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ganization of the new district, under the statute, was perfected; and that on the 13th of the same month the respondents made an order, dissolving the new district, and re-annexing it to district No. 4. The question involved in the case was, whether the respondents had power to make the last mentioned order.
B. F.H. WITHERELL, in support of the motion. WHIPPLE J., delivered the opinion of the court.
The authority of the inspectors thus to dissolve district No. 12, and re-annex it to the old district from which it was severed. must depend ypon the construction of the twenty-fifth section of the act entitled "an act to amend the revised statutes relative to primary schools," approved April 12, 1840. (Re-enacted by revised statutes of 1846, page 2.27, Sec. 71.] [Session Jaws of 1848, page 215.) By that section the inspectors are authorized "10 divide ihe township into sach number of districts, and to regulate and alter the boundaries of sid school districts, as may from time to time be necessary.”
It will be perceived that the number of districts in any tuwnship is to be determined from the language of the section, which covfers authority to divide the township from time to time into such number of districts as may be necessary. If they may divide the township into twelve districts, why may they not divide it into ten by enlarg. ing the boundnries of one or more of those in existence, or, which is the same thing, by annexing two or more, so as to constituie but one district, as muy from time to time become necessary? The power could not perhaps be derived from the words "regulate and alter the boundaries,” &c., but these words taken in connection with the authority to “divide” from time to time as may be necessary, justified legally the order made by the inspectors That order may have been unwise; it may have been an abuse of the discretion with which the inspectors are clothed; but such abuse of discretion cannot authorize ihe interference of this court. We think it clear that the authority to determine the number of districts in each township, ought to be lodyed in some responsible body. Unless it is conferred upon the inspectors, the power does not exist; and as the words of the twenty fifth section justify the construction we have given to it, we are bound to overrule the motion for a mandamus.
The following notes, taken from the New York decisions, are applicable to the existing laws and state of things in Michigan:
MULTIPLICATION OF DISTRICTS. One of the most formidable obstacles to the efficiency of our common schools is believed to be the unnecessary multiplication and subdivision of districts. In those portions of the Simte where the population is scaitered over a large extent of territory, the contenience and accommodation of the inhabitants, require the formation of districts comprising a small amount of taxable property, applicable to
the support of schools and a limited number of children. But where an opposite stale of things exists, the interests of education will be wost effectually promoted, by assigning to each district the greatest extent ut territory compitible with securing to the children the requisite facilites for their regular attendance at the schools.- Vera York Decisions.
Almost all the existing evils of the common school system have their origin in the limited means of the school district. The tendency is to subdivision and to a contraction of their territorial boundaries. This consequence must follow in some degree from the increase of population; but the subdivision of school districts tends to advance in a much greater ratio. The average number of children in our school districts is about tifly.five.
From the observations he has made, the Superintendent deems it due to the common school system, that no new district shail be formed with a much smaller number, unless peculiar circumstances render it proper to make it an exception to the general rule. In feeble districts, cheap instructors, poor and ill furnished school bouses, and a general languor of the cause of education are almost certain to be found.-V. Y. Dec.
QUALIFICATIONS OF TEACHERS. The qualifications of teachers are left to the discrimination and judgment of the legal examiners. They must determine the degree of learning and ability necessary for a teacher. They ought to be satistied that a certiticate is given to those only whose learning and ability fit them in all respects to instruct common schools.—16.
In judging of the moral character of a candidate for teacher, if the examining officers know of any serious impution or defect of principle, it is their duty to refuse to certify. A certificate may be annulled for immoral habits generally, notwithstanding the teacher may perform all his duties during school hours.-16.
In relation to the moral character of the teacher, much is left to the discretion of the examining officer. He must be satisfied that it is good, because he has to certify to ils correctness. On this point what would be satisfactory to one man might be unsatisfactory to another Every person bas a right to the enjoyment of his own religious belief without molestation; and the examining officer should content bimuself with inquiries as to the moral character of the teachər, leaving bim to the same liberal enjoyment of bis religious belief that he asks for himself. If, however, a person openly derides all religion, he ought pot to be a teacher of youth. The employment. of such a person would be considered a grievance by a great portion of the inhabitants of all the districts.-Io.
If the trustees or inhabitants are to determine what their district require, and the Criilying officers are to be governed by their opioions and wishes, the officers themselves might as well be dispensed with. In his ann tal report to the Legislature for the yeir 1835, lbe,
Superintendent of Common Schools (Gen. Dix) observes: “One of the most responsible and delicate trusts to be executed under the common school system is that of inspecting teachers and pronouncing upon their qualifications. If this is negligently conducted, or with a willingness to overlook deficiences, instead of insisting rigidly upon the 'requirements of the law, it is manifest that men without the necessary moral character, learning or ability, will gain a foothoold in the common schools, and present a serious obstacle to the improvements of which they are susceptible. This would be an evil of the greatest magnitude, and there is no remedy for it but a strict inspection of the candidates. It has been the practice in some instances for the inspectors to have a reference to the particular circumstances of the cases in giving a certificate. Thus they have sometimes given an individual a certificate with a view to a summer school, in which the children taught are usually smaller and require less of the teacher, when the certificate would have been withbeld, if it was asked with a view to qualify the teacher for a winter school. But it is obvious that such a distinction is wholly inadmissible. A certificate must be unconditional, by the terms of the law. The inspectors must be satisfied with the qualifications of the teacher "in re. spect to moral character, learning and ability;" and the certificate when once given is an absolute warrant for the individual to teach, and to receive the public money, unless revoked; in which case it ceases to be operative from the date of its revocation. The standard of qualification for teachers, so far as granting certificates is concerned, is of necessity arbitrary. The law does not prescribe the degree of learning or ability which a teacher shall possess, but virtually refers the decision of this important matter to the inspectors, who have not, neither should they possess the power of relaxing the general rule with reference to the circumstances of any particular case, by departing from the standard of qualification which they assume as their guide in others.”-N. Y. Dec.
