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(series) Annual Report of the General Superintendent of Common Schools of the State of North Carolina
(spine) Report of the Supt. of Public Instruction of North Carolina.
(title) First Annual Report of the General Superintendent of Common Schools
North Carolina. Superintendent of Common Schools.
W. W. Holden
Call number C379 N87p 1853 c.3 (North Carolina Collection, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill)
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To HIS EXCELLENCY, DAVID S. REID,
Governor of the State of North Carolina:
SIR:--The Act of Assembly providing for the appointment of a Superintendent of Common Schools, (Sec. 11,) makes it the duty of that officer to submit to the Governor of the State an annual report in writing, "giving a detailed and condensed account of the manner in which he has performed his several duties; of the operations of the system of Common Schools, together with such suggestions and recommendations as he may deem proper; with tables showing the number of white persons, five years old and under twenty-one, in each County in the State; the number who have attended school during the year; the length of time during which the schools have been kept open in each County; the number of male and female Teachers licensed in each County to teach Common Schools during the year, and the average salaries of Teachers."
It was impossible for me to make this report at the time specified by law, inasmuch as the returns received from the Chairmen of the Boards of County superintendents did not generally come in till December, and continued to arrive till the 10th of January; and when received, the examination of these returns, and the computations to be made from them, (in many, few of the columns being added up,) involve an amount of labor which cannot be performed in less than two or three weeks. The whole system is awkwardly arranged, so
far as the regulations in regard to terms of office and the fiscal year are concerned; and that there may be more harmony and precision in this respect, I will, if I am spared, present to the next General Assembly certain recommendations founded on my own observation and the experience of local officers of the system.
It is one of my duties, as Superintendent of Common Schools, to ascertain the condition, history and promise of the system in all parts of the State; and also to deliver lectures whenever convenient occasions offer. To discharge these two duties together and in the most satisfactory manner, I determined, at first, to go to every County seat in the State; and during much of the past year I have been traveling, giving notice some days before of my intended visit.
I desired, as a general thing, to visit first those Counties which are most remote from the centre; and those wherein natural obstructions, such as swamps and mountains, present the greatest difficulties in the way of the success of a system of District schools.
I made it a rule to deliver an address at most of the places at which I attended, whatever the size of the audience; and in these talks, for they were not what are termed speeches, my great object was to diffuse practical information, and to set the people to thinking.
From the start a great difficulty in the way has been the want of proper information; and that I might diffuse my own views as widely as possible, I have addressed to your Excellency, in letters for publication in the newspapers, the substance of a portion of my lectures. I thought I could best ascertain the condition of things in the various sections of the State by instituting enquiries on the spot, and by an actual observation of the field of operations; and I also deemed it the part of wisdom to see for myself the condition and workings of our school machinery in the several peculiar geographical divisions
of the country, before undertaking to pronounce upon its fitness or unfitness, in its present organization. I sincerely believe the information I have acquired will be interesting if not useful to those who have the public good at heart; and as I shall continue to prosecute my researches in this wide field, from which no general report has ever yet been made, I hope, if Providence spare my life, to be able to submit to the next General Assembly a mass of statistics from which, and from the experience of the members, they will be enabled wisely to modify our system and accelerate its progress towards that high state of usefulness attained in other States and not beyond our reach.
In my future travels I shall be governed to some extent by the character of the reports received this winter; in other words, I shall visit those sections which do not make the most satisfactory exhibits, and while endeavoring to ascertain the difficulties in the way, give such advice and information in my power, as I may deem most suited to the exigency of each case.
Unless, however, I utterly neglect all other duties, it will hardly be possible for me to visit every County during my term of office; unless, indeed, I neglect to give notice and go from place to place as fast as I conveniently can.
The territory of the State is very large, and except in ten or twelve Counties there are no facilities for rapid traveling from one section to another.
I have to go generally in a private conveyance, and in this way two-thirds of my time are lost by being spent upon the road.
The presence of the Superintendent, in one sense, ought to be felt immediately in every section; questions, coming up from every quarter, ought to be promptly answered, while constant and proper attention ought to be given to the preparation of judicious general instructions
and advice, modifications of Forms, explanations and enforcement of the law, especially in certain essential particulars, the settlement of difficulties constantly arising, the forming of regulations to give more efficiency and uniformity to the system, and to the study of other systems, and an examination of the experience of other States.
My correspondence alone is very heavy; and in my anxiety, during the past year, to see as much of the State as possible, I deferred, till the end of the year, attention to a number of things connected with the operations of our system of Common Schools, which demand the serious consideration and active exertions of the Superintendent.
Labors of this sort accumulate on the office and will continue to increase; and to be as useful as my position will enable me to be, I feel bound to divide my time during those seasons when it is not unpleasant to be generally on the road. Office duties do not all occur at any particular seasons; and while I often have to pass over wretched roads in very disagreeable weather, at other times when it is very agreeable to travel I feel bound to be in my office. In short, the Superintendent, like the Chief Executive Head of all systems, ought to be present, enquiring, advising, suggesting and enforcing, at many places, at once; and to infuse himself into all the parts with a rapidity of motion, and power of ubiquity of which his body is incapable.
Every citizen of the State ought to be spoken to; but one man cannot, orally, accomplish such a task, under a good many years. In some States they have had, besides a general Superintendent, (who is mostly stationary,) several traveling Lecturers; but while such a combination of effort may push on matters a little faster, it is hardly necessary to undertake it.
I hope, in due time, to reach every man--the annual
reports of the Superintendent, or the substance of them, will reach many thousands and be communicated by these to others--thus also will radiate general directions, circulars, regulations, and statistics from the official Organ or Head.
There is, also, now a source, however imperfect, of information, and a Tribunal to decide or give opinions; and almost daily applications to me demonstrate to me the injuries and discouragements heretofore resulting from doubts never solved, difficulties never settled, and enquiries never answered.
Above all, uniformity and consistency--hope and expectation are beginning to take the place of despondency and confusion; while light, that is breaking on us, is dissipating fears and infusing confidence into the friends of the cause.
A great and paramount object with me is to encourage this state of things--to let the whole State know exactly where we stand; and to have our machinery so regulated that the friends of the cause will everywhere understand each other, and will work together, and a turn of the lever communicate life and motion to every extreme.
The universal distribution of the School Laws will help to promote these desirable ends; and early in the year, in accordance with the Act of Assembly, I prepared a new Pamphlet of the Laws in force in regard to Common Schools, with a plain Synopsis or Digest, Index and Forms, of which, examined and approved by the President and Directors of the Literary Fund, 13,000 Copies were neatly printed and distributed among all the Counties, a copy for each member of the Board of County Superintendents, for each Committee-man, and for each Clerk of the County and Superior Courts, &c. At the same time I prepared a short Address to Teachers and Pupils which was printed in Handbills and sent out, a copy to be posted in every School-house; the object being to encourage the idea among Teachers and Students that the State was looking in upon them, as well as
to enable Teachers to enforce good regulations by appealing to the authority of the State, and to empower the children to judge of the character of the Teacher by the standard emanating from the highest official source. If these were to accomplish no other object, they would cause children to enquire about the nature of the system of Common Schools, and put them in the way of gaining information about the State.
Further to promote the efficiency and uniformity of our system, I have prepared a form of Certificate to be given to the Teacher by the Committees of Examination: and in this form the grade or rank of the Teacher is specified. The grades are from No. 1, the highest, to 5, the lowest, on the studies of Spelling, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Geography and Grammar: of which form, cordially approved by the Literary Board, a supply of copies was printed and distributed to all the counties.
Under the law of 1852, as you are aware, the Chairmen of the Board of County Superintendents are authorized to refuse to pay any Teacher who does not hold a regular Certificate from the Committee of Examination for his county; and these Certificates have to be annually renewed, and are good only in the county where given. From this law, with the kind of Certificates now in use, I am led to anticipate the happiest results. The following are part of the benefits of Certificates exhibiting the grade or rank of the holder, viz: 1st. It will be a cause of just gratification to good Teachers to find themselves ranked according to their merit. 2d. Committees, and the public generally, will be enabled to tell by the face of the Certificate the character of the person who holds it, and to decide whether the Teacher suits them. 3. Emulation will be excited among Teachers, and each one will wish, when he or she renews the Certificate, to advance a grade higher. 4th. Committees, after a year's trial, will feel no compunctions in refusing liscenses to those who took Certificates with the lowest numbers, and have not improved.
In accordance with the requirements of law, I issued a Circular to the Committees of Examination, explaining the Certificates, and offering suggestions for their guidance in the performance of their delicate duties: a copy of which Circular is hereto appended.
I am gratified to be able to say that the working of this system so far, has exceeded my expectations; and as an evidence of these effects, I could file various letters, from official sources, with this report, but am restrained from the consideration that this would swell it to an inconvenient size.
