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instruct youth in English grammar, composition, geography, and the learned languages; pupils to be admitted by the visitors, and such school to have its proportion of the public money. But this law, as appears on the face of it, must be wholly inoperative. We have, indeed, heard, that in one town, a vote of twothirds of the inhabitants was obtained for the institution of such a school ; and the same thing may have happened in a few other towns, but can not learn, that there is at present in Connecticut a single school instituted in the manner contemplated by this law. The law stands as evidence, that correct views of what is really needed are entertained by a portion of the legislature, but from the inadequacy of its provisions, it is evident no less striking of the actual state of public opinion.
The article closes with the following remarks on public schools of a grade above the district school.
Public patronage of academies and colleges for higher education is precisely a tax on the rich, for the benefit of the poor. The rich, it is true, send their children to them ; but if there were no colleges at home, they would send their sons abroad. Look at the States in America, where schools and colleges do not flourish, and what is the relative effect on the two classes of society? The rich pay more, it is true, than they otherwise would pay, but they support private teachers, and family tutors, for the elementary education of their children, and send their sons to Princeton, New Haven, Cambridge, and to Europe. To the rich man it is of comparatively little consequence, whether the State Government, under which he lives, be willing or not to endow institutions where his sons can be educated. He can send them where a wiser policy prevails; and when they come back, they will possess more exclusively that power and influence in society, which superior education confers. The poor man, on the other hand, wants a college near at hand, in his own State, where a considerable part of the requisite supplies can be furnished from his frugal home. He has no means to purchase bills of exchange on distant cities. He can not add the costs of traveling, and the expenses of distant maintenance to the necessary charges of academical education. If the State will provide him a college where he can send his sons, he will do it. He will dispense with their personal services—no small sacrifice in a country like this—he will strain his narrow means to furnish the barely essential; but he can do no more. And will any one say, that when the government looks round upon its constituents, sees the rich alone able to get an education, while the poor are deprived of this inestimable privilege ; and to remedy this great evil, lays a general tax for an academy or college for the benefit of those, who must otherwise want the means of liberal education altogether, will any one say, that this is exclusively for the benefit of the rich ? It is a malignant absurdity. Exclusively beneficial it is certainly and ought to be to no one. But eminently and chiefly beneficial it is to the poor. The rich can do well enough without it. The pour must have it, or nothing. This alone enables the poor to bring their talents and industry into the market, and thus rise, dint of rit, to those trusts and to that influence, which otherwise will fall exclusively into the hands of the rich. Hitherto, by the blessing of Providence, the sons of the poor have been enabled to do this. The great men of America have been mostly nursed in an honorable poverty. The pious and faithful ministers, the upright magistrates, the solid professional characters, the intelligent statesmen, and the enterprising merchants, by which America, from such poor beginnings, has been raised to such a height of prosperity, have been mostly the children of those, who labored with their own hands. There has been, till the last generation, little or no wealth in the country, and the distinction of rich and poor bas been nearly nominal. With the growth of riches, this distinction will become important. The leisure commanded by wealth will more and more give persons of moderate capacity the advantage in the competition for the honors of society. At this moment, then, of all others, to cry out against the endowment of places of education, as a tax on the poor, in favor of the rich, is to betray the interests of the poor; and to play the game of the rich under the pretence of abating their immunities.
In May 1823, school societies were authorized to appoint one, three, or five persons to be a district committee. Any white male
person, qualified to vote in town meeting, and none other, was jeclared qualified to vote in any meetings of the district or society in which he lived. During this year the office of “ Assistant Commissioner of the School Fund” was created with a salary of $1000 and his expenses, and the Hon. Seth P. Beers was appointed to the place.
In 1825, Mr. Hillhouse resigned, and Mr. Beers was appointed Commissioner. During his administration, which continued (till May 1849) beyond the period under consideration, by judicious sales and management, the capital of the fund was increased from $1,719,434 24 to $2,049,482 32, and the income from $72,418 30 to $133,366 50, being an average of $97,815 15 per annum. The amount of interest paid to the several societies during the twenty-four years by Mr. Beers was $2,347,563 80, or nearly twice the original capital. If this be added to the amount divided in the same way by his predecessor, and the Committee and Board of Managers, we have the sum of $3,585,241 48; this increased by the dividends made and paid out since 1849, we have the grand total of $4,103,803 18 realized as interest, out of a capital of $1,200,000, besides paying the expense of its own management. We know not in the whole history of public funds, or trust estates, another instance so creditable to the economy, fidelity, and sound practical judgment of the persons intrusted with its management for a period of fifty-six years.
