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opinion prevailed in the Convention that this grant would be of immense value; that the lands would be located in mineral regions, and sold for fabulous sums; that the fund derived would be the most munificent in the world, and the argument was used in favor of the proviso, that the fund would be more than sufficient to educate the children, and would prove a source of corruption and speculation. Hence the question was made an important one, which brought out the full strength of the friends of free schools.
W. M. Stewart and Messrs. Sherwood and Vermeule, spoke in favor of retaining the proviso, and Messrs. Gwin, Halleck, Botts, Hoppe, Semple, and McDougal, in favor of striking it out.
After various amendments offered and rejected, the proviso was stricken out by the following vote:
AYES.—Messrs. Aram, Botts, Brown, Covarrubias, Gwin, Hanks, Hill, Hoppe, Halleck, Hastings, Hollingsworth, Larkin, Lippitt, Lippincott, McCarver, McDougal, Ord, Price, Reid, Sutter, Stearns, Sansevaine, Tefft, Vermeule, Walker, and President Semple-26.
NOES.-Messrs. Dimmick, Dominguez, Foster, Gilbert, Hobson, Norton, Pico, Sherwood and Wozencraft-10.
And so was laid the foundation of our School Fund and School System.
Article IX of the Constitution, as adopted, was as follows:
" ARTICLE IX.- Education. “SECTION 1. The Legislature shall provide for the election by the people of a Superintendent of Public Instruction, who shall hold his office for three years, and whose duties shall be prescribed by law, and who shall receive such compensation as the Legislature may direct.*
“ SEC. 2. The Legislature shall encourage by all suitable means the promotion of intellectual, scientific, moral and agricultural improvement. The proceeds of all land that may be granted by the United States to this State for the support of schools which may be sold or disposed of, and the five hundred thousand acres of land granted to the new States, under an act of Congress distributing the proceeds of the public lands among the several States of the Union, approved A. D. 1841, such per cent. as may be granted by Congress on the sale of lands in this State shall be and remain a
* Amended in 1862 so as to provide for the election of State Superintendent at the Special Judicial Election, for a term of four years.
perpetual fund, the interest of which, together with all the rents of the unsold lands, and such other means as the Legislature may provide, shall be inviolably appropriated to the support of common schools throughout the State.
“Sec. 3. The Legislature shall provide for a system of common schools, by which a school shall be kept up and supported in each district at least three months in every year; and any district neglecting to keep and support such a school, may be deprived of its proportion of the interest of the public fund during such neglect.
" Sec. 4. The Legislature shall take measures for the protection, improvement, or other disposition of such lands as have been or may hereafter be reserved or granted by the United States, or any person or persons, to the State, for the use of a university; and the funds accruing from the rents or sale of such lands, or from any other source, for the purpose aforesaid, shall be and remain a permanent fund, the interest of which shall be applied to the support of said university, with such branches as the public convenience may demand, for the promotion of literature, the arts and sciences, as may be authorized by the terms of such grant. And it shall be the duty of the Legislature, as soon as may be, to provide effectual 10eans for the improvement and permanent security of the funds of said university.”
2. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1849-50. Near the close of the first session of the Legislature, 1849-50, held in the city of San Jose, Mr. Corey, from the Committee on Education, reported that the taxes laid on the people for State, county, and municipal purposes, were so heavy the committee did not consider it advisable to report a bill to tax the people still further for the support of public schools, and, accordingly, the school bill, of which no record remains, was indefinitely postponed. But while the school bill, thus defeated, has been forgotten, the reason advanced by Mr. Corey has been the standing argument urged against every school bill which has contained any provision for maintaining by taxation a system of public schools.
3. THE FIRST FREE PUBLIC SCHOOL.
A solid foundation for a school system was laid by the framers of the State Constitution, but San Francisco was the first place in the State to organize, independent of State law, by her Common Council, a free public school.
The Ayuntamiento, or City Council, adopted, April 8, 1850, the following ordinance, drawn by H. C. Murray, which was the first public school ordinance of any kind passed in California, and consequently made the school taught by Mr. Pelton the first free public school in the State. The ordinance was crude, it is true, but it was the germ of all succeeding city ordinances.
The following is a copy of the ordinance:
- 1st. Be it ordained by the Common Council of San Francisco, That from and after the passage of this act, it shall be the duty of J. C. Pelton, who has been employed by the Council as a public teacher, to open a school in the Baptist Chapel.
“2d. Said school shall be opened from half-past eight o'clock A. M. to twelve o'clock M., and from two o'clock P. M. until five o'clock P. M., and shall continue open from Monday until Friday at five o'clock P. M.
63d. The number of scholars shall not exceed the number of one hundred; and no scholar shall be admitted under the age of four or over the age of sixteen.
" 4th. All persons desirous of having their children instructed in said school shall first obtain an order from the Chairman of the Committee on Education, and all children obtaining said order shall be instructed in said school free of charge.
