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be found in the organization of some local board, vested with the authority of licensing teachers and of revoking the license, and charged with a general superintendence of the schools within the prescribed limits. The division of the state into counties affords a convenient distribution of territory for these purposes. And if it be made a condition of receiving the public donation, that teachers thus authorized shall have been employed for a portion of the year, it is believed that the sure and inevitable consequence would be the employment of instructors much more competent than the average of the present teachers. In those counties where the population is small and scattered, the standard of competency will necessarily be low; but it will advance with the means of the districts and with the prosperity and intelligence of the counties. In other counties, where candidates were more numerous, the qualifications would be higher. The teachers would become emphatically a profession; men would devote themselves to it as the means of livelihood, and would prepare themselves accordingly, Their character would advance, and with it their usefulness and the respect of their fellow-citizens. Such is an outline of the first efforts, which, in the opinion of the committee, should be made to obtain able teachers.
“ The next object is to provide the means of qualifying the necessary number of teachers. By the report of the Superin: tendent of Common schools maile in January, 1825, it appears there were then in this state 7,642 school districts. Thai, then, is the number of teachers now required; the best evidence that can be adduced to show that there must always be a sufficient demand for those who are qualified. It is obvious that the sug.. gestion of the governor, in his message respecting the establishment of an institution especially for the purpose of educating teachers, will not answer the exigencies of the case. It is entitled to much weight, however, as a means, in conjunction with others, to effect the object. But in the view which the committee have taken, our great reliance for nurseries of teachers must be placed on our colleges and academies. If they do not answer this purpose they can be of very little use. That they have not hitherto been more extensively useful in that respect, is owing to inherent defects in the system of studies pursued there. When the heads of our colleges are apprised of the great want of teachers which it is so completely in their power to relieve, if not supply, it is but reasonable to expect that they will adopt a system by which young men whose pursuits do not require a knowledge of classics, may avail themselves of the talent and instruction in those institutions suited to their wants, without being compelled also to receive that which they do not want, and for which they have neither time nor money.
“Our academies also have failed to supply the want of teach ers, to the extent which was within their power; although it is acknowledged that in this respect they have been eminently useful. But instead of being incited to such efforts, they are rather restrained by the regulations adopted by the Regents of the University for the distribution of the literary fund placed at their disposal. The income of that fund is divided among the academies in proportion to the number of classical students in each, without reference to those who are pursuing the highest and most useful branches of an English course. With such encouragement, how could it be expected of trustees of academies that they should prefer a pupil disposed to study the Elements of Euclid, surveying, or Belles-lettres, to a boy who would commit the Latin Grammar, while the latter would entitle them to a bounty which was refused to the former? The committee are not disposed to censure the Regents; they have merely followed the fashion of the times; and it is believed that they are themselves alive to the importance of extending the usefulness of the institutions under their care, by adapting them more to the wants of the country and the spirit of the age. But if they should not be willing to extend the benefits of the fund under their control, beyond classical studenti, still it will be in the power of the legislature, and within the means of the state, to appropriate a capital sum that will yield a sufficient income to compensate for this inequality, and to place the English student on the same footing with the others, and thus make it the interest of the academies to instruct them. And if this bounty be distributed in reference to the number of persons instructed at an academy who shall have been licensed as teachers of common schools by the proper board, it is believed the object of obtaining able instructors will soon be accomplished.
“ The committee have not been able to discover why, upon every principle of justice and of public policy, seminaries for the education of females in the higher branches of knowledge should not participate equally with those for the instruction of males, in the public bounty.
“In connection with these, the committee admit that the establishment of a separate institution for the sole purpose of preparing teachers, would be a most valuable auxiliary, especially if they were to be prepared to teach on the monitorial plan. They hesitate to recommend its adoption now, chiefly because the other measures which they intend to submit, and which they conceive to be more immediately necessary,
will involve as much expense as ought now to be incurred. But they fondly anticipate the time when the means of the state will be commensurate with the public spirit of its legislature, and when such an institution will be founded on a scale equal to our wants and our resources.”
The committee, after adverting to the embarrassments caused by the prevalent diversity of text books in the several schools of the state, recommend an appropriation for " the printing of large editions of such elementary works as the spelling book, an English dictionary, a grammar, a system of arithmetic, American history and biography, to be used in schools, and to be distributed gratuitously, or sold at cost.” " There can be no doubt,” say the committee, “ that a selection of such works as have been enumerated could be made by a competent board, excluding all sectarian views and tenets, as would be entirely satisfactory to the citizens of this state.”
