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the meaning of all the words in an ordinary spelling list, it is well to put into the hands of the state superintendent, not only the arrangements for the annual institute but also the preparation of the questions for the examining and licensing of the teachers. But where the system of electing county superintendents brings into office a man equal to the average state superintendent, by all means place in his hands the preparation of the questions and the examination for all certificates not designed to be permanent. This will enable him to cut off many who have knowledge without teaching power, as well as to retain all who teach well in spite of limited scholastic attainments.
The other agencies for the training of teachers, such as the normal schools, the summer schools, the “State School Journal,” may be left in the hands of the state superintendent, in so far as his other duties permit him to oversee their work and management. In any event, his coming should be hailed at every educational gathering and at every institution of learning as was the advent of a new teacher in ancient Athens; his platform utterances should be replete with words of wisdom and encouragement; his presence should be an inspiration to all with whom he comes in contact, and his scholarship and experience should enable him to guide his growing teachers in their study of the latest investigations and results in the department of pedagogy.
The duty of selecting text-books, prescribing courses of study, and making lists of books suitable for school libraries and from which purchases must be made, is sometimes imposed upon boards of education, of which the state superintendent is the most influential member. The purchase of books should be made the duty of the local authorities. The commissions of those charged with the duty of supervision should be issued by the state superintendent, who should have the power to withhold the commissions from persons lacking the necessary qualifications. He should also have power to remove any superintendent for neglect of duty, incompetency, or immorality. He can, of course, tell beforehand whether a supervisor can get things done, or is simply fit to visit for the purpose of ascertaining and reporting what is done in the schools. Only the former class of superintendents earn their salaries. If the commissions of the latter class could be revoked it would be a blessing to teachers and pupils.
In addition to the specified duties, there are certain implied duties which belong to the office by virtue of its place in a school system. First among these implied duties is the obligation to make himself a representative man. By taking up into himself the best elements of the nation and the age to which he belongs he may fit himself to become an educational leader. He should be familiar and in sympathy with every grade of school work, from the kindergarten to the university.
In the next place, he should inaugurate and carry into effect useful reforms, lopping off what has become dead and useless but engrafting what is new and full of promise. The world's life is constantly advancing; the schools should keep pace with the progress of the race. True historical development implies the preservation of the real essence of the present age whilst its defects are abolished and the life of humanity is elevated and enriched. In other words, he should be a conservative in the true sense of the word. The word conservative may be used to designate “a man who is at the top of the tree and knows it, and means never to come down, whatever it may cost him to keep his place there.” In this sense “it means a man who upholds government, and society, and the existing state of things, not because it exists; not because it is good and desirable -because it is established; because it is a benefit to the population; because it is full of promise for the future-but rather because he himself is well off in consequence of it, and because to take care of number one is his main political principle.” A conservative in this sense of the word a state superintendent should never be; but he should be a conservative in the sense of one who seeks to preserve existing institutions from unnecessary and hurtful changes.
Perhaps the most important of his implied duties is to guard his school system from harm. Here he must deal with quasi-reformers, ill-advised legislators, and agents of expensive charts and fancy apparatus. These last are the vampires whose blood-sucking propensities eclipse the ghosts of the medieval period, which were said to cause the death of the innocent by sucking the blood out of them while they slept. I trust and pray that some ingenious Yankee will concoct a recipe that will be as fatal to these vampires as paris green is to the potato-bug.
Reformers in education spring up like mushrooms. Now, some species of mushrooms are edible; an English botanist speaks of one kind as food fit for the gods. But many species are very poisonous, and typify the quasi-reformers, to whom they may be likened-fair in appearance but deadly within. The average reformer sees one thing vividly, and judges everything else from his narrow point of view. A member of the Pennsylvania legislature proposed to change the weekly school holiday from Saturday and Monday. On ferreting out his motive, a colleague discovered that the reason for the introduction of the bill was his wife's desire to have her daughters at home on washday, whereas she did not need their services on Saturday. Over against such ill-advised legislation, the function of the state superintendent resembles that of the ichneumon, noted for its
habit of devouring crocodile eggs, which it scratches out of the sand. This animal was regarded as sacred among the ancient Egyptians, because every egg destroyed meant a future crocodile dispatched. Many of the bills introduced at every session of the legislature contain hidden eggs, which, if hatched, develop into crocodiles, fatal to the best interests of the children. It is the sacred duty of the state superintendent to search out and destroy all eggs of this kind before they are hatched.
Let us next consider the ways of selecting and creating an official vested with these ample powers and diverse functions. The plan adopted by most of the states is that of election by popular vote. This involves a nomination by the state convention of each political party. The names at the head of the ticket are the first selected. There is some probability that the fear of defeat will cause the nomination of the most capable men for governor, lieutenant governor, state treasurer, and the like; but by the time the office of state superintendent is reached, the wishes of the congressional districts which have no representation on the ticket must be consulted. Thus, often a thirdrate candidate is selected because the best candidates happen to live in districts from which the other nominees have been taken. Thus, the schools are sacrificed to party success, which is the ruling motive at every political convention. Popular indignation may defeat an unworthy candidate at the head of the ticket. Never have I known the opposition to crystallize against a candidate whom the school people consider unfit for the office of state superintendent. The maxim, Vox populi, vox Dei, may hold when financial and agricultural interests are involved; but the vox populi often fails to voice the interests of innocent children and defenseless lady teachers, who cast no votes at popular elections. But one worse method can be conceived, viz., that of election by the general assembly or joint vote of the legislature. Here all the ills by which the people's wishes in the selection of United States senators may be defeated are liable to creep into the election, and well-nigh all the reasons which led to the adoption of the present method of electing senators are wanting to him who advocates the joint vote of both branches of the legislature as the best method of electing a state superintendent.
