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perintendent's visits, and sometimes live at such a distance from the school-house that they cannot be seen. Where the directors can be reached, there are almost always improvements that may be suggested in the condition of the school-house and surroundings, the furniture, or apparatus. The teacher, too, may frequently be assisted by a timely talk to the director.
Much good may often be accomplished by visiting the parents. Pupils may be stimulated, teachers assisted, and a general interest awakened, so that the advent of the superintendent should be a noted day in the annals of the district.
Teachers' meetings should be held frequently for the interchange of ideas, and for the purpose of planning and directing the work. A good plan for inducing attendance is to ask the teachers, when they are passing examination, if they will endeavor to attend teachers' meetings if held in their townships. The county superintendent should be present at one township meeting at least during each term. The county may be divided into districts, associations formed, and meetings held in each. A county association may be an effective agency in shaping the whole educational work. Of course, the most important meeting is the normal institute with its thorough and systematic methods of instruction. Township institutes with competent instructors and regular outlined programmes have been successfully conducted in some counties.
The school legislation may be influenced by visits to school board meetings. A good plan is to write letters to the secretary to be read before the regular meetings, which are all held on the same day, and therefore cannot be visited, asking them to appoint special meetings for the purpose of conferring with the county superintendent.
Meetings of the people may appropriately be held, at which a lecture may be delivered, or some other instructive exercise given. In these exercises the pupils, and even the people, may take part. The programme may include essays, readings, declamations, speeches, and even spelling, grammar, and arithmetic classes.
Other helps may be mentioned, as reports from teachers, of attendance and various other items, a course of study which the classes shall pursue and receive certificates of promotion on the completion of stated portions, published directions in newspapers, and regulations which school boards may be induced to adopt for the government of their schools. To these may be added items, published for the encour
agement of teacher and pupils-attendance, punctuality, prompt
In conclusion, it is only necessary to say that the work of effective supervision, though incessant and laborious, requiring great professional skill, untiring application, and unfailing good judgment, is of such vast importance, that the good accomplished more than repays the care, anxiety, expense and fatigue. It is no light thing to control the education of six thousand children and direct the teaching in two hundred schools, yet, the work seems to be so much of a necessity, that, without it there must inevitably be confusion and loss. A prominent educator, Baldwin, says: "To leave the young and inexperienced teachers of a county without a directing head, to grope their way, is a reckless waste of time and money, to say nothing of the incalculable loss to the schools themselves."
ORGANIZATION AND GOVERNMENT OF SCHOOL DISTRICTS.
P. S. MORTON, COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF SCOTT COUNTY:
Every patriotic citizen of Iowa is justly proud of the liberal provisions that have been made for the education of the children of our flourishing young State.
Leading educators all over the land, and even in Europe, admire the generosity of our system of public instruction.
In the munificent bestowment of privileges, in this particular, Iowa certainly is second to no other State. And yet, notwithstanding the liberality of our law-makers, supported and sustained by the people, it does seem that grave mistakes have been made, not only in the law as originally framed, but especially in the numerous amendments that have been made thereto from time to time, in the matter of the organization and government of school districts.
Strangers coming into our State often ask the question, “On what system are the schools of Iowa organized?"
The question is easily asked but very difficult to answer.
The truth is, we have no system.
From the time our school law was framed up to the present the watchword has been change, amend, and to-day we have no system in
the organizations of districts, but instead, incongruous parts of sev
As an illustration the civil township of Hickory Grove, in Scott county, contains the district township of Hickory Grove, consisting of two and one-half sections of land. The officers to manage this formidable school corporation are three directors, one of whom is president—a secretary and a treasurer, neither of whom is a member of the board. The same township also embraces within its limits three independent districts, two of which have three directors each, and the other one six directors.
The township of Buffalo, in the same county-a fractional township-is blessed with seven independent districts and thirty-five school officers.
Scott county has forty school districts, with two hundred and thirty-two officers.
All this is in strict conformity with law.
Is there not some defect in the law?
