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The census returns are interesting, and could well furnish a subject for critical analysis. They exbibit a small increase of the juvenile population over previous years, notwithstanding the supposed reduction of the general population as the result of emigration to Nevada Territory. They cannot, however, be made a reliable basis for an estimate of the total white inhabitants, inasmuch as the ratio of children under twentyone years of age to the entire population is, as yet, much less than in old and long settled communities. This ratio, for different countries, has been estimated at about forty-two per cent, or forty-two thousand four hundred and sixty-three in each one hundred thousand. A similar basis of calculation would give the City of Sacramento but about seven thousand five hundred inhabitants, and the whole county but fifteen thousand nine hundred, in round numbers; or San Francisco County, according to the last census, but about fifty-four thousand six hundred. If this were correct, at least five and six-tenths of the entire population of Sacramento County must have their names enrolled upon the School registers. The comparative excess of adults in proportion to the whole in this State leaves us no data upon which to base an estimate from this source.
We learn from these returns, that there are seven hundred and twentyfive children in the county between six and eighteen years of age, and six hundred and twelve between four and six years, who have been connected with no School, public or private; and of these, six hundred and thirty-two are resident in the country districts. Such a proportion is entirely inexcusable, and exhibits an apparent indifference to the subject of education entirely unworthy of an intelligent community. The fact that twenty-nine per cent of the juvenile population between four and eighteen years of age should have neglected to avail themselves of the advantages so liberally furnished, is a sad commentary upon the appreciation in which these beneficent institutions are held.
So far as concerns the six hundred and twelve children between four and six years of age, it is well enoughfar better, in my judgment, than that they should have been confined in the School-room. The youth of the country would be benefited if the practice were generally followed.
They need freedom from restraint, exercise-that kind of physical and mental exercise which is to be obtained out-of-doors, and which the School-room can never furnish. But, setting these aside, we still have not far from sixteen per cent shut out from a participation in the benefits which legitimately belong to them, and which it is the duty of some one to see that each of them enjoys. Such a statement seems strange in a land where the system of Common Schools has so long prevailed, and in a community unsurpassed in practical intelligence and energy.
We may derive some satisfaction, however, from the fact that the year just closed exhibits a very decided increase in School attendance over the past. While the census places the total increase of children between the ages of four and eighteen at ninety-five, the number attending School bas been in excess of last year by four hundred and fifty-three. I trust that the next report from Sacramento County will “ speak yet better things.”
Nor is it only in the enrolment of pupils upon the School registers that our progress is indicated. In the average attendance-one of the best evidences of success, as well as of a general interest in the subjectand in the private expenditures for School purposes, we have stronger and more gratifying assurances.
Last year, the number of pupils in daily attendance was reported to have been fourteen hundred and ninety-eight; this year it has been fifteen hundred and twenty-seven, and the average number belonging to
the Schools, eighteen hundred and fifty-eight. The average duration of the forty-three country Schools for the ten months included in the report is shown to have been six months and five days. Eighteen were maintained six months, or more than six, and eleven for eight months or more. Last year, for twelve months, the average duration was six months and eleven days, for the forty-two Schools.
In eighteen hundred and sixty-two, the amount expended in the coun. try districts alone, from private sources, for the support of Schools, was four thousand and fifteen dollars and eighty-five cents ($4,015 85); the present report swells the amount to six thousand one hundred and six dollars and sixty-nine cents ($6,106 69). If we add to this the expenditures from city tax, it amounts to eighteen thousand nine hundred and fifty-six dollars and fourteen cents ($18,956 14.)
It will be noticed that one of the districts has given a practical illustration of the advantage of the law for a district tax. In Folsom, nearly three thousand dollars were raised for School purposes, and a building erected, which for neatness and convenience, as well as durability, has no superior in the county. Three other districts are either now collecting taxes under the law, or are making preparations to do so, and their example will, doubtless, be followed by several more.
Aside from these evidences of improvement, we have another, not less genuine, in the character of the Teachers employed, and the decreased number of changes which have been made. There seems to have been a greater degree of stability manifested, a disposition to retain a Teacher once tried and proven to be good, a growing conviction of the evil attendant upon the old practice of engaging a new Teacher for every term of School, and especially of the habit, once so prevalent, of picking up strangers in search of Schools, where others, equally good, or better, were to be had, familiar with our system, and whose efficiency bad long been tested in the county. Of the Teachers now engaged, or who have been occupied in teaching in this county during the past year, twenty-six have been resident here and actively employed for two years or more, and fourteen for more than three years. They have all passed the ordeal of an examination before the County Board, and have given ample evidence, in the School room, of their practical acquaintance with the business. The habit of frequent changes of Teachers, I regard as most pernicious. It is discouraging to the individuals themselves, and strikes a fatal blow at the pleasant and successful conduct of the Schools. I wish it could be said that each of the Teachers enumerated above had been all the wbile engaged in a single School. Such is, by no means, the case. In one School, the term being eight months, three Teachers were employed; in another, for four and one half months tuition, there were three Teachers; and in eight other districts, for School terms varying from eight and one half to three and one sixth months, each had two Teachers. In most cases, there was no valid necessity for a change. It was simply the result of a restless spirit of dissatisfaction, a capricious dislike or distrust which would have equally exhibited itself if the incumbent had been the most thorough scholar, the most accomplished and diligent instructor, and the most unexceptionable, morally, and intellectually, to be found in the State.
