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Hon. EDWARD SEARING, State Superintendent of Wisconsin, was born in Aurora, Cayuga County, New York, July 14, 1835. His boyhood was passed on a farm, and the rudiments of his education received in the district school. In his sixteenth year he taught a four months' winter term, was afterwards a clerk in a country store for two years, but, resolving to obtain a higher education, he spent several terms at Cortland Academy, Homer, New York, and three years at Cazenovia Seminary.
Removing to Wisconsin in 1857, he opened a private school, which was successfully continued for two or three years. Going to Detroit in the spring of 1860, he gave the summer to the study of French, and in the fall of that year entered the classical division of the senior class of the University of Michigan, and graduated the following summer. He then returned to Wisconsin, reöpened his former private school, but was soon offered a position in Milton College (then Academy), where he remained until elected, in the fall of 1873, to his present position, on the reform ticket, by a large majority. He has made his mark as a public lecturer, and he is the author of a school edition of Virgil's Æneid. He is also now at work on an edition of Homer's Iliad.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
The Constitution of Wisconsin, under which she came into the Union (1848), provided that a State Superintendent of Public Instruction, having an annual salary of $1,200, should be elected by the people; that the proceeds of all lands donated to the State for educational purposes, should be sacredly devoted to those purposes, and that the towns and cities should annually raise, by a tax for the support of free common schools, a sum not less than one-half the amount received by them from the income of the school fund. In 1849 the first school law was enacted. It divided all the territory in the organized towns into school districts, the affairs of which were to be managed by three district officers, subject to the general supervision of the town School Superintendent. From that time until the present there has been more or less legislation bearing upon education at every session of the Legislature.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM. The State Superintendent is now elected for two years, and receives an annual salary of $1,200. He exercises a general supervision over the common schools of the State, recommends text-books, prescribes rules and regulations for the management of libraries, approves of school apparatus, appoints County Su
perintendents in certain cases, hears and decides appeals from teachers, and issues State teachers' certificates.
The school laws in counties and cities are administered by County and City Superintendents. The former, to the number of sixty-three, are elected by the people for two years, and the latter, to the number of twenty, are appointed by Councils. Twenty-three of the present County Superintendents were incumbents of the previous term. Their salaries are fixed by the County Board of Supervisors, who, there being no County Boards of Education, discharge other duties usually performed by those bodies. The County Superintendents are empowered and enjoined to examine and license teachers, to visit and examine all the schools within their jurisdiction, to organize and conduct at least one institute for the instruction of teachers in each year, and to report annually to the Board of Supervisors of their counties, the condition and prospects of the schools under their supervision. There is a law permitting towns, if they desire to do so, to place all the schools in the towns under one Board, which Board appoints a Secretary, who is, ex officio, Town Inspector and Superintendent. This law has, however, been acted upon only in a few cases.
County Boards of Supervisors may authorize a special schooltax; may authorize renewal of warrants for collection of taxes, and may divide a county containing over fifteen thousand inhabitants, and provide for two superintendents.
Teachers are examined by the County and City Superintendents, who give certificates, valid within their jurisdictions.
There are three grades of teachers' certificates; first, second, and third. The first entitles the holder to teach for two years; the second for one year, and the third for one year or less. Teachers are employed by the School Boards. State certificates given by the State Superintendent and Board of Examiners are of two grades—the first, good for life; the second, for five years. No person can receive a certificate of any grade who does not write and speak the English language with facility and correctness.
The School Fund comprises the proceeds of all lands granted to the State by the United States for educational purposes, and half of the proceeds of the swamp lands--given to the State by the General Government as a Drainage Fund. The latter is now
made a Normal School Fund, amounts to $1,000,000, and maintains three different Normal Schools through the State. Each county is required to raise one-half as much money for school purposes as it receives from the School Fund, which is distributed in each town and city in proportion to the number of children.
County Superintendents are required to organize and conduct at least one institute for the instruction of teachers each year. During last year thirty-five short term institutes of one week's duration were held, and twenty-one Normal institutes of from two to four weeks' duration.
Sectarian instruction is forbidden in the schools of the State.
