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Documentary journal of Indiana 1856, part 1 (Volume 1856, pt.1) online

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with each others executive skill, educational zeal, tact and experi-
ence, familiar with the details of its pecuniary affairs, interested in
its progress and prosperity, and convinced of the wisdom of keeping
the enterprise aloof from party cabals, and the Institution free from
capricious changes of officers, policy and control, its Trustees might
be more wisely and safely entrusted with the responsibility of per-
petuating the Board, than a foreign body of men, remote from its
locality, unacquainted, to a great extent, with its past history or
present condition, and with no special interest in its welfare or
success. It is unreasonable to expect that the State Board of Edu-
cation, with its brief period of official existence, the multiplicity and
diversity of the responsibilities of its individual members, could
exercise the power of filling said vacancies, as judiciously as the
Board, in whose body they occur. It is therefore recommended that
said power be transferred from the State Board of Education, to
the Board of Trustees of the State Universitv.



SCHOOL OF REFORM.

It may not be inappropriate to introduce, in this connection, some
suggestions relative to an enterprise, in which the State proposes
soon to embark, in accordance with the beneficent requisitions of the
constitution. It is but a direct and natural sequence of the educa-
tional provisions of that fundamental instrument. While we adopt
wise and efficient measures for the prevention of prospective evils,
we must not be insensible to the duty of correcting present ones, as
far as human skill and experience can furnish reasonable hopes of
success. Though proper mental and moral culture is the only reliable
security against the seductions of vice, and the provision of ample
means to bring our youth under the moulding influence of such train-
ing is the perfection of public economy, in its highest sense, yet
thousands of the rising generation, unblest with such culture and un-
restrained by parental authority, are now standing on the verge of
crimes that will carry them to the penitentiary and perdition, unless
some benevolent device be adopted to rescue them from the meshes
of the net fast closing around their feet. To reclaim these juvenile
offenders, recall them to the paths of virtuous life and restore them
to heart broken mothers, redeemed irom dishonor and disenthralled
1 D. J.— 36



492

from vice, is an enterprise worthy of a State, a mission that touches
the deepest sympathies of our nature.

The establishment of a House of Refuge, as it is termed, rather an
infelicitous synonym for a School of Reform, cannot but be hailed
as an omen for good, a harbinger of salvation to many lads, who
through parental neglect or filial recklessness, have already started
on the " broad guage " to ruin. The number of appropriate candi-
dates for the corrective discipline of such an institution has been
sadly augmented in many of our villages, towns and cities, through
the default of the commonwealth to provide the requisite educational
facilities. No time should be lost in the location of the site and the
selection of the man of large experience, genial sympathies and
executive talent to superintend both the erection of the building and
the inception of the enterprise. Since by our past neglect and over-
sight, we have created the necessity for them, cost what they may,
let us enter on the enterprise with a proper conception of its char-
acter and the pecuniary investment necessarily involved.

The expense of a building of suitable dimensions, fixtures and fur-
niture to commence the experiment, will not be less than one hun-
dred thousand dollars, with a fair prospect of enlargements, calling
for thousands more. We cannot be aware of the fact too soon, nor
can the conviction be impressed too deeply on the public mind, that
common schools, even for nine months in the year, will be more eco-
nomical than schools of reform. One, or the other must be sustained.
There is no alternative. In this department of reformatory effort, it
will be wise for us to profit by the experience of those who have pre-
ceded us, and avail ourselves, of the results they have reached, both
favorable and adverse. On the internal policy of their management,
there can be no doubt. All the rays of light on this point converge
to a burning focus, around which may be seen the significant motto,
"• the family circle." This shows that the true principle has been de-
veloped, painful and protracted as may have been the process by
which it has been reached. It is the bow of promise spanning the
heavens with the radiance of hope, an emblem of success to cheer
us onward. If this cardinal principle underlie our enterprise, guide
and control our efforts, we may confidently anticipate success.

The legitimate mission of such a school is to eradicate vicious
habits and implant virtuous principles, to repress corrupt propensi-
ties and awaken generous impulses, to destroy the power of tempta-
tion by the assiduous cultivation of upright purposes, and efface the
corrodings of guilt by the heaven-born soothings of genuine repent-
ance, to dissipate mental ignorance and moral darkness by the intro-
duction of intellectual culture and Bible training, to expel indolence,
that hot-bed of vice and corruption, by the inculcation and practice
of industry, and finally to fit its inmates for a happy restoration to
the family circle, from whose enclosure they have thoughtlessly
strayed, and prepare them to go forth to an earthly mission of use-
fulness and virtue.



493



COMMON SCHOOLS.

