« PreviousContinue »
"The operative effects of this law have been highly gratifying. Where a few districts fail to comply with its requirements the failure is due to the laxity on the part of county superintendents. It is simple and easily enforced. This is a field in which women are needed as self-appointed committees and as school directors to see that this law which touches the morals of their children is enforced. Directors may build according to law, but someone else must see to its enforcement as to the clear, chaste, and wholesome part.
Then she quotes these words of Horace Mann:
"A want of decency enforced upon boys and girls will become physical and moral turpitude in men and women."
Another means of promoting the well-being of children in this behalf was devised by the superintendent in 1895. The following, after some preliminary argument of the matter, is what she says:
"The coming together of parents, children, officers, and teachers in the schools on a given day, which shall be devoted to exercises in honor and praise of the home and family, and the inculcation of personal virtues, seems to me eminently fitting. With these thoughts in mind, I designated June 26 as l'arents' Day in the public schools of North Dakota for 1896. This day was well observed, with gratifying results."
Complaint is made, under the head of "Scientific temperance," that the law touching alcohol and narcotics, is not very often complied with except in the letter, while the spirit of it is not fulfilled.
Regret is expressed for comparative futility of effort to secure the passage of a free and uniform text-book bill. A modified bill was passed, though compliance with it was left optional with the several districts. A few adopted it and results have been so evidently beneficial that it is hoped that in time it may become universal.
Recommendation is made in the report that a law be enacted providing that a board of examiners be hereafter appointed by the department of public instruction, and another to make office of commissioner of university and school lands a position of trust in the department of State, and the occupant an elective official.
HISTORY OF PUBLIC EDUCATION IN OHIO FOR FIFTY YEARS.1
BY EMERSON E. WHITE, LL. D.
It is said that the sketch of a man's life should begin with his grandfather. Whatever may be true in biography, the history of an epoch necessarily includes the movements that led to it.
For nearly a score of years after the admission of Ohio into the Union, the people were under the impression that the revenues to be derived from the immense area of school lands would be ample to support not only common schools but also needed higher institutions; or, to use the expression of the time, to "disseminate instruction." But unanticipated difficulties were experienced in leasing school lands, and so in 1821 the first law providing for a school tax in Ohio was passed. This pioneer school law also provided for the division of the townships into school districts, when approved by a vote of the electors, and the election of a committee of three by the householders in each district. This district committee was authorized, on agreement of two-thirds of the householders, to cause the building of a schoolhouse, to employ a teacher (the committee being judge of his qualifications) and to make assessments for expenses. The option given by the law to the electors largely defeated its purpose.
This pioneer law unfortunately recognized the school district, and not the township, as the unit of school organization and control, and it took near seventy years to eliminate this serious defect from the school laws of Ohio.
The law enacted in 1825, usually referred to as "the first school law of Ohio," was mandatory in its provisions. It made it the duty of the trustees of every organized township to lay off the same into school districts, as a condition of receiving any portion of the county tax provided for in the law, and this mandatory provision was reenacted five times in thirteen years. The act of 1825 also provided for the annual election of three school directors in each district; and made it their duty to build a schoolhouse, to employ a teacher, to manage and superintend the school, to make needed assessments, and to receive and expend all funds. A penalty was affixed for a failure to employ a teacher. The law provided for county examiners to determine the qualifications of teachers. The school law of 1825 was prepared by Nathan Guilford, of Cincinnati, and, though much amended, it remained in force thirteen years.
A paper read at the semicentennial meeting of the Ohio Teachers' Association, June 30, 1897.
In 1837 the general assembly enacted a law creating the office of superintendent of common schools of Ohio, and four days later, with equally rare wisdom, elected Samuel Lewis, of Cincinnati, to the office thus created. It is an interesting coincidence that three months after Mr. Lewis's election, Horace Mann was appointed secretary of the State board of education of Massachusetts. The impulse and direction which Mr. Mann gave to popular education in Massachusetts, Mr. Lewis paralleled for a time in Ohio, and with equal self-sacrifice and devotion.