In the tables herewith exhibited, few of the results of the examinations are given, the blanks heretofore printed for the returns of Chairmen not providing a convenient form, while many of them did not suppose it necessary to make a record of the examinations and Certificates issued. But I know from personal observation, the result in about one-half of the State; and I have authentic information from many other sections. It was a good idea to have the Chairmen on these Committees: he thus can insure good Committees, has the control of them, and from his position, knows more of the wants of the community than any other person. Very generally good Committees have been appointed, and have acted: in many instances the tribunal is nearly as good as a Normal School for Teachers, and if results are as favorable for ten years as they have been for the one past, the beneficial consequences of the system will be universally seen, felt, and acknowledged.
I am preparing, with the approbation of your Excellency and the Literary Board, a new form of return for the Chairmen, and which will be distributed early in this year.
These Blanks will be of commodious size, and they will be so arranged that, with very little labor to the Chairmen, they will exhibit at the end of the year the names of all the Teachers licensed and the rank of each. And thus, if I am spared to make my Report to the General Assembly, I will
be able to show our exact position with reference to Teachers, the supply, the rank, and the demand.
The people of North Carolina have not been exempt from an evil felt and loudly complained of in all the States where Common Schools have been in vogue. This is the multiplicity and frequent change of text book, by which expenses are accumulated on parents and guardians, the progress of the schools retarded, and teachers greatly embarrassed by having large schools with nearly every child in a class by itself. I have often been called on to interfere in this matter, and have felt it my duty to use such exertions as the law would authorize. The object of my efforts was: 1st, To drive from our schools bad books; 2d, To prevent frequent and injurious changes--injurious alike to parents and to pupils--and 3d, To secure the use of a uniform series, whereby expense would be avoided, and teachers would be enabled to arrange their pupils in classes--a consummation which empowers the former to give more attention to each scholar, and which excites the emulation of the latter.
Not willing to recommend for the use of the schools of the State, books which do it injustice, I notified publishers that I would not approve of any Geography unless I was allowed to alter and correct the text so far as relates to North Carolina. The publishers of different works consented; and having selected Mitchell's Intermediate Geography as best suited, under all the circumstancos, for our Common Schools, I prepared an appendix which, in a new edition of the work, with a full and new Map of North Carolina, is now coming out. My various engagements, and the fact that I was much of my time on the road, delayed this matter longer than I could have wished. The new edition will be worthy of the patronage of all
our schools, and will contain, besides the new Map, several engravings illustrating the description of our State.
For other information in relation to books I refer to the Circular to the Committees of Examination, before alluded to.
As to Readers I did not make a recommendation for these reasons, to wit: It is well known that a few years ago I undertook to make a series of North Carolina Readers, and published the most important number, for advanced scholars, containing a familiar history and description of the State, with compositions in prose and verse by distinguished North Carolinians. Its object was obvious; and to all acquainted with our peculiar position, our desponding and erroneous estimate of our resources, and the history of that singular and remarkable exodus or emigration which for years has retarded our progress in every species of improvement, the uses of such a work, well compiled, were fully apparent. For these reasons--and as a matter of Southern pride--from a desire to promote self-reliance, and to teach our children and our people that mind and industry are not confined to one end of the Union, as well as because there is such a vast variety of works of this kind that to secure uniformity there must be peculiar reasons in favor of the books recommended, I have had it much at heart to have prepared a good series of Home-Readers. My own book had been recommended by all our Colleges and many Academies before my appointment as Superintendent; but I knew its defects, and have also determined to make no profit, under any circumstances, out of any school-book used during my term of office. I have not been so advised by judicious friends with regard to books in use previous to my election, but such was and is my conclusion.
As opportunities therefore would permit, I have been negotiating for this object, to wit: to get some publisher to take my Reader at original cost, on condition that he
would employ Prof. Hubbard of the University, or some other person of equal taste and ability, to alter my work and complete the series. The little time at my disposal has impeded these negotiations; but I am happy to say that arrangements are nearly completed, and I hope the object will soon be carried out. In regard to Arithmetics, individually, I preferred the series of Prof. Davies, but found it was not generally known in our Common Schools: but the Publishers offer to send it into every county, and also to exchange it for copies of Emmerson, bought in consequence of my recommendation. As a new revised edition is coming out, I shall recommend it; and I hope also to induce the publishers of books recommended to establish depots in all the counties for the convenience of the people, and also to sell at rates under the usual prices, wherever their books are generally used. I am now negotiating for this purpose.
As your Excellency is aware, our Common School system went into operation in the year 1840. You are also aware that until the present year the Literary Board was made the Chief Executive Head. This was an awkward arrangement; and the Board, at once perceiving its own inability to fulfil the necessary requirements of Head of such a system, have uniformly urged, on every Legislature since, the more simple and efficient system of a single Executive Chief, or Superintendent. The biennial reports of the Board have been mostly confined to this one object; and hence, for twelve years, we have labored in darkness. A deep obscurity has veiled all the operations of the system--not one single general report, with details, has emanated from it--not an official statistic appeared, excepting the general urgent declarations of our judicious Literary Boards, declaring the necessity of light, and their inability to furnish satisfactory information.
As the consequences of this obscurity and uncertainty have been most pernicious, we cannot now have too much light. This is the more especially needed here, because Common Schools are a new thing to our people; they were adopted and started among a population having no experience in such things, having no examples before their eyes in the neighboring States, many of them wedded to other systems, and many alas! never having had the benefits of any kind of education.
The Government has not only failed to furnish information so desirable and all-important, but, without by any means desiring or designing it, has exercised an influence the other way; and except in the semi-annual announcement of the division of the School Fund, and in the wise suggestions of the Governors and of the Literary Boards, and the occasional patriotic exertions of members of Assembly, the existence of the Common Schools has been seldom publicly recognized. We have two Almanacs published in the State, by enterprising and public spirited gentlemen: and yet, even in these useful repositories of local statistics carefully made up, and which go into every house, the most important interest of North-Carolina has not been named! I by no means wish to be considered as censuring the publishers: I mention the fact as a most significant and ample illustration of our carelessness in furnishing that light so all-essential to the healthful progress of our system, and of our failure even to recognize in our recorded statistics the existence, much less the progress, of this great and fundamental institution. The members of the last Assembly were fully awake to the importance of this matter; and it is my ardent desire to justify their liberal confidence in using all possible ways to reach with information and statistics, every citizen of the State. To do this, I must of course speak with more than one tongue; and among other means I have reflected on the propriety of issuing a Common
School Almanac for universal and free distribution. I desire the reading matter to consist of descriptions and short histories of other systems--statistics from other States--sketches, anecdotes and statistics of our own system--general information about Education, suggestions, regulations, duties of officers, &c., &c.
The question is, how am I, without the aid of the State which I do not ask, to defray the expenses of an edition of eighty or one hundred thousand copies for gratuitous circulation? This subject occupies a good deal of my thoughts; and as patience and perseverance can accomplish much, I am not without a faint hope that this enterprise may succeed.
When the people of a School District fully understand and appreciate their situation, and the capabilities of the Common School system, and as a consequence will harmonize in their efforts to turn the Public Fund to the best account, they will find that a great deal of good can be done. In many sections there are wealthy persons who have been in the habit of sending their children, at an early age, to boarding Schools--a practice sometimes expensive to the parent and dangerous to the morals of the children. Now suppose, for instance, $100 are annually distributed to the School District in which such a person lives: and suppose that it costs him $300 per annum to send his children to a boarding school; if he can agree with his neighbors he can save $100, and have his children educated at home.
He has only to get the School Committee together and propose this bargain: that the Committee will give him part control of the Public School, and that he will, in return, promise to have a good school for ten months in the year, free to all. He then can add $200 to the $100 of public money, and with this he can get a good teacher;
and if there are two like him, the cost will be $100 a piece, and so on down in proportion to the number of subscribers. In some districts there are persons not able to pay so much, but who are yet able to pay, and would cheerfully pay from $10 to $25 a piece for a good school for five--six--or eight months. Say there are four of these able and willing to pay $15 for a school nine months: they have but to use a little exertion to satisfy their neighbors of their good intentions, in order to get part control of the school on condition that they have kept a good school, free to all, for nine months. Thus, those who have means save money, and keep their children at home; and they have the consolation of reflecting that while they are doing this much for themselves, they are also helping to furnish opportunities of good education to all their neighbors. While such schools do good in themselves, they open the eyes of the people all over the country where they are siuated, to the capabilities of our system of common schools. Hence I call them model schools; and it has been a cherished object with me to have such started in all sections of the country.
A good example is a perpetual lesson, and hence my desire to multiply these examples.
Several have begun operations under the most encouragaing auspices, and it affords me great satisfaction to be able to say that I have strong hopes of witnessing a considerable number of examples of this kind.
