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4. Duties of County Councils.-(Pages 61-65.)
Extracts from the Chief Superintendent's Circular to County Councils dated July, 1850.
(1) Appointment of Local Superintendents—Page 63.
A most important duty which the new School Act devolves upon the County Council, is the annual appointment of Local Superintendent of schools.
The School Act gives to each council authority to appoint a school superintendent for each township, or for two, three, or four townships, or for a county, provided it does not contain more than one hundred schools.* In some municipalities, where the duties of the office have been very imperfectly discharged, doubts are entertained by many persons as to the utility of the office at all; but this is not the case where the office is filled with ability, diligence and skill; and school countries are unanimous in their judgment and practice as to the vast importance of an efficient local inspection and supervision of schools.
The School Act imposing upon a local superintendent not only miscellaneous duties which require judgment and knowledge of men and things, but a visitorial examination of each school and a lecture on education in each school section orce a year, and the examination of teachers for the schools [pages 86, 87, 89], the county council should spare no pains to search out and appoint men as local superintendents who will command public attention as lecturers, who understand the true principles of school organization and the improved modes of school teaching, who will do justice to the great interests entrusted to them, by their examinations of teachers, their visitations of schools, and their patriotic exertions to diffuse sound education and knowledge as widely as possible. I doubt not each county council will respond to the spirit of the New York State Superintendent of schools, when be says, It is fervently hoped that in every election hereafter to be made of a local superintendent the most competent individual, without reference to sect or party, will be selected. On such a subject, where the good of their children is at stake, men should dismiss their narrow prejudices, and tear in sunder the shackles of party. They should consult only the greatest good of the greatest number of the rising generation. They should direct their preferences to those only who are the ardent friends of youthful progress-to those only, the smoke of whose incense offered in this holy cause, daily ascends to heaven; whose lips have been touched with a burning coal from the altar.”
(2) Spirit of the School Law-Non-political.
As the selection to the office of local superintendent of schools should be made upon the sole ground of personal qualification and character, and irrespective of party considerations, so should the duties of the office be performed in the same spirit. During the recent discussion in the Legislative Assembly on the School Bill, it was averred on all sides that the office of Chief Superintendent of Educa tion was, and should be non political-that whatever might have been the political opinions of the incumbent, or his mode of advocating them, previously to his appointment to office, as in the case of a judge, he should take no part in party political questions during his continuance in office. On this principie I have sacredly acted since my appointment to office, as was admitted in gratifying terms by all parties in the discussion referred to; and I think the same principle should be insisted upon by every county council in respect to each local superintendent of schools, and should be faithfully acted upon by every person filling that important office, thus making it equally confided in by all classes of the community. I am sure every municipal council in Upper Canada will agree with me, that the entire superintendence of the school system, in all its parts and applications,
*In the important States of New York and Pennsylvania, county superintendents have been preferred to township superintendents, and it has been enacted by the Legislature of Pennsylvania that county superintendents alone shall be appointed. [See last paragraph, No. (2), on page 139.]
should be perfectly free from the spirit or tinge of political partizanship-that its influence, like the genial light and warmth of the sun, should be employed for the equal benefit of all, without regard to party, sect, or colour.
The spirit in which the provisions of the new School Act have been, generally speaking, discussed and adopted in the Legislature, I regard as an omen for the good of our country, and worthy of imitation in all municipal and local school proceedings throughout Upper Canada. Party differences were not permitted to mar this great measure for the education of the people; and although there were individual differences of opinion among men of different parties as to some details of the Bill, yet men of all parties united in the support of its general principles, and in an earnest desire and effort to render it as perfect as possible in all its provisions. I hope that no party spirit will be permitted to impair the efficiency of its administration in any municipal council, public meeting or corporation. In the great work of providing for the education of the young, let partizanship and sectarianism be forgotten; and all acting as Christians and patriots, let us each endeavour to leave our country better than we found it, and stamp upon the whole rising and coming generations of Canada, the principles and spirit of an active, a practical, a generous and Christian intelligence.
5. Duties of Township Councils.-(Pages 48-61.)
(Extracts from the Chief Superintendent's Circular, dated August, 1853.)
(1) Authority to levy School Section Assessments-Page 50.
The authority and duty of the Township Council to levy assessments on certain conditions for the purchase of school sites, the erection of school houses, and other common school purposes, are so plainly stated in the thirty-fourth and the following sections as to require no other remark than this—that the inhabitants of each school section ought certainly to be the judges as to assessments levied upon them for the school purposes of their own section, and their wishes should be carried into effect without regard to the opinions of any person not belonging to their section; and as the councillors are the proper representatives of the township or township affairs, so should the trustees of each school seetion (or a majority of them) be regarded as the representatives of such section in its school affairs. Such are the true principles involved in this clause of the Act.
