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to be appointed solely on political influence, and must pass suitable examinations. Children are valuable, and therefore carriers will take pains not to deface them in transit.” Is that a system to apply to men and women who are handling and shaping the minds and souls of our children? Is there to be no suggestion and reaction back from teacher to master and superintendent? The whole scheme of carrying on schools entirely by an impulse from above downward reminds one of the report of a life-saving station to the government. "Last night a large brig came ashore on Smutty-Nose. We did all that was in human power to save the vessel by the use of the speaking-trumpet. Notwithstanding these efforts, she went to pieces at 3 a. m. and all hands were lost."
As a teacher myself, I plead for some system by which the teachers shall directly participate in school organization. I say participate, because I wish to avoid the slightest suggestion that they should control the schools. Systematic consultation on any definite and permanent plan is all that is asked for, and it will put the whole profession on a different footing.
Is a plea necessary for a system which is the simple common-sense, bu-inesslike method of dealing with large bodies of professional persons? To be sure, boss sewer builders ignore their diggers; but heads of hospitals do take counsel or their house-physicians, to the great benefit of suffering humanity. Why are not teachers consulted? The instinctive answer in many minds is, that they are consulted. That is true everywhere to some degree. Of course, a wise superintendent talks over with an individual teacher changes that he proposes to make in her room or building; and in a few cities the heads of school are organized, like the Principals' Round Table of Cleveland and the powerful and obstructive body of fifty-five principals in Boston. But where is there a superintendent who in any way systematically informs himself of the puplic opinion of the body of his teachers on any proposed reform? Where is the city in which there is any representative organization, capable of voicing that opinion? Individual teachers are consulted; but the teachers are not.
To any regular consultation with the whole staff of teachers in a city many objections may be suggested. The teachers are too young! We had one of these young teachers in Cambridge a few years ago; a young, fresh, vigorous, live teacher. She had taught fifty years in the same school. Was her opinion of no value? Teachers are too inexperienced! It is true that they begin at about the age and advancement of boys entering college, and the freshman is not absolutely wise; but even a freshman would learn wisdom if he had charge of fifty children, and at the same time had to satisfy fifty mothers and one superintendent. Teachers change rapidly! Sometimes superintendents change rapidly. Perhaps a better mutual understanding would prevent changes of both sorts. The teachers would use their organizations to form cabals! Are there no cabals or factions now? The real bottom reason for the small consideration paid to the opinion of teachers seems to be, that we think the main body of them—even in the best city systems; even in the high schools—to be too ignorant to give any valuable advice on school questions. Miss Arnold yesterday spoke of the tactless teacher, who cried out at the stupidity of her children in their presence. It seems to me that is what we are doing with our million teachers. If they have really nothing to contribute in council to school knowledge, let us shut up the buildings and spend the school money in fool's caps for the teachers and for ourselves who have selected them.
For the participation of teachers in school organization there are many positive reasons. In the first place, the community needs their expert advice. They are the largest body of educated men and women in this country. They are in a better position, even, than their supervisors, to discover at least the minor defects of school systems. They have a personal interest in making their time and thought go as far as possible. They have almost a mother's opportunity to study child life. They are a public-spirited and intelligent body of people, performing a great public service. Not to draw upon the results of their experience is to waste a part of the nation's resources. They have a profession, and the only profession to which women are admitted in large numbers.
In the second place, the teachers need the stimulus of debate and of formu'ating opinions which go on record. In the work of the committee of fifteen, both the report on the training of teachers and that on school organization lay great stress on the need of careful, professional, and expensive preparation for this arduous calling. What would more attract people to make that effort than a recognized professional status? What makes Yale University the vigorous, pushing, forceful institution that it is? The governors? In part; but chiefly the faculty-that is, the teachers.
In the third place, the superintendents will not be harmed by organized advice. No one fears a teachers' trade union demanding a four-hour day. The sub-committee's report is justly incisive on the right of experts to manage expert matters. "If the course of study for the public schools of a great city is to be determined by laymen” they say (page 106, line 18), “it will not be suited to the needs of a community.” If it be determined by only a part of the experts, will it suit the community any better? In the school machinery the teachers should be a part of the upper mill-stone and not of the nether.
In the fourth place, the school boards need such direct relations with their teachers.
How can the co-operation of superintendents and teachers be brought about? I will not say the "correlation" of teachers and superintendents, because that is an explosive word. Something valuable would be gained if every superintendent made it a point never to enter on important changes in his schools without previously consulting a large number of leading teachers, and then following his best judgment. On the other hand, it would be a great advance in education if we could introduce into America the successful French system of educational councils. In France every important administrative official, from the minister down, has about him a council, including some teachers, whose advice he is bound to take but not to follow. He assumes the responsibility, but never without informing himself.