In opening the session of the General Assembly in May of this year, (1825) Governor Wolcott, after remarking that "the schools at present established in our cities and villages, including the select schools of the opulent, are insufficient for the proper education of all the children, and those of the poor and improvident, are in the greatest danger of being neglected"-recommends the general introduction of the Monitorial, or Lancasterian system, as pursued at New Haven, and in the public schools of New York. The Governor also makes the following suggestion :
Between our common schools, and an academic education in our colleges, our laws recognize an intermediate grade of a “ higher order," which each of the school societies are authorized to establish by a vote of two-thirds of the inhabitants present in a legal meeting warned for that purpose. One such school was formerly required to be established in each county town; but this grade has been in a great measure, if not wholly, superseded in practice by academies and other voluntary associations, some of which have been incorporated by law : that they have been highly advantageous and profitable to the State is well known, and I think that they merit every public encouragement which can be afforded.
The years 1825 and 1826, are signalized in the history of popular education in this country by a simultaneous, although unconcerted,
effort in many States to improve the common schools. The American Journal of Education, the first educational periodical in the English language, was projected in 1825, although not commenced at Boston till 1826, under the editorship of Prof. William Russell, who commenced his career as a teacher and educator in the New Township Academy in New Haven. Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet commenced over the signature of a “Father,” in the Connecticut Observer, printed at Hartford, on the 4th of January, 1825, a series of articles, in which the claims of education as a science, and teaching as an art, are ably discussed; and an institution was proposed for the special training of teachers. The same train of thought was pursued, and the same institution was recominended by James G. Carter of Lancaster. Mass., only a month afterwards, in the Patriot, printed in Boston, over the signature of " Franklin." Walter R Johnson, of Germantown, Penn., without any knowledge of the views of Mr. Gallaudet and Mr. Carter, advocated the same views in a pamphlet entitled, “ Observations on the improvement of Seminaries of Learning," printed early in 1825. Rev Dr. Lindsley, President of the University of Nashville, in an address before the Legislature of Tennessee, in January, 1826, plead eloquently for this improvement of the means and quality of popular education. Governor De Witt Clinton, in his message to the Legislature of v New York, in 1825, recommends to their consideration, “the education of teachers” for common schools, and in 1826, “ the establishment of a seminary” for this purpose. In the same year, Hon. John C. Spencer made an able report on the same subject in the Senate of that State. The attention of every Legislature in New England was called to the improvement of common schools by the governor of each, in his annual message. Connecticut shared in this general movement, Dr. William A. Alcott, in Bristol ; Mr. A. B. Alcott, in Cheshire; Josiah Holbrook, in Derby; and Mr. Marks, in Wethersfield, each without any concert or knowledge of each others movements, were ardently engaged in the work of school improvement
In the House of Representatives, in 1826, on motion of Mr. Hawley Olmsted of Wilton, a committee was raised “to inquire whether any, and if any, what alterations in the laws relating to common schools are necessary to raise their character and increase their usefulness." From the report of this committee, which was printed by order of the House, the following extracts are taken. After alluding to the fact that “the common schools were always an object of peculiar care to the State, and went on improving until
No. 13.—(Vol. V., No. 1.)—9.
the public resources enabled the Legislature to grant the late munificent endowment,” the report adds :
Placed on a footing so elevated, and justly preferred to every other interest, it was not unreasonably supposed that the results of the system would correspond with its means, and that these institutions would maintain their acknowledged preeminence over the primary schools of other States ;--at least that they would not fail to keep pace with the progress of general improvement in our own. Facts compel your committee to say, that in their opinion they have done neither. The States of New York and Massachusetts begin, already, to challenge a superiority for their common schools, although it is but a few years since they looked to Connecticut for their models, and sought the aid of her wisdom. The academies of this State have never been cheered with a solitary gleam of legislative bounty, and seem to be wholly excluded from the pale of Legislative sympathies; yet many of them have flourished. The university in this city has risen chiefly by its own energies, and urged its way to eminence with little aid from the State which it exalts and adorns. Yet common schools, on which, as on a favorite child, the public resources have been lavished with great liberality, but with little care, have been gradually declining in their relative standing. The result of the experiment has decided that no appropriations of money will secure the increasing prosperity of schools. They lighten the burthens of the people, but they also diminish, and for that reason perhaps, their interest in these institutions. While your committee are reluctant to believe, with many of the most enlightened men with whom they have corresponded in relation to the subject, that the common schools are in no better condition than they would have been had they received no aid from the State, they are confirmed in the opinion that they have fallen far short of that excellence which they might have attained.