While making out this Report, I have before me two urgent applications, just received from gentlemen of wealth and enterprise, (one a chairman of County Superintendents, &c.,) for advice and assistance in inaugurating two schools of this kind, one in the east and one in the centre. In the latter, a limited number of girls, promising to be teachers, are to be educated from other districts; of the former, one of the chief friends, (brother
of one of our most eminent and useful citizens,) writes: "We have it in contemplation to elevate our common school into reputation, and it shall be common with schools of high order, where all the branches are taught, and which will qualify the pupils, male and female, for usefulness in any sort of business," &c., &c. Others of the sort are already in successful operation, and more are on the way.
Such schools have been placed under my direct supervision; and for all such I am framing rules and suggestions which, under such modifications as those interested may deem prudent, will be carried out and insure justice and impartiality to all the children of the districts where these schools are located. Some of these schools will educate good teachers, and thus to some extent be Normal Schools.
The above term is now generally applied to those schools where teachers are educated and trained for their calling; there are none in North Carolina devoted exclusively to this object. The Normal College, in Randolph County, has been placed partly under the direction of the State, and as Superintendent of Common Schools I am ex officio Secretary of the Board of Trustees.
The Institution, which may be called a People's College, educates many poor young men on their promise to pay the tuition when they go into business; as the readiest way to raise the means, these young men generally devote themselves, for awhile, at least, to the teaching of Common Schools. For this reason, and others, the Faculty are allowed, by Charter, to give licenses to teach, and the State has loaned to the College ten thousand dollars. I attended the last annual commencement the exercises of which were witnessed by an immense concourse of people from the middle ranks of society, thus indicating
the field of labors in which the Institution promises to be useful. The plan on which it has been conducted, and the energy of those concerned, have secured for it a large patronage; and this example I wish to commend to the consideration of those starting Academies and Colleges in all parts of the State. I am often applied to for advice by those about to found Institutions of this kind, and it is surprising and extremely gratifying to see how rapidly they are springing up in every section. I know of nothing like it in the history of any country, considing the former conditions of things; and it is really refreshing to see how the people of inland villages and of country districts, where the soil is thin, but the climate healthy, are beginning to realize the fact that it is not merely soil or minerals or water-power that enrich a country. I can almost hope to see the day when every oak-ride and guttered sedge-field will be blossoming with a rich promise of noble men and women; and to hasten this happy era, as well as for the consideration of those who do me the honor of requesting my advice, and to promote the success of Common Schools, I have one suggestion to make: Let it be universally understood that Colleges, Academies, and Common Schools are all bound up in one common interest; and that the Common Schools are to the Academies and Colleges what the back country is to commercial cities. From them must come the supplies; and, therefore, the more intimate the connection, the better for all concerned. I suggest that every new Academy make itself a Normal School; and that it agree to educate every term a number--(and a large) number of poor boys or girls on their promises to teach Common Schools till they are able to pay the cost. Eight out of ten of this sort will certainly repay--this course will enhance the popularity of the school, and the pupils of this sort, as they go forth to teach, will be zealous champions of the Institutions where they were educated.
Besides all this, Colleges and Academies will be greatly aiding the general cause, and thus stimulating among the people that spirit on which they thrive.
My attention has been called to lands that will probably escheat in several counties, and measures have been taken to have the claims of the Literary Board properly represented.
I consider this matter one of importance; and, as your Excellency is aware, I am preparing, under the supervision of the Literary Board, a system of regulations for the efficient prosecution of all claims of this sort. As soon as the suit alluded to below is decided, if favorably to the claims of the Literary Board, Attorneys or Agents will be appointed in all the counties, printed instructions sent out, and a report from each, required at the end of each year; and as escheats will be continually occurring as long as society and law exist, considerable revenue may be expected from this source.
Escheats and derelict or unclaimed property, in North Carolina, according to the principles of common law, vest in the sovereign, and the sovereign here is the State.
Many years ago, the State transferred its interest, by Act of Assembly, to the University; and within the last few years the Assembly has again changed the direction of this property, and vested it, as it may arise from the date of the Acts, in the President and Directors of the Literary Fund for the benefit of Common Schools.
The constitutionality of part of these Acts was contested by the Trustees of the University; and a case involving the question was carried to the Supreme Court of the State, and a decision made in favor of the claims of the President and Directors of the Literary Fund. The friends of the University, acting under the suggestions of eminent lawyers, desire to have the matter tried in the Supreme Court of the United States; and your Excellency, President ex officio of the Board of Trustees of the University, and chief in the
same capacity of the Directors of the Literary Fund, properly consented to this arrangement, and with the concurrence of the other Directors of the Literary Fund, employed a distinguished and learned Attorney to represent its claims.
This conflict has given me much concern; but I am led to hope from it some serious modifications, for the better, of our whole system of public instruction. Private enterprise and the zeal of religious denominations have done much for the cause of education; but we can never have a thorough and perfect system of instruction adapted to the circumstances of all the people, except at the expense and under the direction of the State. The State alone has the means; and the State by adopting a wise system can diminish the cost, and make education, by a universal system of District schools, cheaper than it can be afforded on any other plan.
The State, especially if it be a free State, is the party most interested, for it represents all the people; and the State, by taking this thing under its own control, can prevent the injurious influences of bigotry and of sectarian zeal, and advance the cause of true religion, by having all its youth educated by pious men, but not by sectarians, and by offering to the operations of those devoted to religion, an intelligent population, free from prejudice, and open to the convictions of truths.
So far the action of the State has been very imperfect; it assisted to endow a University which has had to struggle against many difficulties, and it adopted, many years after, a system of Common Schools were founded on the same principle, to wit, that by founding an institution at the public charge it would greatly diminish the cost of instruction to each individual; but the authorities did not recognize and acknowledge this intimate relationship, and the common schools became a sort of castaway, and their designation passed into disgrace among certain classes. And yet common, as denoting general, and applied to the interests of the masses, cannot be more plebian than universal, which embraces the whole.
But as used with reference to our schools, the two words are identical in meaning, and they imply that the institutions which bear the names are the interests and should exercise the care of all the people.
It will be a gloomy day for North Carolina when these two institutions become antagonistic; and if we are not given over to blindness, we will see to it that both are properly sustained; that their intimate connection is recognized, their exertions directed to the same end.
Our University is worthy of our pride and fostering care; our common schools constitute a twin interest, and should be recognized as one of the most dignified and the most important concern of the State.
A strife between them would be unnatural, and productive of disastrous consequences to the State; and I trust that the suit now pending will lead to a wiser and juster sense of all our interests, and which will cause them to be recognized as brethren, and securely fixed on one immovable foundation.
Of course I am not to be understood as casting reflections on other colleges and seminaries of learning, whether founded by individual enterprise or by the liberal zeal of religious denominations. Though the State has no official connection with these, I have uniformly exhibited my great interest in their success, and my sense of the vast good they have done and are doing; but my purpose is to show that after all their noble exertions, there is still a wide field to be occupied by the State, and which the State only can occupy fully. I take occasion also to say that in the schools founded by religious denominations in North Carolina, bigotry has not been tolerated, and a wise and just forbearance is generally manifested in regard to doctrinal tenets and disputes. But we have no security that such disputes will not arise some day and injure the cause of education, if we have no other schools.
The end of this year will be a more appropriate occasion than the present to offer suggestions in regard to modifications of the law.
I will here state, however, that it is important to arrange the school year in a manner different from that now required; and that, in my opinion, it is all-important to adopt some new regulations in regard to District Committees.
Without efficient committees it is impossible for the system to succeed; and no one who believes in the ability of the people to govern themselves can doubt that there are three good men in every school district in the State--and not only three good men, but three that are worthy to fill the important, but not lucrative office of committeemen, and would fill it, if selected. The great question is, how are they to be found and chosen? The mode of selection has been several times changed; and, as you are aware, they are now elected by the people. It was thought that the County Boards in appointing committees did not in all cases consult the wishes of a majority of the people in each district; and now it is found that very few people vote, and the same difficulties, of having committees not always acceptable to the people, occur.
The labor of giving notice is a very onerous one to the Chairmen, as several hundred have to be posted up in some of the counties; and the whole machinery of the election is cumbrous and works badly. Still, I am decidedly in favor of giving the selection of committeemen to the people; and after mature reflection, I have thought of a new and simple method which meets with the cordial approbation of all the experienced local officers whom I have consulted. The general principle is this: to have the committeemen appointed by petition, to the County Boards, of a majority of voters in each district, or by those who represent a majority of the children. Whenever, at the end of the year, a majority of voters--or a number of persons representing a majority
of the children, in any district, shall sign a request to the Board of County Superintendents in favor of any three, two or one person, such shall be appointed by the Board committeemen; in all other cases the Board shall appoint. This is the general principle; the details, the mode of giving notice to the people, &c., &., it is unnecessary now to discuss.
