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Under such a barbarous system of office-holding, rather than have a son of mine become a common-school teacher, I would apprentice him to the trade of a tanner, a tailor, or a shoemaker. He might then stand some possible chance of rising in the political world. For myself, rather than teach under it, I would contest with Nasby the postmastership of the Confederate Cross-Roads.

At length, dragged out of my bed, after a typhoid fever that brought me to the verge of the grave—a sickness brought on by over-work, worry and anxiety-in order to be run through the examination-mill a ninth time, the hereditary blood of my grandfather, who “fit” in the Revolution, rose up in rebellion. I vowed to break up and root out the annual-examination farce, and the New-Englandtown-meeting-annual-election humbug, both of which had followed me across the continent, like the ghost of some grim old Puritan, sticking closer than the accent of Yankee-land in our mother tongue.

So I left the school-room, went into political conventions, secured a nomination for the only office ever open to a schoolmaster, that of State Superintendent of Public Instruction, stumped the State, won two successive elections, and the third time, with my whole party, won a defeat; framed a school-law; established free schools; lobbied legislatures; secured a legal recognition of professional teachers; abolished the New England annual-examination farce; and, in San Francisco, broke up the annual rotation-in-office election system; placed the examination of teachers throughout the State exclusively in the hands of experienced teachers, thereby ruining the occupation and the glory of many a learned committee-man; secured life diplomas for experienced and capable teachers; gained a legal recognition of the normal school diplomas of all State normal schools in the United States; and, by law, made valid in California the life diplomas and State certificates granted to teachers by other States.

All these reforms cost me years of hard work and determined effort, and you will understand why I entertain strong convictions on the subject of teachers' certificates.

For nearly twenty years, on the western verge of the continent, I have been engaged in a kind of border warfare in education.

My educational notions have changed since I taught school near Boston. Living in a State whose people have been gleaned from every other State in the Union, from France, Germany, Italy, England, Ireland, Australia, and China, new conditions have made new questions to be decided, and new issues to be met.

While I fully recognize all that is good in New England schools, school laws, school customs and usages, I take satisfaction for past suffering, in hurling a few brick-bats into the windows of the old school-house where I was flogged.

Before touching on the subject of professional certificates, the two weak points of our public school system must be taken into

account.

1. Of the three hundred thousand persons that ar

keep school” in our country, not more than one tenth can be regarded as professional teachers, that is, teachers trained to their business, and intending to pursue it for a term of years. From the various normal schools altogether, there are graduated, annually, not more than two thousand at a very liberal estimate, and of these at least one half drop out of the occupation in five years.

Most of our schools outside of our large cities, and many of the lower classes within our cities, are kept," not taught, by unskilled and untrained labor, at the wages of unskilled labor. The pay of these unskilled 66 school-keepers” is less than that of any class of artisans or mechanics in any occupation that requires a trained apprenticeship.

These “school-keepers” are quite as good as the people deserve, and in most cases better than they ought to get for the wages paid. Until the people recognize the necessity of schools all the year round, until they recognize that teaching is an art, until they are willing to pay for skilled training, instead of mere - school-keeping, the broken summer and winter schools, kept by young girls waiting to get married, and by boys working their way through college, or into other occupations and professions, or by migratory Ichabod Cranes, must serve the purpose of keeping the children out of utter barbarism, by giving them a chance to learn to read and write, and reckon dollars and cents.

The abstract theory of our school system is fine enough, but the census statistics loom up in fearful significance as a dark background. We shall learn before long that mere reading and writing do not constitute education, and that schoolmasters and schoolma'ams are not necessarily teachers.

It is a quarter of a century since I went to school in my native village. I return and find the school there is no better than when I was a school-boy. That village school is a fair type of many schools all over our country. It will not do to pick out a few cities, and shut our eyes to the rural districts.

When I went to school, we boys had neither training nor culture. We learned to read and write and cipher, and memorized text-books, but we were not educated; and hundreds of thousands of boys and girls, all over our country, are doing the same thing at the present time.

It matters but little how the temporary keepers of schools of this type are examined. Still, there ought to be a plan devised by which the untutored, untrained and unskilled “ school-keeper' shall not be placed on the same footing and paid the same wages as the accomplished graduate of a normal school, or the self-made teacher, trained in actual work in the school-room.

Schools of this class were well enough in the ruder years of the republic, when men and women were subduing the wilderness, driving out the savages, and laying the rough foundations of a great nation. But the time is now rapidly coming when, in consequence of a denser population, the struggle for existence will become fiercer, when there will no longer be millions of acres of fertile land to be taken up at nominal prices, and made productive by unskilled labor. The time is coming when our artisans and mechanics must be trained

to compete with those from the technical and industrial schools of European countries.

Our schools in the small villages and farming districts must be reorganized to meet this new order of things, and the people must employ skilled teachers, and pay them the wages of skilled labor.

2. The other radical defect in the practical working of our school system is the short terms of school officers and superintendents, and their election by direct vote of the people in general elections.

Annual elections suited the genius of New England towns when the government was the purest type of a democracy, and when the machinery of great political parties was unknown; but, applied to great cities, to States, and to the broader expanse of the West, the short term of office and the annual election have been ruinous in their results, not only in educational offices, but in all others.

There can be no steady progress in public schools without longcontinued, systematic efforts; and there can be no system when one set of school officials succeeds another as often as the seasons change. By the time one set of school officers has learned something about the condition and wants of the schools, by some change in the politics of the city or town, a new set succeeds, bent on reforming the work of their predecessors.

In many parts of our country, already, school boards elected by one political party feel under no obligation to retain in place the teachers appointed by the opposite party, and the outrageous annualelection farce, which cowardly teachers have so long submitted to without a struggle, affords a fine opportunity to drop out the old ones and run in the new.

