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voter is almost completely cut off from a conscious choice and the opportunity is created for having the organization vote opposed by the entire independent vote massed together. To be sure, with such a ballot the organization will always win notwithstanding intelligence is required for voting, unless there is an organized campaign on the part of disinterested citizens. But at least there is here the opportunity. To quote from the report: “Such a method provides a sphere of useful and effective activity for civic organizations, women's clubs, improvement associations; in a word, for all non-political and non-sectarian organizations interested in the welfare of the city; and the propaganda promulgated by them and public-spirited citizens generally, through the press and otherwise, could awaken an enlightened public sentiment, acquaint the public with the condition of the schools, and promote the nomination and election of board members known to possess the necessary qualifications for safeguarding public school interests. It is surprising that this question of nomination is scarcely touched upon in the reports or any of the discussions to which we have made frequent reference, and yet it is precisely here that we are to seek the most effective remedy against the ills which we could cure or prevent La remedy in complete harmony with democracy, consistent with the valid principle of a complete separation of school affairs from strictly municipal business involving party politics, and thorough-going in its provisions for educational progress by setting the schools free from the burden of other social and economic problems which must necessarily wait on far-reaching changes in public opinion.”
We come now to what is really the most important phase of the report. The St. Louis law may very well form the torso for
all reforms in respect to the independence of the Executive
appointees of the school board. That idea of Officers and
the school board is a board composed of hardtheir Functions
headed and if possible highly-educated business men or professional men, a board which holds few meetings, and those only to legislate upon vital matters and to plan the outline which they wish to have followed by their employees. The vast work of administration in every-day work of the schools, both in respect of tuition and in respect to housing and supplies, should be delegated to highly competent experts who should be well paid for the purpose. Once these employees are selected by the board, their activities within the scope of the outline as laid down for them, or perhaps on consultation with them, should be practically unhampered by the board itself excepting so far as their action requires the approval of the board. The St. Louis plan accomplishes this by having charter provisions relating to the duties and privileges of these various superintendents. The board is required to have a system of by-laws for their own government and a system of rules for the government of their under officers. The fact that these rules are inexorable so long as they remain unrepealed makes it impossible for the board to confer special favors or to deviate from their published and wellknown policy for any special secret reasons. Furthermore, the superintendent during the term of his office is independent and is not likely to be removed for any but grave cause. The work of the board is divided practically into three parts-instruction, finance, and school accommodation. For each department, there is an officer selected by the board and yet in a sense independent of the board. For instance, in the matter of building new schools, the board provides the money and upon the recommendation of the business manager approves the plans. The active work of letting the contracts, selecting materials, etc., etc., is done by the business manager. Similarly, the board determines upon the number of teachers and the superintendent appoints the teachers with the approval of the board. The board can only reject, it cannot appoint.
The report says that the meetings of the St. Louis board, which are held once a month, showed an enormous amount of business transacted and transacted well.
Practically the same story comes from Cleveland where from 1892 to 1904 they had a similar system under a special law which was in vogue within that period. If the monumental progress in these two cities which the public schools have shown is traceable in any respect to the method of school administration, then the system is certainly a proved success. It is no doubt true that the success is not wholly due to school boards but also to the awakening of public interest in the schools, but somehow or other the two seem to go hand in hand. Naturally the report highly recommends the St. Louis plan.
Nothing need be said to this audience about the necessity for the incorporation of a highly developed merit system and merit
tenure into public school instruction. Some Merit System
large boards have voluntarily adopted the merit system, notably the Cincinnati board, which has had remarkable success. To use the words of one of the best members of that board: “Woe betide him who lays a hand upon that system.” The Cincinnati system is due to the enterprise and persistency of the superintendent of schools, who has been backed up for the last seven or eight years by a very considerable public interest. (Although in passing, it may be remarked that that interest has not been sufficient to overcome the politicians who still insist on the large school board elected by wards. But the end is not yet in Cincinnati.)
The report goes into some detail as to the question of compensation of members and the ideal number of members for the school board. There is only time to say that the committee concluded that the best small school board is one that serves without pay and that the ideal number of members is seven, with the tenure of office in case of each member of at least four years, no more than two or three of the membership to be selected in any one election.
All of the sub-committees reported some kind of an influence in their respective cities for educating the teachers and keeping
them up to a high degree of efficiency by courses Improvement of of instruction in some kind of a teachers' colTeachers
lege. Cincinnati is supplied with such a college under the auspices of the city's university, the funds being supplied by the board of education.
The committee strenuously insists on the integrity of the power in boards of education to levy their taxes without review or modification by other authority. In Olio there is a law requiring the school board in cities to levy not less than six nor more than twelve mills on the dollar of the total tax valution for school purposes. Whilst I can see certain objections to this unhampered power to levy taxes, still on the whole it is probably safe
to make the school board independent in this reOther
spect for the chances of the schools being Requirements Suggested by
slighted by the political bosses if they are althe Committee
lowed a higher power to cut down the levy is
far greater than the danger of the school board's levying an unconscionably high tax.
In conclusion, the report makes what seems to me to be the strongest point. I have referred to it above. It is that no system of school control is very much better than any other school system unless every expedient is adopted to attract public sentiment and enlist public support. It is the crux of the whole matter and it is largely because the requirements which have been suggested do inevitably result in a better advertisement of the school needs and in a more effective manner of attracting public attention that they have been advocated. The Harvard Clubs' report sums up with eight conclusions:
CONCLUSIONS. 1. The small board.
2. Power vested in some superior court to dismiss members of the board for cause.
3. The limiting of the board itself to legislative and advisory functions and the leaving execution to trained officers.
4. The defining in the charter itself of the duties and privileges of these executive officers.
5. Dividing the board into three spheres-instruction, business, and school accommodation.
6. Merit System.
8. Recommendations for civic, non-political organization in support of the schools.
I have tried in this paper to summarize the very able work of the Harvard Clubs' committee. A representative of that committee should have spoken here, not I. If I have unwittingly misrepresented the committee in some detail or if I have intermingled too much of my own, I hope it will be ascribed to the shortness of time that was given to me to prepare this paper.
I wish only to add that I am glad as a Harvard man that the Associated Clubs have been able to make some contributions to the subject, but I am glad for the further reason that I believe the work has had a tremendously beneficial effect on the Associated Harvard Clubs. It has interested college men as such and in a body to take up work which by right they ought to do, and so enable them to be of assistance to such bodies as the National Municipal League in a sphere where they ought to be at home. And I believe that this work of the Associated Harvard Clubs is but a beginning of what they can do and will do in the way of municipal reform so far as it may properly come within the purposes of their organization.
The Associated Yale Clubs I am told are taking up the same idea and propose to devote a certain amount of time to the consideration of similar questions. It is true that the National Municipal League and similar bodies are composed very largely of college graduates but there is something especially fitting in the fact that college organizations as such are giving more and more of their attention to the correction of our municipal ills. It is a recognition of the duty owed by the colleges to the community which supports them. Education is of course the principal object of the National Municipal League; we have papers on the subject of civics in schools and colleges in recognition of the conclusion most of us have come to, that reform cannot be superimposed all of a sudden and ready-made on a community not prepared for it. Looking at the matter in a broad sense, it is the business of the municipal reformer to raise the standards of the people and not to win elections. To that end, it is peculiarly gratifying that college men, banded together, are beginning to look upon their education as having been given them for that purpose.