This method secures to the majority the right to choose--and it takes it out of the power of two or three persons to vote in a committee for their own special uses. Wherever it is adopted it will insure fair committees--and the committees, knowing that they have been selected by a majority will feel much more free to act, while the people will more cheerfully submit to their regulations. Deeming this a matter of vital importance, inasmuch as good committees are essential, while there has been much complaint so far of the difficulty of getting them, I make these suggestions now that they may be maturely considered by all persons interested.
I feel bound to avail myself of this occasion to call universal and serious attention to an exceedingly important interest of the State--an interest given to the Literary Fund for the benefit of Common Schools, and which might be made to realize an immense sum, while in fact it has been so far utterly worthless.
The Literary Board is represented as owning 1,500,000, (one million five hundred thousand) acres of swamp lands; and many thousands of acres of this, it is well known, if properly drained, would be intrinsically worth from $10 to $100 per acre. Clouds, it is said, are gathering about the titles to the best of these lands. I have heard it computed that half a million dollars worth of timber has been carried off by private individuals, while the communities in which these large bodies of undrained swamps are situated are beginning to regard them as a nuisance, in the way of the settlement and improvement of the country. It is high time that efficient measures were taken to overhaul the whole subject;
and I earnestly hope that the wisdom of the next Assembly, under your Excellency's suggestions, will devise some judicious and effective plan of turning this interest to a good account. It seems to me that it might be made to yield one million of dollars at least; and as I take a deep interest in this matter, I will, with the approbation of your Excellency and of the other members of the Literary Board, endeavor to collect all the statistics that can be obtained in regard to the location, extent and character of these lands.
To make a nation truly great and happy its heart and mind should both be educated; and the undue cultivation of one of these to the neglect of the other, will lead to inevitable injury. Among a population wholly ignorant, wicked and designing men avail themselves of the pious and reverential tendencies of the human heart to enslave and oppress the multitude in the name of religion; while a people educated with the sole idea that the chief end of man is to make money and acquire power, and to use them for the indulgence of his passians, will in the end first become slaves to their appetites and then to a more self-denying race. Extreme care, therefore, should be taken to improve the heart and subdue its passions, as the mind is enlightened; and a grave responsibility rests on every Teacher as well as parent to enforce on children the injunction to remember their Creator in the days of their youth. Religion and education must go together; and while contemplating the possibility of a future generation of North-Carolinians wholly enlightened and universally able to take care of themselves, in a worldly point of view, I cannot but feel a deep solicitude that it should not be an infidel generation, devoted to Mammon, and ready to abase itself to all the strange gods which the wicked inventions of men may create.
To enforce, however, a wholesome morality is not more important than to guard against all sectarian influences in our
public schools; and those who have their direction should have constantly at heart these two cardinal objects.
As far as my influence would extend I have exerted it, and shall continue to exert it in favor of the employment of Teachers whose morals are wholly above reproach; and while the Word of God, the common creed of all christian denominations, has not been recommended as a text-book for the schools, every child should have access to it and be allowed to read it, and to judge and choose for itself. This is in accordance with our fundamental political doctrine; and it is in accordance with the idea that man is a responsible free agent, each individual accountable for his own life and opinions, to the One Divine Master of all.
It is my desire that all children shall be taught to read, and taught by those whose lives illnstrate the beauties of a heart disciplined to good; and that when enabled to read they be allowed to read for themselves the revelations of Heaven's will to man.
In connection with this subject I feel bound to take notice of an evil which needs correction, and which seems to be incidental to a system of free schoois, in the primary stages of their existence.
When we send our children to colleges, academies and select schools, we send them with a view to their instruction, and improvement; every child is compelled to get the proper kind of books, to submit to discipline and to study or be disgraced.
It seems to be thought, in some places, that a free school is one where entire freedom of action is to be guaranteed to the pupil; and entertaining these erroneous notions, parents not unfrequently prevent the improvement of their children by refusing to permit them to be corrected, or submit to discipline necessary to chasten and restrain the wayward disposition and the prurient passions of youth.
Sometimes, wholly mis-interpreting the idea of Free schools, they think they are schools where children are to be free to
do as they please; and forgetting that free men are those who have enslaved their own passions, they unwisely and with a cruel kindness permit their offspring to grow up with such indulgences as prevent the formation of a manly character, destroy their energy, and cause them to lag and faint behind their better disciplined fellows in the race for power and position. Even Kings and Emperors have those who are to inherit their power carefully instructed in youth, causing them to undergo the most thorough training to develope all those qualities which make the self-reliant hero, and reduce to subjection those passions and tendencies which, if allowed to grow with our growth, render the man a mere child in the great conflicts of life. And if all the people would follow this example there would not be one King to own and rule a nation--each individual citizen would be a sovereign, considerate to equals, but acknowledging no superior.
It does seem to me that something is needed in this respect; and I wish to see our Common Schools turning out a generation of men and women with childish appetites subdued and indolent propensities overcome, and with all the sovereign attributes of free citizens and of the mothers of free men, in a state of healthy development. It should be a maxim, known and received of all, that free children do not make free men; and it should be equally well known that children can be governed and trained without recourse to brutal punishment, or to that rigorous discipline which blights all the generous gloom of the youthful heart. They must be trained, but trained as delicate beings, full of keen susceptibilities, of generous emotions, and of loving natures; and while the noxious weeds are carefully eradicated, not one harmless blossom should be touched, whether the blossom be the promise of future fruit or the mere embellishment of a kindly soil.
While an arrogant and self-sufficient egotism is as disgusting
and sinful in nations as in individuals, a proper self-respect and love of home are essential to the welfare of each; they are virtues in themselves and the parents of a whole family of other virtues. Till that millennial era when we will regard the world as our country and all men our kindred, they lie at the foundation of most improvements; they are the promoters of benevolent enterprises, and of self-denials, lead to those sublime sacrifices which constitute true patriotism, and promote those institutions which make home comfortable and secure. Efforts to promote the love of home, in the plastic nature of childhood, are peculiarly becoming in North Carolina, a State where the want of this attachment and its ruinous effects are eloquently recorded in deserted farms, in wide wastes of guttered sedge-fields, in neglected resources, in the absence of improvements, and in the hardships, sacrifices and sorrows of constant emigration.
Our State has long been regarded by its own citizens as a mere nursery to grow up in; and, from my earliest youth, I have witnessed the sad effects of this in the families of my acquaintance, many of such being scattered from the homes of their nativity over the wide south-west, some without bettering their fortunes, some to become ever afterwards unsettled, and not a few to find nameless graves by the wild road side. Such is the experience of all or nearly all. As a private citizen I have long revolved in my mind, plans for the removal of this infatuation; and as I have intimated, in another place, I undertook a series of North Carolina Readers to be used in our schools, partly with the object in view named above. The first number, received with more flattering commendations than its intrinsic merits deserved, was finding its way into the schools; and I know of instances in which, imperfect as it is, it has produced among children an intense desire to know more about North Carolina, and of other cases where, for good or evil, it has arrested thoughts of emigration and prompted to investments in the State.
What would be the effect of a good series in universal use?
To accomplish this has been an aim with me; and that I might do as much good as possible, I have refused to be personally interested in any form, and have given away the copyright of my Reader at cost of materials, on the conditions before named. As a farther means of promoting the same end, I have, as before stated, issued a handbill, partly with this view, to be posted in every school-house; and I have in contemplation to prepare a series of simple questions, with answers to be given by the teacher, to familiarize in the minds of children, the name and style of the United States--the name of the President, the character of the Government, as distinguished from all other Governments; the name of the State and county in which they live, the name of the Governor, the position of each person as part of the Government, and the wish of all good men, all over the earth, that this Government in its purity might be perpetual. Something of this kind has been adopted in those German States where they have the best systems of Public Schools; and the eminent American writers who have visited them, speak with admiration of the effects.
The Geography recommended, with my Appendix, will do justice to the State, and no more than strict justice; and indeed the Publishers, anxious not to be partial, took the liberty of modifying the text in one respect, which, though right in a work of the kind, I rather regretted at the time.
The matter to which I allude is this: the time is coming when very material changes will be effected in the routes of commerce. All things considered, the finest agricultural country in the world is the valley of the Mississippi, and its tributaries; and for all the immense productions of this region that do not take a circuitous route to the North, the distant mouth of the Mississippi River, in the stormy Gulph of Mexico, affords the principal outlet to the ocean. New Orleans is the entrepot; and though it has had to contend against heavy disadvantages, from its location, the same location has forced it to be a great city.
Between the nearer Atlantic and this vast granary of the west and south-west, stands the interposing barrier of the Alleghany Mountains, long thought to be an impassable wall, and a limit to the iron track of commerce.
