Imágenes de páginas
[ocr errors]

and that all the funds distributed by the laws of the State for payment of teachers' wages, be apportioned according to the whole number of days which all the children shall have attended school, as shall appear from a copy of said schedule made out and sworn to by the teacher, and approved by the trustees of the school."

3. The interest of the college and seminary fund should be loaned to the common school fund, but preserving the integrity of the former for future use. The interests of the State shall be better served by sectional seminaries rather than by one central institution.

4. The distribution of the interest from the school fund shall be made by the county school commissioner of each county on the basis of population, according to the last census.

5. The distributive share of each county shall be used for the payment of teachers' salaries.

6. “The State shall contribute an annual sum to the support of at least one respectable academy in each county, when the people thereof shall have first put the same into actual


7. “Before any part of the money in the hands of the school commissioner be distributed by him for the support of the teacher, though citizens wishing to derive the benefits from it shall first erect and furnish a substantial and comfortable schoolhouse, agree to supply the same with necessary fuel, and engage to pay at least one-half of the wages of the teacher, and shall have a school taught at least three


The result of the recommendations of the State Teacher's Association was the proposal of a system of education, made in the Senate, Feb. 5, 1835, for a uniform system of common schools and county seminaries throughout the State.

The bill of 1835 had some very interesting and unique features, among which, were those that related to the creation of county seminaries. Those institutions were to be organized as public joint stock companies which have been described in Chapter III. After three months of operation, the State was required to pay annually to each seminary the sumof two hundred dollars. In turn, the State required those who expected to teach to sign a contract with the trustees of the seminary to teach in the county twice as long as the term required for qualification. Moreover, the commissioner of the seminary fund was authorized to pay to the trustees of these academies, the tuition of all persons who were qualifying themselves to teach.

10 State Supt. Rep. 1885-6, p. 121. 11 Ibid, p. 121.

Like the law of 1825, this bill made common schools free to all white children. As the law of 1825 was repealed, so the unusual provision for taxation in the bill of 1835 was defeated. The State was unready to assume the burden of educating its children and training its teachers free.

New York was still paying tuition for the education of its common school children. Pennsylvania passed a free school law in 1834-5, which caused a great deal of opposition in the legislature and in the State. Ohio and Indiana were struggling along with no common school system provided. The entire country still had some vestiges of the colonial system of apprenticeship education.

It is true, that nearly twenty-five years passed before the establishment of a normal school in Illinois. However, in 1835, scarcely a teacher training institution existed in the whole country. One of the new educational doctrines of the day was the professional training of teachers. Men like Stowe, who had gone to Europe to study the Prussian school system, advocated teacher training. If the older states were unready to establish normal schools, even as private ventures, Illinois should not be censured for failing to adopt that part of the bill providing for the establishment of county seminaries. Those institutions would, in all probability, have been doomed to failure.

The academies already organized, both public and private, did the best they could to educate teachers for the common schools. It is unlikely, however, that any academic institution provided more than a narrow scholastic education for prospective teachers, although the charters of some institutions stated that the qualification of teachers was one of their objects. The published programs of studies showed no professional subjects in the academic curricula. A thorough


preparation in reading, writing, spelling and arithmetic, with an attempted mastery of the classic languages, was considered sufficient preparation for those who were to teach in the primary schools.

In fact, nearly anyone with a little training in the elementary subjects was thought capable of teaching. Here and there was an occasional objection by some fairly capable judge to the work of teachers in the common schools. Thus a writer in the Warsaw Signal believed that some teachers were careless, indolent, ignorant and without the least desire to find out what was expected of them. “Teachers are frail mortals, as well as the rest of us; and some of them, I may say with truth, a little more frail than their employers. I conceive it to be one of the worst evils of our system, that it has a tendency to make teachers careless, and indolent; and it has been operating so long, that many of them do not seem to care whether they do their duty or not; and any number of them in my opinion, do not even go to the trouble of inquiring what their duty is. I only make these remarks that they may do good, if so be where there is good to be done, that whosoever the shoe pinches may wear it."12

