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school advantages enjoyed in small districts by the son enumerated, to enable them to employ a teacher energy of superiortalent, by self-training, and the habits or teachers of the legal qualifications for six months in of self-reliance and self-respect created by our civil the year at the average rate of wages. The course and social institutions. But speaking generally, it may I would recommend is this: that a certain sum, say be safely said, that there are at least four hundred $50, be distributed to each school district, without districts in the State, and one or more in every school reference to the number of children in each, and the society, in which the children are doomed to an infe- remainder be divided among the several schools (inclurior and imperfeet education, and to all its disadvan- ding the schools of a higher order) according to the tages.
ratio of attendance for the preceding year. This mode Much may be done not only to increase the amount will enable every district to come up to the minimum and quality of common school education, as will here- standard, and make it the interest of the district and after be shown, but to distribute the advantages of this parents to secure the regular attendance of the childeducation much more equally than at present to children in different districts. To accomplish this last
There are many considerations connected with this object, a general revision of the extent and limits of feature of our school system which cannot be preschool districts is desirable, for the purpose of defining sented here. In another place I shall show the necesthe boundaries of all of them more accurately, and of sity of schools of a higher grade than the district school, adapting the size to the altered state of the popula- if we would increase the amount and quality of comtion. In such a revision many small districts might be mon school education, and do away with the necessity enlarged by adding portions of larger adjoining dis- of private schools. tricts, and in some cases by annexing the inhabitants of small districts to others, when the same can be done
3. SCHOOLHOUSES. without subjecting any of the children to an inconven The work of improvement has commenced in this ient distance. This revision can be made at any time department. More new schoolhouses have been erectby school societies, but as the object is a desirable one ed, and old ones repaired on correct principles, within other points of view, it should be done immediately. in the last three years, than for twenty years previous. Whenever any district or individual is aggrieved by the But from personal knowledge of many hundred school action of the society or their committee in this respect, houses, and minute written descriptions of many hunthe party-should have the liberty of appeal to some dred more, in more than two thirds of all the school disinterested tribunal, whose decision in the case should societies, and the uniform testimony of school visiters, be final.
there is pressing need of immediate and still greater Whether any revision or alteration of districts is improvement. The following is a summary of the made or not, the present rule and practice of distri- present condition of nine-tenths of all the district buting all school money among districts according to schoolhouses in the state. the number of persons between the ages of 4 and 16 Location. They stand in or on the public road, so in each, should be changed, and provision made, as that the attention of children is disturbed by every pasthe basis of all distribution, that every district sing object; not unfrequently in bleak and unsheltered shall have the means of employing a teacher of the situations, where they are exposed to winter's storms, requisite qualifications for at least three months in and to the concentrated radiation of a dry sandy soil ; winter and three months in summer, or for a con- in the neighborhood of noisy trades and places of pubtinuous period of six months in the year. This will lic resort; without any other playground than the highrequire ihat the small and weak districts receive more way, or adjoining private property; and without apthan they now do, but not more than enough to accom- propriate and necessary out-buildings, whereby the plish the purpose—the useful education of all the child- health, manners, and instinctive feelings of decency ren of the society. If this calculation is based on the and propriety in children and youth are exposed and practice which prevails in more than 1500 districts, of injured. supporting but one common school for all the child Size.—They are small
, with a prison-like narrowren of the district, and of employing a male teacher ness and lowness of dimensions, and yet with less cuin winter and a female in summer, and the rate of bic space to each scholar than is allowed to every teachers' wages for the State, say $17 for males and prisoner in the state prison or county jail ; without a $8 for females, every district must receive at least $75, separate entry for boys and girls ; without scraper, viz. $51 to employ a male teacher for three months in mat, hooks, and shelves, so that habits of neatness, the winter, $24 to employ a female teacher in the sum- order and propriety can be cultivated; without suffimer, or $12.50 for a male or female teacher for six cient space for the proper seating and necessary evomonths. This does not include any provision for the lutions of the scholars; without a raised platform and board of teachers, or fuel, which is left to the district, desk for the teacher; and without any rooms for reor to parents. If $75 be taken as the smallest sum citation or other useful purposes. with which any district should be furnished, and the Light. They are lighted by windows on three or avails of the school fund and town deposite fund to- four sides, without blinds or curtains, so that there is gether be estimated at $1.75 for every person between much inconvenience and danger from cross lights, as the
