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Another clerk says: "Inclosed are the returns of this county, as nearly as can be ascertained from the returns to me now on file in this office."
I introduce these statements to show that in many cases the delay and errors in the reports are chargeable upon our system, and not faults of the clerks.
PART IV. PROPOSED MODIFICATION OF OUR SCHOOL LAWS. People generally are justly opposed to frequent changes in our laws, and perhaps unnecessary changes in our school law are attended with more injurious consequences than in any other department of legislation.
Table (B.) appended to this report, represents that 509 districts, about one-fourth of the entire number from which reports have been received, have not been supplied with the school law published in 1843. As our laws are to be revised this winter, and as it will pro bably be deemed necessary to send out a new edition of the school law for the use of the township and district officers, it is desirable that whatever changes may be deemed important, be made previous to the publication of the revised statutes. The two leading objects in view, in proposing these modifications, are lst, To secure the establishment of common schools, to which every child in the state may have access, and 2d, To secure a more efficient supervision of the schools. It is believed at the same time that the aggregate expense of maintaining the schools under the contemplated law, will be less than at present. From a simple arithmetical calculation, based upon data introduced
II of this report, there are in the state at a moderate estimate, 15,000 children, between the ages of 4 and 18 years, whose parents do not reside within organized districts, and who, hence, are cut off from access to common schools. The design of Congress in granting Jands to this state the proceeds of which, according to the terms of the grant, were to be invested in a permanent school fund, was to secure to every child in the state, to the latest posterity, the means of obtaining a good English education. The 10th article of our constitution, expressly provides for the universal establishment of common schools throughout the state. It says “ The Legislature shall provide for a
system of common schools, by which a school shall be kept open and supported in each school district, at least three months in every year.” And still, according to table (A) appended to this report, in one entire county, eighteen additional towns, and five hundred and eighty-eight additional districts, not one common school has been maintained the constitutional term! The following provision is respectfully sugo gested :
In case any district neglects to organize, or if organized, neglects or refuses to open a school according to the provisions of law, until the 10th day of May, in any school year, it shall be the duty of the inspector to open a school in said district, for three inonths at least, and longer at his discretion; to rent or provide a room in case the district has not a school house; to take the census, and discharge all the duties required by law'of the district board, and apply the public money to which the district is eniitled towards defraying the expense of the school. The reside of the expense, which shall not exceed fifty dollars any one year, together with the salary of the inspector, while engaged in the discharge of the legitimate duties of the district board, shall be assessed by the supervisor upon the taxable property of the district, to be collected in the same manner, and for the same compensation as other taxes, and to be drawn on the order of the instructor,
Provided, That no school district shall contain less than fifteen children within the legal ages, unless the territory of the district shan embrace nine sections or its equivalent, and Provided, also, That no district shall contain less than twenty-five children within the legal ages, unless the territory of the district shall embrace four sections or its equivalent.
In case any township neglects to elect a school inspector at the an. nual township meeting, or the one elected refuses or neglects to serve, the superintendent of public instruction is authorized to appoint an inspector for said town, who will discharge the duties of the office.
At the next annual township meeting, and annually thereafter, one school inspector shall be elected in each township of the state, who shall discharge all the duties hitherto devolving upon the board of school inspectors.
The school inspectors of every county shall meet at the office of
the county clerk the third Monday in April, and elect, by ballot, one of their number as president of the board. They shall also elect a vice president and corresponding secretary. The county clerk shall be ex-officio recording secretary of the county board of school inspectors.
It shall be the duty of the superintendent of public instruction 10 cause to be printed and forwarded to the office of each of the coun. ty clerks previous 10 the third Monday in April each year, a sufficient number of blanks for the annual reports of the school inspectors and directors of the county. $ It shall be the duty of each school inspector to take the charge of the blanks for his township. It shall be the duty of the directors of school districts in each township to meet at the office of the township clerk the fourth Monday in April.