“ 5th. It shall be the duty of said Pelton to report to the Council on the first of each and every month the number of scholars and the progress of said school.
“H. C. MURRAY. "F. TILFORD."
4. THE PIONEER SCHOOLS, On October 11, 1847, a committee of the Town Council contracted for the erection of a small schoolhouse of one room, on the southwest corner of the Plaza, at the corner of Clay Street and Brenham Place.
On February 23, 1848, a small number of voters assembled and elected a Board of School Trustees, consisting of Dr. Townsend, Dr. Fourgeaud, C. L. Ross, Wm. H. Davis and J. Serine. This board elected Thomas Douglass as teacher, at a salary one thousand dollars a year, and the school opened on the 3d of April, 1848, with 6 pupils. This was in fact a tuition school under public auspices, it being free only to indigent pupils. The Town Council agreed to make up any deficiency in the salary of the teacher, to the extent of four hundred dollars. The estimated population of the town, April 1, 1848, was one thousand, with 60 children of school age. In May the school numbered 37 pupils:
On May 13, 1848, a new election of Trustees was ordered, and after a spirited contest the old board was re-elected. Soon after gold was discovered, the school dwindled to 8 pupils, and Schoolmaster Douglass closed his doors and started for the mines.
Prior to the opening of this quasi public school, Mr. Marston, a Mormon, opened a private school, April, 1847, and soon had 20 pupils in attendance. Schoolmaster Marston also became a miner when the stampede for the “diggings” took place.
In April, 1849, Rev. Albert Williams opened a private school of about 25 pupils, and continued it until the September föllowing
On the 11th of October, 1849, John C. Pelton and wife arrived from Boston, with school furniture, books, etc., for the purpose of establishing a school on the New England plan. He opened school December, 1849, with three pupils. This school was to be supported by voluntary contributions, but was free to indigent children. This school was made a free public school soon after.
The school so established soon numbered 150 pupils, and in addition to Mr. Pelton and his wife, two assistants had to be employed. At one time the school numbered 300 pupils. The salary of Mr. and Mrs. Pelton was $500 a month.
This school was continued until September 25, 1851, when it was suspended by the adoption of a new school ordinance, under which T.J. Nevins became Superintendent, new teachers were elected, and Mr. Pelton temporarily retired from school.
5. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1850–1851.
The Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, Mr Heydenfelt, early in the second session of the Legislature, at San Jose, 1850–51, reported a bill “Concerning common schools,” which dragged slowly along, was indefinitely postponed in the Assembly, submitted to a Committee of Conference, and finally passed on the very last day of the session, May 1, 1851.
The original bill was mainly drawn by Hon. George B. Tingley, a member of the Legislature. John G. Marvin, Superintendent of Public Instruction, and John C. Pelton, teacher of the public school in San Francisco, under a local school ordinance, assisted in preparing and perfecting the bill, and in securing its passage. David C. Broderick, then a member of the Legislature, was an active supporter of the bill.
THE FIRST SCHOOL LAW. .
The school law of 1851 was cumbersome and imperfect in many of its provisions. It provided for the survey and sale of school lands in so impracticable a manner that no lands were ever sold under its operation. The Governor was to order a survey; the surveyor was to lay off the land in lots not exceeding eighty acres, nor less than forty, and to furnish the State Superintendent with a schedule of the same; the lands were to be sold at auction, on an order from the Court of Sessions—the purchaser to pay one third down, and ten per cent. per annum interest on the remainder; the County Treasurer to give a certificate of payment, and report to the State Superintendent; the State Superintendent to direct the District Attorney to make out a deed; the County Recorder to report annually to the State Superintendent.
It provided for the apportionment of the interest of the State School Fund to the counties, on the basis of the number of children between seven and eighteen years of age; but the County Treasurers were to apportion to districts according to the number actually attending school; no district was to receive its share of State money unless school was maintained three months, and unless it raised a sum equal to at least one half its share of the State Fund. It defined the duties of the Superintendent of Public Instruction; provided for a "Superintending School Committee” of three, elected annually, with power to examine and appoint teachers, disburse the School Fund, build schoolhouses, and report annually to the State Superintendent. It divided schools into primary, intermediate and grammar, specifying the studies in each, and provided for the establishment of high schools.
DIVISION OF THE SCHOOL MONEYS.
It also provided for the distribution of the School Fund among religious and sectarian schools, in the following sections:
-- Sec. 10. If a school be formed by the enterprise of a religious society, in which all the educational branches of the district schools shall be taught, and which, from its private and public examination, the committee will it to be well conducted, such school shall be allowed a compensation from the Public School Fund in proportion to the number of its pupils, in the same manner as provided for district schools by this act.
“Sec. 11. Schools established under charitable auspices, orphan asylums, schools for blind, almshouse schools, etc., such as shall be subject to the general supervision of laws on education, but under the immediate management of their respective trustees, managers, or directors; and said schools shall participate in the apportionment of the school moneys in the same manner as other common schools.”