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2. MISCELLANEOUS HISTORICAL ITEMS.
1. Buildings. --The schools were held in rented rooms up to 1854, when a building on the corner of Bush and Stockton streets was erected for the Denman School; a large brick building for the Union Street School; and a spacious house at North Beach for the Powell Street School. This last building was soon afterward turned into a City Hospital, because it could not be filled with pupils.
The first schoolhouses were arranged on the New York City plan of large session-rooms and small recitation-rooms. Since 1857, the buildings have been arranged on the Boston plan--a separate room for each class of 50 pupils.
2. Grading.-The schools were originally classified into Primary, Intermediate, and Grammar Departments, but were not regularly graded on the present plan until late in 1857.
The first printed "course of study” was adopted June 10, 1857, Mr. Pelton, Superintendent, and William Sherman, President of the Board. The High School was organized in 1856, mainly through the efforts of William Sherman, the President of the Board.
3. Salaries.--The salary paid Principals in 1852 and 1853 was $150 a month, exclusive of vacations; that is, $1500 a year. In 1854, the salary was increased to $2000 a year; but this was paid in city scrip, worth from 60 to 70 cents on the dollar. From 1854 to 1872, the salaries varied from $1900 to $2100, but in 1873 were raised to $2400.
The salaries of the High School Principals varied from $2300 to $2500 and $3000, until 1874, when the salary of the Principal of the Boys' High School was made $4000.
4. Certificates.-Until 1863, teachers were annually examined, to test their “fitness to teach a common school one year,” and the pioneer teachers, such as Denman, the Holmeses, Swett, Pelton, and others, were passed through the “examination-mill” a dozen times. The system afforded a fine opportunity for petty officials to browbeat schoolmasters and schoolma'ams.
5. Annual Elections.-From 1850 to 1870, at the end of each year, all positions were declared vacant, and there was a general scramble for a "new deal.” Occasionally there was the warcry: “To the victors belong the spoils.”
If a “Director” had a spite against some unfortunate pedagogue, vengeance descended when the Board went into starchamber sessions for the "Annual Election of Teachers.”
The doors of the star-chamber were besieged until midnight by anxious teachers, waiting to know their fate.
This senseless annual insult to a whole body of teachers originated in the New England District Schools, when they were kept but a part of the year, and when, of course, a new teacher had to be elected annually. Strange as it may seem, it has been handed down from father to son as a precious heirloom, and is still the law of nearly every city, town, and district in the United States,--San Francisco excepted.
A NEW DEPARTURE.
In 1870, the Board, H. A. Cobb, President, decided to abolish annual elections, and elect teachers " during good behavior." This measure was vigorously supported by most of the city press, but was as vigorously opposed by the Superintendent and a minority of the Board, who tenaciously "held on to the good old way.”
6. Examinations of Schools.—Up to 1862, the pupils in Grammar and Primary Schools were promoted by the principals and teachers on the records of the scholars' work during the year. Public examinations were conductal orally at the end of the year.
In 1863, the promotion by means of written examinations and percentages was introduced as a system. The result was, that in a few years, the main efforts of teachers were directed to cramming for examination. Pupils were made writing-machines. In 1874 and 1875, even the lowest grade primary classes were examined in writing. The evil culminated in a reaction, and in 1876 a committee of principals, with Superintendent Bolander, requested the Committee of Classification, Mr. Tait, Chairman, to abolish the cast-iron system, and allow principals to classify their schools. The permission asked for was granted, and it is to be hoped the cramming system will never be restored.
7. Secular Schools.-From 1851 to 1854, it was customary in many schools to open the exercises with prayer and the reading of a passage from the Bible by the teacher. This was authorized by one of the earliest school regulations. The question formed a bone of contention for several years, but by common consent most of the teachers, after 1856, discontinued the reading of the Bible and prayer. The tendency of public opinion was toward purely seoular schools. In his State Reports, Superintendent Swett advocated purely secular schools.
In 1874, for the first time, an official resolution in favor of purely secular education appears on record. The President of the Board, Andrew McF. Davis, ruled that the repeating of the Lord's Prayer was sectarian, and in violation of the school law. This decision was sustained by the Board. Public opinion, in most parts of the State, is in accordance with this decision.