Gradually, but surely, the schools are coming to be considered as legitimate party spoils of the victors, and the struggle for position on boards of education in all our great cities is mainly to control the patronage of appointments. There has been a great deal of talk about reform in civil-service appointments, but the country stands in greater need of reform in the manner of making educational appointments. There is more favoritism, more of politics and church, mixed up in the annual appointments of the 300,000 teachers in the country than in all the custom-houses; and there is more ignorance and unfitness for position than in all the post-offices and civil-service places taken together.

I make no random assertions. I speak from a thorough personal knowledge of our State; and teachers and educators from other States affirm the same condition of things with them. It is undoubtedly worse in the newer States than in the older, and worse in the States evenly balanced, and subject to frequent political changes, than in the one-sided States always controlled by the same political party. Right here in Boston, the centre of conservatism, there is little change, because for twenty-five years there has been no change in the political character of the Board of Education. But, each succeeding year, every one of the thousand teachers here feels that it is possible for one single enemy on the Board to secure, by persistent misrepresentation, and by trading votes, the removal of any teacher. Occasionally, even in Utopia, it happens that a teacher is left out," and consequently no teacher can act or can think independently; and it is even whispered that it makes a material difference with a man's chances whether he be a believer in Cotton Mather or in Darwin.

If the Boston Brahmins like this condition of petty servitude to school directors, I am perfectly willing they shall fold their arms with all due meekness and gratitude, leaving the work of reformation to outside barbarians. They get better salaries than we do out West, and consequently are conservative.

Until there is a reform in these defective points of our school system, it seems to me there can be no marked and permanent improvement in our public schools as a whole. There will be individual schools that, under superior teachers, will attain a high degree of excellence; but the general average of the schools can not be raised much higher than it is, because the system neither encourages independent thought nor tolerates progress.

Puttering in conventions over the little details of teaching arithmetic, grammar, and geography, will avail nothing. Men are wanted to shape legislation, to dig out the debris, and with strong and rough hands to lay the superstructure of a better system of American school supervision and school teaching.

There are some men and women engaged in public school service who make teaching a life-work, who understand their business, and who are earnestly devoted to their work, and the rights and privileges of this class demand a careful consideration. There are only a few States that have any system of professional examinations by which a public school teacher can secure a professional life diploma, and thereafter be exempted from the humiliation of periodic examinations by petty school officials, just emerging from babyhood of official ignorance of the whole subject of education.

And even if a life certificate can be secured in a few States, such as Illinois, Ohio, Iowa, or California, it is of no legal value outside of the particular State in which it is granted. California is the only State that recognizes by law the State diplomas and certificates of other States, by placing them on an equal footing with her own. Were I, after twenty years of continous service as a teacher, as State Superintendent, and as Deputy City Superintendent of San Francisco, holding in my possession

dozens of defunct certificates, and a life diploma of the State of California, were I to go back to my native town,

and seek employment in my native State by teaching the little “ Deestrict School” that I went to when a barefoot boy, I should have to pass examination” to determine my fitness to teach a little squad of boys and girls to read and write. The school law of New Hampshire not only fails to recognize the educational diplomas of mushroom States like California; but, with true Puritan stubbornness, neglects to provide her own sons, who pick up education enough to become teachers, with any kind of a State document which they can carry with them to the State where they go to earn a living.

It would be the same were I to go “looking out for a school Maine, or Vermont, or Massachusetts, or Rhode Island, or Connecticut, or any State in the Union except my own adopted State.

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Were my esteemed personal friend Mr. Philbrick, the Superintendent of the Public Schools of Boston, crowned with the wellearned honors of twenty-five years of educational labor, to lose his position at the next annual election, and in consequence, were to emigrate to California, to teach school to earn a living, he would have to pass a rigid written examination, before he could draw a dollar of the school fund for teaching the smallest school, in the roughest mining camp in the State. Massachusetts has provided no means of giving her educational veterans a certificate of publicschool service.

No State in the Union, except California, recognizes by law the normal school diplomas of other States. In fact, many of the States fail to recognize by law the diplomas given to the graduates of their own normal schools.

There ought to be, in every State, a State Board of Examination, made up exclusively of professional teachers, including the State Superintendent of Public Instruction, having power to issue life diplomas to experienced teachers of the highest rank, and certificates of lower grades to younger teachers, of lower rank; these diplomas and certificates to be issued only upon actual examination in writing, and the record of examination to be indorsed upon the certificates. There ought, also, to be a system of broad and liberal legislation in all the States, by means of which a professional teacher holding & diploma or certificate in one State, should be guaranteed a legal recognition in all the other States.

It is true that this need is more felt in the newer Western and Pacific States than in the older ones. For instance, in California, our teachers are drawn from every other State in the Union. These teachers must pass a written examination in our State, before they can engage in teaching. This requisition often keeps them waiting for several months after their arrival. Occasionally a teacher comes bringing a State certificate or normal school diploma, which is at once recognized under our liberal school law.

But most of the States have failed to provide for any system of State certificates, by means of which their teachers can carry with them, when they emigrate, any written evidence of professional fitness.

If the older States do not feel the local need of some provision of this kind, they owe a duty to their educated sons and daughters, who seek a wider field of action in the newer States. They owe a duty to the cause of National American Education.

In addition to a State system of examination as a means of protecting the public schools against charlatans, ignoramuses,

and humbugs generally, it is indispensable that every State have an efficient system of city, county, and township boards of examination.

These boards ought to be made up of each city, county, or town superintendent, together with from three to five professional teachers, themselves holders of high-grade certificates. They should have power to issue, on actual written examinations, certificates of different grades, valid for periods of time ranging from two to ten years, according to grade.

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