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people may vote taxes, and build schoolhouses, but the teachers build schools, and mold character, and act on mind. High salaries will attract talent and skill, and hold them both in the schools. Low wages will fill the schools with bunglers, and waste the public money. If the people of California desire to lay well the foundations of the State for all future time, they must employ skilled master-masons to hew the corner-stones.
The school library system provided by the School Law of 1866 is in successful operation.
It was established in accordance with my recommendation in the biennial report for 1865, as follows:
After studying the plans of other States, and considering the subject in every possible relation, I have come to the conclusion that the following plan is the most practicable one which can at present be carried into effect in this State:
It should be made the duty of the County Superintendent in each county to annually set apart ten per cent. of the State apportionment of school moneys to each district, provided ten per cent. does not exceed fifty dollars, and to cause it to be held by the County Treasurer, as a District School Library Fund; and it should be the duty of Trustees to expend this fund for library books, provided that when the amount is less than ten dollars the sum may remain in the treasury until, together with subsequent apportionments, it shall amount to that sum.
It should be made the duty of the State Board of Education to prepare an extended list of books suitable for school libraries, and from the published list Trustees should make all their selections for purchase. Such a provision would protect the libraries from trash literature and useless books. The Trustees should be made librarians, with power to make the teacher a deputy.
RELIGIOUS EXERCISES IN SCHOOL.
The report treats at length on the vexed question of religious exercises, and Bible-reading in school. A few items read as follows:
The Constitution of California (Art. 1, Sec. 4) provides that “the free exercise and enjoyment of religious profession and worship, without discrimination or preference, shall forever be allowed in this State.”
Section 60 of the Revised School Law, reads as follows:
“ No books, tracts, papers, catechisms, or other publications of a sectarian or denominational character, shall be used or distributed in any school, or shall be made a part of any school library; neither shall any sectarian or denominational doctrine be taught therein; and any school district, town or city, the officers of which shall knowingly allow any schools to be taught in violation of these provisions, shall forfeit all right to any State or county apportionment of school moneys; and upon satisfactory evidence of such violation, the State Superintendent and County Superintendent shall withhold both State and county apportionment.
Section 70 reads as follows:
"It shall be the duty of teachers to endeavor to impress on the minds of their pupils the principles of morality, truth, justice, and patriotism; to teach them to avoid idleness, profanity, and falsehood; to instruct them in the principles of a free government, and to train them up to a true comprehension of the rights, duties, and dignity of American citizenship.”
The School Law, then, is silent as to whether or not a public school shall be opened by the reading of the Bible or by prayer. It does not exclude the Bible; it does not make the use of it compulsory; it does not forbid the teacher from opening school with pray it does not compel him to do it. It leaves the whole question to be decided by Boards of Education, Trustees, teachers, and the people, as their judgment may dictate.
The present is an age of the largest and broadest personal liberty of religious opinion; the children of all classes are found in the common schools; and school officers and teachers should manifest a tender regard for the religious scruples of both Jew and Gentile, Protestant and Catholic, and hold the schools free from any violation of the great principles guaranteed by the National and State Constitutions, that every man be left free to worship God as he pleases, and to teach his children his own religious faith.
The great purpose of the common school is intellectual culture, as a foundation of moral and religious education; for without intelligence, religion degenerates into bigotry. It is left for the home, the Sunday-school, and the church, to teach forms of religious faith and worship. If each does its work without interference with the other, the result will be harmonious. If the church attempts to make the public school both a church school and a Sunday school, the result will be disastrous.
CO-EDUCATION OF THE SEXES.
I believe that the presence of boys and girls in the same school, far from being injurious to either sex, exerts a mutually beneficial influence. My belief is based on many years' experience in public school teaching, on an extended observation of schools, and on the opinion of the most enlightened and progressive educators.
Since 1863, our public schools have been quietly and peacefully revolutionized. In the grand events of national history, in the building of cities, the construction of roads, the settlement of land titles, and the excitement of life incident to a new State, the progress of schools is hardly noticed except by those who are most directly interested in them. Then, we had little to be proud of in our educational record; now, California will not suffer by comparison with the most progressive educational States in the Union.
Then, the annual amount of money raised for public schools was $480,000; now, it is $1,287,000, or nearly three times as much.
Then, there was no direct State tax for the support of schools; now, the State tax is 8 cents on the $100, giving an annual revenue from this source alone of $120,000.
Then, the State apportionment was $130,000; now, it is $260,000.
Then, the amount raised by county and city school taxes was $294,000; now, it is nearly $600,000.
Then, the amount raised by district taxes, voted by the people, was $7000 ; last year the amount was $73,000, or more than ten times the amount raised in 1862.
Then, the maximum county school tax allowed by law was 25 cents, and the minimum required to be levied, nothing at all; now, the maximum tax is 35 cents, and the minimum tax must be equal to $3 per census child, which in many counties requires the maximum rate of 35 cents.
Then, the amount raised by rate bills of tuition was $130,000; now, it is only $79,000, showing a rapid approximation to a free school system. Three-fourths of the pupils now attend free schools during the year, and all are secured by law the right of a free school, either for three months or five months, in proportion to the size of district.
Then, the total expenditure for schools amounted to a percentage on the assessment-roll of the State, of 30 cents on each $100; now, it amounts to 58,1. cents on the $100.
In 1862 the amount expended per census child was $6.15; last year it was $12.61.