The school inspector shall be ex-fficio chairman of their board, and the township clerk shall be their secretary. At this meeting the school inspector shall deliver to each director the necessary blank for his annual report. 6. The lownship board of school directors shall hold a second meeting at the office of the town clerk the Thursday next preceding the first Monday in October. At this meeting they shall deliver their annual reporis to the school inspectors. If any report is deficient or ërroneous, and the deficiency cannot be supplied or the error corrected at the time, it shall be the disty of such director to deliver his corrected report to the inspector, at his residence, on or before the ensuing Saturday.
It shall be the duty of the board of school inspectors to hold a second meeting, at the office of the county clerk, the Tuesday next following the first Monday in October. At this meeting they shall make out their annual report to the Superintendent, which shall be signed by the president of the board and the recording secretary.
Directors shall be allowed a day for their services. Their acenunt shall be audited at the annual district meeting, and paid on the presentation of a certificate from the school inspetcor signifying that they have discharged their duty and made their report according to law, Inspectors shall be entitled to a compensation of
a day for
their services. Their account shall be audited by the township board and paid on the presentation of a certificate from the superintendent of public instruction, signifying that they have discharged their duty and made their report according to law.
The superintendent, on the receipt of the reports from the several counties, shall forward to the county clerk certificates for such inspectors as have discharged their duty and made their reports according to law.
I am fully satisfied that the passage of such laws would tend to strengthen weak districts, that scores of districts which have lost their organization would re-organize within one year, and that, with a very few exceptions, every disirict in the state would voluntarily sustain a school the constitutional term. At present there is very little community of feeling among inspectors of adjacent towns, or even among directors of adjacent districts. They may have a speaking acquaintance, and meet as townsmen and citizens, but not as school officers.
The proposed arrangement would bring together the school inspectors of a county twice every year; once soon after their election, to organize and elect officers; and again immediately after the termina. tion of the school year, to make out their annual report to this department.
Previous to their first meeting, the superintendent could forward any communications designed to influence their official action, to the county clerk, by whom it might be laid before the board. The inspectors would also have an opportunity of interchanging views with reference to the best method of improving the schools under their immediate supervision, and of engaging in concert of action. Ime mediately after the inspectors return to their several towns, each meets the township board of school directors. Any suggestions which the superintendent may have made for the improvement of the schools, or any plans which the united wisdom of the school inspectors may have laid to increase their usefulness, migh: be communicated to every director of a school district in the township. The directors would also receive the blank for their annual reports, and if any point was not understood, explanations might be given by the inspectors. The directors of each township would be enabled to engage in concert of action for the improvement of their schools. Especially
would these meetings be favorable to the more extensive circulation, increased usefulness, and better preservation of the township libra. ries.
At the second meetings these objects might be further considered, and such others as experience might suggest. The reports would, in all probability, be far more perfect than they have hitherto been. They would, moreover, reach this office six weeks earlier than they now do.
With the proposed improvement in the school law, through the me. dium of county conventions of inspectors and town conventions of directors, the influence of the superintendent might be directly and sensibly felt by every parent and child in the remotest school districts of the Seagirt Peninsuln.
It would be well, also, in my opinion, to provide for the purchase of apparatus and
for the use of schools. Holbrook's apparatus for common schools, in the hands of a judicious teacher, cannot fail to interest and permanently benefit the majority of scholars in our common schools. The whole set, snugly boxed, may be obtained for ten dollars.
Mitchell's outline maps are an invaluable auxilliary in the study of geography. There are twenty-four large maps in the series, varying in surface from six to twenty-four square feet. The entire set put up in a port-folio, may be obtained, for fifteen dollars. The districts might be authorized to tax themselves for these purposes, or the township board of school directors might be authorized to appropriale the half mill tax [will after 1847] to the purchase of apparatus and maps whenever the township library shall contain 200 volumes.
The provision of the 78th section of the school law operates inju. riously upon the interests of weak districts in many instances; and the propriety of its repeal is respectfully suggested. The statutes define the word “monih” to mean a calendar month, which, excluclusive of Sundays is twenty-six days, or four and one-third weeks. In many parts of the state, four weeks are, by common consent, considered a school month. I would suggest the propriety of defining a school month to signify four weeks, and allow the teacher to dismiss school Saturday afternoon, without losing time. This would be