ages of 4 and 16, there are 60 districts which now well as from excess of light reflected from the book, or receive, each, only $17.50, and require, each, $57.50 falling directly on the eyes. The window sills are so more, or $5.75 on each person enumerated ; 177 which low, and the situation of the building so near the street, receive $35, and require $40, or $2 on each person that passing objects and events out of doors are sure to enumerated; and 454 districts which receive $52.50 attract the attention of the scholars. and will require $22.80, or less than $1 on each per Ventilation.--There are no sufficient means to effect
a constant supply of pure air, by allowing the escape not raised too high ; and where there was, in all cases, of such portions of it as have become impure from suitable support to the seats against which the childthe breathing of teacher and pupils, and from burning ren, and especially the younger ones, could lean, when fires, and by the introduction of that which is pure and tired, from an upright position. Nothing but the fear of the right temperature from without. In conse- of punishment, or the frequent application of it, can quence of this neglect, especially in the winter, the keep a live child still on such high, hard, backless slabs children of our district schools are obliged to breathe as are provided, and handed down from generation to an impure, stagnant, and oppressive atmosphere, the generation, in many of the district sehools. They do effects of which can be seen at any time after the not, cannot, and should not, sit still long under such school has been in service an hour, and especially in circumstances, especially as no occupation is allowed the afternoon, in the pale and wearied countenances, for eyes, mind, or muscles, and they are placed in the languor and uneasiness of body and mind, espe- roasting proximity to the fire. It is rank cruelty and cially in the younger children, and the exhaustion and injustice to enforce it. irritability of the teacher. The evil consequences of The seats and desks are not so arranged that each neglect in this particular often extend beyond the scholar can go to and from his seat, change his position, schoolroom. The seeds of disease, especially of con- have access to bis books, attend to his own business, be sumption, if not sown in such an atmosphere, are rap. seen and approached by the teacher, without incommoidly quickened and developed, in the lungs of such ding some other person. as are constitutionally exposed to pulmonary com In consequence of neglect respecting seats and desks, plaints. Many devoted teachers, I have reason to be awkward postures, distortions of the limbs and forin, lieve, have contracted sickly habits, and ultimately fal- sometimes amounting to disease, and especially spinal len victims to diseases, whose early beginning might affections, are produced. To these wretched articles be traced back to the vitiated atmosphere of the school- of school furniture, and to the imperfect ventilation of
In more than seven-eighths of the schoolrooms the schoolrvom, are to be attributed much of the no-se which I have visited, the children were allowed less and restlessness of the school, and the lasting distaste than one-half the quantity of pure air which is deemed which so many entertain to study, books, and their absolutely necessary for the health and the cheerful teachers. and successful labor of prisoners in the siate prison Repuirs.—Bad as the original location, construction at Wethersfield, or the county jails at Hartford, New and furniture of many of the schoolhouses are, these Haven, and Norwich.
original defects are made still more wretched and perTemperature.—They are very imperfectly warmed, ilous, from the omission of timely and necessary reor protected from the rush of cold air through cracks pairs. Districts neglect to make provision for it, and and defects in the doors, windows, floors, and plaster- the district committees do not like to take the responing. In a large portion of the districts there are no sibility of doing their duty, lest the bill of expense woodsheds, and the wood is scattered all about the should be complained of, or not be allowed. The conpremises, not cut, or split, but left to be incased in sequence of this is, much inconvenience and suffering
Parents do not seem to the children, and ultimately more expense for fuel, to estimate the consequences of neglect in this par- or for doctors' bills, than the repairs would have ticular;—the loss of a considerable portion of the amounted to. morning session, the aching feet and hands, the benumb. From this hasty glance at our district schoolhouses, ed faculties, the interrupted recitations, and loss of and from the aching remembrance which every gradtemper, and finally the head-aches, stiff necks, rheu- uate of the district schools must have of their inconmatisms, and catarrhs, which result from the want of veniences, it is evident that something myre should be that prudence and forecast which make their own done to improve them. They now stand in mournhomes pleasant and cheerful. There is no sufficient ful and disgraceful contrast with all other public edifiprovision for securing a uniform temperature in differ- ces; with our churches, retreats, asylums, and prisons; ent parts of the room, so that one portion is frequenty with our dwelling houses; and indeed every other overheated, while the more distant is suffering from struture intended før the convenience of man or cold.