In 1862 the amount expended for schoolhouses was $49,000; in 1865 it was $257,000.
Then, the average length of the schools was less than six months in the year; now, it is seven and four-tenths months—an average length of schools which is exceeded only by Massachusetts and Nevada, of all the States in the Union.
Since then, while the number of census children has increased twenty-six per cent., the average number attending the public schools has increased more than fifty per cent.
The stronger hold which the schools have taken on public opinion, the greater skill, earnestness and enthusiasm of teachers, the consequent improvement in methods of instruction and classification, the use of better text-books, the deeper personal interest of parents, the neater and more commodious houses—all these together constitute an advancement which cannot be expressed by a contrast of statistics.
Then, we had no system of professional examinations, no educational society, no organization, and little professional pride; in fact, a man generally apologized for being forced to resort to teaching until he could find something else to do.
EXAMINATION OF TEACHERS.
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Then, the "old schoolmasters” of San Francisco were examined every year by doctors, lawyers, dentists, contractors and business
see if they were fit to teach the common school” they had been teaching years in succession. There was no standard of qualification, except the caprice of “accidental boards." Throughout the State, examinations were oral, and in most cases resulted in issuing to everybody who applied a certificate “ to teach school one year;” now, a new order of things prevails. Every Board of Examination, whether State, city or county, must be composed of professional teachers exclusively; all examinations must be in writing, and in certain specified studies; and certificates are issued for life, or for a length of time proportioned to the grade of certificate issued.
California is the only State in the Union in which teachers have gained the legal right to be examined exclusively by the members of their own profession, and we have just cause to be proud of the fact. It has already done much to make the occupation of teaching respectable. It has relieved good teachers from useless annoyance and humiliation; it has increased their self-respect, stimulated their ambition, and guarded the schools against quacks and pretenders.
Our School Law is the only one in the United States which has taken broad, professional ground, by providing that the diplomas of State Normal Schools in other States shall entitle the holders to legal recognition as teachers in this State.
Strange to say, this new system of professional examinations was violently opposed four years ago, and by none so vehemently as by some common school teachers.
The world moves. Is there a single teacher here who would desire to have the old order of things re-established? But I never doubted that, once established, it would remain a part of our school system as long as schools were maintained.
It was my sanguine hope, for many years, that in this new State teaching might aspire to the dignity of a profession; that teachers might learn to combine their strength, respect themselves, command the respect of others, and honor their occupation. I have lived already to see the promise of the future. It has been and is my highest ambition to elevate the profession of teaching; for I well know that in no other way can the public schools be made the great educators of the State and the nation. If the citizens of this State desire to have good schools, they must pay professionally trained teachers high salaries.
It is only by raising the standard of attainments that the occupation can become well paid and well respected. Set the standard high, and high wages will follow; set the standard high, and good schools will be the result; set the standard high, and teachers will be content to remain in the schools.
Let all teachers who act on County, City or State Boards of Examination, discharge their duty faithfully, without reference to the pressure of friends, or the complaints of unsuccessful applicants, ever bearing in mind the duty they owe to the schools, the people, and the profession of teaching.
Professionally trained teachers, well paid for their work, will bring the schools up to their fullest measure of usefulness, and will secure from the people the most liberal support.
STATISTICS AND REPORTS.
Four years ago there was not a teachers' library in the State, except a few odd volumes in San Francisco.
Now all the large counties have begun a central library, and some of them have quite extensive ones.
We have a course of study, established by law, by means of which teachers are enabled to pursue an intelligent system of instruction, in spite of the prejudices of those parents who are too ignorant to comprehend the purpose of a school.
We have judicious rules and regulations, established by law, to aid teachers in enforcing discipline and order. In no other State is the authority of the teacher so well established and defined by law. Every district school in the State is placed under a judicious system of general rules and regulations.
Four years ago school statistics were notoriously unreliable; the records were kept without system, in old blank books or on scraps of paper, and often were not kept at all; now, every school is supplied with a State School Register, so simple in its style of bookkeeping that the most careless teacher can hardly fail to keep a reliable record.
Then, Trustees wrote their orders to County Superintendents on scraps of paper, without much regard to business forms, and often without keeping any accounts; now, the neat order-books, in the style of bank check books, furnished by the Department of Instruction, allow of no excuse for failing to keep a financial record of money paid out.
In 1862, 150 copies of the report of the Superintendent were allowed to the office of the State Superintendent for distribution; now, 4,000 copies are published, and the law requires that a copy shall be sent to each Board of Trustees, each school library, each County Superintendent, and that 250 copies shall be bound for distribution to the School Departments of other States.
Then, there were no school libraries; now, a library is begun in every school district, and a liberal provision is made for their enlargement by a reservation of ten per cent. of the State School Fund annually.
The influence of a library in school is second only to that of the teacher; and, in many instances, the information self-gleaned by the pupils from books, is the most valuable part of their common school education. Books will give them a taste for reading, make them alive to knowledge, and start them on a plan of self-culture through life. A teacher may fail in the discharge of his duty, but the influence of good books is sure and lasting.
Then, most of the county schools were destitute of maps, charts, and globes; now, most of them are supplied.
Then, all school incidentals, such as pens, pencils, ink, and stationery, were furnished by the pupils themselves, and as a consequence, half of the children were generally without these indispensable articles; now, they are furnished by the district to the pupils, free of expense.