Изображения страниц
PDF
EPUB

system is shamefully inadequate, and is but a pretense for popular education. Under the present system, many districts can maintain schools only from three to six months of the year. No one need be told that such fragmentary bits of instruction are only a little better than none at all. During these short school terms, the pupils of such schools only get fairly started in their studies to be turned out for the greater part of the year, forgetting what little they had learned, and then coming back after this long and ruinous interval to commence again at the former starting-place, at the foot of the hill of knowledge, under a new teacher—the old one having sought a new place rather than attempt to live on the hope of another three or six months' school next year.

This is but a sham, a waste of the public money, and a flagrant injustice toward a portion of the children of the State. There are very many of these schools thus revolving year after year on the axis of a defective system, making some motion, but scarcely any real progress. In a State system of public instruction should not all the children of the State be treated alike? As a good mother, she should dispense the blessings of education with an equal hand. The remedy for this great evil and injustice is obvious: Let all the property of the State be taxed to educate all the children of the State. This is the chief point that should now engage the attention of those intrusted with the management of our public schools. The public mind is prepared to welcome legislation for this purpose. The people are ready to sustain any practical measure that will give them a thorough instead of a partial public school system. The principle involved is already recognized in our present school law. The ten per cent. ad valorern State school tax is an unequivocal recognition of the principle that the property of the whole State may be taxed for the benefit of all parts of the State. All that is needed, therefore, is the extension of the practical application of the principle. If it be objected that the taxation of all the property of the State for all the children of the State would be attended with inequality, some localities paying more than their proportion of taxes into the general school fund, the answer is, that according to the theory already adopted, the State is the educational unit, therefore it must act as a whole, and not partially, in disregard of the avowed theory on which our system is based. As a complete organism, the good of each part is the good of the whole State. There is a fallacy in the assumption that the benefits of education are confined to the particular individuals or localities directly affected by the expenditure of the proceeds of local taxation. The benefits resulting from the diffusion of intelligence by means of education in the public schools affect the entire body politic. The dollar contributed by San Francisco judiciously expended in Plumas for education is no less a benefit to the former than to the latter. It is equally evident that the evils resulting from the prevalence of ignorance and vice in any neglected locality cannot be merely local evils. The virus will spread through the whole organism, and the results will be seen in the criminal courts, jails, hospitals, and insane asylums everywhere. If the State has the right to tax all her citizens equally to maintain State prisons, institutions for the insane, the deaf, dumb, and blind, and orphans, where is the wrong in imposing a tax for education for the whole State, that will lessen all those burdens resulting so largely and so directly from crime consequent upon ignorance ?

There is another aspect of this question that deserves consideration. The disabilities of the present system fall upon the frontier and thinly settled districts of the State. The result is that our hardy pioneers, who lead the march of American civilization, extend the area of freedom, subdue the wilderness, and incur the hardships and dangers of frontier life, are, as the reward of their enterprise, energy, and courage, compelled to pay the penalty of seeing their children grow up in ignorance. Such disability may in some cases be inevitable and invincible, but there are in California but few of these children of the border who are beyond the reach of the beneficent hand of the State. Justice and sound policy require that the poorest barefoot boy of the humblest citizen in the poorest district of the most impoverished county should have as abundant facilities for a common school education as the son of the richest citizen of the most opulent city in the State. The fundamental purpose of a public school system is to insure the education of all the children of the State. The chief recommendation of such a system is that it secures the advantages of education to those who can be reached in no other way. If it fail in this it fails essentially to accomplish its highest end. Our system, then, is at present a partial failure. It is not the part of wisdom to ignore such a fact, looking only on the bright side of the picture. It is not honest. While singing the usual pæans of praise to our public school system, and rejoicing, as we legitimately may, in its benefits, such facts as these remind us that we still fall far short of a perfect system, and that much work, wisely planned and earnestly executed, remains to be done.

The following are some of the leading topics of this report:

State Text-Book System.
Drawing.
State and County Boards of Examina-

State Normal School,
School District Libraries.
University of California.
Against Compulsory Education.
School Discipline-a New Departure.

tion,

County Teachers' Institutes.

The following is the closing section of this report:

During my term of office this department has been happily free from sectional animosities. I have uniformly deprecated the introduction of sectional prejudices into our public school literature and exercises, and I think I can safely appeal to my late official associates to prove that my action has been consistent with my profession. A Southern man by birth and education, I would not be willing to put into our schools any book that would tend to excite or perpetuate hatred or contempt towards the Southern people. An American in feeling and principle, I would not be willing to put into our schools any book that did not inculcate love for our whole country. I would as zealously protect from insult or disparagement any other portion of our land as that in which I happened to be born and reared. My official relation to the teachers of California gave me a better acquaintance with the men and women from different parts of our Republic, and the consequence has been a broadening of my ideas and an enlargement of the circle of my sympathies and attachments. I will never forget these lessons nor lose these sympathies.

Knowing the teachers and school officers of California as I do, I lay aside the responsibilities and arduous labors of State Superintendent with a firm belief that the educational interests of the State are safe in their hands. Leaving all the various departments of our educational work in vigorous operation and healthful development, I trust the next four years will bring uninterrupted progress and increased prosperity.

36. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1872.

At this session there was no school legislation worth mentioning.

The Code Commissioners reported the Codified Statutes, including, of course, the School Law. The main features of the Revised School Law of 1866 remained intact, subject only to rearrangement and changes of phraseology..

Among the minor changes was a provision excepting incorporated cities from the action of.“State uniformity” of text-books.

An appropriation of $300,000 was made for erecting buildings for the State University.

37. FIFTH BIENNIAL REPORT, 1872–73.

Superintendent Bolander’s Report opens with an argument in favor of compulsory education, from which the following points are taken:

To the question, 6. What is this remedy?” only one answer can be given, or at least only one answer has thus far been found. Admitted that education forms the only secure foundation and bulwark of a republican form of government, if not of every form of government; admitted that the universality of education becomes thus of vital importance to the State; and admitted that the exigencies of the case not only empower but compel the State to provide all the facilities necessary to enable every child to acquire at least a common school education, and we are forced to the conclusion that it is not only the privilege, but the duty of the State, to compel every parent to bestow upon his children at least the education which the State places within his reach.

Education is one of the primary conditions necessary to the very existence of a civilized government. This proposition is so well established and universally acknowledged as to have become trite, and any further consideration of it, beyond its mere enunciation, is unnecessary. The extension and intensity of education in a nation will determine the degree of the nation's civilization, and the degree in which a nation's government is a government " for the people and by the people.” This latter office of education has received the fullest recognition in the United States, and every State has declared its conviction that “knowledge and learning generally diffused through a community are essential to the preservation of a free government."

The fundamental idea of government is "the protection of society and its members, the security of property and person, the administration of justice therefor, and the united efforts of society to furnish the means to authority to carry out these objects.” The first means thus furnished to authority are the powers of prescribing and enforcing "rules of action” or laws, and to punish any infraction of these laws; that is, to punish crime. But a still higher power than the mere defining and punishing of crime has been delegated by society to authority, namely, the power to prevent crime by diminishing, and, if possible, removing altogether the causes of crime. Fear of punishment helps to repress crime, but only as far as detection is quick and sure, and punishment swift and certain. The repressing or removing of the motives or temptations to commit crime not only represses crime, but prevents crime by making its commission impossible from its unreasonableness.

“Illiteracy is incipient crime," or, as Dr. Lyman Beecher expresses it, * Uneducated mind is educated vice. Experience has given this proposition the force of an axiom in sociology, there is not only a necessary direct relation between illiteracy and crime; there is also a necessary direct relation between illiteracy and pauperism ; and as there is no less a necessary direct relation between pauperism and crime, we have crime once more as a resultant-crime as a direct result of illiteracy; crime as an indirect result through the medium of pauperism, but no other ultimate result than crime.

Hence, in every scheme of civilized government education has been recognized as the only force sufficient to diminish and remove the causes of crime. But education has another office. From the loss of supremacy in manufactures to the terrible downfall of a warrior nation before a student nation, history teaches the lesson: Education is the first condition necessary to the prosperity of a nation.

History teaches still another lesson : Education will be generally diffused only under a system of public schools; that is, under a system in which either the State by direct taxation raises the funds necessary to support for a definite length of time the schools needed to give every child a common school education, or the State compels the different municipalities to establish and maintain such schools. The American States have generally chosen the former alternative; thus testifying, in the most emphatic manner, that as the prosperity, nay, the very existence of the State, depends upon education, so education shall be the first and paramount care of the State.

The only time the people have had an opportunity to express their will, they have declared themselves overwhelmingly in favor of compulsory education. Since then the fearful increase of “hoodlumism” has made the question one of vital importance. And to save themselves from the rapidly increasing herd of non-producers, who must be supported by the community at large, to save themselves from the wretches who prey upon society like wild beasts, some demand already that a law for compulsory education be supplemented by a law requiring the State to establish and maintain labor schools, school ships, industrial and technical schools. The times demand not only that children be educated in the common English branches, but, also, that children be educated how to work.

Superintendent Bolander treats at length on the necessity of increasing the State School Tax, and proposes a minimum apportionment of $500 for each district, without regard to numbers; of the need of teachers trained in Normal Schools; and closes with the remark that

These two---long terms and qualified teachers--are the real educational forces of the State; and with them at our command, the prosperity, efficiency and usefulness of our common schools will be insured beyond peradventure.

38. SCHOOL LEGISLATION, 1874.

The only act of school legislation of any importance at this session, was the levying of a State school tax of $7

per

school census child, and the apportionment of $500 as a minimum to each school or school district; the balance to be apportioned pro rata on the census children.

TEXT-BOOKS.

All the incorporated cities except San Francisco were placed under the law of State uniformity of text-books.

39. SIXTH BIENNIAL REPORT, 1874-75.

Superintendent Bolander's last report opens with the following summary of progress:

Since my last report, 29,953 children have been added to our school population; 117 new school districts, supporting 322 schools, have been organized; 274 new schoolhouses have been built and furnished, and old schoolhouses refurnished, at a cost of $613,746.41; the school expenditures have been increased $544,885.09; the school property has increased in worth $1,011,262.85; the aver

« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »