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U. S. DEPARTMENT OF EDUCATION,
Washington, March, 1867.
For convenience of communication with many individuals interested in the same subject, (either of inquiry, or of reply,) in different parts of the country, the Commissioner of Education has adopted the publication of a Monthly Circular. Each number, as issued, will be forwarded by mail to persons supposed to be interested in the subject to which it is devoted. In addition to such Circulars, and information relating thereto, as the Commissioner may find it necessary or convenient to issue in these monthly numbers, he proposes to give, from time to time, as he may find space:
Acknowledgment of the receipt of all books, documents, and donations, of any kind, forwarded for the use of the department.
2 The contents of all educational, literary, and scientific periodicals which the publishers may send regularly to this office.
3 Notice in advance of the anniversaries or special meetings of educational associations, when authoritatively advised of the same.
4. Abstract of the proceedings of educational meetings when officially communicated.
5. Discussion and action of constitutional conventions, legislatures, municipal bodies, boards of education, and school committees, relating to schools and education.
6. Statistics, benefactions, and reliable items of educational movements in different States and countries.
Having occasion to re-issue the original Circulars, giving information of the "Act to establish the Department of Education," and the Schedule of Information sought by the Commissioner, together with the first of a series of articles on the successive efforts to secure from Congress the recognition of Education as a great national interest, the Commissioner adds a documentary history of the American Journal of Education, with a Classified Index of its contents, with a view of eliciting an expression of opinion as to his continuing his editorial charge of the same, until the original purpose of its publication is more fully attained, and as a repository of such official papers as may be in harmony with its original plan.
I. EDUCATION:-A NATIONAL INTEREST.
NATIONAL ASSOCIATION OF SCHOOL SUPERINTENDENTS.
MEMORIAL TO THE HONORABLE THE SENATE AND HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES OF THE UNITED STATES.
Ar a meeting of the National Association of State and City School Superintendents, recently held in the City of Washington, D. C., the undersigned were appointed a committee to memorialize Congress for the establishment of a National Bureau of Education.
It was the unanimous opinion of the Association that the interests of education would be greatly promoted by the organization of such a Bureau at the present time; that it would render needed assistance in the establishment of school systems where they do not now exist, and that it would also prove a potent means for improving and vitalizing existing systems. This it could accomplish:
1. By securing greater uniformity and accuracy in school statistics, and so interpreting them that they may be more widely available and reliable as educational tests and measures.
2. By bringing together the results of school systems in different communities, States, and countries, and determining their comparative value.
3. By collecting the results of all important experiments in new and special methods of school instruction and management, and making them the common property of school officers and teachers throughout the country.
4. By diffusing among the people information respecting the school laws of the different States; the various modes of providing and disbursing school funds; the different classes of school officers and their relative duties; the qualifications required of teachers, the modes of their examination, and the agencies provided for their special training; the best methods of classifying and grading schools; improved plans of school-houses, together with modes of heating and ventilation, etc..-information now obtained only by a few persons and at great expense, but which is of the highest value to all intrusted with the management of schools.
5. By aiding communities and States in the organization of school systems in which mischievous errors shall be avoided and vital agencies and well-tried improvements be included.
6. By the general diffusion of correct ideas respecting the value of education as a quickener of intellectual activities; as a moral renovator; as a multiplier of industry and a consequent producer of wealth; and, finally, as the strength and shield of civil liberty.
In the opinion of your memorialists, it is not possible to measure the influence which the faithful performance of these duties by a National Bureau would exert upon the cause of education throughout the country; and few persons who have not been intrusted with the management of school systems can fully realize how wide-spread and urgent is the demand for such assistance. Indeed, the very existence of the Association which your memorialists represent is itself positive proof of a demand for a national channel of communication between the school officers of the different States. Millions of dollars have been thrown away in fruitless experiments, or in stolid plodding, for the want of it. Your memorialists would also submit that the assistance and encouragement
of the General Government are needed to secure the adoption of school systems throughout the country. An ignorant people have no inward impulse to lead them to self-education. Just where education is most needed, there it is always least appreciated and valued. It is, indeed, a law of educational progress that its impulse and stimulus come from without. Hence it is that Adam Smith and other writers on political economy expressly except education from the operation of the general law of supply and demand. They teach, correctly, that the demand for education must be awakened by external influences and agencies.
This law is illustrated by the fact that entire school systems, both in this and in other countries, have been lifted up, as it were bodily, by just such influences as a National Bureau of Education would exert upon the schools of the several States; and this, too, without its being invested with any official control of the school authorities therein. Indeed, the highest value of such a Bureau would be its quickening and informing influence, rather than its authoritative and directive control. The true function of such a Bureau is not to direct officially in the school affairs in the States, but rather to cooperate with and assist them in the great work of establishing and maintaining systems of public instruction. All experience teaches that the nearer the responsibility of supporting and directing schools is brought to those immediately benefited by them, the greater their vital power and efficiency.