8. Politics and Schools.--Though nominated and elected by political parties, the Boards of Education have not been, in general, marked by partisan action. From 1856 to 1867, a majority of the members of each Board was elected on the “People's Party Ticket.” From 1868 to 1876, there has been a preponderance of members elected on the Democratic Ticket. Superintendent Theller was elected on the Democratic Ticket; Mr. Pelton was twice, and Superintendent Denman three times elected by the Democratic party. All the other Superintendents were elected on the “People's Party” or the Republican Ticket. Under the “Know-Nothing" regime, in 1855, a few teachers were removed on account of "accent.” During the war, two or three “secession” teacliers were dropped; but, in general, while both political and religious influences have, to some extent, influenced the election of teachers, very few bave been proscribed on account of either politics or religion. Protestants, Catholics, Israelites, Democrats and Republicans, work harmoniously together in teaching children of all shades of religious belief and political opinion.
9. Music and Drawing.–From the beginning, music and drawing, to the extent of a smattering, were taught in the schools. In 1859, Hubert Burgess was appointed special teacher of drawing, and Mr. F. K. Mitchell, teacher of music. In 1868, Washington Elliott succeeded Mr. Mitchell as music teacher. In 1871, Mason's Music Readers and Charts were adopted, with a specific course in the Manual. Real instruction in vocal music dates from this period. In 1874, Smith's System of Drawing was introduceel, making the beginning of systematic instruction in this branch.
10. Changes in Text-Books.-The changes in text-books, from 1851 to 1876, twenty-five years, may be briefly summed up as follows:
Readers: Swan's, Towne's, Sargent's, Willson's, McGuffey's. Average time of use, five years.
Arithmetics: Thompson's, Colburn's, Robinson's; the last from 1865 to 1876. Average time of use, eight years.
Grammars: Tower's, Weld's, Greene's, Kerl's, Brown's. Average time, five years.
. Geographies: Mitchell's, Cornell's, . Guyot's, Clarke's, Monteith's. Average time, five years.
Spellers: Towne's, Sargent's, Willson's.
United States History: Parley's, Goodrich's, Lossing's, Anderson's, Swinton's. Average time, five years.
11. Co-Education.-Up to 1864, the boys and girls were educated together. When the Denman Grammar School building was completed, only girls were admitted; the Lincoln was made a boys' school, and the Rincon a girls' school. In 1868 the Union and the Washington were made boys' schools, and the Broadway a girls' school. The Boys' High and the Girls' High were formed from the Boys' and Girls' High School in 1864. With these exceptions all the other schools have always been attended by both sexes.
12. Teachers' Associations and Evening Normal Schools.-In 1853 the Principals formed a monthly association for the discussion of school questions. This continued until 1857, when a weekly Normal School was established by the Board of Education. Attendance was made compulsory. The school was held at first on Saturdays; afterwards, on Monday evenings. George W. Minns, John Swett, Ellis H. Holmes, and Thomas S. Myrick, were elected teachers. This school continued until 1862. The following is a list of the graduates of what is known as the “Minns Evening Normal School:"
GRADUATES OF 1861.
Miss Ellen Casey,
M. A. Casebolt,
Miss Lizzie Kennedy,
A. B. Kimball,
Miss M. D. Lynde,
GRADUATES OF 1862.
Miss A. S. Barnard,
C. V. Benjamin,
Miss Lizzie Macy,
W. L. Morgan,
Miss M. C. White,
S. J. White,
E. S. Forrester,
The “Minns Normal School” was succeeded for several years by monthly meetings of teachers under the direction of the Board of Education, but these died out in 1869.
In 1872 the Board established another Evening Normal School, which was continued two years, with the following corps of teachers: Principal, John Swett; Assistants, Joseph Leggett, Mrs. Mary W. Kincaid, and Theodore Bradley. Since 1873 there have been no teachers' meetings, associations, or normal schools.
13. Educational Hobbies.-In early times Colburn's Mental Arithmetic was a favorite hobby, and for many years afterward arithmetic was the leading branch of study to which more than half the school-time of pupils was devoted. In some cases, four hours out of the five were devoted to the favorite hobby of the oldtime schoolmaster. Of late years, about one-fourth of the time is given to this study.
The epidemic of self-reporting prevailed from 1859 to 1862.
In early times "exhibitions," "May festivals,” and “dancing parties” were in fashion. “ Calisthenics and gymnastics prevailed from 1856 to 1860.
“Written Examinations” and “Percentages” were the rage from 1863 to 1875; they went out of style during the Centennial year.
Phonography,” in the higher grammar grades, was the hobby of 1872 and 1873, but was ridden to death in 1874.
“ Mark's Geometry,” for the 3d and 4th grammar grades, was the experiment in 1869 and 1870; it failed in 1871.
“Cosmopolitan Schools” became the rage in 1872 and 1873;