I can point to less than sixty buildings devoSeats and Desks.--In the construit. 11 and arrange. ted to ara lemes and privale schools, wh.:re less than ment of seats, due regard is not bad to the conved 3000 children rece:ve or perfect their education, which ience, comfort and health of those wild are to occupy cost more than all the 1630 district schoolhouses, them, or the constant and complete supervision of the where inore than sixty thousand children attend school. school by the teacher. The desks are usually attah As a secimen of district schoolbouses, combining ed to the wall on three sides of the room, so that for a man desirabie improvements, and avoiding the evils large portion of the time the faces of the scholars are which have been louched upon in the above remarks, turned away from the teacher, and a portion of them, I append some cuts, and a description of the new at least, have every facility and temptation to look out buking in district No. 6, Windsor. at the windows. The seats are too high, and ihe rela To carry forward the work of improvement in this tive heights of the seats and desks are not properly ail- deparıment, sounder views than now generally prevail justed to each other. I have never seen a schoolroom, must be diffused through the community, and improved which has not been built or repaired within three years, plans for the location, construction, and internal arwhere the feet of every child, properly seated, could rangements of schoolhouses inust be brought within rest on the floor; where the elbows and shoulders of the reach of every district. An appropriation of a few those who were engaged in writing or cyphering were hundred dollars for the last object would procure vari
ice, or covered
ous plans for schoolhouses capable of containing from are correct, from one-third to two-fifths of this period twenty to two hundred pupils, and to cost from $300 is lost by irregularity of attendance-thus reducing the to $3000.
actual school age
many children in the state to less It should be made a condition to the districts drawing than four years. Short as this period is, it is amply public money,
that the schoolhouse be such as the health sufficient to teach the same children more than is now and convenience of the scholar and teacher demand; taught in most of our district schools to children from and of this the school visiters should be empowered the age of five to fifteen, with the long vacations, to judge.
irregular attendance, and constant change of teachers It the district committee are not already clothed which characterize these schools, provided it could be with this power and duty, they should be authorized devoted continuously and regularly, with a vacation of and directed, on the refusal or neglect of the district to two months in the year, judiciously distributed, under a make suitable provision for fuel, repairs, and a supply well qualified teacher. of all the appendages and accommodations of a Buithe irregularity of attendance is not only a loss to schoolhouse, to do the same, and to assess the expense those who practice it of the time and privileges of the on the property of the district.
school, during the days of absence, but it impairs the Whenever it becomes necessary to select a site for value of the school when they do attend, interferes a new schoolhouse, or to change the site of an existing with the classification and recitations of others who house to adapt it to the altered state of the population, attend regularly, and adds in various ways to the labors the committee of the society should be empowered to and trials of the teacher. select the same, and to locate by metes and bounds the The causes and remedies of the evils of non-attendquantity of land necessary, and to assess the true value ance in the common schools, or in any school, common to the owner or owners; and on the payment of such or private, and of late and irregular attendance, cannot valuation, the land should become the property of the be discussed at large here. I can only touch on a few district. An appeal should be allowed to some disin. leading considerations connected with the subject. terested tribunal, which should be empowered to
Much of the attendance in private schools, as will be grant such relief as may be just and equitable, and shown in another place, arises from the imperfect whose decision should be final.
character of the common schools, and is encouraged 4. ATTENDANCE AND NON-ATTENDANCE. by the present mode of sustaining the latter exclusively Of the 85,000 children between the ages of four by public funds, and a tax on those alone who send to and sixteen in the state, it is found, by comparison of them.