But modern science has overcome greater difficulties to secure that modern desideratum, the shortest passage; and the gallant States of Virginia and Georgia are already storming these heights with every prospect of success. South Carolina will follow in the assault; and none of these have so great inducements to undertake the enterprise as the people of North Carolina. Nearly midway of the Atlantic coast, in a temperate and healthy climate, is the unchangeable, safe and capacious harbor of Beaufort; and from hence, through our fertile upland slopes, and the gorges of our own beautiful mountains, lies the shortest route to the great south-west.
To foreshadow the grand commercial destiny we might attain, on the youthful mind of the State, and prepare it to grasp and realise the magnificent consummation, I took much pains to have all the proposed railroads over the mountains, and their bearings and connections made familiar to the publishers of the Geography in question; and I also described our own port and its probable connections with the west in such a way as to do what I considered full justice to the subject. The publishers, issuing a general work, slightly modified the prominent idea in my text; but of this I cannot complain.
The State already occupies in the work the largest space of any other, with its railroad routes noticed and Beaufort handsomely described. Its map is the fullest and most carefully prepared, while in other respects the work is a faithful and accurate compend of the general outlines of Geography. It deserves to be universally used in our schools, and I hearly recommend it.
Time is necessary to the growth and development of great
enterprises: even the Deity, infinite in power and resources, took six days to create and fashion the world, thereby teaching us an important lesson.
The Common Schools of the German States, of Scotland and of Massachusetts, in their present condition, are the result of the patient labor of many years, and in some of the places named have been maturing for centuries; and if we could attain to the same successful state of things in ten or twenty years, we would be a most remarkable people, too far advanced in knowledge to need a system of Common Schools at all.
It is, therefore, very absurd to compare ourselves with these States in their present condition, and thus to draw conclusions unfavorable to our ability to mature a good system of Public Schools. We are doing vastly better than the pioneer States did in the infancy of their progress; and this undoubted fact, and the glorious eminence which those pioneer States in the cause of general education have finally reached, should fill us with hope, nerve us with energy, and induce us to be patient in continued efforts. Standing at the head of our system of Common Schools, and surveying all its parts, I can see it advancing and gathering strength; and I can see where, in the last year, obstructions have been overcome, jarring machinery adjusted, and weak points fortified. But I can see, also, a vast deal that is yet to be done: work for a long life of activity, steady and patient effort. The field for the Engineer-in-Chief, so to speak, had to be cleared, and a way marked out for my successors; and this consideration, and the fact that it was necessary to make almost unnatural efforts to revive hopes, devolved on me an amount of care, responsibility and exertion of which few persons are aware. I trust I have entertained a full sense of these responsibilities; and it has been an object of prayerful solicitude with me, to mark out such a path as will lead in the end to results that will make the office a blessing to humanity. Of course I have not confined myself to the mere routine of official, prescribed
duties: no law can fully prescribe all the duties which ought to devolve on the head of such a system. They must often be suggested by his own heart, and regulated by his own mind; and there are a thousand springs to touch, a thousand things to do, which can only be known to the public, like the imperceptible growth of a tree or plant, in their final results. We may plough and hoe, and weed our corn, but after all this its life and growth depend on an infinite variety of little operations which nature performs without parade or ostentation, and with the use of means which we would regard as contemptible.
Our people should be in continual expectation, always looking and working for better things; but they must have patience and a disposition to co-operate with those having special charge of the system of Common Schools. They must not expect miracles; but they ought to strengthen the hands of the Chief Executive, and to wait the developments of time. The machinery is vast, complicated, weak in many points, and operating in a difficult field: but let us give it a fair trial, with proper managers, properly supported, with time and means to clear the way, smooth the joints, overhaul and examine and fit in and strengthen all the parts, and WE WILL SUCCEED.
The census of 1840 was the first which undertook to ascertain the condition and progress of education among the people of the United States. According to the returns of that enumeration, taken before our Common Schools went into operation, the condition of things in North Carolina, with respect to schoolls and general intelligence, was as follows, to-wit:
|No. of Colleges and Universities,||2|
|No. of Academies and Grammar Schools,||141|
|No. of Primary and Common (County) Schools,||632|
|Whole No. of Schools, Academies & Colleges,||775|
There were at school, as follows:
|At all other Schools,||14,937|
|Total of Children at School,||19,483|
|(Nineteen thousand four hundred and eighty-three.)|
The number of whites over 20 years old who could not read and write, was 56,609, (fifty-six thousand six hundred and nine;) and according to the census of 1850, our white population had increased but little.
We now have in the State--
|Female, so called,||6|
|St. Mary's and Salem Schools,||2|
Of Academies, I have not yet accurate data; but there are not less than 200--perhaps 300.
The number of Students at Male Colleges now is perhaps between 500 and 600--number at Female Colleges, (including Salem School and St. Mary's,) not less than 1,000.
There are also several Male Colleges on the way, and two or three--at least three--Female Colleges.
The number of Students at Academies, Select and Private Classical Schools, cannot be less than 7,000.
By the census of 1850, (of which I have only seen the general outlines,) the whole number of white children at school in North Carolina during that year, was 100,591, (one hundred thousand, five hundred and ninety-one.)
The Common Schools had been in operation about nine
years, and the increase of white population, in that time, only about 12 per cent. The increase in the number of children at school was as follows:--in 1840, 19,483, (nineteen thousand four hundred and eighty-three;) in 1850, 100,591, (one hundred thousand, five hundred and ninety-one)--or five hundred per cent. gain in nine years! Whole number of Common Schools in 1840, 632--in 1853, by my returns, there were two thousand one hundred and thirty-one schools taught in seventy counties, and perhaps fully twenty-five hundred in all: increase in Common Schools in thirteen years, four hundred per cent. The increase in Colleges has been about two hundred and fifty per cent., and in Academies, at least one hundred per cent.
By returns made to me, as the tables in this report will show, the number of children now attending Common Schools, in seventy counties, is eighty-three thousand eight hundred and seventy-three, and the number in the counties not heard from, and the number not reported, may be safely estimated at twelve thousand more--making at least ninety-five thousand, (95,060,) who attend Common Schools in 1853, against fourteen thousand nine hundred and thirty-seven in 1840, being an increase of over six hundred per cent. in the number attending Primary and Common Schools. That this action of the Common Schools has not been an unhealthy one, injuring the quality of education, and breaking down better schools, we have the bold and indisputable fact (and facts are stubborn arguments,) that Colleges and Academies have made an average increase of one hundred and fifty to two hundred per cent,, (an unexampled one,) and that the course of studies has, every year, been made more thorough and practical.
The value of apparatus for illustrating the sciences, at the schools now in the State, is perhaps fully three times as great as in 1840; the number of Grammars and Geographies sold, fully five times as great, and the number of good scholars at least three times increased.
There were 632 Primary and Common or Country Schools in 1840; and I am thoroughly convinced, that if all our twenty-five hundred Common Schools are not as good as those 632 subscription schools were--(and certainly they are not, by a good deal)--yet that there are more than one thousand Common Schools now in operation, which in all respects are equal to the 632 schools heretofore in existence. I am convinced that for every two good subscription schools broken down by the Common Schools, we have at least three equally good Common Schools and one Academy somewhere else, or two good schools for one, besides three or four other schools not so good, for every one thus interfered with.
In these positions I feel well fortified by the facts I have gathered; and these facts, with a careful account of the manner in which our Common School system has been managed, I hope to be able to lay before our next Assembly.
We have been neglectful, and have committed errors which we must avoid in the future; and we have every inducement which a people can have to stimulate them to an efficient management and a patient and liberal trial of a general system of Common Schools.
The whole income of the public School Fund of the United States in 1850, aside from that raised by taxation, donations, &c. &c., was only two millions, five hundred and odd thousand dollars; and the income of the public fund of North Carolina, (aside from swamp lands and county taxes,) equal to more than one-twentieth of the whole.
The whole amount expended in the United States, was nine millions and something over five hundred thousand dollars; and in North Carolina, about one hundred and seventy-five thousand dollars, on Common Schools.
The whole number of public schools, was about 81,000, (eighty-one thousand,) and therefore the average amount expended in the United States, was about 117 dollars to the school--the average amount in North Carolina, about
70 dollars to the school taught, and at least 56 dollars for every district in the State, or every four miles square of territory. Now, without farther taxation, we can nearly double this sum: many counties now lay no taxes for school purposes, while our general taxes are lighter, our resources less developed, and the value of our real estate, mines, commerce and manufactures bound to increase more and more rapidly, from their present rates, than in any other State in the Union.
The average time during which all the schools are taught in the year, for the whole State, is about four months; and the whole number of white children between the ages of 5 and 21 years, cannot be short of 195,000--and of these we may consider that at least 55,000 are between the ages of 5 and 8, and 18 and 21; and we may calculate that of those at this age, the number who have not yet commenced going to school, and who have finished their education, is at least 30,000--which taken from 195,000, leaves 165,000.