An extremely severe, and probably just indictment of the common school teacher of the State was that given by one of its educational leaders. The first common school journal of Illinois, published in 1837, had but one year's existence because the teachers were unable to understand its methods and because of the little interest in primary education. “We apprehend there is not sufficient intelligence among the mass of teachers in the State to appreciate the merits of such a work, nor interest enough taken by parents in the success of common schools, or in the education of their children, to induce them to extend, at the present time, an adequate support to the enterprise."'13

From our point of view, we could expect little of teachers because little was expected of them by the people. A circuit teacher was surely less efficient than a circuit preacher. Occasionally, a circuit teacher had as many as three schools to teach, as well as supply the books. However, that method had its adherents who stated the advantages in no uncertain terms. “First. Two neighborhoods, unable to support a school separately, can, by uniting with each other, enjoy all the benefits of a common country school.”

12 Warsaw Signal, Feb. 2, 1842. 13 Ill. Hist. Col., v. 6, p. 63.

“Second. One teacher can, on this plan accommodate two settlements at the same time; and this is no small advantage when good teachers are so few and far between.”

“Third. By reducing the cost of tuition nearly one-half, poor people who have large families can give them such an education as will fit them for occupying a respectable station in society."

“Fourth. Those whose children are large enough to be of service to them either on the farm or in the house, can, on this plan, have them at home nearly half the time, employed in useful occupations, and acquiring steady and industrious habits, without which the health of the body, as well as the health of the mind, is destroyed.":14

Another picture of the teacher and the school, as well as the community, emphasized the lack of schools, the meager education provided, the insecurity of tenure and pay, and consequently, unqualified teachers. “During the early history of Illinois, schools were almost unknown in some neighborhoods, and in the most favored districts, they were kept up solely by subscription, and only in the winter season, each subscriber agreeing to pay for one or more scholars, or stipulating to pay for his children pro rata for the number of days they should be in attendance. The teacher usually drew up articles of agreement, which stipulated that the school should commence when a specified number of scholars should be subscribed, at the rate of $2, $2.50, or $3 per scholar for the quarter. In these written articles, he bound himself to teach spelling, reading, writing, and arithmetic, as far as the double rule of three. Occasionally, a teacher would venture to include English grammar. But in the earlier years of my youth, I knew of no teacher who attempted to give instruction in grammar or geography. And such branches of history, natural philosophy, or astronomy, were not thought of. Many parents were unwilling that their children should study arithmetic, contending that it was quite unnecessary for farmers,

14 State Supt. Rep., 1885-6, p. 114.

and what was the use of grammar to a person who could talk so as to be understood by everybody?15

With scarce and inefficient schools, with little or no legal requirements for certification, and with no adequate provision for the training of teachers, went low salaries. Sometimes the teacher was to "board round,” or live with the patrons, in turn. Tuition for each pupil was charged, varying in amount from district to district, but it was used chiefly to pay the teacher. Once in a while, a widow was exempted from her share of the payment of the teacher's wages beyond her part of the common school fund. The law of 1825 made it legal for a teacher to receive produce instead of money. 18

Between 1844 and 1846, the highest wage for men ranged from $17 to $30 per month; the lowest, from $6 to $12, the average being about $15; the highest wage for women ranged from $9 to $17.56 per month, the lowest, from $3 to $6, the average being about $10.17 No statement was made as to whether these wages were exclusive or inclusive of board and lodging. In some instances, it is known, when this calculation was made by the ex-officio State Superintendent, that teachers paid their own board and lodging, in others, they did not.

Illinois, at any rate, ranked among the highest states in the payment of teachers' salaries if the statistics of Horace Mann in the Prairie Farmer in 1848 were reliable: “Salaries of teachers per month exclusive of board and room: Maine

.$15.40, males, $ 4.80, females New Hampshire


5.65, Vermont


4.75, New York


6.69, Pennsylvania


10.09, Ohio ...


8.73, Indiana


6.00, Massachusetts


8.07, In spite of the continuous reaffirmation, by political candidates for office, of the value of common school education, the legislature passed few laws very far in advance of the

[ocr errors]


16 Patterson, Early Soc. in So. Ill., in Fer. Hist. Ser.. No. 14, p. 121. 16 See Contract of Allen Parlier in Chap. VIII. 17 Senate and House Rep., 1846, p. 185. 18 Prairie Farmer, 1848. v. 8, p. 222.

« AnteriorContinuar »