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III. THE INSPECTION AND LICENSING OF TEACHERS, AND THE VISI
TATION AND SUPERVISION OF THE SCHOOLS.
The Town Superintendent is, by virtue of his office, inspector of common schools of his town; and it is his duly“ to examine all persons offering themselves as candidates for teaching common schools in such town." In making such examination it is his duty" to ascertain the qualifications of the candidate in respect to moral character, learning and ability.” If he “shall be satisfied in respect to the qualifications of the candidate, he shall deliver to the person so examined a certificate signed by him, in such form as shall be prescribed by the Superintendent of Common Schools."
He may annul any such certificate given by him or his predecessor in office, when he shall think proper, giving at least ten days' previous notice in writing to the teacher holding it, and to the trustees of the district in which he may be employed, of his intention to annul the same. Whenever he shall deem it necessary,
may require a re-examination of all or any of the teachers in his town, for the purpose of ascertaining their qualifications to continue as such teachers. The annulling of a certificate does not, however, disqualify the teacher to whom it was given, until a note in writing thereof, containing the name of the teacher, and the time when his certificate was annulled, shall be made by the Town Superintendent and Gled in the office of the clerk of the town.
Where any school district is composed of a part of two or more towns, or any school-house shall stand on the division line of any two towns, the Town Superintendent of either town may examine into and certify the qualifications of any teacher offering to teach in such district, and may also in the same manner annul the certificate of such teacher.- 44–51. (Nos. 54–62) school act.
The duties and powers thus confided to the Town Superintendent are most important and involve great responsibility; and upon their proper fulfilment, depends in a very essential degree, the elevation and improvement of the district schools. If none but properly qualified teachers are permitted to find their way to our schools ; if the certificate of the examining officer, and the sanction of his authority, are given only to those who are intel
lectually and morally fitted adequately to discharge the duties of instructors of youth, “apt to teach,” competent to communicate instruction in the mode best adapted to develop the various faculties of the expanding mind, patterns alike of moral and social excellence; these elementary institutions will speedily become the fitting temples of science, the nurseries of virtue, and the pride and boast of the state. Hitherto this duty has been deplorably neglected; and the disastrous consequences are every where visible in the degradation of the district school, the substitution of private and select schools of every grade, the low estimation in which the profession of the teacher is held, and the miserable pitiance—too often most costly in its utmost scantiness which is reluetantly doled out to the needy and destitute adventurer. A thorough reform in this respect, is imperatively demanded as well by public sentiment, as by a just regard to the paramount interests of education, and no considerations of temporary convenience to a particular district, of favor to individuals, or of regard to the prejudices or preferences of inhabitants or trustees, will, it is hoped, hereafter be permitted in any case to sway the action of the certifying officer, or incline him, either to the right or the left, from the plain path of duty and obligation. A certificate should in no case, and under no circumstances, be granted, unless the candidate is found upon a careful examination, well qualified to instruct in all the ordinary branches usually taught in common schools—thoroughly versed in the principles of elementary science-capable of readily applying them to any given case, and able to communicate with facility, the results of his knowledge ; and unless in addition to this, his character and demeanor are irreproachable, his habits exemplary, and his moral principles undoubted. In order as well to be assured that the impressions resulting from the examination were well founded, as to make himself acquainted with the condition and prospects of the schools, the Town Superintendent should, once at least during each term, visit and inspect the schools; and whenever practicable, should be accompanied by the County Superintendent, by the trustees of the districts and such of the inhabitants as may be prevailed upon to attend. It would be attended with the
happiest effects upon the prosperity and advancement of the schools, if the Town Superintendent would annnally make to the County Superintendent, a detailed report of the character and condition of the several schools within his town, and of the influences, prosperous or adverse, by which their administration during the current year had been distinguished.- Exposition of Young, Supt. 1843.
The certificates of qualification granted by Town Sue perintendents are to remain in force for one year only ; are available only within the town for which they were granteu; may be annulled at any time by the officer granting them, or his successor, giving ten days notice in writing, of intention to annul the same, to the teacher and trustees, or by the County Superintendent, with the consent of the Town Superintendent, without such notice, and is to be in the form prescribed by the department.
By 98 52 and 53 of the school act, (Nos. 63, 64,) it is made the duty of the Town Superintendent to visit all such common schools, within his town, as shall be organized according to law, at least once a year, and oftener if he shall deem it necessary.
At such visitation he is required to examine into the state and condition of such schools, both as respects the progress of the scholars in learning, and the good order of the schools; and may give his advice and direction to the trustees and teachers of such schools as to the government thereof, and the course of studies to be pursued therein.
" If the opinions of the best and most experienced writers on primary education, are not entirely fallacious; and if all the results of experience hitherto are not deceptive, the consequences of such a vigorous system of inspection will be most happy. The teachers and pupils will feel that they are not abandoned to neglect ; the apprehension of discredit will stimulate them to the greatest effort; while the suggestion of the visitors will tend constantly to the improvement 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 annul.
The power of annulling, in all cases, is given to the County Superintendent, with the concurrence of the Town Superintendent.
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 ground 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 Superintende it shall have prescribed. If he is not satisfied he should give him no certificate at all. He is wholly unauthorized to take a middle course by giving a qualified certificate.”- Per Dıx, Sup't of Com. Schools, Dec. 236.
The certificate must also bear date on the day of examination, and cannot be ante-dated.
-Certificates of qualification to candidates for teachers in joint districts, may be granted and annulled by the Town Superintendents of either of the towns from parts of which such joint district is composed. In such cases,
however, a certificate granted by the Town Superintendent of one town should not be annulled by the Superintendent of another having concurrent jurisdiction, unless upon strong and decisive proof of incompetency or immorality; nor, on the other hand, should an application for examination be entertained by the Town Superintendent of either town, unless upon satisfactory proof that such application is original, and that the candidate for examination has not within three months prior to such application been examined and rejected by any officer of concurrent jurisdiction.
The qualifications of teachers are left to the discrimination and judgment of the legal examiners. They must determine the degree 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 grammar, 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 teacher may perform all his duties during school hours.-11. 46.
In relation to the moral character of the teacher, much is left to the discretion of the examing 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