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6. SCHOOLS IN SAN FRANCISCO, 1851-52.
The first school ordinance passed under the State school law of 1851 was that of San Francisco, adopted in September, 1851, which made provision for a City Board of Education, composed of seven members, and for a City Superintendent, and appropriated $35,000 for the support of schools. Thomas J. Nevins, who mainly prepared the ordinance, was elected Superintendent of Schools, and proceeded to organize the department. The first schools organized under this ordinance were the Happy Valley School, of which Mr. James Denman was elected the first teacher, and the Powell Street School, of which Mr. Joel Tracy was appointed teacher.
Both schools opened on the 17th of December, 1851.
The Washington Grammar School opened December 22, Mr. F. E. Jones, Principal.
During 1852 the following new schools were organized: Rincon School, January 28, Silas Weston, Principal; Spring Valley Grammar, February 9, Asa W. Cole, Principal; Union Grammar, June, Ahira Holmes, Principal; Mission Grammar, May, Alfred Rix, Principal.
The average daily attendance in all the schools for 1852 was 445; in 1853, 703 pupils.
Among the teachers elected in 1853 were Ellis H. Holmes, Principal of the Washington School, March 1; John Swett, Principal Rincon School, December 4; Joseph C. Morrill, Principal Spring Valley School, October 1.
The salary of Principals of Grammar Schools in 1853 was
$1500 a year.
7. FIRST STATE SCHOOL REPORT, 1851.
John G. Marvin, the first Superintendent of Public Instruction, made his first annual report to the third Legislature on the 5th of January, 1852. He recommended that a carefully prepared school law should be passed, as that of the previous year was meagre in its provisions; that an appropriation of $50,000 should be immediately made, and that next year a State school tax of five cents on a hundred dollars should be levied until some revenue could be derived from the State School Fund; that the office of County Superintendent be created; that provision be made for school libraries; and that the proceeds of the sales of tule lands be applied to the School Fund. He estimated the total amount of State school land, including the 16th and 36th sections, and the 500,000 acre grant, to be 6,380,320 acres, which would yield a prospective School Fund of $7,975,400, and says of this estimate: “This would be truly a magnificent bequest, and one worthy of the El Dorado State.”
In an appendix to his report, Mr. Marvin gave extracts from letters of inquiry addressed by him to various county officers and to postmasters. A few extracts from these will show the educational condition of the State at that time: Butte County had 50 children, but no school; Calaveras County, 100 children, and no school; Colusa, 75 children, with some prospect of a school next year; El Dorado County, 100 children, but no school; Contra Costa County had some 400 children. Postmaster Coffin, of Martinez, wrote: “There are nearly 150 here. There is but just the breath of life existing in the apology for a school in the town. I presume it will be defunct ere one month passes away." Marin County had 60 children, and a mission school at San Rafael; Mariposa County, 100 children, "no school organized;" Mendocino County, 70 children, and a school of 20 pupils on Russian River; Monterey County, 500 children -two schools of 40 pupils each in the city–179 at San Juan, and no school; “morality and society in a desperate condition;" Napa County had 100 children, and three schools in the county, one of which was at Napa City, and numbered 25 scholars; Nevada County had 250, and four schools, two of which were at Nevada City, one at Grass Valley, and one at Rough and Ready; Placer County had 100 children, and one small school at Auburn; San Joaquin County had 250 children, and two schools, both at Stockton. Mr. Rogers, the teacher of a private school at Sacramento, reported that there were 400 children in that county, and no schools except two primary and one academy, a high school in the city of Sacramento, all private. He says: “This city has never spent a cent for elementary instruction. My sympathies are with the public free schools, but in their absence, I started a private school.”
Santa Cruz County had 200 children, and two schools, both in the town, numbering 65 scholars.
Santa Clara County had 300 children. The Young Ladies' Seminary, at San Jose, in charge of the Sisters of Charity, had 90 pupils; and the San Jose Academy, Reverend E. Bannister, Principal, had 60 pupils. Through the exertions of Hon. George B. Tingley, a subscription of $5000 was raised for the benefit of this academy. There were two primary schools at Santa Clara, with 64 scholars, and two other schools in the township, numbering 35 scholars.
Santa Barbara County had 400 children, and one public school in the town, under supervision of the Common Council, who paid the two teachers together seventy dollars per month. There was also a small school at Santa Inez.
SAN FRANCISCO SCHOOLS.
Concerning San Francisco, it is reported: “In May last, the Common Council, under authority of the charter, authorized the raising of $35,000 as a School Fund for the present year. In September, 1851, the same body passed the present excellent school ordinance, and appointed Aldermen Ross, Atwell, John Wilson and Henry E. Lincoln, to form the Board of Education. These gentlemen chose T. J. Nevins Superintendent."
