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schools, can she boast of her liberality in the presence of the other loyal States, whose schools are all free schools?
If one State in the Union needs a system of free schools more than any other, that State is California. Her population is drawn from all nations. The next generation will be a composite one, made up of the heterogeneous atoms of all nationalities. Nothing can Americanize these chaotic elements and breathe into them the spirit of our institutions but the public schools.
As the first step towards the organization of a system of free schools, and the better maintenance of the public schools, a special State school tax of half a mill on the dollar ought to be levied on the assessable property of the State. This would yield a revenue of at least $75,000, or about one dollar per child-and two dollars per child on the number enrolled in the public schools. True, this would not make the schools free, neither would it continue them ten months in the year; but it would give a fresh stimulus to county and district taxation, and, in four years, would, I believe, give the State a system of schools virtually free.
The public opinion of the State is in advance of legislation. After traveling extensively through the State, addressing public assemblies, with every facility for careful observation, it is my opinion that the people would indorse this measure, were it submitted to a popular vote, by an overwhelming majority.
The following petition, prepared by the State Superintendent, has been extensively circulated in the various school districts throughout the State:
CC PETITION FOR STATE SCHOOL TAX.
"To the Honorable the Members of the
Legislature of the State of California: "WHEREAS, We believe that it is the duty of a representative government to maintain public schools as an act of self-preservation, and that the property of the State should be taxed to educate the children of the State; and whereas, the present School Fund is wholly inadequate to sustain a system of FREE SCHOOLS; we, the undersigned, qualified electors of the State of California, respectfully ask your honorable body to levy a SPECIAL STATE TAX of half a mill on the dollar, during the fiscal years eighteen hundred and sixty-four and eighteen hundred and sixty-five, the proceeds of the same to be disbursed in the same manner as the present State School Fund."
All these petitions have not yet been returned to the Department of Public Instruction, and it is impossible to estimate the number of signatures obtained.
In the districts where they have been circulated, teachers and school officers report that it was a rare exception to find a man declining to sign them, and that the only objection raised was that the petition did not ask for a higher tax.
The names attached to this petition will be entitled to the seri
ous consideration of legislators. They will represent the substantial citizens of the State; men of families, men of property, men who, in attaching their names, consider it equivalent to voting the tax and paying it.
A State tax of half a mill on the dollar was levied last year and is to be levied annually for carrying on the work of building the State Capitol; shall the work of building schoolhouses cease? By the time the Capitol is finished, it will have cost as much as all the schoolhouses in the State built up to that time. Is it not quite as essential that houses should be erected for educating a hundred thousand electors as that a costly pile should be built for the accommodation of a hundred and fifty legislators?
Are we taxed more heavily than the States which have borne the burden of the war? Are we so tax-ridden and so poor that we cannot raise one-fourth as much for educating our children as Illinois or Michigan or Massachusetts? California stands to-day the most peaceful and the most prosperous State in the Union. When the people of other States, staggering under taxation, their sources of prosperity dried up, their able-bodied laborers more than decimated by the calls of the army-when they declare that not a dollar less shall be raised for schools, that not a schoolhouse shall be closedshall California, of all the States, alone shrink back from the duty of educating her children? Shall all our inexhaustible resources of mineral wealth be expended on feet," and the brains of the children be left undeveloped? Shall millions be expended in constructing a Pacific Railroad, and the State fail to lay the solid foundations of character and intelligence on which rest the permanent prosperity of the generation which will reap the benefits of that great highway of the world? Shall we make every sacrifice of men and money to maintain the Union, for a generation unfitted, through want of education, to appreciate either our sacrifices or the value of the inheritance we leave them?
The real wealth of the State lies not in mines of silver, or gold, or copper; not in productive fields and fertile valleys, but in her educated men and intelligent free laborers. Educated mind has made the world rich by its creative power. The intelligent minds which have invented the hundreds of labor-saving machines in every department of industry, have created a wealth greater than the total product of the mines of Mexico, California and Australia combined. All these inventions were once dim ideas in the busy brains of educated men; ignorance found out none of them.
How many dollars is the electric telegraph worth? How many cattle and horses and copper mines the invention of sewing machines? What influence is so mighty in developing this creative power of society as the intelligence imparted in the public schools? Go to the Patent Office, and find out how many inventions come from the land of common schools, and how many from the States that have failed to establish them.
The machinery brought into use since eighteen hundred and sixteen is estimated to be equal to the labor of five hundred millions of men.
Ignorance never invented a machine to save the labor of a single
The life of the nation lies not in a few great men, not in a few brilliant minds, but is made up of the men who drive the plow, who build the ships, who run the mills, and fill the machine-shops, who build the locomotives and steam engines, who construct the railroads, who delve in the mines, who cast the cannon, who man the ironclads and gunboats, who shoulder the musket, and who do the fighting; these constitute the life and strength of the nation; and it is with all these men that the public schools have done and are now doing their beneficent work. The nation will not be saved by any one great man;" the bone and muscle of intelligent laboring men must work out its salvation. Blundering statesmen may mar the fortunes of the war; general after general may show up his own incompetence; the concentrated and consolidated intelligence of the workingmen and fighting men will, in the end, prove victorious. When the bayonet has done its work, the ballot-box must protect the freedom won on the battle-field. When every ballot represents an idea, and falls electrified with intelligence to "execute a freeman's will," the States will revolve harmoniously around the central sun of a consolidated Union; no star will shoot off in eccentric orbit into the chaos of disunion, or the cometary darkness and desolation of secession.
29. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1864.
The supplementary and amendatory bill prepared by the Superintendent of Public Instruction, and introduced by the Committee on Education in the Assembly, Mr. J. J. Owen, Chairman, contained the following provisions:
1. Levying an annual State school tax of five cents on each $100 of taxable property in the State, to be apportioned in the same manner as the interest of the State School Fund.
2. Requiring each county to levy a minimum county school tax equal to two dollars for each child between 4 and 18 years of age.
3. Raising the maximum rate of county tax allowed by law from twenty-five cents to thirty cents on each $100.
4. Making it the imperative duty of Public School Trustees to levy a direct property tax sufficient to maintain a public school five months in each year, whenever the State and county school money shall be insufficient for that purpose.
5. Authorizing County Superintendents to subscribe for a sufficient number of copies of some State educational journal to furnish each Board of School Trustees in the State with one copy, at an expense not exceeding one dollar a year.
6. Allowing County Superintendents a sum for postage and expressage equal to two dollars for each school district.
7. Requiring history of the United States, and physiology and hygiene, to be studied in all the schools above the grade of primary.
This bill passed the Assembly without opposition, but in the Senate a determined fight was made to defeat it. The following is the Senate vote on this bill, which was one of the greatest advances ever made in school legislation in the State:
AYES-Benton, Burnell, Crane, Cunningham, Foulke, Hall, Haswell, Kutz, Maddox, McMurtry, Moyle, Porter, Roberts, Shepard, Tuttle, and Wright-18.
NOES-Buckley, Dodge, Evans, Freeman, Gaskill, Hamilton, Hawes, Montgomery, Pearce, Redington, Rush, and Shafter
30. FIRST BIENNIAL REPORT, 1864-65.
The change of the sessions of the Legislature from annual to biennial required biennial school reports instead of annual. The First Biennial Report was the most elaborate of Mr. Swett's reports. It opened as follows:
At the opening of this report, I take pleasure in stating that the criticisms of 1863 no longer apply to our school system, and that the hope expressed in 1864 has been more than realized.
Notwithstanding the school year closed before the bountiful harvests of the autumn were gathered, and while the State was still suffering from its previous financial prostration, the statistical returns exhibit an educational progress of which all Californians may well be proud.
While the increase of taxable property in the State from 1863 to 1864 was only three and seven-tenths per cent., the increase of school money raised by taxation alone, of 1865 over 1864, on the assessment-roll of 1864, was ninety-one and seven-tenths per cent.
The average length of schools has been increased, since 1863, nearly one month. While the number of teachers has increased only fifteen per cent. during the last year, the amount paid for teachers' salaries has increased sixty per cent.
The amount of school revenue from all sources has been increased, since 1863, $2.58 per census child.
The amount expended for schoolhouses shows an increase over 1863 of $164,000.
While the number of children between 4 and 18 years of age has increased 26 per cent. since 1863, the average number belonging to public schools has increased in the same time 46 per cent. During the last year the increase of census children was 9 per cent., and of public school attendance 16 per cent.
The number of free schools has been increased seventy-eight in two years, and more than half the public school children are now
relieved from rate bills, while the remainder pay an average tuition fee of twenty-five cents a month.
A careful examination of the full statistical tables submitted in this report, will show a great advance in all that relates to the material progress of the schools.
But there is a vital and intangible aspect which no statistics can exhibit.
The stronger hold which the schools have taken on public opinion; the greater skill, earnestness, and ability of teachers; the improvement in methods of instruction and classification; the greater interest and enthusiasm of pupils, consequent upon the introduction of better books; the greater interest of parents; the civilizing agency of well-conducted schools in all the little communities of the Statethese cannot be expressed in figures nor conveyed in words.
California has taken her place in the front rank with those States whose material prosperity has been the result of public schools; and it is the duty of every legislator and every statesman to strengthen and perfect a system of schools which shall educate a race of men and women for the next generation that shall inherit, with the boundless resources of the Golden State, something of the energy, enterprise, talent, character and intelligence which have settled and civilized it.
The following are some of the main topics treated of in this report:
I am reluctant to close this long and complicated report of details and statistics, necessary to be made, and yet from their character, tiresome to most except school officers and teachers, without a final appeal to the legislators who will be called upon to act on its suggestions and recommendations.
Previous to the lessons taught us by the great war just closedin suffering, and doubt, and blood, and tears-the great fundamental truths of our school system had grown to be glittering generalities for gracing political speeches or governors' messages. These truths are now felt as a solid reality by the States on the other side of the continent; and under all the burdens of their debts, incurred in