(2) Formation and alteration of School Sections-Pages 54-58. The formation and alteration of school sections is a duty, on the judicious per formance of which the efficiency of the schools greatly depends. The conditions and precautions provided in the new Act relative to the time and manner of making changes in the limits of school sections, will prevent the recurrence of the evils which have been experienced and the complaints which have been frequently made on this subject, and afford due protection to all parties affected by such changes. I know not that I can add anything on this point to the remarks which I made in my first circular addressed to the heads of Municipal Councils, in October, 1846. Subsequent experience has only confirmed me in the correctness and importance of those remarks:
"Much-very much-in respect to the efficiency of common schools depends upon the manner in which school sections are formed or altered. The tendency is to form small school sections; each parent is anxious to have the school house as close to his own door as possible. But the evil of forming small school sections is as great as the local tendency is strong. I have been much impressed with the magnitude of this evil by the reports of school Superintendents and Inspectors in the States of Massachusetts and New York-countries similarly situated to our own, and whose experience on this important subject is highly valuable to us. They represent that the efficiency and usefulness of their schools has been greatly retarded by the unwise multiplication of school sections-thus multiplying feeble and inefficient schools, &c., subdividing the resources of the inhabitants, so as to put it out of their power to build proper school-houses, or support competent
teachers without incurring a burden, which they are unwilling, if not unable to bear. The same documents also contain many curious statistics, proving that on an average, the punctual attendance or proficiency of pupils residing from one to two miles from the school far exceeds that of those pupils who reside within a less distance. The purport of these statements is to show, that proximity to the school is not essential either to the punctual attendance or to the proficiency of pupils. The managers of common school education in these States have of late years directed their particular attention to prevent and remedy this evil of small school sections; and they detail many examples of beneficial success. Some of the advantages of large school sections are, the lessening of the burden, upon each inhabitant, in establishing and supporting the schools; the erection of better buildings; and the procuring of greater conveniences for instruction; the employ. ment of better teachers, and, therefore, the benefit of better education for youth. The subject is, therefore, submitted to the grave consideration of the Council, whenever the exercise of this part of its powers may be required."
(3) General Remarks.
I trust that each township council will do honor to its important position in this great work of the country's education and by the united and individual example of its members speedily succeed in rendering a good school accessible to every child in the municipality. I believe the present School Act furnishes greater facilities than any preceding one for the accomplishment of this object; a party, a selfish, a slothful spirit alone can defeat it.-The Forms for Township Councils will be found in their proper place.
6. Duties of County Boards of Public Instruction.—( Page 92.) From the Regulations and the Circular of the Chief Superintendent of Education, October, 1850.
1) Qualifications of Candidates.-Page 93.
On the fidelity and ability with which County Boards of Public Instruction fulfil the functions assigned to them in the ninety-eighth section of the Upper Canada Common School Act, [page 93,] depend the character and the efficiency of the schools as affected by the character and qualifications of the teachers. Much has been said about incompetent trustees, and their employment of incompetent teachers; but trustees cannot employ such teachers by means of the school fund, unless such teachers are licensed to teach. It therefore remains with the County Boards (chiefly with the Local Superintendents) to say whether a penny of the school fund shall be misapplied in payment of any intemperate, immoral, or incompetent teacher. In giving certificates of qualification, county boards should not, therefore, regard individual applicants, but the interests of youth-the destinies of the rising and future generations of the country.
(2) Moral Character of Candidates.--Page 95.
But the first, and perhaps most important duty which devolves upon you, is that which precedes an examination into the intellectual qualifications of candidates. The law expressly declares, that "no certificate of qualification shall be given to any person as a teacher who shall not furnish satisfactory proof of good moral character." This is a vital point on which you are called to pass a conscientious and impartial judgment, before you admit any candidate to the examination. The law of the land thus makes you the moral guardian of the children and youth of your respective counties, as far as depends upon the moral character of their teachers, the same as the Divine law makes you the guardians of your own children; and you should certainly license no character to teach the former, whom you would not permit to teach the latter. Many representations have been made to this Department respecting intemperate, and profane, and Sabbath-breaking teachers. To what extent these representations are well founded, is not for me to say. But when so many parties have been individually authorized to license
teachers, it were not surprising if isolated individual firmness should be overcome by the importnnity of a candidate in some instances backed by the request of inconsiderate trustees. Now, however, you meet in council; the candidates come before you on common ground; you judge of the "moral character" of each by a common rule; you are less liable to those plaintive appeals and pleas which have so often been pressed upon the feelings of individual Superintendents and visitors. I cannot but regard it as your special mission to rid the profession of common school teaching of unworthy characters and of wholly incompetent persons, to protect the youth against the poison of a vicious teacher's example, and to lay the foundation for greatly elevating the profession of school teaching, and greatly increasing the efficiency and usefulness of common schools. The moral character of teachers involves the deepest interests of our offspring, and the widest destinies of our country. No lax expediency or false delicacy should be permitted to endorse a person of irregular habits or doubtful morals as a "good moral charac ter," and let him loose upon society, authorized and certified as a duly qualified teacher of its youth. I am sure you will agree with me, that your certificate should state what you believe to be strictly true, and therefore be a guarantee to trustees of schools and parents of children, in regard to the moral character and intellectual qualifications of every teacher whom you shall license.