In connection with the comparative depression of common schools, it should be stated, that there is an increasing indifference on the part of the people, to the interests of these institutions. To whatever causes this apathy is to be attributed, it is a fact of treinendous import, and demonstrates that this interest can not be exclusively intrusted to the people without injury to the State.
The parts of the system which require more immediate attention, are the books used, the qualifications of teachers, and the inspection and report of the state of the schools.
As it respects the qualifications of teachers, a matter of vital importance to the improvement of schools, the law has made no requisitions, but has left the subject entirely to the discretion of the school visitors. Your committee are of the opinion that something would be gained by specifying the requisite qualifications, assuming for a standard such as are already possessed, with a distinct intimation that it is the policy of the State, gradually to raise this standard. It is believed, that the course of instruction may be considerably extended without interfering with the branches usually taught—that the elements of geography and history might advantageously precede the more difficult branches of English grammar and arithmetic, and the principles of mensuration, with some of their more practical applications, while they encroached not on the rudiments of learning, would serve to diversify the intellectual pursuits of the young, and fit them for more extensive usefulness.
The project of a seminary for the training of teachers, a favorite measure with some of the most enlightened men of the neighboring States, however much it may promise, is deemed by the committee to be at present impracticable.
The condition of every school, as it regards the books used, the number of pupils, the branches taught, the time the school has been continued, the expenditures with similar facts, should be presented annually to the Legislature and the public. This would have the two-fold effect of obtaining that information which would enlighten the path of legislation in future, and of operating as a powerful stimulus to the career of improvement. A knowledge of the fact, that the eye of the State is watching their movements, and that their actual and comparative standing is to be known to the public, can hardly fail to increase the fidelity of teachers, the industry of pupils, and the zeal of parents.
The inefficiency of the system, has, in the opinion of your committee, arisen chiefly from the neglect of supervision on the part of the State. No measures lave
been taken to ascertain the actual condition of common schools. Their internal management, their character and prospects, have not sufficiently engaged the attention of the Legislature.
With a view to invigorate and improve the system, the committee recommend the appointment of a superintendent of common schools, whose duty it shall be to recommend suitable books to the adoption of school visitors, and such modes of instruction and government as he may deem most expedient; and from the reports of the several school societies, to prepare and present to the Legislature, annually, a report, so far as he may obtain information, showing the actual condition of every common school in the State, together with his proceedings for the year.
No action was taken on the suggestions with which this report closes, but the chairman, has lived long enough to see that feature of State supervision become a part of the school system of thirty States, although at the time it was recornmeded here it was only recognized in the school system of the State of New York. The report was published in the newspapers, and in connection with other agencies, arrested the attention of individuals to the importance of the subject.
Early in 1827, a society was formed in Hartford "for the improvement of common schools,” of which Hon. Roger Minot Sherman, was President, and the Rev. Horace Hooker, Rev. Thomas Robbins, D. D., and Rev. Thomas H. Gallaudet, were among the most active members. This was one of the earliest, if not the first society of the kind established to advance this department of popular education in this country. At a meeting of the society, held in Hartford in May, 1827, a committee was appointed to procure information and prepare a report. This committee, of which Rev. Dr. Robbins, now the venerable librarian of the Connecticut Historical Society, was chairman, opened a correspondence on the subject, with the friends of education in every town in the State, and a report was prepared and laid before the Legislature in May following.
Gov. Tomlinson called the attention of the General Assembly in 1828 to the subject, in the following language:
There is too much reason to conclude that the liberal endowment of common schools has occasioned a relaxation of the praiseworthy efforts to extend their utility which distinguished our fathers; and that many have already fallen into the too prevalent error of undervaluing and neglecting common blessings, because an unfortunate deprivation of them may not have proved their real worth.
To your consideration is submitted the propriety of more specifically prescribing by law the duties of the school visitors with additional sanctions, and of requiring the board in each society, in the month of September annually, to report to the comptroller the qualifications and attainments of the teachers by them approved, the number of visits made to each school, the length of time a school shall have been taught in each school district, the branches of learning taught therein, the progress made by the schools in their respective school societies. The operation of our present system might be thus officially and accurately ascertained, and a body of information collected bighly useful in guiding future legislation.