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[This town is working under the “ town system.”—Editors.] Another, in a distant part of the county, has furnished one of their schools with Andrews' improved school desks, reading charts and writing material. Much of this progressive spirit is to be attributed to the deep interest that the school officers in these two localities take in school affairs.—John A. MACDONALD, Chippewa County.
All, when young, should establish the habit of close and hard thinking; and in after life great difficulties will be easily overcome. ported, the whole number of volumes in the school district libraries in this superintendent's district is 741, and the value of the same is about $835. Our school district library system seems to be a failure, and in my opinion we should have town libraries in their stead.
In the year 1868 I introduced a bill into the Legislature to allow towns to establish libraries. The bill passed, but I think few towns have ava:le l themselves of the privileges granted by this enactment.L. M. BENSON, Dodge, West District.
IMPROVEMENT IN TEXT-BOOKS.
Heretofore the great diversity in text-books, and a scant supply of such books as rere used, had a retarding influence upon the prosperity of our schools. This has been met by the adoption of a uniform series, in many of the districts, and providing a more general supply of such bocks as were needed.
The fact that the chief difference in text-books written by different authors, is in the use of different language to express the same ideasfundamental principles always remaining the same--has le 1 me to recommend that a classification of our schools be made, according to the advancement of the scholars, and not according to the books used. This recommendation relates of course to those studying the same branch, and if adopted, would necessitate topical recitations. More attention has been given to the primary scholars, to which they were justly entitled. Slates and pencils have been provided, and they have been taught to write, print and draw. Even the making of pictures is not now considered a very wicked thing, as it used to be.-J. W. FREEMAN, Adams county.
CONSTITUTIONS." We feel much pleased with the enactment requiring that the constitution of the United States and State of Wisconsin, be taught in our public schools. We will begin in this county with the constitutic n of the United States, as it is the fundamental law, the state constitution springing from it. Our teachers are studying Story's or Kent's commentaries or both, carefully, before attempting to hear their classes;
and, indeed, only that teacher who has a clear analysis of the constitution in his own mind can hope to instruct others in it.
If there are any other works published giving a clearer analysis of the constitution than those I have mentioned, we would like to learn their titles, and where they may be purchased. I think a circular from the State Superintendent touching these points would be of use to our teachers.-GEO. PATON, La Crosse County.
THE SCHOOL MONTH.
Q. How many days for a month is a teacher obliged to teach, nothbeing said about it in the contract?
A. As an answer to this question, and as introductory to some remarks upon certain communications on preceding pages, so much of the law" to regulate the estimation of time in the settlement of school district boards with teachers,” passed a year ago, as bears upon the subject, is first given:
“ SECTION 1. Hereaftər in all settlements for wages between teachers and school boards or other employers of teachers in the public schools, on all contracts that may be entered into subsequent to the passage of this act, twenty-two days shall be understood as constituting a school month, unless it be otherwise specified in the contract: provided, that in all such settlements, on the basis of twentytwo days to a month, all legal holidays occurring on regular school days shall be counted and included, although no school be taught: and provided further, that teaching on Saturday shall not be counted or included.”
It should be remembered that the bill for this law, as originally introduced into the Legislature, read twenty days instead of twenty-two. This was consistent with the last proviso of the section,“ that teaching on Saturdays shall not be counted or included”-i. e., shall not be counted or included to inake up the number of days required as a month in case the contract is silent on the subject. No fault could have been found with this, as a teacher would make ont any given number of months' teaching in less time than the current calendar months, without teaching on Saturdays. But just at the heel of the session, and probably without a careful consideration of its effect, on the part of the majority who voted" aye,” the bill was amended so as to read twenty
As the law now stands, therefore, the teacher's month must consist of twenty-two days, and cannot include any teaching done on Saturdays, “ unless it be otherwise specified in the contract;" for the construction put upon the law is that the last proviso is eliptical, and would read,
the elipsis being supplied, " provided, further, that teaching on Saturday shall not be counted or included in such settlements on the basis of twenty-two days to a month.” This is not a conjectural construction, as we know it to have been the meaning of the framer of the original bill. Such a proviso was quite reasonable and proper, moreover, if the "twenty days ” had not been altered to “twenty-two.” With the alteration, the injustice arises of which J. N., complains, namely, that in some months there are not twenty-two secular days without including some portion of the Saturdays, so that a teacher will sometimes not be able to make out his month in a month, if his contract does not provide that he may teach at all on Saturdays.
Mr. Levis, in his communication (see page 102, second paragraph), quotes some one as saying : “Toe late change in the law will not allow clerks to employ for less than twenty-two days, and teach no Saturdays.” This, as Mr. Levis appears to understand, is a mistake. Clerks may contract for twenty, twenty-two or some other number of days for a month, and that there shall or shall not be teaching done on Saturday. The policy of the law is to discourage school on Saturday, but the law is operative, in determining what shall constitute a teacher's month, or whether teaching on Saturday shall be counted, only when the contract is silent on those points.