(3) General Remarks.
No branch of a system of public instruction has ever been brought into operation in any country without much anxious toil; and the efficient commencement of this most important and too long neglected department of our school system, will require no inconsiderable labor, and much patient and earnest purpose, to promote the welfare of the rising generation. The more serious and difficult part of the task will soon be accomplished, while the results cannot fail to be extensively beneficial, alike upon the application, the aspirations, and improvement of teachers, the character of the schools, and the progress and interests of the pupils.
[The programme of Examination and Form of Certificate will be found on pages 93 and 94.]
7. Duties of School Visitors.-(Page 96.)
1. The one hundredth section of the Upper Canada Consolidated Common School Act, (page 96,) provides that all clergymen recognized by law, of whatever denomination, judges, members of the Legislature, magistrates, members of county councils, and aldermen, shall be school visitors; and the one hundred and first section, (page 96,) prescribes their lawful duties.
2. The parties thus authorized to act as visitors, have it in their power to exert an immense influence in elevating the character and promoting the efficiency of the schools, by identifying themselves with them, by visiting them, encouraging the pupils, aiding and counselling teachers, and impressing upon parents their interests and duties in the education of their offspring. In visiting schools, however, visitors should, in no instance, speak disparagingly of the instructions or management of the teacher in the presence of the pupils; but if they think it necessary to give any advice to the teacher, they should do it privately. They are also desired to communicate to the local or Chief Superintendent anything which they shall think important to the interests of any school visited by them. The law recommends visitors "to attend the Quarterly Examinations of the schools." It is hoped that all visitors will feel it both a duty and a privilege to aid, on such occasions, by their presence and influence. While it is competent to a visitor to engage in any exercises which shall not be objected to by the authorities of the school, it is expected that no visitor will introduce, on any such occasion, any thing calculated to wound or give offence to the feelings of any class of his fellow Christians.
3. The local superintendents are school visitors, by virtue of their office, and their comprehensive duties, as such, are stated with sufficient minuteness in the ninety-first section of the Upper Canada Consolidated Common School Act, (pages
84-91.) While each local superintendent makes the careful inquiries and ex minations required by law, and gives privately to the teacher and trustees such advice as he may deem expedient, and such counsel and encouragement to the pupils, as circumstances may suggest, he will exhibit a courteous and conciliatory conduct towards all persons with whom he is to communicate, and pursue such a line of conduct as will tend to uphold the just influence and authority both of trustees and teachers. (See also page 138.)
4. Too strong a recommendation cannot be given to the establishment of circulating libraries in the various townships and school sections. A towuship library, with auxiliaries in each school section,,might, by means of a comparatively small sum, supply popular and useful reading for the young people of a whole township. It is submitted to the serious attention of all school visitors, as well as trustees, and other friends of the diffusion of useful knowledge. See Part III. below, and the departmental notices on page 147.
PART III.-PROVISIONS OF THE LAW RELATING TO PUBLIC SCHOOL LIBRARIES IN UPPER CANADA.*
"Township and County Libraries are becoming the crown and glory of the Institutions of the Province."-Lord Elgin at the Provincial Exhibition, Sept., 1854.
It has been thought advisable to collect and arrange the general provisions of the law relating to the establishment of public school libraries. The accompany ing selection has therefore been prepared for the information and guidance of all parties concerned or interested in the promotion of libraries in townships and school sections in Upper Canada.
1. City and Town Municipal Councils.
The sixtieth section of the Consolidated Common School Act of Upper Canada (page 65), provides that the Municipal Council of each city, town, or village in Upper Canada is hereby invested, within its limits, with the same powers, and shall be subject to the same obligations as are the municipal council of each county and township, [in regard to libraries, as follows]:
2. County Municipal Councils.
The fifty second section (page 63), enacts that each county council shall raise by assessment, such sums of money as it may judge expedient for the establishment and maintenance of a county common school library.
3. Township Municipal Councils.
The thirty-fourth section (page 50), enacts that township councils may levy such sums as they judge expedient for purchasing books for a township library, under such regulations as may be provided in that behalf.
4. Trustees of Rural School Sections.
The twenty-seventh section of the Consolidated Common School Act, (page 41), makes it the duty of Trustees * * * (19) To appoint a Librarian, and to take such steps authorized by law as they may judge expedient, for the estab lishment, safe keeping, and proper management of a school library in their sec tion, whenever provision has been made and carried into effect for the establishment of school libraries.
5. Boards of School Trustees in Cities, Towns, and Villages.
The seventy-ninth section of the same act, (pages 47, 48), provides that "It shall be the duty of the Board of School Trustees of every city, town and village respectively.