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When we consider the generally depressed condition of business in the State during the past four years; the heavy losses during the mining stock mania; the losses by flood and drought; the gradual working out of placer mines, and the consequent depreciation of property in many places; the falling off in the trade of many mining towns; the unsettled condition of land titles in many of the agricultural sections, and consequently the unsettled condition of the people; the slow increase of population from immigration, and at times its actual decrease in consequence of attractive mines in neighboring territories, and the slow increase of taxable property-we have reason to be proud of the unexampled progress of our common schools.
In the great work of settling and civilizing a new State--in the building of cities, the construction of railroads, the cultivation of farms, the development of quartz mines, the beginning of manufactures, and all the varied branches of industry-the influence of schools is lost sight of in the figures of material statistics; and it is only when we consider that the 50,000 children now in the schools, during the next twenty years will take their place in society as the workers and producers, that we begin to realize the latent power of the schools. They are silently weaving the network of mental and moral influences which underlie civilization; and when the children shall become the masters of the material wealth of the State, the influence of the schools will begin to be evident.
We are apt to consider immediate results rather than their remote causes; and hence the power of the public schools is seldom fully realized.
Light, heat, and electricity build up the material life of the globe out of inorganic matter, yet so slowly and silently that we hardly observe the workings of their subtle agencies. So the schools act upon society, and organize its life out of the atoms of undeveloped humanity attracted to the schoolrooms.
A few weeks since I visited one of the great quartz mills in the interior of the State. I descended the deep shaft, where stalwart men were blasting and delving in solid rock. Above, the magnificent mill, with fifty stamps, like some gigantic monster, was crushing and tearing the white quartz with its iron teeth; and I saw the immediate result of all this work in the heavy bars of pure gold, all ready to be stamped with their commercial value, and to enter into the great channels of trade. Then I entered a public school a few rods distant, where a hundred children were sitting, silently learning their lessons. I realized the relation of the mill and mine to the material prosperity of the State; but the school, what did it yield?
I rode over the line of the Central Pacific Railroad from the springtime of Sacramento into the snowy winter of the Sierra, and I saw the beginning of the great commercial aorta of a continent. On its cuts, and embankments, and rails, and locomotives, more money had already been expended than has been paid for schools since the history of our State began. I could see the tangible re
sults of the labor expended upon the road; but where should I look for the value received to balance the cost of the schools? After thundering down on its iron rails from the mountain summits, I stepped into the Sacramento High School, and I thought to myself: What are these boys and girls doing, compared with the men who are paving the great highway of a nation?
I go out into the streets of this great city; I hear everywhere the hum of industry; I see great blocks of buildings going up under the hands of busy mechanics; I see the smoke of the machine-shops and foundries, where skillful artisans are constructing the marvelous productions of inventive genius; I see the clipper ships discharging their cargoes; drays are thundering over the pavement; the banks are open, and keen-sighted capitalists are on Change; and when I go to visit some little schoolroom, where a quiet woman is teaching reading and spelling to the little children, the school seems to be something distinct from the busy life outside.
A short time ago I saw that ocean leviathan, the "Colorado," swing majestically out into the stream, amid the shouts of thousands of assembled spectators, and glide off through the Golden Gate, to weave a network of commercial interests between the Occident and the Orient; and when, a few days after, I stood in the Lincoln Schoolhouse, where a thousand boys were reciting their lessons, I asked: What are they doing for the city in return for $125,000 invested in the house, and $20,000 a year paid to the teachers? The steamship comes back with its passengers and freight, and makes its monthly returns of net profits; but when will the school show its balance-sheet?
But when I pause to remember that the steam engine was once but a dim idea in the brain of a boy; that intelligence is the motive power of trade and commerce; that the great city, with banks and warehouses, and princely residences, has been built up by intelligent labor; that in the construction and navigation of the ocean steamer so many of the principles of art and science must be applied--I see in the public school, with its busy brains, an engine mightier than one of steam; and the narrow aisles of the schoolroom broaden into the wide and thronged streets of the great city. I know that the school-boys will soon become workers; that one will command the steamship, and one will become the engineer; one will be a director of the Central Pacific Railroad, and one will ride over it to take his seat in the Senate of the United States; one will own the quartz mill; another will build the machinery, and another still will invent some improved method of working its ores; one will be the merchant who shall direct the channels of trade; one will be the president of the bank, and another shall frame laws for the protection of all those varied interests-and the teacher, whose occupation seemed so disconnected from the progress of human affairs, becomes a worker on mind which shall hold the mastery over material things.
I sought the office for the purpose of raising the standard of professional teaching and for organizing a State system of free schools. I am willing to leave the verdict to the future.
If, when my present term of office expires, I fall back into the ranks as a private, I shall feel proud of my profession, for I hold none more honorable, and to it I expect to devote my life.
I love the State of my adoption; I am proud of her educational record. I hope to see California as distinguished for her common schools, her colleges, her institutions of learning, as she has been for the enterprise of her people and the mineral wealth of her mountains.