After a careful consideration of this question, aided by an experience of many years in the work, we cannot find a single argument in favor of the present so-called system, and have never heard a valid argument produced in its favor.
Can we improve it?
Every civil township ought to be a school district.
The State should have just as many school districts as there are civil townships within its limits, cities and incorporated towns excepted. All districts should have the same number of officers.
This township system has been thoroughly tested in several of the States, notably so in Pennsylvania and Massachusetts, where the testimony is overwhelmingly large in its favor.
It has been strenuously advocated by Horace Mann, the greatest exponent of popular education of his time in this country; by Dr. J. P. Wickersham; by Prof. Barnard; by Hon. J. S. Eaton, the present United States commissioner of education; by Drs. Gregory and Bateman, of Illinois; by several of the most eminent governors of many of the States, and by most of the State and county superintendents of the country.
Some of the advantages that would naturally result from the adoptiom of a township system are:
It would be uniform as to its organization and government in all communities in every part of the State, and of necessity would sim
plify the school laws, so that the mass of citizens would the better understand them and take more interest in their execution, and in the education of their children.
It would diminish the number of school officers and greatly simplify the work of county auditors and county treasurers, as well as lessen their labors.
The aggregate expenditure for schools would be materially diminished.
In most cases it would prevent litigation and neighborhood quarrels as to boundary lines, and the payment of tuition in adjoining districts, which at present, is a serious evil.
It would furnish more equal advantages and privileges to every citizen and make the rate of taxation more uniform.
It would make school inspection and supervision much more efficient and permanent-a matter of the greatest importance.
It would secure a better grade of teachers with more permanency in the profession, more uniformity in method, and better results every way.
It would enable townships, in many cases, to grade their schools by establishing a central school of higher grade, without much, if any additional cost.
It would systematize and unify our entire school work in the rural districts by securing more thoroughness and accuracy on the part of pupils, a more general and hearty co-operation on the part of parents, a closer and more systematic supervision by boards of directors, and economy of time and money in proportion to the results accomplished.
Are there any formidable obstacles to prevent the adoption of such a system in lowa? We think not.
Let the legislature regard the township as the unit of organization by consolidating all the rural subdistricts and independent districts now in existence in any township, into one school district, to be governed by a board of six directors, in the same manner as independent districts, containing a population of five hundred inhabitants, or over, are now governed and controlled.
It is worthy of note that this plan requires but little change in our present school laws.
All that portion pertaining solely to district townships and independent districts of less than five hundred inhabitants would be
stricken out and the law would be very much condensed and simplified.
A plan could be devised without any difficulty by which a just and equitable settlement could be had between the different districts, growing out of their consolidation.
Again I ask the question, cannot we simplify and improve our system?
THE TEACHER IN SOCIETY.
A. H. STERRETT, COUNTY SUPERINTENDENT OF TAMA COUNTY.
Many teachers fail in the thought that they owe nothing to society and think the daily performance of school work all that is required of them; hence, we find many in the profession living secluded lives, shut up, so to speak, in their libraries and school-rooms.
They see and own the necessity of political organizations, church societies, and various charitable institutions, and yet fail to take hold and aid in moving their active machinery.
The teacher should endeavor at once, upon entering his new work, to become acquainted with the parents of his pupils, not in a formal and indifferent way, but visit them in their homes, feel friendly, act friendly, be friendly, for he cannot counterfeit the friendship that attracts and draws out the sympathy of people; it must be genial and and heartfelt.
The teacher should be attentive to the wishes of his patrons, should be a good listener, and take an interest in whatever interests them; among the parents he will find all grades and ranks of society, but to the true teacher none are too high and none too low to whom he may not be a friend.
The great Teacher went about doing good and we are all but too poor imitators of his example.
The teacher, owing to his position, could have great influence with his patrons, for he is quite apt to be considered as par excellence; he should be a positive character, with positive and well defined convictions. It should never be said of him, "We do not know to which party in politics he belongs." We do not know whether he is a church member or an unbeliever," but rather let it be said, "He is never ashamed of his colors."