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for the most part gratuitously, by the various district clerks, would be performed by one man as Town Inspector and Secretary of the Town Board, and he must be a competent man, and must have some compensation.
Precisely so ; but if this would give vastly better results, the public can afford to pay for it. That which now costs little or nothing is in too many cases worth nothing. A good teacher, at $40 a month, may seem more expensive than one who will teach for half the sum ; but a poor teacher is dear at any price.
It is also supposed that the members of a Town School Board, as they would have to travel some and spend some time in the discharge of their duties, must also be paid for it. We do not think so. We do not believe it would ordi. Darily be expected or demanded. But suppose it were : the question is—is the town or union organization decidedly better than the single district plan; will general education be advanced by its adoption ? If so, a few dollars more or less is of little account. What the difference in results would be may be gathered by reference to former Reports of the Secretaries of the Board of Education in Massachusetts, in which State both systems were for years in operation side by side. (See Ex. from Mr. Mann's Tenth An. Rep., in March No. of the Journal, 1864, p. 264.)
The “ town system,” however, though theoretically as much superior to the “single district,” so far as possibilities of improvement and the best results are concerned, as one of our best agricultural machines is to old fashioned hand labor, is in itself no panacea for the imperfections of our schools. The best machine is useless without some one competent to work it. What we need first, last and above all things is trained, skilled professional teachers, and then the best of such trained and experienced persons and none others—and they proved such by rigid examination-to take the principal charge of the schools in the work both of teaching and supervision. Hence it is that Mr. McMynn in his Report urges the establishment of a Normal School, declaring that “to obtain competent instructors for our children under existing circumstances, is simply impossible.”
SHALL THE JOURNAL ENTER ANOTHER VOLUME?
This question is proposed now because no one we presume will undertake the risk of continuing it without some other reliance than private subscriptions. Teachers are at present so generally transient and fugacious, that it will not do to calculate upon the renewal of more than one fourth or possibly one third of existing subscriptions. If the State will subscribe for 1000 copies, at a reasonable price, to be placed at the disposal of the State Superintendent, to be sent to county, city and town superintendents, (i. e. clerks,) as a ready means of communicating with them, and that he may be able to keep up a liberal system of exchanges for the library of his office, the Journal might live.
If you wish this, friends of education, ask it without delay from the bands of
Your petitioners, school officers, teachers and citizens of county, respectfully ask that you will aid in sustaining the Wisconsin Journal of Education by authorizing the State Superintendent to subscribe for 1000 copies of the same annually, or such other number as he shall judge useful, as a means of communicating with the school authorities of the State, and for exchanges with other Educational Journals.
This would furnish no pretext to teachers as formerly for not subscribing themselves. Our present subscription list shows that in every county where the subject is properly and heartily presented, a reasonable proportion of the better class of teachers will readily subscribe. It should be clearly understood, however, that at present prices the Journal cannot be afforded for $1.00, unless cut down to a very meagre pattern. Our attempt to publish it at this price, what with unexpected taxes, rise in prices and misplaced confidence in certain counties, has been cruelly disastrous—and many who have subscribed have not yet paid.
The State Superintendent is favorable to the restoration of some State aid to the Journal, and will be informs us submit a Bill to that end to the Legislature.
Since our last Tabular Statement in December, Clark, Eau Claire, Pierce and Sauk counties have become entitled to wear the “star” by filling their quotas ; Walworth is almost full ; Outagamie and Sheboygan have promised to reach that result, and Crawford, Jefferson and Ozaukee have nearly done so, without promising it. We again thank our friends for their efforts, and among the rest Messrs. Spencer and Seaman, of Milwaukee, for the redemption of their very generous pledge of 40 subscriptions. We now send 69 copies there, and 8 more are paid for. Waukesha, whose Superintendent never tires in good works, has almost doubled her quota, and Waupaca has doubled hers. In Wood it is a settled principle that every teacher is a subscriber.
A Bill is before the Legislature, proposing the devotion of one half instead of the present one fourth of the income of the Swamp Land Fund to the support of a Normal School, some locality or existing corporation first providing buildings of the value of not less than $10,000, or an equivalent in land or money.
The argument in favor of commencing with one school, however established, is that one is a great deal better than none; that it will be useful, not so much by supplying, in any adequate degree, teachers for the schools-not we suppose one fiftieth of the number needed annually—but by sending out a few good teachers, who will in turn send out a good influence, and form in some degree
good examples. People will see more frequently than now, trained, skilled teachers, and want more of them.
On the other hand the objections to a single school thus established are :
1. Whatever needs to be done for the State should be well and thoroughly done. But good schools are most imperatively needed ; and good schools cannot exist without good teachers; and it is in vain to expect good teachers, as a rule, unless they are specially fitted and trained for the work; and to adopt a plan that will for years to come give only here and there a school such a teacher, is like giving one soldier in twenty in a regiment a good musket, with a good lock, while the rest bang away, as best they can, with as much harm to friends as foes, with old match-lock fusees, such as were in use two hundred years ago.
Give us, say we, a plan that contemplates and provides for such a system of schools as shall ere long supply the whole State with teachers, and that shall at once call forth the liberality and generous emulation of a half dozen localities instead of one; that shall induce for instance Prairie du Chien, Platteville, Evansville, Milton, Allen's Grove, Waukesha, Whitewater, Horicon, Beaver Dam, Fox Lake, Ripon, Waupaca, Portage, Baraboo, Sparta, La Crosse, Galesville, Eau Claire, etc., or some of them, to enter upon this beneficent work. In all of these places and many more are children enough to form the needed model and experimental schools, in some of them are buildings more or less suitable for a normal school, and in several of them the subject has been discussed. And here we cannot but reiterate our regret to see so many attempts to build up the very domes of our educational system, (in trying to establish so many colleges, etc.,) while the foundations are so imperfect and so much neglected. We sincerely believe that in no way could one balf of our collegiate and some of our best academical corporations do so much good as by converting their respective institutions into teachers' schools, making the normal feature not a secondary but the leading one. In this way we might at once have all the facilities we need for training our teachers, provided of course suitable teachers of teachers can also be secured.
