« ПредыдущаяПродолжить »
the statute-book will prove a panacea for all the evils of which he complains. There would be very little difficulty in having enacted a compulsory law in any State of this Union. The difficulty lies in the enforcement of it; and uuless you are prepared to thoroughly organize a body of officers to carry out the requirements of your law, then your law is just so much waste-paper. With regard to the advantages that are alleged to have followed during the past few years, in Connecticut, from the enforcement of a compulsory system, as I understand it, I may say, or may suggest, that it is very doubtful whether all the increase of attendance has resulted from the enactment of the compulsory statute or not. Åt all events I will give you a figure on the other side. We have no compulsory law in Maryland. The increase of attendance dur. ing tbe past year has been six thousand and some-odd persons. That may be put in comparison with an increase of four thousand which has been stated as the result of the compulsory system in Connecticut. But really the figures do not meau anything. I do not put these figures in opposition. I do not mean to say that they show that the increase would be greater with or without compulsory law. My object is merely to show that the statement given for Connecticut does not prove any. thing at all in the matter.
I think, Mr. President, that the arguments and facts advanced by our friend from Massachusetts, drawn from his experience and from the history of the European countries, are not exactly in point. There is an institution with which I have been connected in the State of Maryland, the president of which entertains a very exalted notion with regard to the abilities of the English and Welsh people as farmers, and he made up his mind that he would introduce somewhat of the English system of farming into the institution with which he was connected. He entered into correspondence with a friend in England, and had sent over to him a first-class English farming.man. This man understood everything about agriculture in a scientific way, as far as it was developed in the country where he was born and from which he was imported. Being asked to approve the proposition in regard to the salary of this gentleinan, I said that I would make no opposition to it. But I desired the gentleman who was responsible in the premises to consider that there was a vast difference between the climate of England and the climate of that part of the United States in which this farm-manager was expected to operate; also that he would find a great difference in the kind of labor in which he was employed; also that familiarity with the crops raised in England was a very different matter from understanding our American soil and adaptibilities. I expressed my belief that unless the president exercised great superintending care his English farm inanager might get him into trouble. Notwithstanding these doubts the gentleman was employed, and things went on after his arrival swimmingly during the winter. Merriment.]
( The season for corn-planting was approaching. The English farmmanager was told to commence his work. He did not know exactly what to do. He went around to the neighboring farms and talked with the common laborers; and, finding one of the most intelligent of the number, he said to him, “ Can you tell me how you plant this corn? Do you plant it with the point downwards or the but-end downwards?” That is what he knew about raising corn. Now, had it been wheat he would have been perfectly at home. He knew everything about the raising of that crop, for which Englishmen are celebrated, but in regard to corn he knew nothing at all; nothing in regard to our most important crop; and when our friend was making an application of the history and progress of this movement in England I was thinking that perhaps the condition of our social institutions, and social interests, and social habits was such as to render the argument he would deduce illogical and inapplicable.
I think the whole question of compulsory education has been in one sense given up by the elastic and conciliatory management of it which has been proposed by my friend from Boston. Not only is it not suffi. cient that we have a compulsory law; not only is it not sufficient in Boston that this compulsory law be executed by a number of truantofficers; but in order to have it thoroughly executed it must be carried out by a “pious fraud.” Now I would not call attention to this but for this single purpose and to emphasize the fact that the amount of education we are able to obtain by statute amounts, in the long run, to nothing at all. We need a pious fraud to make it worth anything. Mr. President, what is three months in the year? What is three months in the year, then, to the child who is honestly anxious to be educated and for the parents honestly anxious to send it to school! This absolutely amounts to nothing in the nine months that intervene. Supposing these three months to be consecutive, your child will lose during the nine months he is absent from the school all that he has acquired during the early portion of the year. It is a very different matter where you take a person of 15, or 16, or 17, or 18 years of age; then three months at a night-school or at a day-school may effect a great deal; but your child of 6, or 7, or 8 years of age will most certainly forget in the nine months nearly all that he has learned in the three months. But in regard to the other classes whom you wish to benefit by this law it may be said that you cannot get these three months of schooling consecutively. Their names are upon the books, but their bodies are not in the school-room, and in many instances they will be unable to attend school three consecutive months. There are accidents and sickness or injury to be considered, reducing the amount of actual attendance. I have heard it said that, if a compulsory law does no good, it will do no harm. I say it will do no harm if it is executed as our friend has just described, but it will do a great deal of harm if the people think that that is all that is necessary. I might throw a light chair to a drowning man and say, if it does him no good it will do him no harm; but it may do him a great deal of harm if he trust to it, while it is not sufficient to support him. If this compulsory system is trusted to and relied upon absolutely it will deceive you. We may make use of it, but we want more than that; we want something better than that.
Mr. G. J. LUCKEY, of Pittsburg. I am fully impressed with the importance of the subject which is up before us for discussion. It has been said by our friend from Maryland that he is opposed to the enactment of compulsory laws until the mass of the people are ready for them. If we wait until the people are ready for them, then I may say we will have no use for compulsory laws.
Mr. NEWELL. I object to relying entirely upon compulsory laws; but I stated that, if they were executed as has been reported from Conuecticut, I had no fault to find with them.
