Page images

When we come to the answers to the their positions and security from imquestion, What proportion of teachers proper influences. In New England, perare over thirty-five years of age ? the centages reporting improper influence average estimate of the Middle States, are as follows by States : Maine 33

per 27 per cent, is the highest, and the cent, New Hampshire 9 per cent, Veraverage of the Western States, 17 per mont 8 per cent, Massachusetts 17 per cent, is the lowest ; while the far West- cent, Rhode Island none, and Connectiern States average 18 per cent, and New cut 40 per cent. This evil is potent, England and the South 21 per cent. It however, for appointments rather than would be an interesting question to ask for removals. These bad influences are how many of this large per cent of teach- prominent in the following order: church, ers more than thirty-five years of age politics, personal favor, and whims of cithave remained in the vocation because izens and committees. The master of they succeeded as teachers, and how a grammar school writes strongly against many are there because they could do no the policy of placing schools in the hands better in other callings. The fact that of division committees. Their chairfinancial depression increases the average man, he says, is virtually the commitage of teachers as well as the number of tee, and almost always lives in the dismale teachers, while good times decrease trict. The rules forbid the employment both, is significant. The social position of non-resident teachers at anything but of teachers is higher in the Western than the minimum salary. He favors a wider in the Middle States, so their social posi- range of choice, and thinks appointments tion cannot account for these extremes. should be made by a general committee We have been told that the young make advised by supervisor and principal. The the best teachers for children ; but if so, system of annual elections is often comwhy not reinstate the monitorial system mented on adversely. of pupil teachers ? Again, we are some- In the Middle States, 9 per cent in times told that older teachers are unpro- New Jersey, 33 per cent in New York, gressive ; but this is not true of the best, 40 per cent in Delaware, and 50 per who are also often needed as a conser- cent in Pennsylvania report improper vative element against rash innovations. influences. Some sad revelations appear Nothing is more demanded in our teach- in these returns. One teacher tells of ing force at present (which, as has re- an applicant who was asked, not as to cently been pointed out, is nine times as his qualifications, but of the number of large as our standing army) than leader- voters in his family.” Another writes ship of maturity and ability. Those who that the friends of a schoolbook publishhave shaped the thinking and the read- ing house would “drive out any teaching of our young teachers have been, on er who would not favor their books." the whole, incompetent for this highest The civil service regulations in New and most responsible function in our na- York have bettered the conditions; and tional life. Until very recent years we a teacher who has had experience in had few teachers who had personally in- Ohio, Pennsylvania, New Jersey, and spected foreign systems, could read other New York says that, on the whole, New languages than English, and were ac- York teachers are far above the average quainted with all grades of education in intelligence and professional spirit. from kindergarten to university work. In some of the Southern States very In these respects, happily, the prospects evil influences are reported. In small are now brightening

towns in Alabama teachers are said to Very striking are the answers to the be both removed and appointed by favor; questions touching teachers' tenure of positions in some places are rarely held



more than two terms, and some teachers bad, and personal favoritism is said to take three different schools during the keep teachers in office. In Oregon, where year. Lessons are short. “In some coun- tenure is uncertain and teachers are often ties the teachers are said to pay each elected annually, the main difficulty seems member of the school board from $2.50 to be in security of tenure. In Utah one to $5 to keep their positions," and 6 per report says that positions in some places cent report improper influence, as do 30 are solely dependent on political influper cent in Georgia, 70 per cent in Ken- ence. In Washington a city superintentucky, 25 per cent in Maryland, 40 per dent says: “We have practically no procent in Mississippi, 50 per cent in South tection from political demagogues ; this Carolina and Tennessee, 45 per cent in unfortunate condition is appalling in our Texas, 20 per cent in Virginia, and 60 Western country.” He says further that per cent in West Virginia. In Kentucky, tenure of position is affected by “personwhere teachers are commonly elected al friends and their influence, and by the annually, “when boards change politi- lack of them.” “We must trade with cally, sweeping changes of teachers often the merchants, bank with the bankers, follow." In Mississippi teachers are take treatment of the doctors, consult the said rarely to remain in positions more lawyers, connive with the politicians, and than one year. In Texas one teacher even go to school elections and work for reports : “ If your school board are De- the successful candidate." mocratic, the teachers are Democratic ; For the Western States, the report of if Baptists, they must be Baptists.” In improper influences by percentages is as West Virginia it is said that requirements follows: Illinois 44 per cent, Indiana 33 are neither rigid nor uniform. “Politics per cent, Iowa 40 per cent, Kansas 80 is the bane of the school system; then per cent, Michigan 50 per cent, Minnecomes personal favoritism. Colored teach- sota 33 per cent, Mississippi 40 per cent, ers are special sufferers from politics.” Missouri 50 per cent, Nebraska 65 per