2. Assuming a plan for a system of schools to be much better than one which contemplates but a single school, it follows that neither the half nor the whole of the income of the swamp land fund is any adequate pecuniary basis. The legality of devoting any of this income to any but drainage purposes is doubted we understand. We leave that to the courts. But while a portion of this income, so long as it is used for normal school purposes, might help to pay the salary of a Professor of Normal Instruction, in each of several schools, we think that whatever public pecuniary outlay is needed for so important a public interest, should be met manfully and cheerfully by appropriations from the State Treasury-appropriations supplementing and perhaps conditioned upon private and local liberality, but which should be regarded as among the most necessary and important that can be made. The State expends readily for reformatory and punitive purposes; but is not prevention better than cure? She gives liberally to sustain her public charities; this is well, is noble ; but while the blind and the deaf and dumb, etc., are to be tenderly cared for, it is not creditable to the wisdom or benevolence of the State that although she has schools for all her children, she has never yet expended the first dime from her own treasury to supply those schools with suitable teachers.
The Bill proposes to make tuition free, and to admit a certain proportion of pupils from each Superintendent District by lot, on condition of holding a third grade certificate. If we have but one school, the income proposed above might suffice for the present to pay the salaries of the teachers. But the general questions of free tuition and the mode of admission are important, and a sound policy should be adopted. Were there any security that teachers gratnitously educated would remain teachers long, it would be a better investment for the State. But aside from this, it may be doubted if the State and the people would be wise in doing more than to establish schools furnishing the best attainable facilities for fitting their pupils for the teacher's work, and then offering a fair compensation for its performance, leaving the rest to the general laws of competition and of demand and supply. That independence and energy of character so much needed in the teacher would be best promoted by such a policy. At the same time, but as a matter of honor rather than of charity, and as a means of calling out the best teaching talent in every part of the State, free tuition, and perhaps other inducements, might be offered to a limited number. But this should be we think on the basis of a thorough and uniform competitive examination of all applicants from each county. The “lot” like the “ draft” might as often as otherwise fall upon those who would prefer to be “exempted,” and several trials might be needed before the quota could be filled. The mere fact of holding a third grade certificate is no evidence of any desire to improve, or of any intention to teach more than a term or two. The plan of "substitutes" would render this method of filling the schools much better.
But on the other hand an examination of all in each county or group of counties who might wish to attend, could be conducted, when necessary, through the County Superintendents, Examination Questions being furnished them for that purpose at a given and uniform time. This might be a privilege granted only to those living at a certain distance from the school. It is quite obvious that some plan like this would tend to secure the best material to train for teachers, and that the choice by lot would not. We see no good reason why a Normal School should not itself examine all who apply for admission to it, promptly dismissing those who, after a reasonable probation, give no sufficient evidence of aptitude for the teacher's work.
These remarks apply to students who should wish to matriculate and go through a prescribed course of study. But this class, at first especially, would be quite limited, and there would be room for many transient and irregular students, both of the class who intend to teach a little, and of those who would seek the advantages of such schools as being generally quite as good (to say the least) for the ordinary purposes of discipline and instruction as merely academic institutions. All our existing normal schools, however constituted or sustained, are at present of a mixed character; more resembling preparatory and disciplinary schools than professional institutions. The only cure for this is time and a gradual elevation of educational sentiment. Most young persons who prepare to teach, now attend some neighboring high school or academy for a period, to acquire some fitness, and of course pay their tuition. If schools convenient of access and especially designed for them were provided, they would naturally attend those, and moderate tuition fees should we think be relied upon in part to help sustain them.
These remarks are made in no captious spirit of criticism, but because we wish to place our views on record at this time. If we cannot have but one school, let us by all means have that. This may be the best plan for the present.
KANSAS.—Here a Normal School is about to go into operation at Emporia. Mr. L. B. Kellogg, a graduate of the Illinois Normal University, and for two years Principal of the Model School there, has been appointed Principal. President Edwards speaks highly of his qualifications.--The Kansas Educational Journal entered upon its second volume with January, and comes well filled with useful matter. Thus does this new state, born and nursed amid the throes of civil war, attest the vitality of freedom.
MISSOURI.—With the instinct and impulses of freedom, this magnificent State, now at last entering upon a glorious future, is turning her attention, in her Constitutional Convention, to the subject of an efficient public school system. It is proposed to convert the old State University at Columbia into a Normal School. We join the Illinois Teacher in cheers for Missouri.
ILLINOIS.—The State Association, at its late session, resolved to ask the Legislature for $5000 annually to sustain Institutes.
We shall give a resume of Educational Intelligence next month.
Messrs. Ivison, Phinney, Blakeman & Co. call attention, opportunely, to their choice series of works on Botany, by Prof. Gray, in which will be found a book for scholars for every grade from the Common School to the Coilege, and this is one of those studies that may be pursued by young and old, at school and at home, and none is more charming or elevating.
Messrs. Taggard & Thompson present a New Union SPEAKER--not one that is a mouth-piece for treason also—by Mr. PHILBRICK, whose taste, culture and experience are a sufficient guaranty of its excellence. The great crisis of our country, now culminating, has called out a new phase of oratory.