is required to preserve the school property from defacement and the quiet of the session. Every city or town neglecting to elect truant officers, and truant officers neglecting to prosecute when directed, shall forfeit a sum not less than $10 nor more than $50 to the use of the local public schools. The compensation of the truant officers is fixed by the municipal officers.
Appointment and qualifications (see Organization, Duties of superintending school committees").-Duties.-Meetings.-Preliminary training.
Duties.-Every teacher of a public school shall keep a register of the names of the pupils, their age, date of entering and leaving, days present, the length of school, the salary received, list of text-books used, and other facts required by the blank form furnished. This register is always open to the inspection of the school committee, and no teacher may receive pay for services until the register, properly filled, completed, and signed, is deposited with the school committee or a person designated by it. All professors and instructors of whatever grade in public or private institutions are enjoined to impress upon their pupils the principles of morality and justice, the love of truth, country, humanity, industry, and frugality as tending to preserve republican institutions and social and individual happiness, and public school teachers are required to consume not less than ten minutes each week in teaching to their pupils kindness to birds and other animals. Whoever teaches a public school without first obtaining a certificate from the school committee of the town forfeits an amount not exceeding the sum he contracted to receive for his service as well as his pay, but a town may, at a legal meeting, instruct its supervisor to teach and fix his compensation.
Meetings. When not fewer than 30 of the teachers and school officers of a county shall have formed not more than two associations under rules of government approved by the State superintendent for the purpose of mutual improvement in the science and art of teaching and of creating popular interest in education by holding not more than two conventions every year under the supervision of the State superintendent, the State shall defray the necessary expenses, for which purpose the sum of $1,000 is set apart from the annual school fund of the State. Teachers of public schools are authorized, without loss of pay, to close their schools for not more than two days in the year during the session of such conventions within their counties.
Preliminary training of teachers.-The northern normal school at Farmington, the eastern normal school at Castine, and the western normal school at Gorham shall be conducted upon the principles herein set forth:
I. They shall be thoroughly devoted to the training of persons for teaching. II. The course of study shall include the common English branches in thorough reviews and such of the higher branches as are especially adapted to prepare teachers to conduct the mental, moral, and physical education of their pupils. III. The art of school management, including the best methods of government and instruction, shall have a prominent place in the daily exercise of these schools. IV. While teaching the fundamental truths of Christianity, the schools are nonsectarian.
V. The principals shall register the attendance, the age of the pupils, the date of their admission and departure, etc., to be returned to the State superintendent by the 1st day of each December, and the information so furnished shall appear in his annual report.
The course of study shall occupy two years, with suitable vacations, and the terms of admission shall be arranged by the State superintendent, subject to the approval of the governor and council. The trustees may arrange for a course of three years for such students as may elect to pursue it. Graduates receive a diploma. Applicants for admission, if women, must be 16 years of age; but if men, 17 years. They must signify their intention to become teachers and obligate themselves to teach for one year in the State, or, if receiving a diploma, two years. Under these conditions tuition is free. The schools are under the direction of a board of trustees, consisting of seven persons, five of whom shall be appointed by the governor, with the advice and consent of the council, for not