Probably that is too great a change for immediate introduction into this country, though the principle is one which ought to be introduced into many branches of the public service. I beg, therefore, to suggest a middle way, which has been proposed to the Cambridge school committee for that city, and is now pending. It is, that the teachers be requested to form a teachers' association, to which all teachers in service shall be eligible. Out of that association (which will number almost 300) there shall be chosen, by vote of the teachers, a teachers' council of about twenty members, including a representative from each of the nine grades, and also from the kindergarten teachers and from each of the high and special schools, the superintendent to be ex-officio chairman. To the council thus formed the superintendent, the school committee, or any sub-committee may, from time to time, submit questi ns for examinations and report. That is all.
It is all? If that proposition be carried out in Cambridge, the next step will be carefully to go over the three important reports which have been presented to this convention, and one after another to take up the suggestions as to curriculum, training, and the like, and to ask for the opinion of the council upon their applicability to the Cambridge schools. A further step will then be for the school committee, aided and informed by that opinion, to try to introduce some of these reforms into the Cambridge system. Consultation will increase the interest of the teachers and the dignity of their profession; it will be a safety-valve for misunderstandings and complaints, and it will make smooth the track of reform.
This specific system may or may not work well; but I appeal to you, superintendents, to consider the suggestion. The body of men seated in this hall have it in their power to carry into effect any reasonable plans of public school reform which do not cost too much money. The improvement of the schools means more work and responsibility for the teachers. They will accept it cheerfully if you give them a just hearing in the questions of their own profession.
SUPT. A. P. MARBLE, Omaha, Neb. It is an easy road to fame to attack such an able report as that of Dr. Harris or Judge Draper. Hayne coupled his name with Webster's in this way. Unfortunately for such a purpose, I find myself in sympathy with the aim and purpose of this report, and with most of its details.
It seems to me that the last speaker has not discussed the report so much as something it does not contain; and the same is true of the discussions about the other two special reports. If anybody thinks the superintendent can conduct a system of schools without the co-operation of the teachers he is greatly mistaken. No sensible superintendent attempts it. I appeal to every one present, whether the assumption that we try to carry on the schools without his co-operation is not erroneous. The report does not discuss this question; it enters into no details.
The plan outlined does not create a one-man power. It merely locates definitely the responsibility; and every officer is directly accountable to the people, who are the source of all authority in this government. The plan of the report is, to avoid hasty action on the part of the public; but to make their verdict effective when it is pronounced. You cannot erect a pyramid and crown it with an autocrat, if you would; but the executive officer while in authority is the instrument by which the people enforce their will. He is the agent of the people, and not the creature or the tool of any clique or part of the people. In this way only can the popular will be executed. There have been school boards of 120 men. Think of all these, each with sisters and cousins and aunts all wishing to teach!
The report very properly separates the executive from the legislative authority, and secures the independence of the executive. It makes the business and the educational functions distinct. It leaves the course of study, the selection of books, and the appointment of teachers to experts used to these matters. All this is in the right direction.
I question the wisdom of the conclusions in two respects: First, about two boards acting opposite to each other. This, it seems to me, would lead to friction; and it is unnecessary. Second, the executive should be elected by the people of the city, as the mayor is, instead of being appointed by the mayor. He might be properly styled mayor de futuris,of the citizens about to be. If the aim is to separate the schools from politics, the appointment by the mayor would tend to the opposite. The appointment would degenerate into an ante-election bargain in a close election. The choice of a school director should not be made at the same time with the choice of other municipal officers; it might be at the time of the state election. In this way the whole people, who are less easily corrupted than a mayor might be, would be brought to a careful consideration of the school question every year by the election of one class of members of the board of education each year for a term of three years and by the election of the director once in two or four years for a term of that length.
In the practical adoption of the plan outlined in the report local conditions must be taken into account. The traditions of a place must be considered. We do not wish revolution generally, but evolution. Any local attachment, like the teachers' council spoken of by the last speaker, may be appended as you would attach the hemmer to a sewing-machine. But let it be remembered that no plan of organization will bring about the millennium in schools at once. This school director is a very interesting piece of political furniture for the politician to seize upon. He will grasp it unless the people are eternally vigilant. This vigilance is the price of the liberty to have good schools. But if the schools prosper and the public become indifferent, then the high places of our educational worship will be occupied by the money changers and those who sell doves. In that case, the worse the corruption the quicker it will be discovered and uprooted.