I feel that her future prosperity is closely related to the education of her people, for the solid wealth of any State consists in educated and industrious men and women; and if the common schools are kept up to the full measure of their usefulness, her future glory will be not so much in her mines, her scenery, or her climate, as in the intelligence, integrity, morality, and patriotism of a people that shall make wealth a servant of science, art, literature, and religion.
32. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1868-69.
The only change made in the School Law at this session was a slight increase in the maximum rate of district tax voted by the people. The law requiring teachers to take the oath of allegiance was repealed. A local bill was passed, providing that the City Superintendent of Common Schools in San Francisco should be appointed by the Supervisors and Board of Education, instead of being elected by the people, to take effect in two years. A bill was passed to provide for organizing a State University.
33. THIRD BIENNIAL REPORT, 1868-69.
Superintendent Fitzgerald's first report opened as follows: When I entered upon the duties of State Superintendent two years ago, the situation was peculiar. It was just after an exciting political canvass. The wildest surmises and most absurd apprehensions were indulged in on the one hand, and the most extravagant expectations entertained on the other.
My first official utterance reaching the general public was in my address before the State Teachers' Institute, held in San Francisco, June, 1868. In that address I declared that I had no partisan, sectional or sectarian ends to accomplish; that our public schools were not to be considered as either Democratic or Republican, Northern or Southern, Protestant or Catholic; that all parties were taxed alike for their support, and therefore had equal rights and should be treated with equal respect.
This report touched upon the topics of "Objects of Education," "School Trustees," "Examinations, State Normal
School," "State and County Institutes," "Attendance," "Female Teachers," "Evening Schools," "Politics in the Public Schools," "San Francisco Industrial School," "Uniformity of Text-Books," "The California Teacher," "The Institution of the Deaf and Dumb and Blind," "The State University," and "Cosmopolitan Schools."
It closes as follows:
This exhibit cannot fail to inspire every good citizen with pride, gratification, and hope. It gives assurance that, while our State is evidently about to enter upon a fresh career of material development and prosperity, we have abundant reason to hope that it is destined to a progress equally rapid in the development of the higher interests of education. For what has been done, I take no credit to myself. I only claim that I have earnestly tried to do my duty.
34. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1870.
The first legislation of this session was the repeal of the law passed in 1868–9, in relation to the appointment of the City Superintendent of Public Schools in San Francisco. The bill continued the former Superintendent, James Denman, in office for one year, and then made the Superintendent elective at the next general election. The original purpose of this law thus repealed was to take the office "out of politics.
The "Revised School Law" was re-enacted under the title of the "California School Law," but was not changed in any of its main features.
The sections relating to rate-bills were stricken out, being no longer needed; the State Normal School was taken from the hands of the State Board of Education and placed under the control of a Board of Normal School Trustees, appointed by the Governor; and a provision was made authorizing the County Superintendents to fix the rate of county school tax, which was carried into effect in only three or four counties, and was afterwards pronounced unconstitutional by the Supreme Court.
The original provision for uniformity extended only to country districts, all incorporated cities and towns having special Boards of Education being independent. The law was amended so as to compel San Francisco and other cities to adopt the State series of text-books.
In 1869 the State Board of Education had made a sweeping change of all the school-books in previous use.
The State tax was increased to 10 cents on each hundred dollars.
35. FOURTH BIENNIAL REPORT, 1871-72.
The last report of Superintendent Fitzgerald opened as follows:
During no period in the history of California has more steady and substantial progress been made in popular education than the two years since the last biennial exhibit was made by the Department of Public Instruction. This progress has been realized in spite of an unusual and general depression in business, resulting from various exceptional causes, and a consequent temporary check upon immigration and material prosperity.
Great educational enterprises have been successfully inaugurated, abuses have been corrected, important and necessary reforms have been made, antagonisms have been reconciled, and a course of policy initiated that, with the united and earnest efforts of the true friends of popular education, will at a very early day culminate in the attainment of what every good citizen of California must desire a public school system that will furnish the fullest advantages of an English education to every child in the State.
The State is growing, and its educational development keeps pace with its growth in wealth and population. The increase in the number of public school children is more than 20 per cent. in two years. The increase in the value of school property is about 20 per cent. for the same period.
This large increase in the number of children attending the public schools is evidence of their growing popularity. A just and liberal administration of public school affairs has won the confidence and elicited the support of all classes to a gratifying extent. This can be claimed by me in behalf of my co-officials in the Department of Public Instruction throughout the State, without any reservation. The friends of.education have worked together in perfect harmony, and rapid progress has been the result.
The enormous amount added to the value of school property, let it be noted, is the result of voluntary taxation, voted directly by the people themselves. This fact furnishes the most conclusive proof of the deep interest felt by the citizens of California in the education of their children, and affords a guarantee that they will cordially sustain any judicious measures that may be presented for the further improvement of our school system.
AN INCREASE OF STATE SCHOOL TAX.
While in our centres of wealth and population the children have the advantage of a full school year's instruction, with the best facilities for learning, truth compels the confession that for the more remote and sparsely settled districts of the State our present