There is another and related subject to be considered. Section 2, of the law referred to above, as passed last winter, reads as follows:
“ In the apportionment of school moneys in the year 1871, and annually thereafter, one hundred and ten days shall be understood to constitute the five months required by section fifty-nine of the general school law for all cities, towns and school districts in which the schools have been taught on the basis of twenty-two days for a month, as provided in the first section of this act.”
But at the present session, this section has been amended so as to read thus :
“ Section 2. In the apportionment of school moneys in the year 1871, and annually thereafter, one hundred days shall be understood to constitute the five months required by section fifty-nine of the general school law.”
The effect of this amendment is that five months legal school of 20 days is sufficient hereafter to entitle a district to share in the apportionment of school money, whatever number of days may be agreed upon as constituting the teacher's month. The amendment is an encouragement to school boards to contract at twenty days, since a contract of this nature, for five months, will insure the requisite number of days to draw school money, and such a contract can usually be made on more favorable terms than at twenty-two days, even with a permission to teach every other Saturday forenoon, while the district, as Mr. Levis urges, is in no sense the loser by having no school on that day.
As the entire law now stands, it will relieve this department, as well
as town clerks, of some embarrassment in the matter of apportioning school money, but it will not prevent a good deal of misapprehension and dificulty, as between teachers and school boards.
If the Legislature had simply provided that the school month shall in all cases be understood to embrace all the secular days of a calendar month, except Saturdays, it would have placed teachers on the same basis as other employes, with the advantage of being exempt from labor in the school room on Saturday. Or it might have been provided that a school month shall in all cases consist of twenty-one days, and shall not include Saturdays or any portion thereof. In this case teachers would always be able to fill out their contract for any number of school months, during the lapse of the current calendar months, without teaching at all Saturdays, and have a little time to spare, since there are ordinarily 261 school days in a year, on this basis, while 21+12 =only 252. In either case, the section of the law which requires not less than one hundred days of school (including legal holidays) to entitle a district to school money, might be left as it is.
RIGHTS, POWERS AND PRIVILEGES OF TEACHERS. Q. How can teachers obtain the School Code?
A. By writing to the State Superintendent of Public Instruction. No charge is made for the code.
Q. To what extent has a teacher control over her pupils after four o'clock P. M.?
A. The decisions of the courts are not uniform on this subject; but it may safely be held that it is proper for the teacher to take cognizance of the conduct of pupils out of school as well as in, while on the school premises, and probably she would be justified in calling them to account for misconduct on the way home which comes under her cbservation or is brougłt to her notice. But the action of the teacher in such cases should be marked by great prudence.
Q. Has a teacher a legal right to detain pupils after school hours to make
deficient lessons? A. The teacher would be justified in this, if the board had adopted or sanctioned such a rule. But the wisdom of such a rule, as an ordinary means of “ spurring on the lazy,” is doubtful. Some are naturally inclined to “put off” till the last minute. It is not best to confirm this inclination by giving them more time. “Every thing in its time,” is a good motto everywhere. Persistent neglect in getting lessons should be followed by some sort of punishment, and degradation to a lower class is a natural consequence of such neglect. But no rule is of universal application.
Q. Has a teacher a right to expel pupils from the school who do not belong to the district and have not paid tuition?
A. No, this a matter for the board to regulate. The teacher may decline to give instruction to pupils knowu to be unentitled to it, but should confer with the board.
Q. If a school is suspended, with the teacher's consent, on account of a contagious disease, must the teacher make up the time lost before he is entitled to his full wages?
A. So probably a court would decide. It would be a mutual suspension of the conditions for carrying forward the contract, till the danger was over, and would be presumed to have been preferred by the teacher.
Q. If a school is closed one or more weeks without the teacher's consent, is the teacher entitled to wages meanwhile?
A. This is a question also for the civil courts, but the opinion may be hazarded that they would award the teacher his wages, he standing ready to fulfill his part of the contract, and the closing of the school not being his fault. If the teacher is able to find some other employment while waiting for school to open again, he can perhaps afford to compromise with the board.
Q. If the board makes no rules for the government of the school, and gives no formal sanction to the rules made by the teacher, can the teacher inflict corporal punishment for disobedience, and expel pupils who persist in disobedience ?
A. The teacher can lawfully inflict corporal punishment, moderately and prudently, if he finds it necessary, without any previous action of the board, but cannot expel pupils from school. If necessary, he may suspend a pupil, but should immediately lay the case before the board, who alone can expel, and must expel lawfully.
Q. If there is no agreement about building the fires, is it the duty of the teacher to build them, without compensation, or can he collect pay for it?
A. The school law does not make it the duty of the teacher to build the fires; but if he builds them, and it has been customary for the teacher to build them, he cannot collect pay for it, if there is no previous stipulation to that effect.
Q. How can a teacher get back his contract, when “filed with a district clerk ?"
A. The law does not now require the filing of the original contract, but only a “copy.” The law was amended a year ago.
RIGHTS OF DISTRICTS, BOARDS AND PARENTS. Q. If a district votes to have three months winter school and two months summer school, can the clerk of the beard hire a teacher for five months, and make it all a winter school?