Three public schools were organized at that time-Happy Valley School, No. 1, 163 scholars, James Denman, Principal; District No. 2, Dupont Street School, 150 pupils, Mr. Jones, Principal; Powell Street School, No. 3, 60 pupils, Joel Tracy, Principal.
Among the private schools, the principal were as follows: San Francisco Academy, Rev. F. E. Prevaux, 31 pupils; Episcopal Parish School of Grace Church, 40 scholars, Dr. Ver Mehr; Wesleyan Chapel Select School, 33 scholars, Mr. Osborne, Instructor; St. Patrick's School, 150 children, Father McGinnis, Principal; Church of St. Francis School, 150 pupils, Father Langlois, Principal.
Sonoma County had 5 small schools, and 250 children; Solano County 200 children and one school, at Benicia, half public and half private; Trinity County 125 children, and one school of 50 pupils, at Uniontown; Tuolumne County 150 children, and no school; Yolo County 75 children, and no school; Yuba County had 150 children, and one school in Marysville, of 30 scholars, taught by Tyler Thatcher and his wife.
From these rough materials Mr. Marvin estimated the number of children in the State between 4 and 18 years of age to be about 6000. There was then no organized State school system, and most of the schools mentioned in the preceding items were private schools supported by tuition.
8. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1852.
At the third session of the Legislature, held in Vallejo and Sacramento, 1852, Hon. Frank Soulé, Chairman of the Senate Committee on Education, made an able report in favor of common schools, and introduced a revised school law much more complete than the law of 1851.
Hon. Paul K. Hubbs, of the Senate, afterwards Superintendent of Public Instruction, State Superintendent Marvin and Mr. Pelton, assisted Mr. Soulé in framing the bill.
A select committee of the Assembly on the Senate bill (Mr. Boggs, Chairman) reported strongly against many features of the bill; thought that parents could take care of their own children; that the State and the counties were in debt; that taxation ought not to be increased--the standing argument of Mr. Corey—and therefore recommended that the bill be postponed one year, and yet had the unblushing impudence to wind up their report by “declaring themselves faithful friends of common schools and loyal lovers of children!" Finally a committee of conference was appointed, on which appear the names of J. M. Estell, Henry A. Crabb and A. O. Peachy, who reported in favor of the bill with the sections relating to the sale of school lands stricken out, to be amended and passed as a separate bill. It was proposed by Mr. Soulé and others who assisted in framing the bill, that the 500,000 acres of school lands should be located by the State Board of Education, and held until the land should sell for a reasonable price.
But there was a big land speculation in the eyes of some members of the Legislature; and so the policy prevailed of disposing of these lands at $2.25 per acre, payable in depreciated State script. The total amount finally realized from this magnificent land grant was only about $600,000. It might have been made two or three millions.
FIRST STATE SCHOOL TAX.
The bill was passed, and a provision was inserted in the revenue law levying a State school tax of five cents on each one hundred dollars of the taxable property of the State. This school law made provision for a State Board of Education, consisting of the Governor, Surveyor-General and Superintendent of Public Instruction; made County Assessors ex-officio County Superintendents; three School Commissioners in each district, elected for one year; constables to be School Census Marshals; the school year to end October 31; State School Fund to be apportioned to districts according to the number of census children between five and eighteen years of age; State School Fund to be used exclusively for teachers' salaries, and fifty per cent. of County Fund for the same purpose; that no books of a denominational or sectarian character should be used in any common schools; defined the duties of County Superintendents, and of the State Superintendent and School Commissioners; authorized the Common Council in incorporated towns to raise a school tax not to exceed three cents on a hundred dollars; to provide for examination of teachers; to make rules and regulations for government of schools; authorized counties to levy a school tax not exceeding three cents on a hundred dollars; provided that no school should receive any apportionment of public money, unless free from all denominational and sectarian bias, control or influence whatever; and closed by giving permission to teachers to assemble at Sacramento, once a year, on the call of the Superintendent of Public Instruction, to discuss and recommend improvements in teaching. Approved May 3, 1862.
9. SECOND STATE SCHOOL REPORT, 1852.
In his second annual report, Mr. Marvin stated that the number of children between four and eighteen years of age was 17,821; that by a blunder of the Enrolling Clerk, the section creating the office of County Superintendent was omitted, and the duties were specified without creating the office, and in consequence thereof the State Board of Education had not been able to apportion the State Fund, which at that time amounted to $18,289, of which $14,874 was received from the five cent revenue tax; that the sales of school lands had amounted to 150,000 acres, yielding $300,000, on interest at the rate of seven per cent. per annum. He recommended that the County Assessors be made ex-officio County Superintendents; that Trustees be required to report to the State Superintendent as well as to County Superintendents; that the Catholic schools be allowed their pro rata of the public fund; that no necessity ex