Though his salary was only $500 a year (not sufficient to pay traveling expenses), Mr. Lewis entered at once upon a field campaign. He traveled the first year over 1,500 miles, most of the distance on horseback, visited 300 schools, and 40 county seats, organizing associations of teachers, and every where awakening an increased popular interest in good schools.
In the first year of his administration, he prepared and secured the enactment of the law of 1838, the most advanced school law then enacted in any State. It continued the office of State superintendent of common schools, increasing the term of office to five years and the annual salary to $1,200. It made the township clerk superintendent of the schools of his township, with the duty of visiting each school at least once a year and examining all matters "touching the situation, discipline, mode of teaching, and improvement thereof;" also with the duty of making annually the estimates necessary for providing "at least six months of good schooling." The law also made the county auditor superintendent of schools with important duties. It not only provided for a more effective organization of the schools in the townships, with statistical reports, but it also provided for the organization of the schools in incorporated cities and towns not under special charters.
Mr. Lewis's three annual reports to the general assembly are remarkable documents, advocating with intelligence and force most of the plans for the improvement of schools since adopted. He edited for one year the Common School Director, a monthly journal published at the expense of the State.
The same year in which Mr. Lewis entered upon his duties as State superintendent of schools Prof. Calvin E. Stowe, of Lane Seminary, presented to the general assembly his noted report on Elementary Education in Europe, special attention being given to methods of instruction in the elementary schools of Germany. A copy of this epoch-making report was sent to every school district in Ohio, and it was also republished and circulated by the legislatures of other States. Professor Stowe's report and the three annual reports of Superintendent Lewis were fruitful seed in a virgin soil, and, as will be shown later, the next decade garnered rich harvests of fruitage. Scores of school officers and teachers were thereby imbued with the spirit of progress and fired with zeal in their work.
At the close of his third year Superintendent Lewis felt constrained to resign his office. The reactionists in school affairs were, unfortunately, in control of the general assembly, and an unwise effort was made to abolish the office. As a compromise measure the duties of the office were imposed upon the secretary of state. This backward step greatly discouraged the friends of free schools, and the next five years witnessed a marked decline in popular interest in school progress, though each succeeding secretary of state advocated one or more important measures of school reform.
But the cities and more important towns were fully enlisted in the improvement of their schools. Cincinnati, acting under a special law, divided its schools into two grades or departments as early as 1836, and in 1840 a graded course of study with five grades was adopted-one of the first elementary courses of study in the United States. Cleveland, acting under a special law, divided its schools into two departments ("primary" and "senior") in 1840 and in 1846 established a high school, with Andrew Freese principal-the first public high school in Ohio. The same year the schools were divided into five grades, designated as primary, secondary, intermediate, grammar, and high. Dayton obtained a special charter in 1841 and under its provisions the schools were divided into four grades, designated as primary, secondary, junior, and senior. No high school was established until 1850. Columbus was made a separate district by a special law in 1845, and three schoolhouses were built the next year. Early in 1817 the board of education created the office of superintendent of public schools and, with commendable wisdom, elected Dr. A. D. Lord to the position. Dr. Lord entered upon his duties in May, 1847, being the first city superintendent of schools in Ohio and one of the first in the country. Portsmouth obtained a special law in 1839 and in 1840 its schools were divided into three departments, with A. L. Child principal. In 1844 the schools were divided into four grades, with Andrew J. Rickoff principal. Sandusky, Massillon, Norwalk, and other enterprising towns early obtained special laws and began earnestly the work of school improvement.
In 1847 the citizens of Akron obtained a special law "for the support and better regulation of common schools in the town," and the next year the general assembly ED 97-85
gave the council of any city or town authority to adopt the Akron law on the petition of two-thirds of its voters. In 1849 the general assembly passed "A general law for the schools in cities and towns." This advanced aet, drawn by Hon. S. T. Worcester, of Norwalk, gave boards of education power to establish high schools as well as lower grades and to determine the branches of study to be taught in the schools.