For the far Western States the report cent, Nevada 100 per cent, Ohio 40 per of improper influence is as follows: Cali- cent, Wisconsin 40 per cent. In Illinois fornia 60 per cent, Colorado 60 per cent, many complain of church influence as a North Dakota 100 per cent (only four growing evil, and of local preference, reports), Oregon 40 per cent, Utah 60 always a sign of politics. Tenure is said per cent, Washington 60 per cent. In to be affected by the evil doings of book California the state law gives the teach- publishers and agents. Chicago, hower life tenure of office, but this law is ever, is "a striking instance of a large said to be “always evaded by politicians.” city that has succeeded in putting its Good state laws are overcome by corrupt public schools on a fairly sound basis. school boards. Teachers are said to be The main difficulty is getting rid of poor “pliant, timid, and servile,” and political teachers, although the rank and file seem “pulls” are potent. One report says that more cultivated than the supervisors." teachers' boarding-places affect their se- In Iowa standards are low, home teachcurity; another calls them “cranks” and ers are preferred, and few teachers re“cowards.” Requirements are said to

main more than a year in a place. In be “wholly unpedagogical, absurd, and Michigan tenure of office is becoming criminally careless.” In Colorado it is more secure and legislation better and the same old story of the political“ pull.” smaller towns seem more free from poLarge cities seem freer from political litical influence than large cities. It is influence than small towns. Local teach- reported from one of the large central ers are preferred to outsiders, which is a Western cities that a member of the bad sign. In Idaho the condition looks school board could not read or write.

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]

In Nebraska church relations are said ing textbooks and school supplies; and to affect tenure more than politics. In yet, touching the latter, not only teachers, Minnesota the religious "pull ” is re- but superintendents evade their responsiported more potent than the political, bilities. For myself, I wish to say that, and preference for local teachers ap- after many years of acquaintance with pears. In Ohio it is said that, owing to school work in this country, I consider constant change in the teaching force, the present modes of introducing textthe teacher is “not recognized as a fac- books and other supplies as among the tor in social or political life. He is de- most degrading influences in the work of prived of the privilege of free speech American public schools. Under existon all subjects, but especially on the one ing conditions, vast as is the difference subject that concerns him most, name- between good and poor books, the former ly, reforms in teaching. The people who would have exceeding small chance of should be the leaders in educational success if not pushed by unworthy and thought do not call their souls their now very expensive methods which are own. They catch their breath in quick paid for by enhanced prices for books. starts when they see a power over them The answers relating to salaries show wielding the club of dismissal.” From a great preponderance of opinion that Wisconsin it is reported, as one reason

these are insufficient. Sometimes excepwhy teachers are not highly esteemed, tion is made in the case of poor teachers that they “are often too much interested or of certain grades, but in most cases in commercial transactions of publishing the opinion and even the language is emhouses.” Another report says that the phatic that an increase in salaries would greatest drawback to teaching in the West help the service. A Maine report says: is the impossibility of becoming an inte- “The great trouble is that our best teachgral part of the community in which one ers leave for better salaries almost as lives. “Unless the teacher is a flatterer soon as they have learned their work.” and keeps quiet on all political questions, A Vermont teacher fears that any inhe loses his position.” “In some com- crease would bring a reaction against the munities teachers are hired by the day schools on the ground of over-taxation, or week.”

and so cripple them. Another adds that From such answers it is impossible to “higher salaries must go hand in hand resist the conclusion that civil service with higher professional requirements; reform is greatly needed for teachers. otherwise an increase of salaries would As long as merit does not win there is attract a large number of persons of inlittle encouragement for teachers to make ferior qualifications.” any kind of special preparation, or for In Massachusetts only 9 per cent concommunities to support normal and train- sider higher salaries inadvisable. One ing schools. A teacher, however well fit- woman touchingly thinks a real lover of ted for the work, is hampered if there the work will be uninfluenced by such is any anxiety concerning his tenure of considerations. A Boston principal says: position, and any system in which merit “Most masters take a pride in their prodoes not lead to both permanence and fession, and I know a few instances of promotion is bad, and certain to grow their refusing higher salaries in different worse. Tenure by personal favor is even businesses." An academy teacher says: more corrupting than tenure by political “Higher salaries will make it possible or religious influences. Teachers ought to get men where women now hold, and to be, both by ability and by position, to secure better men as superintendents moral forces in the community, and their and principals of the high school. Woopinion ought to be best and final concern- men are better than men, except in these

[ocr errors]
[ocr errors]


two places.” One man says: “Salaries furnishes them with the sum of $5 a ought not to be uniform. Every teacher week for all their expenses.” In 1885 ought to be paid what he is worth. This salaries were higher than they are now, is possible only when the pay-roll is not but in 1889 the average salaries of made public. This is done in a few cities; American teachers were lower, so that, Hartford, Connecticut, for example." on the whole, we are just now improving.

In all parts of the country the vote is The $95,000,000 spent in this country overwhelmingly in favor of more pay. for teachers in the public schools every This opinion is most nearly unanimous in year must be divided among 368,000 the Southern States, where salaries are teachers, more than twice as many as lowest, but it is also strong where sala- in any other country of the world. ries are highest. A Pennsylvania teach- Although these figures take no acer says: “ There is small pay and there count of the fact that many rural teachis little gratitude for public school teach- ers are engaged in other vocations a

In an adjoining town one of the large part of the year, they are appalloccupants of the poorhouse is a man ing enough. And the reason for the who had devoted a long life to teaching displacement of male by female teachin the public schools of that county. ers, until in many parts of the country Now old and infirm, he finds himself, the former seem doomed to extinction, through no fault of his, an object of is apparent. At present, the American charity.” Poor pay is both a cause and a school system as a whole owes its high result of lack of appreciation. In many quality in no small measure to the no localities salaries have been reduced. In ble character, enthusiasm, and devotion most places and in most grades they are of women who make teaching not only reported as stationary, while Wisconsin a means of livelihood, but in addition and New Jersey are the only States in thereto a mission service of love for which a general increase is reported. their work and for children. To inOn the whole, I am impressed with the crease this love is to increase the best opinion of a Massachusetts teacher, who part of their services, and to diminish it says: “ Better schoolhouses, better equip- is to degrade it to mere drudgery and ments, better superintendents, and more

routine. As the culture of women gradgeneral freedom and responsibility have ually rises, it becomes more and more done more than an increase of salary to evident how unjust have been the disimprove the schools.”

criminations against them in this field, Mr. Hewes 1 has shown that the aver- where in higher and higher grades of age salary of the American teacher, school work their services are becoming counting fifty-two weeks to the year, is no less valuable than men's. $5.67 per week for such male teachers The question concerning rigid and as remain in the ranks, and $4.67 for fe- uniform requirements and normal cermale teachers. “As a partial index of tificates evokes very diverse answers. the disposition of our population to our In Maine they are reported as rigid in public school system "this is not reas- only a few cases. In New Hampshire suring. The highest average salary, ac- one report says: “We need a state syscording to the Report of the Commis- tem of examining and licensing teachers. sioner of Education, is $1181 per year A large proportion in all district schools in Massachusetts, and the lowest $213 are young girls, sixteen to twenty years per year in North Carolina. “ The aver- of age, utterly untrained. Some of them age pay of teachers in our public schools have natural tact sufficient to carry them

1 In a series of papers on the Public Schools through, but the majority fail, and accept which appeared recently in Harper's Weekly. the first offer.of marriage.” A superin


[ocr errors]

tendent says that Boston and the towns tees, however, generally expect teachers about it take his best teachers, as the sal- with normal school training.” Another aries he can pay will not hold them. In says: " Too many young people without Vermont a report says:

" We have prac

proper scholarship enter our normal tically no supervision. The town super schools. None but graduates of high intendents are not paid enough to enable schools should be admitted. Teachers them to devote their time and thought to ought to be retired and pensioned after a the work.” In Massachusetts 45 per cent certain number of years of service.” Anreport requirements as rigid and uni- other says: “We have annual election form, and normal school or college train- of teachers : this is


after a teaching as required. Normal school or col- er has succeeded one or two years." In lege graduates are often preferred in New England, as a whole, about 42 per other cases, but rarely insisted upon.

A cent report normal school or college few years of successful experience are training as required. Vermont is said sometimes regarded as equivalent to a to have a state law requiring teachers certificate. One principal favors giving to have such training. But it is as efteachers special subjects, and disregard- fective as the rules and regulations of ing grades. One superintendent says: the Boston public schools, which are said

Nearly all our new teachers are direct- to require fifty-six pupils to a teacher. ly from the normal schools. If they are Leaving New England and passing to efficient at the end of one or two years, the Middle States, we find New Jersey they leave for positions paying higher reporting requirements as generally unisalaries ; if not efficient, they are not re- fo: and certificates as invariable. But tained.” One teacher says: “ Efficiency its one normal school supplies only a of schools is destroyed by the fear or small part of the teachers. In New inability of authorities to remove weak, York complaint is made that the normal popular teachers.” A city superinten- school turns out too many theoretical dent

says: “We get our teachers from teachers, and that it takes some years to any place in the country. This gives make them effective. The system of us a wide choice.” And he adds: “It annual elections is to be abandoned in is senseless to let committeemen elect the State, and the primary departments teachers. The superintendent should ap- are weakest. In Delaware there is a point them.” He deplores that so much rigid state law, and the indications from power is in the hands of local boards uniform state examinations are hopeful. “whose members know nothing of edu- In Pennsylvania requirements seem gencational theory, history, or practice." In erally uniform, but not rigid, while lack Rhode Island about half the correspon- of popular sentiment soon robs teachers dents report normal school or college of ambition or courage. Alabama and training as required. In one city a year- Georgia report no rigid requirements or ly examination is held. “ Candidates examinations, and no good state law. are required to obtain 70 per cent, to Louisiana is no better. In South Carohave their names placed on the substitute lina the teachers' standard of scholarship list. After assisting three or four times, is low, and few hold first-rate certificates. these substitutes are given regular po- Tennessee has annual examinations, but sitions.” A Connecticut principal says: lacks uniformity, and a county certificate “ The situation is peculiar in Connecti- is all that is required. Both the Virginias cut. The district committee engages lack rigidity and uniformity. teachers, and the town committee exam- In the far West a state law (in Califorines them. This examination does not nia) gives a life tenure, and requires equal amount to much. The district commit- pay for men and women, but the condi

« PreviousContinue »