It is entirely safe to estimate that not more than two thirds of those who go to school, attend in any one year; and by this calculation, we have one hundred and fifty thousand children attending school at some time in the State, and one hundred and sixty-five thousand who ought to be at school. This leaves fifteen thousand as the estimated number of those who are not attending school at all; but we have every reason to believe that one-third at least of these will yet go to some institution of learning. If they do, it will leave us ten thousand illiterate people in a generation of one hundred and ninety-five thousand, or 1 in every 19½--or at the worst, fifteen thousand in one hundred and ninety-five thousand, or 1 in 13, who will not be able to read and write, while the proportion of the present generation is 1 in 6 at least.
From the foregoing statistics, I am fully warranted in asserting that the average ignorance among the generation now coming on, will be at least fifty per cent. less, or only one-half as great as among those now on the stage of active life in North Carolina; and this conclusion may be based on the supposition that our common schools do not improve in usefulness--a supposition not to be tolerated for a moment by any friend of humanity.
Many serious difficulties had necessarily to be encountered; and notwithstanding these, and notwithstanding the imperfect organization of the system, and the partial neglect of the State, the schools have made a continued, though slow progress.
They have worked in silence and darkness; and without a voice to encourage, or a report or statistic to furnish light, have made an advance which diminishes the ignorance of the State one-half in ten years. This increasing intelligence gives new energy to the system; and since we have resolved to explore and develope its resources, the motion forward has been perceptibly and very generally accelerated in the short experience of one year.
My enquiries in various parts of the State, from Currituck to Cherokee--and the letters and returns made to me from officers and friends of the system, all corroborate this statement. The almost universal information given is, that in the past year a new start has been taken, and new life has been felt: hope and animation have revived, new friends have been made, and old friends have resolved to work with redoubled efforts.
The reports made of teachers licensed, form no criterion of the operations in this branch of the system; and I know that much more has been done than is published. Chairmen did not generally keep a record of these licenses--and not many supposed it was essential to report them.
But in a majority of the counties they have good examining.
committees; and when the new forms, before alluded to, are prepared, we will know precisely how we stand with regard to teachers. The standard has undoubtedly advanced in the last year; and even graduates of the University have been required to stand an examination, because not specially exempted by law. As copies of the new returns will be posted at the Court House door, with the names and standing of teachers, a farther and greater emulation will be excited.
I feel bound to say that money is not our greatest want--and that the places where the highest salaries are paid are not generally those which have succeeded best. We want more efficient management--a constant embodiment and expression of public opinion--a watchful supervision--a liberal course of legislation, good officers, and patience and energy in all having an official position in the system.
Many of the chairmen have deserved well of their country--and there are some whose zeal, patience and discretion should entitle them to the gratitude of all friends of education. I have found very generally among all present incumbents a liberal spirit and a desire to learn and improve; and I feel bound also to take notice of the public spirit and sacrifices of time on the part of Committees of Examination. Intelligent persons have, almost everywhere, accepted and acted in these trusts in the past year; and I am confident that a continuation of the efforts of the last twelve months for ten years more will push us to a proud position.
Great are our inducements to labor. Perhaps fully one-sixth of the free, grown up people of North Carolina cannot read the word of God!
Two hundred thousand children are growing up among us--two hundred thousand immortal souls, whose minds will be living records for all eternity, to read the manner in which the happy people of this Heaven-favored land made use of their boasted privileges: Records from which the Almighty Father of spirits will pronounce judgment on those to whom
their training was committed. Our eyes are running over all the earth, looking for happy revolutions in favor of light and progress; and here we have growing up an army of two hundred thousand souls, who, if properly trained and armed, would be enough to preserve for the whole would the oracles of liberty, and of the religion of Jesus Christ. That liberty and that religion are the hopes of man in time and eternity; and here, on this broad area of fifty thousand square miles we can found and perpetuate, by the blessings of Heaven, at least one unconquerable commonwealth where men can be happy in time, with bright hopes of a blessed immortality.
The "good time coming" will arrive when each one improves his own part of God's domain: here is our field of labor in the cause of progress.
In the spring of the past year I was in Currituck, in sight of the spot where the Anglo-Saxon first landed and took possession of this Continent, claiming it from the Indians because he came to improve the earth, which the original owners had failed to do.
In early Autumn I made an address at Cherokee: and there, among my audience, an attentive listener, was a fine looking Indian, one of the small remnant of those original lords of the soil whom we have driven before us to the verge of the continent. I could not but feel that he was a witness for or against us, before the Courts of High Heaven; and I ardently hoped that some of his race might be left to see that we had vindicated our right to the country by founding and sustaining those Institutions which will insure general and individual happiness, and progress, peace, security and virtue. We have these considerations to impel us to farther action; and farther inducements are furnished by the experience of the past and the hopes of the future, exhibited in the reliable statistics I have made.
Our position was not high; but looking to the statistics of this Report, what may we not expect by the time we have
had the experience, in such things, of Connecticut or Massachusetts?
Our position is not high; but in no country on earth can greater industrial, commercial and educational progress be made in the next ten years than it is in our power easily to accomplish for North Carolina. To look back then, or turn back, would cover us with eternal shame; while to go forward will be just as easy, more profitable every way, to everybody, individually and collectively, and a thousand times more honorable.
In conclusion, I must ask pardon for the length of this Report, which could not well have been curtailed, considering that it is the first of the kind in our history, and relates to matters deeply interesting to all the friends of human happiness. I avail myself of the occasion to offer to your Excellency, and to the members of the Literary Board, my thanks, for the prompt and liberal manner in which you have generally sustained and aided me in my views, plans, and regulations.
C. H. WILEY,
Sup of Com Schools for the State.
OFFICE OF SUPERINTENDENT OF COMMON SCHOOLS OF N. C.,
FEBRUARY 1st, 1854.
To the Committees appointed to examine and pass on the qualifications of those wishing to become Teachers of Common Schools:--SECOND ANNUAL LETTER OF INSTRUCTIONS AND SUGGESTIONS:--
GENTLEMEN:--By reference to the laws in force upon the subject of Common Schools in North Carolina, (pamphlet of 1853, p. 19, sec. 9,) you will see that it is made the duty of the Superintendent for the State to issue annually to the Committees appointed to examine persons desiring to teach Common Schools, a Circular Letter of instructions and suggestions. My first letter of the kind, and the first in the history of our system of District Schools, was dated on the 1st day of August, 1853; and it is hardly necessary for me to say that while preparing it I was oppressed with a sense of the responsibilities and embarrassments of my position. I had to advise for a wide field of operations, embracing many peculiarities--a field over which darkness had brooded, and from which were heard many contradictory rumors and vague complaints.
NOTE.--This Second Circular Letter is inserted in the Report, instead of the first, as it embraces much of the matter of the first.
My letter, I am happy to say, gave more general satisfaction than I had a right to expect; and it affords me still more pleasure to be able to bear complete testimony to the general efficiency and public spirit of the Examining
Committees, and to the visible, salutary effects of their action.
Undoubtedly a new and brighter era has dawned upon the Common Schools of our State; and as this is partly due to your exertions, high considerations of patriotism and of philanthropy, and an enlightened sense of self-interest call on you for a patient continuation of those efforts.
Your office has not been dignified with honorable titles and large salaries, but it is, nevertheless, one of great delicacy and responsibility, and intimately connected with the welfare of the whole community. As you are induced to act from a knowledge of this fact, I sincerely hope you will find your expected reward in the advancement of general morality and intelligence, and that you will continue to set an honorable example of devotion to the public good. Such examples are eminently becoming in the citizens of a free country, and such sacrifices are demanded of all who appreciate the blessings of liberty and equal rights.
Upon this subject I beg to call your special attention to the following extracts from my first circular, viz:--
"There has been considerable complaint of the want of competency and diligence in teachers; and there are a number of persons interested in the cause of education, who have advocated severe restrictions on the granting of licenses to teach, and the establishment of a high standard of qualifications.
"On the other hand, some are of opinion that the choice of instructors should be left to the people of each neighborhood, and no test required except that of local popularity. The opinions of each party run into an erroneous extreme; and our proper guides in this matter are
the original object of the law establishing a system of Common Schools, and the actual condition of popular intelligence in the State.
"The first great end proposed, was to learn all the children of North Carolina to read and write--to manage their own business affairs, to read the history and constitution of the country and the word of God, and to keep themselves acquainted with the progress of events--accomplishments very essential in all the free citizens of a free country. This object was predicated on the fact that very many of our people could not read, and on the supposition that such a condition of things retarded the progress of the State in judicious improvements, tended to produce injurious social inequalities, and was the fruitful source of want and suffering.