Mr. LUCKEY. We need compulsory educational laws; and we need them as one of the great safeguards of our republican institutions. not suppose that there is a thoughtful person in our country who does not see every day the tendency of the people in large centers of population to override and trample under foot the free institutions of the land and the system of law and order which we claim to have established ; and this is to be observed just in proportion as the people are deficient in education and culture. In our country, where our people are intelligent, there is no fear for our republican institutions; but in the States where the great mass of our people are uneducated there is danger that our institutions will be overthrown or impaired. There is such danger always where the masses of the people are ignorant. I would like, therefore, to liave this convention give its influence directly in favor of compulsory education. Before we leave this subject, I would like to ask a question of the honorable secretary in regard to the first part of this law of the State of Connecticut, which reads :
All parents, and those who have the care of children, shall bring them up in some honest and lawful calling or employment and shall instruct them or cause them to be instructed in reading, writing, English grammar, geography, and arithmetic. And every parent, guardian, or other person having control and charge of any child between the ages of 8 and 14 years, shall cause such child to attend some public or private dayscbool at least three months in each year, six weeks at least of which attendance shall be consecutive, or to be instructed at home at least three months in each year in the branches of education required to be taught in the public schools, unless the physical or mental condition of the child is such as to render such attendance inexpedient or impracticable.
That is one of the best provisions I ever saw in any law. But bow is it to be executed ? I would like some light on this subject. Perhaps we need a provision of that kind as much as we need a compulsory clause in our school-law.
There is another point to which I would like to call the attention of this convention before this subject is dropped, and that is tbis: In Prussia they have no free-school-system; every parent is compelled to pay for the education of his child, and yet all are required to be educated.
What provision is made in Prussia for the poor children or in aid of the poor parents ? I know that in this country, unless we have some provision enacted with this compulsory law which will enable the very poor parents to furnish their sons and daughters with books and clothing, this compulsory provision will be a nullity. I visited in my own State, the other day, twenty families who were living in one house, and not a shoe nor a stocking upon a child in the house with perhaps five or six exceptions. There were twenty rooms in the house and twenty families. These children bad to be provided by the charitably inclined “ school-marms" of the State with shoes and stockings before we could ask them to go to school. I would like to know how it is in those countries—particularly in Prussia—where compulsory education is enforced; what provision is made for the children of the poor? As I said before, they are not only required in Prussia to send their children to school, but they are required to pay tuition. This is more than our people are required to do here. I am glad that this subject is being discussed as it is; I hope it will be deferred until our next session for further discussion ; but I think that in the mean time our friend from Maryland will change his views upon the subject; because he is a good man to have on the right side of a question, and I do not like to see him on the wrong side. I might remark, with regard to his little anecdote about the English farmer attempting to raise corn in Maryland, that it would kill any man to try and raise corn down there. [Great laughter.]
The PRESIDENT. The Chair will be obliged to suspend the discussion at this point, as the time is approaching for our visit to the President of the United States. A communication has been received, directed to the department, from ex-Governor Shepherd, inviting the members to visit bim socially at his house, corner of Connecticut avenue and K street, to-morrow evening.
General EATON. I move that the invitation of Governor Shepherd be accepted and that we return him our sincere thanks for his proffered hospitality.
The motion was adopted.
General EATON. From the President's House we will go to the Corco. ran Art-Gallery; and from that place we will proceed to listen to a lecture by Professor Walter Smith, on drawing, before the teachers of this District, which lecture will be delivered at the Jefferson School Building at 2 o'clock. We will meet bere again this evening for business at 15 minutes before 7. At 7 o'clock we will listen to an address by Dr. A. N. Bell, of New York, editor of The Sanitarian, on “Brain-culture in relation to the school-room." Doctor Bell is in the city at present engaged in discussing the subject with other physicians. The committee are unable to proceed in determining any future portion of the programme, as all the gentlemen are not here whose names have been put down in the list of speakers. As far as we can determine, however, we believe that we shall have to-morrow morning, at 11 o'clock, Mr. Wick. ersham's paper on the Centennial. And it is proposed at some time to bave a brief illustrated address from Professor Enthoffer, on the origin of the alphabet. To morrow evening, at 7 o'clock, we shall expect a lecture from Professor Walter Smith, on drawing, with illustrations. It is proposed that we call upon the Secretary of the Interior to-morrow morning at half past nine o'clock.
A DELEGATE. Make it 10 o'clock instead of half past nine.
General EATON. I wish to say to the members present that, as far as the efficiency of the Bureau of Education is concerned, it depends very much on the favor and support given to it by the Secretary of the Interior, and it is due to the Secretary to say that this Bureau has always had his cordial co-operation.
It was agreed that the visit of respect to the Secretary of the Interior should be made as suggested by the Chair.
The PRESIDENT. I wish to state that I have received letters from Mr. Binford, of Richmond, and Mr. Apgar, of New Jersey, expressing their regret on account of their inability to attend the department-meeting; and I would state that the Jefferson building, where Mr. Smith will lecture this afternoon, is situated at the corner of Sixth and D streets southwest, toward the river; either line of cars will bring you within a block of the building.
The department then took a recess and proceeded to the Executive Mansion, where they were received by President Grant in his private office.
REMARKS OF SUPERINTENDENT WILSON.
Mr. J. O. Wilson introduced the delegates to the President, after which he made the following address:
Mr. PRESIDENT: The members of the department of saperintendence of the National Educational Association, now in session in this city, have called to pay their respecte to you and to say that they highly appreciate the deep interest you feel in education, to which you have given such emphatic expression in your messages to Congress.
RESPONSE OF THE PRESIDENT.
The President responded as follows:
I feel that the advancement of the cause of education would be one of the best reconstructive movements we could have in the country, and therefore I have felt, in addition to other reasons, a deep interest in it. I do not see how a pure republic is to be maintained, unless it is based on the intelligence of the people. That requires educational privileges for all the people. Without a combined interest and effort in every section of the country for the support of educational facilities, it will be impossible to obtain the results which we most desire in this respect. In order that there may be a combination and harmony of interest in this matter, I have always been ready and anxious to give nıy support to any proper means for this end and purpose.
The visitors then took leave of the President, and were shown through the White House, after which they went to the Corcoran Art-Gallery,