While this disposition prevails, our Schools cannot flourish. The best Teacher will fail unless he feels that he has the confidence of those around him, and loses all motive to exertion when he is in hourly expectation of a “notice to leave.”
Bad as this condition of things is now, it has been worse, and we may take courage in the anticipation of a gradual amendment.
One of the great evils existing among us in the past, has been the call for cheap Teachers. It arose, not from a want of appreciation of the good, but from an inability to procure them-a pecuniary limitation. Yet even this seems to be gradually on the decline, and a disposition has been manifested to procure the best which the limited resources at the disposal of our districts will permit. These resources are, however, vastly inadequate to the necessities of the Schools. They afford some slight encouragement for individual action and exertion, and that is all. They are entirely insufficient for the substantial and reasonable recompense of a faithful and diligent Teacher. In the present condition of the districts, it is, in many cases, impossible for private liberality to supply the deficiency; hence, the salaries of Teachers are entirely too small-totally incommensurate with the responsibilities and onerous duties of their positions. So long as thirty, forty, or forty-five dollarswhich is generally the extent of the salaries paid here, excluding boardare the limits allowed by the Trustees for the services of a Teacher, we cannot expect to procure the best talent. The market price for knowledge and experience is higher in other pursuits—the wear and tear of muscle will bring as much—and the educated man, capable of filling positions of responsibility, and of acquitting himself honorably in more remunerative callings, will not often consign himself to the less profitable and more laborious business of teaching. The consequence is, that among the applicants for positions in our Public Schools, we seldom find the possessors of that higher kind of talent, of that superior ability as scholars and Teachers, on which we must rely to build up among us a really useful and excellent School system. The success of our Schools depends mainly upon the Teachers engaged; and, unless we pay more than some sections are now able to do, we cannot expect to obtain the best.
We want, too, better School-houses. Comparatively few of our districts are suitably provided for in this respect. They have Schoolhouses, it is true-four walls and a roof—but they are inadequate in size, rude in construction, inappropriate in their arrangements, and, with only one or two exceptions, poorly supplied with the proper kind of desks and seats. Such temporary accommodations might have been well enough in the incipiency of our Schools—well enough to begin with, but are entirely unsuited for a system which is designed to be permanent, and whose blessings, it is hoped, may be extended to the latest generations. No one can feel more sensible of these defects, in many cases, than the Trustees and people themselves. They are, as yet, without a remedy. Compelled to tax themselves to the utmost of their ability to support the School, to pay the Teacher, they cannot endure the additional weight of a tax for a new house.
The remedy for these evils is in an increased fund for the maintenance of Schools. Give them more money to pay the Teachers, and they will have more to spare out of individual resources to build houses, and adorn them with all the conveniences and comforts which modern art and ingenuity have contrived. Relieve them from the rate bills, and they will cheerfully provide, by a district tax, everything conducive to the well-being of their children.
För relief in our present difficulties, I look to the result of the petition
now being circulated, asking the imposition of a half mill tax for the support of Schools. If by this means seventy-five thousand dollars ($75,000) can be raised annually, and placed to the credit of the Schools, it will go far towards establishing them upon a substantial basis, and redeeming the State from the reproach of having failed suitably to provide for a perfectly free system of public education. I believe that the appeal now made to the people in this behalf will be liberally responded to. I am sure that the object will meet their fullest approbation, and that their voice will be heard in the halls of legislation with a decision which will not fail of the attainment of a result so desirable. Until some such step is taken, the system must languish, or, at the best, struggle on, harrassed by poverty and impeded by obstacles which it has proven itself hitherto unable completely to overcome. A tax of this kind will render the burden of supporting the Schools light and equable. By the common system of rate bills it falls upon a few, and these not always the most able to bear it. It is right that the whole property of the State should be made to educate the youth of the State, and that those who have no families of their own to share its direct advantages should pay for the indirect benefits which they and all derive from the diffusion of intelligence and the propagation of those pure germs of virtue which it is equally the office of the Free School system to disseminate. This plan has been found to succeed eminently in other States. In Ohio the tax is one and one half mills; and even in Kansas it is one mill. There is no reason why it should not be tried here.