The inhabitants of the district, and particularly parents who have children attending the school, should be invited to be present at the inspection;
and trustees of districts are required, whenever they receive information of an intended visit, to communicate it as generally as possible to the inhabitants -16.
DISCIPLINE AND CONDUCT OF THE SCHOOL. It can scarcely be necessary to remark on the importance of order and system in the schools, not only to enable the pupils to learn anything, but to give them those habits of regularity so essential in the formation of character. Punctuality of attendance, as well as its steady continuance should be enforced. Parents should be told how much their children lose, to what inconvenience they expose the teacher, and what disorder they bring upon the whole school, by not insisting upon the scholars being punctually at the school room at the appointed hour; and above all they should be warned of the injurious consequences of allowing their children to be absent from school during the term. By being indulged in absenees they lose
the connection of their studies, probably fall behind their class, become discouraged, and then seek every pretext to play the truant. The habit of irregularity and insubordination thas acquired, will be apt to mark their character through life.-N. Y. Dec.
It is believed that there are none now in use in our schools that are very defective; and the difference between them is so slight that the gain to the scholar will not compensate for the heavy expenses to the parent, caused by the substitution of new books with every new teacher; and the capriciousness of change which some are apt to indulge on this subject, cannot be too strongly or decidedly resisted. Trustees of districts should look to this matter when they engage teachers.
One consequence of the practice is, the great variety of text books on the same subject, acknowledged by all to be one of the greatest evils which afflicts our schools. It compels the teacher to divide the pupils into as many classes as there are kinds of books, so that the time which might have been devoted to a careful and deliberate hearing of a class of ten or twelve, where all could have improved by the corrections and observations of the instructor, is almost wasted in the hurried recitations of ten or a dozen pupils in separate classes; while in large schools, some must be wholly neglected.-16.
CHANGE OF SITE.
Experience has shown that by far the most fertile sources of contention and difficulty in the various school districts, originate from the proceedings of the inhabitants connected with the change of the site of their school house. Such a measure should, therefore, only be adopted when the convenience and accommodation of the inhabi. tants will be essentially promoted thereby; when the altered situation of the district imperatively requires a change; and even then, the full and hearty concurrence not merely of a clear and decided majority of the district, but of the inhabitants generally, should be secured, before
any final decision is made. There must always be a portion of the inhabitants, residing at the extremities of the district, who will experience more or less inconviences, at particular seasons of the year, in consequence of their distanae from the school house; but it is better that these partial inconveniences should be submitted to, than that they should be transferred to others and the whole district plunged into a contention respecting the site. But when, in consequence of the enlargement of the boundaries of the district, a change is indispensable, the inhabitants should come together in a conciliatory and friendly spirit, having no other object in view than the best interests of the district and the convənience of the greatest number; and their action should be deliberate and circumspect-reconciling, as far as possible, the interests of all, and rejecting every proposition calculated to sow the seeds of dissension or disturbance in any portion of the district.--hearing in mind that a mere numerical triumph, leaving a large minority dissatisfied and irritated, how
ever gratifying to the successful party, for a time. is but a poor compensation for a divided and distracted district, and an embiitered and hostile neighborhood.-N. Y. Dec.
There can be no partnership in the erection of a school house, which will prevent the district from controlling it entirely for the purposes of the district school.-16.
A tax cannot be laid to eroct a building to be occupied jointly as a school house and a meetiny house. -Ib.
A tax may be voted for the erection of a fence around the school house lot, and for a bell.-Ib.
RECONSIDERAION OF PROCEEDINGS. The inhabitants of school districts may reconsider and repeal, alter and modify their proceedings at any time before they have been carried into effect, either wholly or in part. But the intention to do So, should be explicitly set forth in the notice of the meeting called for that purpose. When, however, contracts have actually heen entered into, liabilities incurred, or expenditures of money had, in the prosecution of any measure directed by the district, a reconsideration will not be sanctioned, as no means exists to indemnify those who may be losers thereby.-Ib.
Where a tax is voted by the inhabitants for any purpose, the specific amount of the tax, and the particular purpose for
it is designed, should be fully and clearly stated.' And where several objects of expenditure are to be provided for, the amount to be raised for each should be expressed in the resolution.—16.
CONTRACTS WITH TEACHERS. The most fruitsul source of disculty in school districts, has been the looseness and irregularity with which these contracts have been made. In some districts the trustees are in the habit of agreeing to pay the teacher the whole amount of public money that should be received, be it more or less. This is unjust to the teacher or the district, and has almost always led to contention. The agreement should be to pay him a specific sum by the month or by the quarter, adequate to the value of bis services. If the public money is not sufficient, (in Michigan, public money and other taxes voted for support of schools) the deficiency should be supplied by a rate bill. It is not to be believed that any intelligent citizens will consider that sordidness to be economy, which prefers that their children should be brought up in ignorance, or instructed in error, rather than contribute the mere trifle which secure them an education, sound and accurate, at least as far as it
goes. When the rewards which other professions od avocations hold out to talent, knowledge and industry, are so liberal, how can it be expected that persons competent to the great business of instruction, should devote themselves to it for a compensation inadequate to their support?- 16.