The "Akron law" and the "law of 1849" gave a strong impetus to the movement for the better organization of public schools in cities and towns. The year 1850 found over sixty cities and towns organized under their provisions, the schools graded (usually into five grades) and fairly classified. The schools in nearly a score of districts were under the direction of a superintendent. Dr. A. D. Lord was in Colum bus and M. D. Leggett in Akron in 1817; Lorin Andrews in Massillon and M. F. Cowdery in Sandusky in 1848; John S. Whitwill in Lancaster in 1849, and D. F. De Wolf in Norwalk and Nathan Guilford in Cincinnati in 1850. Andrew J. Rickoff was principal of the public schools of Portsmouth from 1844 to 1849, with the title of superintendent as early certainly as 1817.
Two other important factors contributed to the great awakening in education which introduced the half century of progress now under view.
In 1811 a man of untiring activity and intense enthusiasm was elected secretary of state. This man for the hour was Samuel Galloway, of Columbus. Mr. Galloway recognized clearly the need of an educational revival, and to accomplish this result he utilized fully his position as ex officio State superintendent of schools. He was ably seconded by Dr. A. D. Lord, then principal of the Western Reserve Teachers' Seminary at Kirtland, one of the first normal schools in the country, and by other influential men in different parts of the State, whose enthusiasm had been kindled by the secretary's fiery zeal.
In the first year of Mr. Galloway's great rally (1845) a teachers' institute was held in Sandusky-the first teachers' institute held in the west and one of the first in the United States, and in October of the same year a second institute was held in Chardon. In 1846 nine teachers' institutes were held in seven counties and the next year institutes were held in twelve counties. The number of institutes increased from year to year, and they did much to awaken popular interest in school improvement. Educational conventions and local teachers' meetings were also held in different parts of the State.
The question of organizing a State association of teachers was frequently discussed in these gatherings of teachers, and the movement was earnestly supported by Mr. Galloway and also by the Ohio School Journal, edited by Dr. A. D. Lord. At the teachers' institutes held in Akron, Ashland, and Chardon in 1847 a committee, with M. F. Cowdery chairman, was appointed to consider the propriety of forming a State teachers' association. A majority of this committee met and issued a call for a convention to be held in Akron December 30 and 31, 1817. The convention met and the Ohio Teachers' Association was organized in a burst of enthusiasm, with Samuel Galloway as president and Thomas W. Harvey as secretary. Mr. Galloway was reelected and served as president for three successive years.
It falls to Dr. Findley to tell the history of the association in these opening years. It must suffice for me to say that the association held two meetings annually and that the tide of enthusiasm rose from year to year, reaching high tide in 1851. This was a memorable year in the history of the association. The belief that the first general assembly under the new constitution would enact an efficient school law intensified the zeal of its leading members. At the semiannual meeting in June Lorin Andrews, who had resigned his position in Massillon to become a 66 common school missionary," was unanimously pledged the support of the association, and for three years he was kept in the field as State agent, his salary being made good by members of the association-an action without precedent in the history of educational associations.
At the annual meeting in December Mr. Lorin Andrews presented a report recommending the publication of a monthly educational journal. The report was adopted, and for eight years the association published the Ohio Journal of Education, the predecessor of the Ohio Educational Monthly.
In 1854 Mr. Lorin Andrews submitted a report recommending the establishment of a normal school under the auspices of the association, and at the annual meeting in December Mr. Cyrus McNeely offered to transfer to the association the building and grounds of his school at Hopedale, valued at $10,000, for the purposes of a normal school. The gift was accepted at the semiannual meeting in June, 1855, and a vigorous effort made to raise an endowment fund. Under the inspiring leadership of such enthusiastic leaders as Lorin Andrews, M. F. Cowdery, I. W. Andrews,
'The first institute at Sandusky was conducted by Hon. Salem Town, of Ithaca, N. Y., assisted by Dr. A. D. Lord and M. F. Cowdery. The second institute was conducted by Dr. A. D. Lord, M. F. Cowdery, and M. D. Leggett.