The report herewith submitted is made up, as before intimated, from the best sources of information in my possession. It is required to embrace the year commencing September first, eighteen hundred and sixtytwo, and ending August thirty-first, eighteen hundred and sixty-three. The change in the law, however, has so interrupted the regular order to which our Trustees have been accustomed, that most of the reports received have dated from October thirty-first, eighteen hundred and sixtytwo-the time of the last annual returns. I have, consequently, been compelled to make my own to correspond. This is excusable, inasmuch as no records have been kept by a large majority of the Trustees, and the newly elected officers have had no data from which to compile a complete statement of facts from September, eighteen hundred and sixty-two, to the present time. It will be easy, another year, to give a more perfect and accurate report. In this connection, it is well to mention a few defects in the law on this subject :
The School Law requires the County Superintendent to make his report “on or before the fifteenth day of September" in each year, and the Trustees are permitted to delay an important portion of theirs until the same date. The consequence will always be, that the latter will be delayed until the longest time allowed. As the report of the Superintendent is to be made up, to a great extent, from those of the Trustees, the inconvenience likely to arise can be readily seen. It will always be just as easy for the Trustees to complete their reports by the third or fifth of September as at a later date. The Marshal has made his returns by the first of August; the Teacher completes his term on the thirty-first of the same month; the School year expires on that date, and a new organization of the Board of Trustees takes place on the first Saturday thereafter. The reports of the old year should be made up by the Trustees of the same year, or, if deemed better, can as well be prepared by the new Board, as two of them are supposed to be familiar with the affairs of the district. In either case, they could be placed in the hands of the County Superintendent in time to enable him to examine and compile the statistics they contain. The law, as it now stands, is indefinite, inasmuch as while it allows the Trustees until the fifteenth of September for their financial statement, it requires them to forward an abstract of the Census returns, of the Teachers' report, and much other information, “ on or before the tenth of September." Is it intended that they shall make two reports ? As the labor imposed upon the County Superintendent, in filling up accurately all the columns and items of his report, is somewhat arduous, requiring no small amount of labor for its completion, an amendment to the law, correcting tbese inconsistencies, and fixing an earlier date for the reports of the Trustees, would, doubtless, be generally acceptable. I am sure that no County Superintendent, after having tested the exact facility with which his own report can be prepared, will find fault with the law, or consider it a serious reflection upon his industry and skill in compilation, for distrusting his ability to examine, compare, and arrange the multitudinous items embraced in the various reports from which his own is to be made, in a single day.
But this is not the only inconvenience. An experience of six years has taught me that whatever date may be fixed for the reports of the Trustees, they will, in at least a large majority of instances, be behindhand. The earlier, therefore, the better. If required to be made on the fifth of September, they will probably be on hand by the tenth; thus giving the County Superintendent five days for the compilation of his own report. I can speak the more earnestly and freely upon this subject, as I am not personally interested, this being probably the last report which it will be my duty to make. Having tested the inconvenience myself, I can the more urgently recommend the adoption of a better plan for my successor.
While on the School Law, I wish to speak of one habit prevalent with some Trustees, of permitting Teachers to commence a School term without having first obtained the requisite certificate of qualification, relying upon their ability to pass an examination at some future time. The amendment to the School Law authorizing the County Superintendent to grant a temporary certificate for such as desire to commence their duties in the interim of the sessions of the Board of Examination, entirely obviates the necessity of such a procedure. and leaves it without excuse. Yet it is still practiced to a small extent, on the plea of inability to visit the city, want of time, or some other equally frivolous reason. Even though the Couuty Superintendent should refuse to allow for the time thus occupied in teaching, which he should do, the fact of a Teacher being already engaged in a School, places the Board of Examination in a position of some embarrassment when, as has happened, the applicant fails to respond to the standard demanded. It compels, from motives which can be readily understood, a greater leniency on the part of the Board than is consistent with exact justice. A proper correction of the evil would be a positive legal prohibition against the allowance of salary for the time taught previous to the reception of certificate of qualification, temporary or permanent. This is now the fair construction of the law, yet it is indirect. I have felt it my duty in one instance recently, to decline drawing a warrant upon the order of the Trustees for a term of nearly three months, taught without the authority of any certificate.
Another habit which requires correction, is that of the appointment of Teachers holding Primary certificates to Schools of a higher grade. It is true that few of our country Schools are rigidly graded, yet the status of a School at a given time can very well be determined by the general