Let us next picture to ourselves the method of appointment by the governor, with the advice and consent of the senate. In the middle of his term the office of state superintendent becomes vacant, and, Diogenes-like, he lights his lantern in search of a man. Being himself possessed of scholarly instincts, he seeks a man of broad and thorough scholarship and of large and varied experience as an educator. He seeks an exemplary exponent of the home, a loyal citizen of the republic, and a consistent member of the church. His aim is to find a man who is in sympathy with the progressive movements of the age and who has taken up into himself the best elements of the people whose children are to be educated. Having heard the claim of St. Philip Neri, that, with a dozen really detached men, he could convert the world; and having read Newman's comments upon this remarkable claim, he concludes, that, in addition to the qualities already named, the appointee should be a detached man. Accordingly he seeks a man who will go about his work because it is his duty, "very much as soldiers are expected to go to battle, without a care for the consequences;" one who will do what he conceives to be right and for the best interests of childhood, "caring simply nothing what other people choose to say or think of him or do to him;" one who will account "credit, honor, name, easy circumstances,comfort, human affections, just nothing at all,” when any school duty involves the sacrifice of them. The ideal which the governor is seeking to find realized is a man who is as “reckless of all these goods of life on occasions of great public duty as, under ordinary circumstances, we are lavish and wanton in our use of water, or as we make a present of our words without grudging to friend or stranger; one who will rid himself of those who would prostitute the school system for selfish ends as we get rid of wasps, or gnats, or flies which trouble us, with. out any sort of compunction, without hesitation before the act, and without a second thought after it.”
When at last he finds his man, the answer he receives is: "Who is sufficient for these things? Suffer me to stick to my post at the head of the college.” When the appointment is offered to a second man, he replies: "My Lord, suffer this cup to pass from me. I prefer to fill my place in the theological seminary.” At length the man whom the good Lord has, by sore trials and long experience, prepared for the work, is found, appointed, and reappointed; but his career, though brilliant, ends in sadness, persecution, and premature death.
The picture which I have drawn has a basis in fact. Not for thirty years has a state superintendent been appointed in Pennsylvania as a reward for party services. The last two presidents have shown themselves able to rise above party in the appointment of a commissioner of education, and several governors have lately shown similar magnanimity in their choice of a state superintendent.
If it should be felt, that, in order to avoid the mishap of an appointment as a reward for political services, it is necessary to adopt a still better method, then the only plan which I can conceive of as superior to that of appointment by the governor is to vest the selection in some board removed from the influences of ordinary politics. The board of regents in New York, the board of education in Massachusetts, the supreme bench in Pennsylvania are sufficiently removed from the mishaps of politics to insure the selection of a suitable man. Where the method of selection by popular election or gubernatorial appointment prevails, a term of four years is better than a term of two years; but the experience of Massachusetts has shown that appointment by a state board for a term of one year is not incompatible with long tenure of office. Whatever be the method of selection adopted, the farther it is removed from the accidents and mishaps of politics and popular elections the better it will be for the school system and the children, for whose sole benefit schools are established and conducted.
STATE SUPT. J. R. PRESTON, Jackson, Miss.—The duties and powers of a state superintendent naturally fall under three main divisions, corresponding with the main divisions of the subject of education.
First, the historic phase, which includes making a record and collating statistical reports of the actual condition and progress of the schools. These statistics should be systematically collected after a uniform plan, the items being the same for all the states. Otherwise they would be of little value as a basis of comparison with the systems existing in other states.
Second, the static phase. As the historic phase includes the actual condition of the school, so the static phase embraces the ideal system. This ideal system is derived from the study of contemporary systems of education, and should be set forth by the state superintendent in the narrative part of his educational reports.
The third is the dynamic phase, which includes methods and means by which the actual school system can be modified and brought up to the ideal. This imposes upon the state superintendent, as educational leader of the state, the duty of setting into operation all impulses which may tend to bring about the desired result. His means of doing this are numerous and varied, consisting chiefly of addresses and articles in the newspapers and educational journals, through which public interest is aroused and public sentiment molded. Under this head, also, may be mentioned what may be termed a pathological phase of education, which imposes upon the superintendent the duty of looking after and preventing harmful legislation and correcting such evils as may exist in the administration of the system. This requires him to keep in constant touch with the educational officers of the state and to have accurate information of the real condition of the schools througirout his commonwealth.
The power of the state superintendent will depend mainly upon his personal qualities as a leader. By virtue of his official position, he becomes an authority in educational matters throughout the state. A superintendent who administers the office wisely magnifies most this official authority. He does most when, forgetting all personal aims, he consults only for what is best for the cause he serves.
STATE SUPT. HENRY Sabin of lowa.—The state superintendent of any state should be a man of the people, respected by all; a leader of the teachers and their earnest friend. He must have back of him the educational forces of the state, and,