Until in our cities and populous villages primary the returns of school visiters for the last three years, schools for young children, and generally in the state that not more than 65,000 attend the common schools one or more schools of a higher order than the district for any period of the year; about 12,000 attend school are established, private schools of a similar charprivate schools; and from 7 to 8,000 attend no school, acter will be supported by those who are abundantly public or private. If to the 65,000 be added 1,000 able to provide for the education of their own children, children under four years of age in the summer schools, and by others, who, appreciating the advantages of and 5,000 persons over sixteen in the winter schools, good schools, are willing to expend liberally from we have 71,000 persons as the aggregate attendance limited means to secure these advantages to their chilat the common schools for any period of the last year. dren. The experience of some societies and districts
It is found, by comparison of school registers accu. Fin this state, and of several cities in other states, demonrately kept in different sections of the state, and in dif- strates beyond question that the improvement of the ferent districts representing the varying circumstances common schools by the employment of good teachers, of city and country, large and small, much and little and by the mode above suggested, is always followed public interest, that the average attendance of persons by an increase of attendance from children, who beof all ages amounts in summer to about three-fifths, and fore attended private schools. in winter to about two-thirds, of the whole number Much of the non-attendance of persons over four and registered.
under sixteen, on any school, is made up of children Thus the state provides from the school fund alone under eight, and of those over twelve years of age. more than $24,000 for the education of persons who The former are children of idle, vicious, and ignorant never enter the common school during the year. Of parents, who are not conscious of any intellectual wants the whole amount expended on the common schools, ihemselves, and of course make no provision for the and of all the privileges of these schools, two-fifths in moral and intellectual culture of their offspring. The summer and one-third in winter is lost by irregular latter are the children of selfish parents, who are ready attendance.
to provide the means of their own support, and someThe average length of the schools for the year is times of their vicious and criminal indulgence, by their eight months, but many of the younger children attend children's labor, even at ihe sacrifice of their future useonly in the summer, and of the older, in the winter, so fulness and happiness. It is difficult to provide a that the average time which each person attends does remedy broad and thorough enough to cure this evil not amount to more than six months. The school age of non-attendance at school of children of the proper extends nominally from the age of four to sixteen years; age; still the elementary education of every child but, as far as my observation goes, it will be nearer the must be secured in some way. facts in the case if it is estimated at ten years--the As a preliminary step, a sufficient number of schools period between five and fifteen. These two elements of different grades must be provided by towns, school give five years as the period during which our children societies, or districts. This is not the case at present attend school. And yet, if the previous calculations in any city in the state. If, in addition to those now at
school, those who are in no school, public or private, 5. EXAMINATION OF TEACHERS AND VISITATION OF should apply for admission at the schoolrooms at present provided in these places, they could not be seated,
The requirements of the law in these particulars much less instructed properly by the teachers now em- have been more faithfully complied with during the ployed. To improve the education of the poor, espe- past two years than before. In most school societies cally in cities, a class of primary schools located wher- the board of visiters have appointed a committee of one ever there are fifty or sixty children, and of evening or two persons, who have examined all the teachers, schools for the older children, must be established, and visited all the schools, made out reports respecting the instruction in them must be the best, because it is their condition and improvement, for the information all that many of these children will ever obtain. of the Board, and their several societies, and for the
When established, the public schools must be sup- time thus employed, they have received in most instanported in such a manner, that their prosperity and ces the compensation allowed by law. As an example success shall be a matter of public and parental inter- of fidelity in all these particulars, and of the beneficial est combined. To accomplish this, the public must results, I can refer, among other instances, 'to Farmbe required to contribute io their support, and, as far ington. as practicable, have a direct interest in securing the at I have heard of no complaint against this provision tendance of children in them. This may be done by from school societies, where the work has been faithinaking it the duty of societies or districts to raise by fully done, and where there is a willingness to make tax an amount equal to what they receive, and by grad- some effort for the improvement of the schools. Obuating the amount received, not to the number who jections have generally been made in quarters where can go, and ought to go to school, but to the number before the passage of the act of 1839, there was a mere who actually do go. This first provision would induce formal compliance with the requisitions of the law, and the public to look after the expenditure of their own not always even that. money at least, and the last would make it the interest
It is the opinion of the most intelligent friends of of school committees and parents to see to the regular schools, that a county or senatorial board for the and punctual attendance of the children; for by so examination of teachers, and the inspection of schools, doing the amount of public money coming to the dis- would impart new vigor to the local administration of tricts would be increased, and the rate per scholar to our school system, give a healthy stiinulus to teachers, be paid by the parents diminished.