There are four grades in public schools-primary, intermediate, grammar, and high. Seven-eighths of the schools are not graded at all, and many others are only partially graded. It is probable that a compulsory education law will be passed at the next session of the Legislature; the Superintendent of Public Instruction very warmly advocates it in his last report, asserting that it is not only perfectly legal but desirable to have an enactment requiring all the children in the State to be educated in the rudiments of knowledge.
LEGISLATION DURING 1874. During the last session of the Legislature three bills were passed affecting the school laws of the State:
First. Supervisors are required to extinguish, at once, any school district which shall have neglected, for two or more successive years, to maintain a public school as required by law, and attach said district to such other adjoining district or districts in the town as they shall judge proper.
Second. Section 1 of the General Laws of 1872 is so changed that Dane, Dodge, Milwaukee, and several other counties, will hereafter elect but one County Superintendent, unless the County Supervisors previously divide the counties into two Superintendent Districts.
Third. Justices of the Peace and Police Justices are given concurrent jurisdiction with the Circuit Court in punishing persons who shall disturb public or private schools.
Acts were also passed requiring Town Treasurers to make annual statements of moneys paid to School District Treasur
ers, and authorizing each School District Clerk to subscribe annually for an educational journal.
TEN YEARS' PROGRESS.
1873-'74. School districts in the State, not including cities....
5, 205 Children over four and under twenty
years of age in the State...... 329,906.... 436,001 Total number of different pupils who
attended the public schools
211,119.... 283,477 Different persons employed as teachers during the year...
8,903 Average monthly wages of teachers. .. $31 89.... $43 38 Average monthly wages of female teachers....
$19 43.... $27 52 School-houses in the State....
4,957 Total valuation of school-houses. $1,487,495 00....$3,995,422 00
A RECENT writer has been comparing the average salaries paid to teachers in various cities and States with those of the army, the post-office, and the Grangers' offices. He says:
In cities the highest average salaries paid were in New York, the average being $1,084, and the lowest in Bangor, Me., $355. The postmasters' salaries in nearly all the leading cities average over $2,000 more than those paid to the Superintendents of Schools. The Secretary of the National Grange receives $3,500 per annum; the Treasurer, $1,000; the Lecturer, $1,000. The lowest salary paid to male clerks in Government employ is $1,200 per annum. Congressmen receive $6,000 for about six months' work. The average teachers' salaries paid by States are very low, as shown by the following table compiled from official sources:
Number of Total amount Teachers' aver. Year. teachers.
of salary. age per annum. Indiana..
.1870 11,826 $2,764,633 $242 Iowa..
320 Pennsylvania. .1870
215 Wisconsin. ..1870
TERRITORIAL SCHOOL SYSTEMS.
THE Territory of Alaska, which the United States purchased from Russia in 1867, for $7,200,000, embraces, including the islands, five hundred and eighty thousand one hundred and seven square miles of territory. In 1870, the population numbered twenty-nine thousand and ninety-seven, of whom twentysix thousand eight hundred and forty-three were natives of the Territory, one thousand four hundred and twenty-one were half-breeds, four hundred and eighty-three were Russians, and three hundred and fifty were natives of the United States, and foreigners, not Russians. There are not more than thirteen hundred completely civilized inhabitants.
Russian traders many years ago maintained a school in Kodiak, to teach the natives the Russian tongue. A second, and then a third school was established at the same place. A naval officer had charge of the second school from 1820 to 1833. In 1839, a girls' school was established, to educate the children of the employés of the Russian Fur Company. In 1845, an ecclesiastical school was opened at Sitka, and in 1860, a colonial school was established, to educate persons for the company. Schools were likewise established under Russian auspices, at Nushergak, on the lower Yukon, and on Amelia Island. Captain Charles Bryant, agent of the United States Treasury Department, communicates the following information regarding civilization in Alaska in 1874:
The whole population of the Territory of Alaska is thirty thousand; seven thousand Aleutians on the islands, about eleven thousand Coloshes on the coast, and the remaining portion scattered over the Territory in wandering tribes. The Aleutians live in villages of from a few families to five hundred or six hundred persons. For the last thirty years they have had