Изображения страниц

School was subsequently opened during the same year, and Mr. Ahira Holmes was appointed principal.


In his last report, Mr. Moulder recommended a plan for funding the indebtedness of the State to the School Fund; that Trustees be required to report the amount of interest, if any, which they received from Township School Funds; that power be conferred on Trustees to collect rate bills by law; that the State Board of Education be empowered to adopt a uniform series of text-books; stated that the State Normal School had been successfully organized, and asked an appropriation of $6000; alluded to a State Agricultural School under the act of Congress granting lands to the same; and closed by publishing his correspondence with State Controller Warren, who had declined to pay the semi-annual interest on the State indebtedness to the School Fund.


During this session of the Legislature, the Senate Committee on Education referred the subject of revising and codifying the school laws to the Superintendent of Public Instruction, John Swett.

Public opinion was not yet sufficiently awakened to secure any very liberal taxation for support of schools, but some good provisions were incorporated into the law.

The following are some of the leading provisions :

1. A provision requiring the Superintendent, at the expense of the State, to furnish a State school register to each school.

2. Requiring the State Superintendent to visit schools, to attend County Institutes, and to address public assemblies on subjects relating to public schools, and providing for the payment of actual traveling expenses, not to exceed $1000.

3. Provision for the annual appropriation of $150 out of the County General Fund for the County Teachers' Institute.

4. Making the term of office of School Trustees three years, instead of one, and providing for the election of one Trustee annually.

5. Providing a stringent law for the assessment and collection of district taxes for building purposes, or for the support of free schools.

6. Providing for the assessment and collection of rate bills.

7. Authorizing the State Board of Examination to issue State educational diplomas, valid for six years; State certificates of the first grade, valid for four years; and second and third grade certificates, valid for two years.

An act, framed and introduced by Hon. E. F. Dunne, was passed requiring all teachers, under penalty of being illegally employed, and of forfeiting their salaries, to take an oath of allegiance.


An act, prepared by Governor Low and Hon. D. R. Ashley, was passed providing for the gradual funding of the indebtedness of the State to the School Fund, which amounted at that time to $475,520.

Under authority of an act, approved May 3, 1852, providing for the disposal of the 500,000 acres granted to this State by act of Congress for the purpose of internal improvements, and reserved by the State Constitution for school purposes, it was made the duty of the State Treasurer to convert the proceeds “into bonds of the civil funded debt of the State, bearing seven per cent. interest per annum, and to keep such bonds as a special deposit in his custody, marked 'School Fund,' to the credit of said School Fund.”

This provision was never complied with, for payments were made in depreciated scrip, or Controller's warrants; the scrip paid in was canceled, and to this extent the School Fund was used by the State to defray the ordinary expenses of government. The State, therefore, owed to the School Fund the sum of $475,520, derived from the sale of 237,760 acres of land, sold prior to April 23, 1858.

The State had always recognized this debt by appropriating annually for school purposes a sum equal to the interest at seven per cent. per annum upon the amount of this indebtedness. But the school department was placed completely at the mercy of the annual general appropriation bill, and if no appropriation was made, as was the case in 1861 and 1862, there was no redress.

This act, approved April 14, 1863, provided for the gradual funding of this unfunded debt to the School Fund, by requiring that whenever State bonds were redeemed, such bonds to such amount as should thus be redeemed with the sum of $475,520 should not be canceled, but should be kept as a special deposit in the custody of the Treasurer, marked “School Fund,” in the same manner and for the same purposes as are the bonds directly purchased for said School Fund.

This was an important measure. Under its provisions the entire indebtedness of the State to the School Fund has been converted into State bonds at seven per cent.


The constitutional amendments adopted in 1862, provided for the election of the Superintendent of Public Instruction at the Special Judicial Election, instead of at the general election, and for a term of four years. Superintendent Swett's first term of office-three years—was thus cut short to a term of eleven months. He was renominated and re-elected in October, 1863.

The following are some of the main topics treated of in Mr. Swett's first report.

Receipts and Expenditures;

County Teachers' Certificates; Schools;

Reports and Blanks; School Children;

School Registers; Attendance;

Order Books; Teachers' Wages;

State Normal School; Change of Teachers;

The California Teacher; County Institutes;

District School Libraries; Errors in Reports of County Superin- Schoolhouses and School Architecture; tendents;

State Agricultural School;
Reports of Teachers and Trustees; University Fund;
District School Trustees;

Condition of the School Fund; Proceedings of State Teachers' Insti- Department of Public Instruction; tute;

State School Tax; Convention of County Superintendents; The Schools and the State; State Board of Examination;

Public Schools and Patriotism; State Certificates and Diplomas;

Military Drill in School. State Educational Society;

The following is an extract from the argument in favor of a State School Tax :

The most important measure which demands the attention of legislators, is that of a State school tax for the better maintenance of public schools. I believe the time has arrived in the history of our State when the absolute necessity of such action can be fully demonstrated, and when the efficiency of the schools cannot be greatly increased without it. Whenever the question of increased taxation is agitated, it is due to taxpayers and property-holders that good and sufficient reasons should be explicitly set forth, and that it should be clearly shown that the public good requires it. The condition of the public schools, as exhibited by the statistical returns, will be to many minds conclusive evidence of the necessity of a State school tax; but the importance of the question demands that argument should be added to the weight of facts and figures.