A. D. Lord, and M. D. Leggett the association would have undertaken almost any enterprise.
The financial enterprises undertaken by the association with so much confidence and enthusiasm proved a heavy burden, and at the annual meeting in 1859 both the Journal of Education and the McNeely Normal School were wisely transferred to private control. The indebtedness of the association was not fully paid until 1862. The great educational awakening which began in 1815 and in its progress organized the State Teachers' Association, put Lorin Andrews in the field as a common school missionary, started the Ohio Journal of Education, and founded the McNeely Normal School, culminated in the enactment of the general school law of 1853. The law embodied several of the important measures which Mr. Andrews, Mr. Galloway, and others had advocated, and there was much rejoicing over its enactment.
It is thus seen that the decade of 1815 to 1855 was a period of great importance in the history of public education in Ohio. No decade before or since has been characterized by such enthusiastic movement in the interest of public schools. It was a decade of zeal and action.
The next decade (1855-1865) opened with the inauguration of the new school law. Every progressive feature was opposed in the general assembly, and it looked for a time as if the great measure would be destroyed by ill-considered amendments. The school directors in the subdistricts (formerly separate districts) did not take kindly to the sharing of the management of the schools with the new township board of education. It kept the first commissioner's pen busy in answering the questions arising under the provisions of the law relating to townships, and he soon found it necessary to publish from month to month a series of "official opinions"-a practice continued for years. The law was fortunately protected from serious changes, the repeal of the school library section in 1860 excepted. The opening of the civil war, with the sudden prostration of business, invited harmful legislation, but the most unfavorable amendment was the reduction of the State school tax to 1.3 mills.
The several amendments to the school law in 1861, all prepared by the school commissioner, were designed to lessen friction in the administration of the law and otherwise increase its efficiency. The three new provisions which were added havo exerted a wide and salutary influence upon the schools. The first of these provided a fund for the support of teachers' institutes, the second created a State board of examiners, and the third added a knowledge of the theory and practice of teaching to the requirements for a teacher's certificate. The fact that these several provisions, with slight modifications, are still in force is evidence of their practical value. No other agency prior to 1855 did as much for the professional advancement of Ohio teachers as the teachers' institute, and no other agency did more to awaken and direct popular interest in school progress. The two teachers' institutes held in 1845 multiplied from year to year until 1855, when forty-one institutes were held, with an attendance of somo 4,000 teachers. Until 1864 the expenses of the institutes held were, as a rule, paid by those in attendance. Since 1864 the county institute fund has been sufficient to permit the holding of an annual institute, with competent instructors, in four-fifths of the counties, and in the other counties only a small additional tuition fee is required. It seems unnecessary to refer more at length to what the other two provisions have done for the improvement of teachers. The school legislation of 1864 was a long step forward in school progress.
The next year the general assembly opened the way for the adoption of an adequate system of normal training for the teachers of the State, but owing to divided counsels in the profession in 1866 the long-coveted opportunity was permitted to pass unimproved and it has never returned. The establishment of a normal department in the Ohio University at Athens, and recently in the Ohio State University at Columbus, is a somewhat hopeful indication that the preparation of teachers for their great work may yet receive long-needed legislative action. The leading cities of the State have all established normal or training schools for the fitting of their teachers, more especially for the elementary grades, but the teachers in the country schools are still left to the professional crumbs afforded by the teachers' institute and the inadequate normal advantages provided by private enterprise. Ohio is still a good way from the full recognition of the fact that teaching is a pursuit that should be entered through the door of special training.
The only important school legislation secured in the next decade (1865-1875) was the complete codification of school law in 1873. While this law did not contain very important new provisions it simplified the law of 1853, with its numerous amendments, and thus rendered the administration of school affairs more certain and effective. The divorcement of boards of education in cities of the first class from the municipal legislation of such cities was an important measure. The giving of all boards of education, including township boards, permissive power to employ a superintendent of schools was an important amendment, but the townships, with very few exceptions, permitted it to remain a dead letter.