On the 14th of February, 1826, AZARIAH C. FLAGG, of the county of Clinton, was appointed secretary of state; and the administration of the common school system consequently devolved upon him. The interests of public instruction had been ably and faithfully guarded by Mr. YATES; who seems to have united to eminent talents as an executive and administrative officer, a lively zeal for the promotion of education and the diffusion of knowledge among the great body of the people. His various reports exhibit an accurate practical knowledge of the working of the common school system, in all its departments; his decisions on the numerous appeals which were from time to time brought before him, were characterized by a sound discrimination; and his efforts for the improvement and advancement of the schools were earnest and indefatigable,
The first annual report of Mr. Flagg as Superintendent of Common Schools, was transmitted to the legislature on the 13th of March, 1826; from which it appeared that 425,350 children had been taught in the common schools during the year; being 22,410 more than were taught the preceding year, and exceeding by 29,764 the number between the ages of five and fifteen residing in the state. The whole number of organized school districts in the state was 7,773. The Superintendent alludes to the necessity of “ some provision which should have a tendency to increase the number of qualified instructors,” and adds: “ It might be beneficial to offer facilities for the special education of common school teachers; and as the districts progress in wealth, and the donation of the state is increased, inducements will be furnished for a greater number of persons of competent talents, to engage in the business of teaching, as a profession."
At the opening of the session of 1827, Gov. CLINTON thus eloquently alluded to the subject of popular education:
“The great bulwark of republican government is the cultivation of education; for the right of suffrage cannot be exercised in a salutary manner without intelligence. It is gratifying to find that education continues to flourish. We may safely estimate the number of our common schools at 8,000; the num
ber of children taught during the last year, on an average of eight months, at 430,000; and the sum expended in education at 200,000 dollars. It is however too palpable that our system is surrounded by imperfections which demand the wise consideration and improving interposition of the legislature. In the first place, there is no provision made for the education of competent instructors. Of the eight thousand now employed in this state, too many are destitute of the requisite qualifications, and perhaps no considerable number are able to teach beyond rudimental instruction. Ten years of a child's life, from five to fifteen, may be spent in a common school; and ought this immense portion of time to be absorbed in learning what can be acquired in a short period ? Perhaps one-fourth of our population is annually instructed in our common schools; and ought the minds and the morals of the rising, and perhaps the destinies of all future generations, to be entrusted to the guardianship of incompetence? The scale of instruction must be elevated; the standard of education ought to be raised; and a central school on the monitorial plan ought to be established in each county, for the education of teachers, and as exemplars for other momentous purposes connected with the improvement of the human mind.
Small and suitable collections of books and maps, attached to our common schools, and periodical examinations to test the proficiency of the scholars, and the merits of the teachers, are worthy of attention. When it is understood that objects of this description enter into the very formation of our characters, control our destinies through life, protect the freedom and advance the glory of our country; and when it is considered that seminaries for general education are either not provided in the old world, or but imperfectly supplied by charity and Sunday schools, and that this is the appropriate soil of liberty and education, let it be our pride, as it is our duty, to spare no exertion, and to shrink from no expense in the promotion of a cause consecrated by religion and enjoined by patriotism; nor let us be regardless of ample encouragement of the higher institutions devoted to literature and science. Independently of their intrinsic merits, and their diffusive and enduring benefits, in reference to their appropriate objects, they have in a special manner, a most auspicious influence on all subordinate institutions.
“They give to society men of improved and enlarged minds, who, feeling the importance of information in their own experience, will naturally cherish an ardent desire to extend its blessings. Science delights in expansion, as well as in concentration; and after having flourished within the precincts of academies and universities, will spread itself over the land, enlightening society and ameliorating the condition of man. The more elevated the tree of kuowledge, and the more
expanded its branches, the greater will be its trunk, and the deeper its root.”
On the 21st of February, Mr. SPENCER, from the literature committee of the senate, to which had been referred that portion of the message of the governor relating to common schools and the providing of competent teachers, brought in a bill, entitled " An act to provide permanent funds for the annual appropriation to common schools, to increase the literature fund, and to promote the education of teachers,” which, with some slight amendments, became a law on the 13th of April following. This bill transferred to the common school fund the balance due on the loan of 1786, together with $100,000 of bank stock owned by the state: and to the literature fund, from the canal fund, the sum of $150,000; the income of which, together with that of the 895,000 formerly belonging to the fund, was required to be annually distributed by the Regents of the University “among the incorporated academies and seminaries of this state, other than colleges, which are subject to the visitation of the said Regents, &c., in proportion to the number of pupils instructed in each academy or seminary for six months during the preceding year, who shall have pursued classical studies, or the higher branches of English education, or both.” From the report accompanying the bill the following extracts are taken, with the view of showing the design of the legislature in thus increasing the literature fund.
* Another object of still greater importance is the furnishing of competent teachers for the instruction of common schools. In vain will you have established a system of instruction, in vain will you appropriate money to educate the children of the poor, if you do not provide persons competent to execute your system, and to teach the pupils collected in the schools. The message of the governor and the report of the Superintendent concur in pressing this subject upon our attention with the most anxious solicitude; and every citizen who has paid attention to 'it, and become acquainted practically with the situation of our schools, knows that the incompetency of the great mass of teachers is a radical defect, which impedes the whole system, frustrates the benevolent designs of the legislature, and defeats the hopes and wishes of all who feel an interest in disseminating the blessings of education. There are 8,114 organized school districts in this state; and if there be added the schools in the city of New York, in Albany, Troy and Hudson, not included in the returns, and the private schools which are established in almost every county, we shall be justified in estimating the number of teachers required to carry on the business of instruction, at not far from ten thousand. This result places in a strong view the vast importance of the subject. From what sources can this supply of teachers be obtained ? And how can