Your memorialists beg permission to suggest one other special duty which should be intrusted to the National Bureau, and which of itself will justify its creation, viz., an investigation of the management and results of the frequent munificent grants of land made by Congress for the promotion of general and special education. It is estimated that these grants, if they had been properly managed, would now present an aggregate educational fund of about five hundred millions of dollars. If your memorialists are not misinformed, Congress has no official information whatever respecting the manner in which these trusts have been managed.
In conclusion, your memorialists beg leave to express their earnest belief that universal education, next to universal liberty, is a matter of deep national concern. Our experiment of republican institutions is not upon the scale of a petty municipality or State, but it covers half a continent, and embraces peoples of widely diverse interests and conditions, but who are to continue "one and inseparable." Every condition of our perpetuity and progress as a nation adds emphasis to the remark of Montesquieu, that "it is in a republican government that the whole power of education is required."
It is an imperative necessity of the American Republic that the common school be planted on every square mile of its peopled territory, and that the instruction therein imparted be carried to the highest point of efficiency. The creation of a Bureau of Education by Congress would be a practical recognition of this great truth. It would impart to the cause of education a dignity and importance which would surely widen its influence and enhance its success. All of which is respectfully submitted.
E. E. WHITE, State Commissioner of Common Schools of Ohio.
WASHINGTON, D. C., February 10th, 1866.
The memorial, with a bill, was placed in the hands of the Hon. Mr. Garfield, of Ohio, who, on leave, February 14, 1866, introduced the bill in the House of Representatives, and it was read twice, and referred to a select committee of seven, consisting of Messrs. Garfield, of Ohio, chairman; Boutwell, of Massachusetts; Moulton, of Illinois; Patterson, of New Hampshire; Donnelly, of Minnesota; Goodyear, of New York; Randall, of Pennsylvania. Both the memorial and bill were ordered to be printed.
On the 14th of Feb., 1866, Gen. GARFIELD, in the House of Representatives, presented the Memorial of the National Association of School Superintendents, which met in Washington, Feb. 6th, 7th and 8th, asking the establishment of a National Bureau of Education, and at the same time a bill providing for such a Bureau in the Department of the Interior, and both memorial and bill, on his motion, were referred to a Select Committee of seven. The Committee, consisting of GARFIELD, of Ohio, PATTERSON, of New Hampshire, BOUTWELL, of Massachusetts, DONNELLY, of Minnesota, MOULTON, of Illinois, GOODYEAR, of New York, and RANDALL, of Pennsylvania, reported back the bill on the 5th of June, with an amendment in the nature of a substitute, by which an independent Department, instead of a Bureau of Education, was created. The bill thus amended, was advocated, on the 5th and 8th of June, by Mr. DONNELLY, of Minnesota, MOULTON, of Illinois, Mr. BANKS and Mr. BOUTWELL, of Mass., and Mr. GARFIELD, of Ohio, and opposed by Mr. ROGERS, of N. Jersey, Mr. RANDALL, of Penn., and Mr. PIKE, of Maine; but final action was not reached till June 19th, when the question being taken by yeas and nays, it was passed as reported by the Committee, by a vote of 80 yeas to 44 nays.
The Bill, in the Senate, was referred to the Standing Committee on the Judiciary, who recommended its passage without amendment; and, after a debate on the 26th of Feb., 1867, on a motion to substitute Bureau for Department, was passed as received from the House, without division, on the 1st of March, and signed by the President on the 2d.
Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled, That there shall be established, at the city of Washington, a Department of Education for the purpose of collecting such statistics and facts as shall show the condition and progress of education in the several States and Territories, and of diffusing such information respecting the organization and management of schools and school systems, and methods of teaching, as shall aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.
SEC. 2. And be it further enacted, That there shall be appointed by the President, by and with the advice and consent of the Senate, a Commissioner of Education, who shall be intrusted with the management of the department herein established, and who shall receive a salary of four thousand dollars per annum, and who shall have authority to appoint one chief clerk of his department, who shall receive a salary of two thousand dollars per annum, one clerk who shall receive a salary of eighteen hundred dollars per annum, and one clerk who shall receive a salary of sixteen hundred dollars per annum, which said clerks shall be subject to the appointing and removing power of the Commissioner of Education.
SEC. 3. And be it further enacted, That it shall be the duty of the Commissioner of Education to present annually to Congress a report embodying the results of his investigations and labors, together with a statement of such facts and recommendations as will, in his judgment, subserve the purpose for which this department is established. In the first report made by the Commissioner of Education under this act there shall be presented a statement of the several grants of land made by Congress to promote education, and the manner in which these several trusts have been managed, the amount of funds arising therefrom, and the annual proceeds of the same, as far as the same can be determined.
SEC. 4. And be it further enacted, That the Commissioner of Public Buildings is hereby authorized and directed to furnish proper offices for the use of the department herein established.
On the 11th of March, HENRY BARNARD was nominated by President JOHNSON, and on the 16th was confirmed by the Senate, Commissioner of Education.