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present, be able to avail themselves of the advantages of any but the ungraded district school.”—[From biennial report of the Hon. Alonzo Abernethy.) For the city pupil Iowa has done her whole duty. But for the sake of these noble, sturdy, ambitious farmer boys and girls there ought to be not one, but ninety and nine county high schools in the State of Iowa.
The Guthrie County High School needs no apology for its existence. Were there such a school in every county in the State, our district schools would be improved thereby; our State educational institutions would reap an increased attendance and enter upon a new era of usefulness; justice would be done our country pupils; and Iowa would be better prepared to maintain the proud position she now holds as the State with the highest average intelligence and culture upon this western continent.
H. H. SEERLEY, OSKALOOSA.
A city superintendent is the chief executive officer of the board of education. He attends its meetings, receives its instructions, carries out its mandates, and enforces its rules. It is true, that in doing this he is allowed his discretion in many respects, especially so far as specific cases are concerned, and, as a consequence, the schools assume an individuality that his personality is able to give them.
The unity, harmony, and general standing of the schools of a city are criteria of the character of the work done by its superintendent. The reputation of the schools abroad, the confidence attained at home, their effectiveness in producing thorough scholarship, depends almost entirely upon his reputation abroad, the confidence conferred upon him by his people, and the thorough scholarship that he has acquired.
To this end, then, the most important part of a city school board's work consists in securing, keeping, and aiding an efficient executive at the head of the schools. When this has been done, the board of education can justly feel that the public interest and welfare have been served, and that the duty to the coming generation is worthy of consideration,
In this brief paper city supervision will be considered under the four types that it assumes, viz.:
1. Relation to the People.
In this State the people are the direct agents in the establishing and maintaining of schools. It is, therefore, necessary that they have correct views concerning the objects and ends of education. Their money is expended, their interests should be consulted, while their confidence in the morality, practicability, and scholarship gained in their schools must be secured. To attain the success that is desired, a superintendent must be popular. He must enjoy the respect, confidence, and good will of his patrons, while his work in their behalf, his character as an individual, his fellowship and his manli
must maintain this desired power. The people's dearest interests are in his hands, and they have a right to demand and expect from him high mental cultivation, unquestioned moral standing, a character and life unsullied united with a lively interest in the future welfare of their children and their community.
A superintendent must create that good will toward himself and that good report for his schools that will produce their popularity and well-being. If the people and the management of schools get at variance, the harmony in interest and purpose is destroyed, confidence is cast down, and supervision becomes restricted and unsatisfactory. No person, however competent, can carry the burdens of the office when he is required to brook opposition at the very points where good will, encouragement, and support are the most necessary. Building school-houses, providing for the comfort and welfare of the children, reforming abuses, suppressing vices, making necessary changes, are all easily enough done when the people feel that wisdom, good discretion, and ability direct and manage their school interests.
The superintendent is employed by the board like any other teacher. He is, therefore, subject to its control and direction. It adopts the general rules and regulations that determines the character of his work. In many respects he may be the author of these regulations which the board approves and adopts. He, then, assumes the responsibility of giving satisfaction to the board and to the public, and is thereby required to create a public sentiment that is healthy and encouraging.
In this professional position he becomes the advisory officer of the board in all matters pertaining to the schools under its charge. When assistant teachers are selected, unless he is consulted and his advice, professionally given, heeded, he can in no case be held responsible for the result. It is the lawful right of the board to select its teachers; it is proper for it to perform its legal duty; it is beneficial to the public interest that it exercise great care in this important matter, and the superintendent's judgment and experience should be duly considered. His statements should be entirely professional; they should not savor of friendship nor influence, and should be frank and unrestrained.
If our system of schools means anything in its organization, it means that the people and their representatives, the board, are to come as close to the management and control of the schools as possible and yet not be able to produce disorganization and revolution without due consideration. The board has, therefore, no right to delegate its powers in the employment of teachers to the superintendent, since the work of looking after the interests of the schools is educative in its influence, and an experienced and trained board of education is the greatest power in securing and maintaining good schools.