During this decade repeated and earnest efforts were made to secure county super
vision of schools and the adoption of the township system. But a strong opposition to these measures appeared in each general assembly, and the bills prepared by the successive commissioners and introduced were defeated. The commissioners in turn advocated the establishment of normal schools, but no well-digested bill was prepared or introduced into the general assembly, and no earnest effort was made to secure needed legislation.
The centennial year found Ohio without a State normal school, without a system of supervision of the schools outside of its cities, and still blindly clinging to its complicated, inefficient township-subdistrict organization in all its counties. Instead of taking its place in the front rank of the States noted for progressive school legislation, where its early history had placed it, the educators of Ohio were humiliated by the fact that in such legislation their State was near the rear. The educational honor of the State was saved only by the splendid showing of the schools in its cities and towns.
The next decade (1875-1885) brought a renewal of earnest efforts to secure advanced school legislation, but without success. The most important amendments to the school law related to teachers' certificates. Section 4066 was so amended in 1881 as to give the State board of examiners power to issue professional certificates of a second grade, valid for ten years-a provision of doubtful utility, which was soon repealed. By the same act section 4081 was so amended as to give boards of examiners in cities power to grant certificates for one, two, three, five, and ten years, those issued for five and ten years being renewable without reexamination, at the discretion of the board of examiners, a certificate of higher professional grade than the nonrenewable ten year certificate issued by the State board of examiners.
The only general school legislation of special significance in the first five years of the next decade (1885-1895) was the so-called "temperance law" of 1888, a law enjoining instruction on the nature and effects of alcoholic drinks and narcotics in all grades of schools.
The most important amendment to the school law enacted in these five years related to teachers certificates. Commissioner Tappan secured, in 1888, a fuller recognition of teaching as a profession by placing a professional certificate within the easy reach of every well-qualified teacher in the State. The State board of examiners were authorized to issue three grades of life certificates (the authority to issue ten-year certificates being revoked), and all other boards of examiners (county and city) were authorized to issue, under specified conditions, certificates valid for five years, renewable without reexamination at the discretion of the examiners. Thus provision was made for two classes of professional certificates-one valid for life, issued by the State board, and the other for five years, renewable without reexamination, issued by county and city boards. This five-year renewable certificate was intended to be a professional certificate, and it is to be regretted that it is not so designated in the law. Every teacher holding this certificate should be recognized as a teacher of professional standing, and should be honored as such. There ought to be a score or inore of such teachers in every county.
It is feared that many county and city examiners have not used wisely either the power or the discretion conferred by this law. There seems to be a suspicion in the minds of too many examiners, if not a belief, that the only way to secure progress among teachers is to humiliate them by repeated examinations in the elementary branches. The only sure way to awaken and sustain a professional spirit among teachers is to honor it both by law and in practice. The history of legislation in Ohio regulating the examination and certification of teachers is a dreary history, evidently "to be continued."
The beneficent laws so far enacted in this closing decade of the nineteenth century mark a greater advance in school legislation than the entire third of a century that preceded it. Among these important acts relating to schools enacted in and since 1890 are (1) the so called "Workman law," which makes the township, like the city and town, the unit in school administration-the most fruitful school legislation since 1853; (2) the "Boxwell law," providing for the graduation of the pupils in rural schools and their admission to near city or town high schools; (3) the law "to compel the elementary education of children" as strengthened and perfected in 1893; (4) the law of 1894 giving women the right to vote and be voted for at election of school officers; and (5) the schoolbook law, with its option of free text-books.
These several laws are too recent to be treated intelligently as history. No one of them has met with such persistent and unreasonable opposition as the "Workman law." In each of the two general assemblies succeeding its enactment a vigorous effort was made to abolish the township system and restore the township-subdistrict complication which had been the special weakness of the school system since 1853; but the failure of these efforts is an assurance that the new township system may be permitted to work out its beneficent results Its repeal would be little less than a disaster to rural school improvement.
Two cases of special legislation for cities in this last decade deserve mention. In