DR. B. A. HINSDALE, Ann Arbor, Mich.-In the first place, I do not understand Professor Hart's suggestion about the council of teachers to lie in the direction understood by Superintendent Marble. I understand that this organization is to bring to bear the teacher's influence upon the school authorities. I wish to give that suggestion an additional stroke of emphasis. It is certainly true that a great amount of educational force is represented by the teachers of the country as a whole, and that it does not have the influence that it should have upon affairs. The trouble does not so much lie through the superintendent's office as through the council hall of the board of education. Now, why cannot public schools receive that help from the teaching body which the universities receive from their teaching bodies? It is very well known, and nobody who has studied the universities in olden times (an doubt it, that the university was carried on by the teachers and pupils, subject to the regulation of their organization and charters.
SUPERINTENDENT COGSWELL, Cambridge, Mass., explained and commended the Trork of Professor Hart in organizing the teachers' council in Cambridge.
SUPERINTENDENT SEAVER, Boston, Mass.- I want to say in the first place that I consider Professor Hart's suggestion concerning the council of teachers to be a good one. I think I heard him say that the body of Boston masters was a clog; this is not the case.
COLONEL PARKER, Chicago, Ill.-It is not so now, but the Boston schoolmaster stood in the way of education for fifty years, and it can be proved.
MR. R. C. METCALF, Boston, Mass.-I do not wish to make a speech, but I was one of those masters. The Boston masters' association is composed of fifty-fire principals. I was a member of that association for eighteen years, and need no excuse for speaking a word in behalf of my associates.
It is true that they are not anxious to fall in with every new proposition that is made to them. The plan suggested by Professor Hart, by which the teachers of a city or town may be called into the councils of the school committee and superintendent, is a good one, and I can see in it the possibility of a way out of our difficulties in the East. The Boston masters have not been consulted as they should have been in regard to the conduct of their schools.
It is one thing for the superintendent of Cleveland to manage his schools, presided over by fifty-five women, and quite another thing for the superintendent of Boston to manage his schools, presided over by fifty-five men. I believe that some way should be planned by which these principals may be brought into hearty cooperation with the superintendent. Mr. Philbrick was a very wise man, and he enlisted, to a considerable extent, the influence of the principals in behalf of needed
reforms; but for the past few years this policy has not so effectually been carried out.
I felt bound to say so much in behalf of the principals of the Boston schools. They are strong, able men, anxious to improve and glad to co-operate in any forward movement.
PRESIDENT DRAPER (called to close the discussion).-Take this Cambridge business. They have a suggestion which does not apply to a reformed school board, but to an unregenerate one. I may say that the suggestion about this advisory council was before the committee of fifteen and at the instance of Professor Hart. Now, there is an entire misapprehension. The business of the committee of fifteen was simply to build up the legal organization. No one who has been a superintendent will stop a moment to debate the importance of the opinions of the teaching corps. No superintendent succeeds who does not receive the suggestion of the teaching body. I should refrain a long time before I gave any such body any legal standing, because the result would be a combination among the teachers-politics of the poorest kind-to coerce the superintendent. There are fifty-five lady principals in this city who have shown just as much force and ability to manage schools as is shown by the fifty-five men in Boston.
The suggestion is made that our plan would sacrifice some superintendents. A superintendent who is not strong and decided enough to make the position secure is of small consequence to anybody. The school organization must be such as can resist all the evil-disposed persons and make for righteousness. There will always be opposition to reform, even among the principals and teachers. It has been so from the time of the opposition of the Boston masters to Horace Mann down to the fight that is now on in the city of Brooklyn.
Four or five men in the city of Cleveland who are men of affairs-not teachers but simply business men-came together to reform this city school system; and they did not have the proceedings of the National Educational Association, either, for a guide. They studied principles, and I think they succeeded pretty well.
The school systems of the greatest cities of this country are in trouble, and they must be helped in some way. The trouble is, that the evil elements are constant,-always present, always active, fighting for themselves,-and the elements that make for righteousness are inactive, and they may be defeated.
A single suggestion of Professor Hart's in opposition to state legislation in city affairs deserves attention. The fact is, that the school systems in this country are state systems for the very good reason that no local school officer can effect a result unless it is pursuant to the law of the state. If you are going to leave the school organizations of these great states to the result of local elections, as elections are controlled by the ward politicians, the Lord take care of the school system. It is true that the outlook is not any too bright in the state legislatures; but they will constitute a breakwater. There is a great movement that is going to prevail, and it is going to prevail in spite of the city superintendent. If my boy is sitting in an illy-ventilated room in Chicago, what is my right? The superintendent puts me off with his good intentions; I go to the superintendent of public buildings and he resents the imputation; I go to a member of the school board and he can do nothing. What is the remedy in the city of New York if instruction is not scientific? Talk about being near the people! There is not anything further from the people than these close organizations called city school boards.