The board should leave the superintendent to exercise his discretion untrammeled in the management and direction of the schools. It should give him unqualified support and should treat him with the respect that his responsible position demands. No matter of importance should be decided without his knowledge, while its members still assume the authority granted them by the law. Much depends upon the relation between the board and the superintendent, and its condition needs to be the constant study and attention of the parties concerned.
Under city school organization the superintendent becomes the medium of communication between the board and the teachers, and also between the people and the teachers. If the board desires to make any change, to introduce something new, or to learn anything about the plan of the work and the success attained, it communicates its desires to the superintendent, who is authorized to take the necessary steps in the performance of work to accomplish what is desired. If teachers have requests to make of the board pertaining to any matter connected with the schools, they present these to the board through their superintendent. If people have complaints to make concerning teachers, in which they think they have cause for grievance, they apply to him for relief. He, therefore, becomes chief executive, and it is his business to prescribe the kind of discipline that should be required, and to see that it is maintained, to determine upon the kind and amount of work to be done in the several classes in some definite time, and to provide means whereby he may know that this work has been conscientiously undertaken and the necessary results obtained. He must, therefore, assume the responsibility, dictate plans, indicate the important parts of the work and exemplify how to make it practical and beneficial. Iis orders should be implicity obeyed, since he must know what is done if he is to be able to aid, defend, and support teachers in their work. It is not best to superintend too much. The judicious officer must learn his teachers so well as to know just how much and what aid it is necessary to give to secure what is desired in return. He will require results, not methods, and will leave as much as possible to the discretion and wise foresight of his assistants. His work with and for them will have the object in view to so strengthen and help them that they may be daily growing more independent in judgment, while extended experience will bring value and pleasure to the teacher's life and prospects. It is wrong to destroy a teacher's individuality. Every subordinate has a field of labor in which he should be left untrammeled, while machine work and machine methods should be discountenanced and discouraged. It may appear well to have an absolute city uniformity in signals for calling classes, for dismissing them, for conducting recitations, for exeusal from the room, etc., but there is a very great danger of over-organization, of too much system, of too much so-called "red tape", and too little individual power, honest, free thought, and careful, judicious teaching.
A school is not a mill into which pupils are turned to be ground out, trained and cultured, and labeled “superfine.” Teachers are not machines to do work in a certain prescribed manner. Pupils and teachers are thinking, reasoning organisms, endowed with judgment, discretion and intelligence, needing guidance, encouragement and oversight in doing the mighty work that is to cause youth to occupy the lofty plain of a true appreciation of the objects of life.
Supervision does not insure success to any and all teachers. It oftener weeds out the unsuccessful and the unqualified. It places a standard upon work, and insists upon all teachers approximating it. Some teachers cannot be helped up. Many aspirants are not fitted by nature nor by training for the work, and it becomes the duty of efficient and careful supervision to eradicate the evils, to cultivate a lofty ideal as to the work required, and to secure the education to the children necessary for the welfare of the community and the State.
In the majority of cities, such as there are in this State, the examination and classification of new pupils should constitute a part of the official work of the superintendent. There is no work in the school demanding more discretion and wiser judgment than this. It is easy enough to talk with a pupil, and then assign him low enough to insure that he will get along, but to put him at such work that his own interests are best served to secure for him just as high a grade as he is able to carry, to start him with proper aspiration and encouragement, is the problem that should be solved. Pupils that present themselves for enrollment, having come from mixed schools, are generally uneven in their branches. Such should have conditional classification and the strict rule of all recitations in the same class or even in the same room should be waived, a reasonable time being given in which to rectify the irregularity and get into course.
The examination and promotion of pupils belongs strictly to the superintendent. Special, individual promotion should be attainable at any time by a pupil when proficiency and desert admit of it. The