sili out those who are qualified, collect and disseminate But other provisions will be necessary. The neces the best plans of school government and instruction, sities and cupidity of parents, and the self-interest of and in various ways awake an interesi in the commuemployers, and the proprietors of factories and manu- nity, and secure the progress of improvement. facturing establishments, are liable to co-operate to in this opinion 1 fully concur.
Such a board comwithdraw children at too early an age from the school- posed of teachers, who had proved by their success, roorn, for the profits of their labor. This gross injustice ihat they know what the qualitications and duties of a to the children, and the community in which such good teacher are, and of visiters who are experienced children are afterwards to live as parents and voters, in visiting schools and comparing the merits of differmust be prevented, by humane laws, firmly adminis- ent methüds of education, would constitute a competered.
tent and independent tribunal for the examination of No child under fourteen years of age should be teachers, and introduce an intelligent, vigilant and employed to labor in a factory or manufacturing estab. eficient school inspection. In llulland, the whole fablishment, unless such child can show a certiticate of ric of public instruction, rests on such a system of inschool attendance for at least three months of the spection, and in ny country are the advantages of twelve next preceding; and the period of their daily education more widely diffused. In Ohio, such a employment should be limited to eig'it hours, and their board of examination exists. And in New York, employment at night entirely prohibited, so as to admit county superintendents have been recently creaied, to of their regular attendance at evening schools. visit and examine all the schools and school districts
Any owner or proprietor of any factory or similar committed to their charge, and to inquire into all matestablishment who shal employ a child under four, ters relating to ihe government, instruction, books, teen years of age, contrary to these provisions, should studies, discipline and conduct of such school, and the forfeit the sum of twenty dollars, to be recovered condicion of the schoolhouses, and of the districts genby the district committee, before any justice of the early. "They are also required to make such suggespeace, før the use of the coinin ja school m the dis- tions to school officers, teachers, and parents, as may be irict; and the district cominiitee that neglects to prv- called for by the state of the schools, or the districts, secute every violation of these provisions should be and in every way to promote sound education, and admade liable to the same forfeiture, recoverable by any vänce the prosperiiy of the schools. Each superinmember of the district, in the same way, and for the lendent is allowed iwo dollars for each school district,
and not exceedmg five hundred dollars in the year. Any person under sixteen years of age, bound to
6. TEACHERS. labor as an apprentice, or employed in any capacity for the year, shwuld be entitled to three continuous
I can do little more underthis head, than reassert the montlis' schooling, and for a proportionate time when general conclusions of my former report, confirmed as employed for six months.
they are by the united voice of the school visiters.
While only seventeen hundred teachers, including assisianis in the large districts, are required in all the common schools as at present organized, the number
of different teachers actually employed, amounts to the duties and labors of the teacher in the schoolroom. not less than twenty-seven hundred.
Every lawyer, physician and clergyman is required to Female teachers are employed in the summer pursue a specified course of study, before he is thought schools almost universally, and male teachers in all the entitled to the confidence of the public. He buys or large, and in most of the small districts in the winter. reads the best works relating to his profession, espeNot one in a hundred, except in cities and central dis- cially those which treat of its practical duties, and aims tricts, continues in the same school through the year, or to keep up with the knowledge and spirit of the times, even for two summers or two winters in succession. in his own department. It is a discouraging circum
Many of the teachers are young, with but little know-stance, that so few teachers are willing to make any ledge of the world, or experience in self-government, efforts themselves, to gain that information which the and most of them entered on their office, with no other study and experience of others have bequeathed for preparation than such as the district school affords, and their benefit. propose to continue in it, no longer than until some Teachers should be invited, encouraged and assisted more lucrative business presents.