Our American system of free schools is based upon two fundamental principles or axioms:

First. That it is the duty of a republican or representative government, as an act of self-preservation, to provide for the education of every child.

Second. That the property of the State should be taxed to pay for that education.

Simple propositions they seem; yet they have been recognized and acted upon in no other country but our own. Other nations, it is true, have their national systems of instruction partially supported by Government, and under Government control; but no nation in the history of the world has ever organized a system of schools like ours, controlled directly by the people, supported by taxation; free to all, without distinction of rank, wealth, or class; and training all children alike, whether foreign or native-born, to an intelligent comprehension of the duties, rights, privileges, and honors of American citizens.

In the minds of the hard-fisted, iron-willed settlers of Massachusetts Bay, where, under the wintry sky of suffering, want, and war, the germs of our American school system struggled into existence, common schools and taxation were as inseparably connected as were taxation and representation.

A few extracts from the old colonial laws will show how early our free school system sprang into existence. A section of the Massachusetts Colony laws of 1642 reads as follows:

“Forasmuch as the good education of children is of singular behoof and benefit to any commonwealth ; and whereas, many parents and masters are too indulgent and negligent of their duty in that kind; it is ordered that the Selectmen of every town shall have a vigilant eye over their brethren and neighbors, to see, first: that none of them shall suffer so much barbarism in any of their families as not to teach, by themselves, or others, their children and apprentices so much learning as may enable them perfectly to read the English tongue, upon penalty of twenty shillings for each neglect therein."

In 1647 this law was followed by another, to the end, in the words of the statute, that learning may not be buried in the graves of our fathers in the Church and the Commonwealth," which required every town of fifty families to provide a teacher to instruct all the children of the town in reading and writing, and every town of a hundred families to set up a grammar school, with a teacher competent to fit young men for the university; the expense of these schools to be borne by the town, or by the parents, as the town should determine.

In 1692 the law provided that these schools should be supported exclusively by tax levied on all the property of the town.

In 1785, an ordinance respecting the disposition of the public lands was introduced into the old Congress, referred to a committee,

and passed on the 20th of May, which provided that the sixteenth section of every township should be reserved "for the maintenance of public schools.

The celebrated ordinance of 1787, which confirmed the provisions of the land ordinance of 1785, further declared, that " general morality and knowledge being necessary to good government and the happiness of mankind, schools, and the means of education, shall be forever encouraged."

As the results of this noble policy, more than fifty millions of acres of the public lands have been set apart for the purposes of education.

[blocks in formation]

It is said-leave the question of taxation to the citizens of each district? The fact that only eighteen districts voted a tax last year is good evidence that the districts will fail to do their duty. If it is argued that the Boards of Supervisors of the different counties will assess a county tax sufficient to maintain good schools, the statistical exhibit of the condition of the schools proves the contrary. Only four counties in the State assess the maximum rate allowed by law.

Shall we rely on the interest of the School Fund for the support of our public schools? Our School Fund amounts to less than a million of dollars, and it will not be largely increased for many years to come. The annual apportionment from that source amounts to only one dollar per child; is that sufficient to properly educate the children?

Can it be said, in view of facts, that California is doing her full duty in maintaining public schools? She raises by taxation only $4.42 per child, and the total amount raised from all sources, rate bills included, is only $7. Massachusetts raised by tax, last year, $6.44 per child; and as the cost of educating in California is at least four times as great as in that State, to make as liberal a provision we ought to raise $25 per child. The cost of educating a child in the public schools for ten months in the year, in San Francisco, where it is made economical in consequence of classification and the concentration of large numbers, is $21 per year. Is an average of $7 per child sufficient for the State at large? San Francisco derives from all sources an average of $13.70 per child; and yet, with this liberal provision, the public schools are crowded to their utmost capacity, and one thousand children more would attend were room provided.

Is it wise for legislators to fold their arms in apathetic indifference, when twenty thousand children of school age, or twenty-five and one half per cent., are reported as “not attending any school?" Is this recognizing the principle " that it is the bounden duty of Government to provide for the instruction of all youth?” When the average length of time school is continued is only six months in the year, is it probable that the children will be more than half educated? When the percentage of daily attendance on the public schools is only twenty-five per cent. of the whole number of children in the State of school age, and the percentage of attendance on the whole number enrolled is only fifty-five per cent., can the State be said to educate her children?

When California has only 219 free schools out of 754 public

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »