« AnteriorContinuar »
Another writer in the same paper expressed a favorable, though somewhat different point of view: “That we consider the late law of our state on the subject of education, on the whole, adapted to our wants; and, we must add, honorable to the head and heart of its author.” “We have some objections to its details, and so we might, possibly to the details of any
Again, a writer in the Spectator, found the law a means of getting the proper kind of teachers, the right kind of inspection for schools, longer terms, less expense and a means by which, through experience, the people could tell whether the law was satisfactory: “By the aid of the School Fund, arising from the sale of land, with the trifling tax on property, and voluntary contributions, we could offer better inducements to competent teachers, who might thereby be induced to devote their time and talent to the arduous task.”
“Schools established under the provision of the law would be subject to inspection of a body of men selected by the people of each district, whose duty it would be to watch over both pupils and teacher, and know the progress of the school in learning. They would be permanent, and liable to fewer and shorter vacations—so discouraging and injurious to children.'
“The expense to individuals would eventually, if not at first, be considerably less than the present loose and inefficacious method, and would gradually diminish as the school increases. Lastly, the plan, if adopted, would be tested. The citizens would then be able to judge from experience, and either amend or lay it aside, as they should find it advisable."912
Evidently the experience obtained was disastrous to the free school idea because the legislature (in 1827) amended the law of 1825 so that one could be taxed only by his own consent for the support of schools:
“Sec. 3—The legal voters of any school district, at their regular meetings, shall have power in their discretion, to cause either the whole or one-half of the sum required, to support a school in such a district, to be raised by taxation. And if only one-half be raised by taxation, the remainder may be required to be paid by the parents, master, and guardian, in proportion to the number of pupils which each of them shall send to school."
11 Spectator, Sept. 10, 1825. 12 Spectator, Sept. 10, 1825.
“Sec. 4—No person shall hereafter be taxed for the support of any free school in this state, unless by his or her own free will and consent, first had and obtained, in writing. And any person so agreeing and consenting, shall be taxed in the manner prescribed in the act to which this is an amendment."913
However, Peck stated that, “many good primary schools now exist without a legislative sanction, and where three or four of the leading families unite, and exert their influence in favor of the measure, it is not difficult to have a good school." 14
Provision existed by law, nevertheless, through which the people of a locality could organize themselves into school districts and might tax themselves by consent, but they could receive no share of the public funds under the control of the state because the two per cent clause of the law of 1825 had been repealed in 1829. Upon petition from the inhabitants of a township, the sixteenth section could be sold, the proceeds funded, the interest from which could be used for the maintenance of the common school. “To some extent, the people have availed themselves of this provision and receive the interest of the fund."'15
The distributive share of the common school fund was never sufficient to maintain common schools in any county without the supplementation of tuition fees. When a teacher desired employment, he drew up articles of agreement by which the term of service was stated, usually for not more than three months, and the rate of tuition for each pupil. If a large enough number of subscribers was received to meet the expected compensation, school was started; if not, the teacher went to other school districts to make similar experiments until a satisfactory list of prospective pupils was obtained. The following is a typical contract:
“Articles of agreement, drawn this 25th of May, 1833, between Allen Parlier, of the county of Washington and the State of Illinois, of the one part, and we, the undersigned, of said county and State, witnesseth, that the said Parlier binds himself to teach a school of spelling, reading, writing and the foregoing rules of arithmetic for the term of three months for $2 per scholar, per quarter; said Parlier further binds himself to keep good order in said school, will teach five days in each week, all due school hours, and will make up lost time, except muster days, and will set up with twenty scholars, the subscribers to furnish a comfortable house, with all convenience appertaining thereto, the school to commence as soon as the house is fixed. N. B.—Wheat, pork, hogs, beeswax, tallow, deer skins, wool and young cattle, all of which will be taken at the market price delivered at my house, at the expiration of said school, day and date above written. Subscribers' names.
13 Sess. Laws, 1826-7, p. 364. 14 Peck, Gazetteer, p. 83
Allen Parlier. '16 It was the exception rather than the rule, that districts and towns voted to tax themselves for the support of elementary education during the time between the annullment of the law of 1825 and the passage of the free school law in 1855. Tuition remained the practice to the latter date. The Prairie Farmer, in 1852, said that it was customary to employ male teachers in the winter and females in the summer. “Males get two dollars per scholar, females, one dollar and a half per week."17 In the settlement of an estate, recorded in the probate documents of Shelby county for 1844, a charge of $22.50 was allowed for the schooling of three children for three years at the rate of $2.50 each, per year.'
Another record contained this evidence on the same question: "On this 10th day of January, 1848, came Patrena Earp guardian for the heirs of Josiah Porthman dec. and made following settlement to wit-credit for the year 1844 for schooling, $16.00. Credit for the year 1845 for schooling, $2.50 each—$7.50. Credit for the year 1846 for schooling, $1.50 each—$4.50. Credit for the year 1847 at $2 each $6.'
To insure the permanence of free institutions in Illinois, enlightenment of the youth of the state was thought neces
16 State Supt. Rep., 1883-4. p. 104. 17 Prairie Farmer, April 12. 1852. p. 175. 18 Shelby County Probate Rec. 1839-1849, p. 152.
sary by means of a system of free common schools. The law of 1825 provided that a school system should be established, that the schools should be free to all children, and that the schools thus established should be supported by two per cent of all the yearly revenues due the state and by a local, general property tax. Governor Coles was probably the author of the law rather than Senator Duncan and drew his ideas for a complete system of education of primary, secondary and university instruction from Thomas Jefferson's scheme, with which Coles was thoroughly familiar. The first concern was with primary instruction which the law of 1825 made possible. Five free school districts were created in Madison county within a few months after the passage of the bill. No complaint, however, was made against the law in the Edwardsville paper, or in the county court, but other counties must have been opposed to free schools, because the legislature repealed the public tax feature two years later and the two per cent clause in 1829. From this time to the passage of the free school law of 1855, common schools were supported largely by tuition paid by the parents.
The friends of the common school and the educational leaders in the state began immediately to try to put it on a firm basis; an educational survey of the state was made, which resulted in a memorial to the legislature and an address to the people for the creation of free common schools and the establishment of county seminaries for the training of teachers. These features are developed in the next chapter.
The following section of the school law of 1845 shows that tuition charges were legal: "Provided, that the expenses of such fuel and furniture as aforesaid shall be apportioned among the scholars according to the number of days taught, and collected with tuition fees from the parents or guardians of such children." Sess. Laws, 1845, p. 65, Sec. 61.
The Movement of 1835. The efforts for the inauguration of a common school system in the State did not die out with the virtual repeal of the school law of 1825. Political speakers, the State over, in their campaign for election, never failed to mention their ideas upon the education of the people. Col. Ewing, Speaker of the lower house of the legislature, and Abraham Lincoln were examples of campaigners who addressed their constituents on the value of education as the means of perpetuating free institutions.
The former said: “This is a subject, however, of more vital importance to society than any other. Its utility can not be properly estimated, without going too elaborately into its discussion. But there is a spirit abroad in many portions of this Union, whose purpose is devoted to the general education of the youth of the country, and the establishment of a system of schools, which will insure this grand purpose through all future time. The honest man, and the friend of his country, are looking to a system of schools and colleges for the general diffusion of knowledge as the only remedy for many existing evils in the body politic. I know no measure of its importance. It affords the surest guaranty against the arts of the ambitious, and the madness of party. Either intelligence must be generally diffused, or all we hold dear must be exposed to shipwreck for the mistakes of misguided judgment, or the deleterious influence of maddening and factious declamation of reckless demagogues, who live in popular commotion, and whose object is personal aggrandizement.” 1
The latter said: “Fellow Citizens: Having become a candidate for the honorable office of one of your Representatives in the next General Assembly of this State, in accordance with an established custom and the principles of true
1 Ill. Mag., v. 1, p. 383.