"The object has not yet been accomplished; and until it is, and the standard of popular intelligence is thereby elevated, it would be unwise, and in fact impossible, to establish a very high standard of mental acquirements in teachers of Common Schools. Still there should be some standard, regulated with reference to the actual wants of the country; and it should be advanced with the increasing intelligence of the community, and be kept only so far above it as to be in a condition to sympathise with it and be useful in promoting it.
"If we will always keep these considerations in view, we cannot mistake our duties in the premises; and upon these views our present laws in regard to teachers are founded.
"In the first place, the popular will is represented in the District Committees selected by the people: these committees choose the teachers, while, at the same time, they are limited in the objects of their choice.
"A County Committee of Examination is appointed to pass on the merits of all teachers: and only those having the certificates of this committee are allowed to draw public
monies. That this committee might act with a practical reference to the wants of the country, I have prepared for it a form of certificate which has been approved by the President and Directors of the Literary Fund, and which is to be exclusively used.
"It allows a tolerably wide margin to the committee to discriminate as to the merits of teachers so as to suit all classes; and from this method of granting licenses several good results are confidently anticipated. In the first place, it enables the committee, without doing apparent injustice to superior merit, to grant certificates to those qualified only to teach new beginners and small children--a class of teachers needed in every county--at least there are neighborhoods in every county where no higher qualifications are required.
"Secondly--These certificates will not deceive the community, as the rank of the teacher is designated, and the certificate shows on its face whether the holder takes the lowest, the highest or an intermediate position.
"Thirdly--Merit is thus rewarded and stimulated to greater exertions by having proper discriminations in its favor; and holders of No. 1 certificates will be sought after where such teachers are needed.
"Fourthly--A healthful emulation will be created among teachers; and as the certificates have to be annually renewed, the whole community will see who is progressing, who is stationary, and who is going backward.
"Fifthly--Those having the lowest rank, and never improving with the increasing intelligence, will, after a fair trial, be cut off.
"Such is the existing state of things and the views on which it is founded; and in regard to it, I wish to submit to the Examining Committees a few plain and practical considerations.
"1. The law, while it is as strict, perhaps, as it is judicious to make it, is not too harsh, and cannot possibly do
injustice to those wishing to teach, if it is fairly administered. On this account, and because this part of our Common School Laws is of vital importance, I must insist that it be always enforced.
"Disobedience, allowed with impunity, creates a contempt for the law--contempt for the law is followed by contempt for the whole system of Common Schools.
"One teacher in a county having no certificate discourages all the other teachers, puts an end to honorable emulation, and is a prolific source of complaints, criminations and confusion. Merit is generally modest and diffident: but still there are few teachers worthy of encouragement who will not be always ready to be fairly tried by an honest and enlightened tribunal.
"2. Your own good sense and practical acquaintance with the wants of the community must be your guide in making examinations: if you are thus influenced, you will not of course give too many certificates to those of the lowest grade, nor grant licenses to any who cannot read and write and teach the elementary branches of Arithmetic. These branches all should be able to teach; but all are not required to teach Geography and Grammar, and those standing no examination on these studies, receive no numbers upon them. But while proper allowances are to be made for want of mental culture, and for the sphere in which it is to operate, no allowance can be made for the want of moral character. The office of School Teacher, however considered by some, is the next in honor and importance to that of Pastor; and an immoral, profligate or sensual man, in such a position, is a wolf among lambs, and sure to do mischief, however watched. It is our solemn duty to guard the innocence of the State against such corrupting influences, but while so acting we should also be careful not to give countenance to sectarian prejudices in opposition to other religious denominations, but tolerate alike all who acknowledge
"the being of a God, the truth of the christian religion, or the Divine authority of the Old and New Testament," and do not hold "religious principles incompatible with the freedom or safety of the State."
"3. I would suggest to you to encourage good teachers to locate permanently in neighborhoods, as they can thus be more useful in creating and fostering a spirit of education, can have their salaries, in time, increased by private subscriptions, and can also, in other respects, make their vocation more profitable by cultivating farms or carrying on, or having carried on, other industrial or commercial occupations.
"I hope you will also always recommend to teachers to hold public examinations, which, when well conducted, have a powerful effect in creating among children a desire to attend school, while they also give importance to the school, and to some extent, test the capacity of the teacher.
"A public examination, with spceches, dialogues, badges, processions, &c., &c., will operate favorably for education when persuasion will not: they enlist the hearts of the children who will add their importunities to the advice of teachers to engage parents to send to school.
"4. Encourage as much as possible the very poor, and especially poor females, to become teachers.
"We cannot expect men to teach Common Schools for $15 per month, if, by an expensive education, family influence, &c., they are in a situation to apply themselves more profitably to other callings.
"There is, however, a class, a numerous class, who are hired out to field labor, and many of these, if properly awakened, could become excellent teachers, and make more than twice as much as by their present occupations. If induced to go to school--to attend the free schools till they are able to teach new beginners, they could then get a certificate: with the proceeds of a few schools they
could go to higher schools, &c., &c., and soon become thriving men, making the best teachers, the best citizens, and the most enterprising members of society, with their eyes always steadily upwards. Thousands of such teachers could be made by a little friendly advice and care on the part of their more fortunate neighbors; and one young man thus rescued from an unhappy lot and started on an upward course, honorable and profitable to himself, and useful to the public, will create a spirit of education in the right place, will open the eyes of the blind, shew ignorant people what can be made by education, thus making a circle in the waters which will continue to widen to an indefinite extent.
"But a helpless female, who cannot push her fortune in the world, and yet is born dependent on the labor of her own hands, when started on such a career, fairly electrifies surrounding ignorance and prejudice, and is a standing miracle performed by means of our Common Schools. Imagine a girl--you can see them in your own neighborhood--a girl with natural sensibilities and capabilities, for heart and mind are inherited by all ranks and classes--but from her very infancy pushed into rude contact with the world, it being necessary for her own existence or that of her parents, that she be hired out to wages. What is the hope before her? In the factories she may make four to six dollars per month, and may preserve her characier, though inhaling a noisome atmosphere--in the fields she may earn three dollars per month, and live on to old age, with a temper soured by unnatural employments, with a disposition unfitted for the important duties of house-keeper, and with chronic diseases to embitter her existence. Or such a one may, for board and coarse clothes, go into domestic service--follow those labors becoming the modesty and delicacy of her nature, but in a state of hopeless dependence, and subject to the whims and caprices of a mistress.
"There is another road open to such a one, leading from want and social inferiority, to independence, to respect, and to usefulness and happiness--and it lies through our Common Schools.
"Set such an example in one neighborhood--the example of a girl, without any help from others except good advice, rising from the lowest social depths, becoming an ornament to society, commanding comparatively high wages for ladylike employment, living independent'y or forming high matrimonial alliances, and there is accomplished a great revolution in that whole region of country.
"How many destitute girls have we in North Carolina that could thus be honorably employed?
"And females, for certain classes, make the best teachers; they are more patient, more easily win the affections of the young, and are more likely to mould to virtuous and refined sentiments the plastic nature of childhood."
I wish to be understood as repeating these suggestions and instructions, with this distinct understanding, to wit: THAT THE STANDARD OF QUALIFICATIONS IS TO BE GRADUALLY ELEVATED EVERY YEAR.
In all cases where the former committees continue to act, it will be easy to ascertain if the standard is advancing; and where new committees have been appointed, there is one simple rule to be observed. As a general thing, unless the committees have peculiar and good reasons for an opposite course, let no certificate, having on it only the lowest numbers, be renewed with the same numbers; in other words do not grant new licenses to those who were barely qualified in the lowest degree, and who, after a year's trial, have not improved. Of course there will be necessary exceptions, regulated by the condition of things in each county, with reference to the supply and demand for teachers, the state of intelligence,
&c., &c.; and of these things you are the best judges.
Of this rule no teacher can justly complain; on the contrary a majority will now feel that it is of advantage to them, while in the end, all who are worthy to teach, having been stimulated to a continual progress, will feel grateful to that system of things which has developed their energies, and helped to push them on to honoroble achievements.
The evils caused by the use of bad books, by frequent changes, and by the use of great varieties of text-books in each school, have been severely felt and loudly complained of.
Students cannot be arranged in classes, and without such an arrangement no large school can be successfully taught--expenses are accumulated by continual changes in some places, and in others, books of a very inferior kind are used.
Every experienced teacher well knows that the subject of Text Books is one of great importance; and in every college, academy, and select school, the professors and teachers enforce the most rigid rules on this subject, allowing no pupil to violate these rules, on any pretence. And as we have no publishing house here to electioneer for their various productions, everybody, booksellers, bookbuyers, teachers, and students, are alike interested in having one uniform series.
Publishers will sell cheaper when large numbers of the same book are used--merchants and booksellers here will charge a smaller per cent. of profit, knowing there will be more certainty in getting off their stock on hand--and while the parent and pupil are saved expense in this way, they will also have to buy fewer books when changes become less frequent.