to associate together for mutual improvement. The The wages of teachers, although they have advanced attainments of solitary reading should be quickened by within the last three years, do not bear a fair proportion the action of living mind. The acquisitions of one to the rewards of skill and industry, which intelligence should be tested by the experience, the approbation, and enterprise can command in various other fields of or the strictures of others. New advances in any labor, or to the compensation paid in private schools. direction should become known, and made the com
Female teachers are employed for a longer period mon property of the profession. New hints should of the year than formerly, and as far as my own obser- be taken up and followed out by trial and investigation. vation extends, they have shown themselves competent Old and defective methods should be held up, exposed to teach all that can be, with any prospect of success, and abandoned. The sympathies of a common pursuit, required of districts schools.
the interchange of ideas, the mutual benefit of each As a class they have a quick perception of the wants other's experience, the discussion of topics which conof the young, an instinctive fondness and tact in com-cern their common advancement, would make every municating knowledge, especially by means of oral teacher feel that he was a member of an important methods, a patience under the manifold trials of the body, and thus increase his self-respect. The commuschoolroom, a gentleness of manners, a purity of char- nity too, would thus be made to feel the importance acter, and an insensibility to the temptations of ambition of the profession in its aggregate strength, and accede and avarice, which admirably adapt them to the holy to it a higher social and pecuniary consideration. responsibilities of education, especially in the early peri They should be authorized and encouraged by school od of life. The wages of this class of common school committees, to visit each other's schools, and in this teachers are far below the real worth of their servi- way, witness other methods of discipline and instrucces; are not equal to the compensation realized in pri- tion than their own. Teachers, no more than others, vate schools, or in the factory and the work-shop; and will continue long in practices which their own obserare altogether disproportionate to the average compen- vation convinces them are not as good and profitable sation of male teachers.
as those pursued by others in their neighborhood, and Teachers as a class are better prepared to instruct which others can compare and contrast with their own. than to govern schools, and to teach the more advan. By means of conferences and visits here spoken of, ced, than the primary studies. Their attainments are improved methods of arrangement and instruction, beyond their tact and skill in communication, or their have in the course of a single winter been transferred ability to call into vigorous and harmonious action, the from one district to nearly all the districts in a society. various powers of the mind and heart.
But the most effectual way of improving the qualitiMany of the difficulties in instruction and govern- cations of teachers, of creating in them and in the comment, experienced by teachers, arise out of the pre- munity a proper estimate of the true dignity and usefulsent constitution of the district school, composed as it ness of the office, of carrying out into practice the is of every variety of ages, of both sexes, of all the soundest views of education, is to establish at least one studies, from the lowest rudiments to the highest, of institution for their specific training. small but numerous classes, and the want of parental Such an institution, in the outset at least, had better co-operation with the efforts of the teacher at home, be confined to the preparation of female teachers. both in instruction and discipline.
The course of instruction should have especial referThe practice of boarding round," still prevails very ence to common schools in the country. The model generally in the country districts. It may not be ob- school should, as far as practicable, bear a close resemjectionable to young men, to be thus deprived of a regu- blance in its elements to an ordinary district school. iar and quiet home, but to young ladies of education The pupils should be such as are willing to meet a and refinement, it is attended with so many incon- portion of the expense of residence at the institution, veniences, that many are driven from this their ap- by the assistance they would render at such times as propriate field of labor and usefulness rather than en- would not interfere with the studies and exercises of counter them.
the place. Much can be done to improve the existing qualifi The whole spirit of the institution should be such as cations of teachers, and to make their services far more to invite those only to come, who have a natural fondefficient.
ness for the office of teaching, and are animated in their Teachers might be assisted in the purchase, or at preparatory work, by higher motives than the hope of least to the perusal of the best books on education, and pecuniary returns they are likely to receive. especially of that class which have special reference to The establishment of one or more schools of this