In view of these and other considerations, the Boards of Superintendents in several counties have seriously entertained
the idea of applying a portion of the school moneys to the purchase of books for all the schools in their respective counties; and as the head of the Common School system I have been repeatedly and urgently called on to interfere.
I, therefore, have felt bound to make a recommendation; and knowing the vast influence exercised on our lives by the sources of our earliest information, I have looked with an anxious interest to the welfare and honor of North Carolina in this matter.
I have, heretofore, mentioned my reasons for preparing an appendix to the Geography to be used: a work which has been delayed by my other engagements, and by the delay in getting statistics from the last census. My contributions, however, were sent on five or six months ago; and the work is now about ready for delivery. It will contain a new map of North Carolina, with all the counties, railroad routes, &c., prepared with much care; and as well by its general accuracy as by its special attention to the interests of North Carolina, will merit and ought to receive universal patronage in all our schools.
I have had it much at heart to have prepared a good series of North Carolina Readers; and before my election to the office which I now fill, I undertook such a work, and published the most important number, and the only one intended to be of local interest. Determined to make no profits out of any school book used during my term of office, I have, as I could get a little leisure, been negotiating for this object, viz: To get some competent person to take my work at cost of materials, on condition that he would revise it, sell it cheap, and complete the series. The arrangements on this subject are now concluded; and I have the pleasure to announce that Professor HUBBARD, of the University, author of the Life of General Davie, and a chaste and elegant writer, has undertaken
the task. The whole series will consist of only three numbers, and only one of the numbers will be of merely local interest. It will be published by A. S. Barnes & Co., No. 51, John Street, New York; and will be got up as soon as it can be properly done. Its advantages will be these: 1. One number will contain a familiar history and description of North Carolina, with selections from the productions of our own eminent authors and writers, and a work of this sort has long been needed, and is urgently called for by public sentiment. 2. It will be a Southern and a North Carolina book, thereby teaching our children self-dependence, and shewing that industry and mind are not confined to one end of the Union. 3. It will be an improvement on all the modern works of the sort, in these particulars--it will be more simple in its arrangement, and less burdened with a multiplicity of rules which children cannot learn to understand--IT WILL CONSIST OF FEWER NUMBERS OR VOLUMES, AND BE CHEAPER--the contents of the primary numbers will be of a better character, and without being too dry or profound, contain less "baby talk" than most of the works of this sort. It must be admitted that most of the selections in works of this kind are too childish, even for children; and if the style of the text is not good, no number of rules will create in the student a correct and elegant taste in composition.
As this series of Readers appeals to the patriotism and the interests of our people, I hope it will be universally used; and until it is ready, I recommend the North Carolina Reader, (the volume now in use,) in connection with Parker's First and Second Readers, which will be furnished at very reduced prices by A. S. Barnes & Co., No. 51, John Street, New York, and the booksellers generally.
I have no private interest to subserve in this matter: on the contrary, I have sacrificed a valuable copyright,
and taken on myself a good deal of labor, to secure what I considered a great desideratum to the State.
When I recommend Arithmetics, I desired to suggest one of the improved works of the kind, and one known to our Schools; and hence, while I individually preferred the works of Prof. Davies, I recommend Emmerson's, as they seemed to be better known in our Common Schools. There are serious objections to Emmerson's--part of the system is very simple, part of it difficult, and the transition from one to the other too sudden.
The publishers of the series of Prof. Davies, in a spirit of liberal enterprize, have offered to overcome the difficulties in the way of its recommendation; and they have agreed with me to deposite it in all the counties, and to exchange it for all of Emmerson's bought in consequence of my recommendation. Prof. Davies is also the author of a full, standard series of Mathematical works, embracing Algebra, Geometry, &c., &c.; and hence it affords me great pleasure to be able to recommend his Arithmetics to our Common Schools, with a knowledge of the fact that they will be within easy access to all our people. I am preparing a little Primer, to be called "The Common School Catechism," with questions and answers, intended to familiarise every student with the name and style of his State and county--the name and style of the United States--names of Presidents and Governors--the character of the government, as distinguished from all other governments--the position and responsibility of each citizen--the character of our system of Common Schools, their object, &c., &c.
Something of the kind has been adopted with great success in those German States where they have the oldest and best system of Public Schools; and as I wish every child who can read to get a weekly lesson in the work, and the whole school to be catechised together on it, at least once every two weeks, I anticipate from it the greatest results, especially in diffusing Common School information, and in
giving new life and harmony to the system, by directing the whole young mind of the State to the same subject, at the same time.
This will also be published by Barnes & Co., and furnished for a trifling cost; and I may say of this as of my labors in regard to Geographies and Readers, I have no pecuniary interest in it, and receive, in no shape, except in the public good, any species of remuneration for my work.
I wish every reading pupil to be furnished with a copy of this Catechism, when out; and that the teacher, once in two weeks at least, spend an hour in catechising the whole school together, on given lessons in it.
To sum up the whole in regard to Books: You will perceive that no change is made except in regard to Arithmetics, and that will involve no additional expense. The following is the list which I recommend, and earnestly request all officers and teachers to help to bring into use, to wit:--
I have dwelt thus at length on the subject of books as it is one of importance; and I have in this endeavored to consult the best interests of the entire community, while I have made individual sacrifices in pursuit of this object. I therefore must express the warmest wish, that Chairmen, County Superintendents, Examining Committees and Teachers will endeavor to strengthen my hands in this matter; and if they will, and will labor to diffuse correct information, the people will easily understand and appreciate these arrangements.
I have recommended only elementary works, satisfied that if all these are carefully studied, the pupil will be able after that to select for himself; and I am also of the decided opinion that it is much better to study a few good books well than to skim over a great many. I have met with persons who thought my course of instruction--that is, the series of books recommended--too simple; and I found that these persons could not answer one-fourth of the important questions which could be asked and answered out of Webster's Spelling Book. All pupils, when reading, ought to have by them, for constant reference, a Dictionary; and when teachers exercise the students in spelling, from memory, (and they ought to do it often,) they should give out the words from a work of this sort, and give also the definition. Arithmetical recitations on the slate should be universally abolished; and there is no one thing so important in a school room, and few things cheaper than
In the hands of a good teacher it is absolutely indispensable:
it serves for Arithmetical recitations, for practice in shaping figures and letters to those beginning to write, and is useful in lectures, as affording a place to make illustrations in the view of the whole school. Exercises at it, help in no small degree to give a grace of bearing, and distinctness of enunciation to the student, while he is acting and speaking before the entire school; and there is no section where the cost would be felt to be oppressive to any three individuals of the community.
Teachers should also be enjoined to pay strict attention to the physical, as well as to the mental and moral growth and developement of the pupil. To quote from my former circular--"Cleanliness--exercise in the open air--good water and cheerful habits, are all important; and a teacher, with a proper knowledge of human nature, and a disposition to be faithful in the discharge of all duties, can make the school house, as it ought to be, a pleasant resort, instead of a prison or a penitentiary as it too often seems to be," often caused as much by injudicious neighborhood interference as by improper conduct on the part of the teacher.
To copy again from my first Circular:
"In conclusion, gentlemen, I need hardly suggest to you the propriety of a kind and patient demeanor towards applicants for certificates--nor the importance of so acting as to show that your only object is to prevent unworthy persons from propagating errors and immorality in our public schools.
"Acting without reward, you are all, I doubt not, governed by the best motives; you will encourage timid merit, expose to the public only such errors and blunders as the general interest demands that they should know, speak a good word to those desiring to excel, stimulate all to greater excellence, and present an inexorable front to impudent stupidity and vice.
"Please have this letter read by all candidates for certificates; and if it seems to you to be of tedious length and plain in style, remember that it is essential for all the friends and agents of our system to understand each other, and to work with united efforts.
"I sympathise with you in your labors, and can only remind you that all good men have a common interest in the success of our Common Schools, and in the progress of the people in general intelligence and morality."
C. H. WILEY, Sup. Com. Schools.P. S.--In order to impress the substance of this letter on the minds of Teachers, it might be well to exercise them in reading portions of it when they are examined for license to teach.
Form of Teacher's Certificate, alluded to in the foregoing Report of the General Superintendent.
WE, the undersigned Committee of Examination into the Mental and Moral qualifications of such persons as make application for employment as Teachers of Common Schools in -- County, have duly examined -- --, and being satisfied as to -- moral character, do hereby certify that -- is qualified as Teacher of Spelling, Reading, Writing, Arithmetic, Grammar and Geography, as indicated by the numbers annexed to each. No. 1 denotes the highest grade of scholarship, No. 5 the lowest.
Given under our hands this -- day of --, A. D. 18--.
Committee of Examination.
Good for one year from date, and in -- County only.