An educational system imperiously demanding such a supplement,
as the one just contemplated, may well be deemed susceptible of
expansion and improvement in divers particulars. Let it receive
the full benefit of a judicious enlargement and the gracious impulse
of such progress, and then we may hail our Common Schools as
the true and most reliable assimilators of the heterogenious masses,
often thrown together within the limits of a single corporation. —
Under their moulding power, the Dutch and the Dane, the Swiss
and the Swede, the Celt and the Saxon, will commingle and fuse,
till losing their national identity and language, they become homo-
genious in sympathy and speech. These schools will also prove
the grand elevators of the masses to the dignity and competency
of self-government. On the success of their mission depends the
solution of the problem of man's capacity to govern himself, a ques-
tion in fierce debate between the advocates of free and despotic
governments. Rightly managed and efficiently conducted thev will
likewise prove admirable conservators of our free institutions. A
well governed school does more to humble arrogance, encourage
virtue, stimulate effort, develope latent powers, foster modest worth,
and cultivate obedience to law, than any other agency that can be
named. It takes charge of the mind at a plastic age, and brings
hearts in contact with truth and duty, at a period most susceptible
of impression. Under teachers of the right stamp, the school dis-
cipline becomes an effective supplement to the family training. If
the child has received a right direction at home, he will be confirmed
and strengthened in the way of well doing, by the discipline of the
school. If he has been subject to an evil bias,disobedience tolerated and
pride fostered, under the parental government, the school is the iast
and only hope of the youth's rescue from the thraldom of such habits.
If its mild, yet firm regimen, its kind, yet unbending sway, do not
effect his emancipation, there is but little hope of his escaping the
incarceration of the penitentiary, or the promotion of the gallows.
The school, in the accomplishment of its legitimate mission, culti-
vates the head and the heart, developes the intellectual and moral
powers, brings into harmonious exercise the social elements of our
nature and awakens to generous sympathy the finer sensibilities of
our being. Make our school system what it ought to be, and these
results will be reached, these fruits will be gathered from its bur-
dened boughs. It is susceptible of generous culture and correspond-
ing improvement. Prune it of surplus limbs and barren branches.
Insert the cions of liberal provision on the stocks of former parsi-
mony, inoculate the thrifty limbs of selfishness with the choicest
buds of a generous liberality^

A school rightly managed, properly taught and skillfully trained, is
but an educational family, in which the majesty of the law is recog-
nised and revered. All are taught to yield a prompt and cheerful
obedience to the embodiment of power and love, the impersonation



494

*

of right and justice, which, to the child's unsophisticated mind, is
concentrated in the person of its teacher. Habits of industry are
formed and established, mutual rights recognised and respected,
order appreciated and maintained, selfishness rebuked and repressed,
benevolence cultivated and confirmed, and the pupil prepared, in due
time, to assume and discharge the responsibilities of his political,
social and moral relations. These nurseries of our future citizens
should be fostered with a care, zeal and liberality, second only to
that, which guides the wise and discreet parent in making the proper
education of his children a consideration paramount to all others.
Lands and tenements, stocks and merchandise will not secure to
their possessor, either a safe passage through this world, or furnish
him a reliable title to the blessedness of the next, but mental training
and moral culture, wisely combined, become a virtual pledge of a
happy issue to all such aspirations and endeavors.

A brief summary of some of the more prominent results of the
past year may appropriately close this Report. In presenting these
facts, it may serve to bring out in bolder relief, and present more
vividly to the mind the real character and extent of the progress
made, to exhibit them side by- side with a corresponding view of last
year's attainment.



Statistical Comparison of 1855 and 1856.





In 1855.


In 1«56.


Gain.


Amount of Common School Fund distributed to








Counties, - - -


$288,665 21


$340,185 75


$51,520 54


Average apportionment to each scholar,

No. of children between 5 and 21 years, reported,


,64.8


,75


,10.2


453,581


458,355


4,774


No. reported attending school,


161,536


195,976


34,440


No. of Districts reported, - - - -


5,170


6,463


1,293


No. of Schools reported, - - - -


3,652


4,876


1,224


Average length of Schools in months,


2.85


3.03


.18


No. of Male Teachers, - - - -


3,018


3,973


955


No. of Female Teachers, - - - -


841


1,070


229


Whole number of Teachers,


3,859


5,043


1,184


Average wages, per month, of Male Teachers,


$23 00


$23 76


$ ,76


Average wapes, per month, of Female Teachers, -
No. of School Houses erected,


$15 72


$16 84


$1,12


591


650


59


Cost of said houses, -


$166,900


$270,883


$103,983


Townships reporting School House tax assessed, -


413


724


311


Amount of said tax -


$314,272 63


$481 832 55


$167,559 94



Aggregate number of School houses built the last two years,

Aggregate cost of the same, -

Total assessment for School House erection the last two years,



-



1,241
$437,783 00
$796,105 18



This summary exhibit of results reached is certainly cheering,
significant and indicative of real substantial progress. It shows that
the elements of the system are sound, reliable, and greatly in ad-
vance of anything that has previously been attempted in this com-
monwealth. Imperfect as it may be, it has, nevertheless, accom-
plished more within four years, nay in half of that time, than was



495

ever effected in thrice that period, during any portion of our history.
Does any one doubt it ? Let him look at the twelve hundred and
forty-one school houses erected within the last two years, at the
expense of $437,783. Let him also take into consideration the
assessment of the current year, amounting to $481,832,55, to be
expended for the same purpose next season. Where can its parallel,
or approximation, be found in our previous experience. Another sig-
nificant fact should not be lost sight of in estimating the merits and
defects of our school code. Where is the locality, either north or
south, in which an intelligent board of Trustees have carried out the
provisions of the statute, in their obvious import and manifest spirit,
and good results have not followed, to the full extent of the means at
command? The name of that corporation has yet to be reported.
Failure, disappointment and dissatisfaction, can be traced to two
very obvious and adequate causes, incompetent officers and insuf-
ficient funds. Let the Legislature furnish adequate means, and the
people commit their educational interests to the custody and super-
vision of their most intelligent fellow-citizens, and these complaints
will soon cease. The most eloquent declaimers against the school
law have, not unfrequently, been compelled to acknowledge that they
have never read the statute, nor visited a single school : and many of
the most bitter denouncers of the system have shown that a large
addition could be advantageously made to the limited domain of their
knowledge. Let the appropriate remedies be promptly applied, and
the patient will soon exhibit signs of convalesence. Administer the
proper tonic and the recuperative powers of nature will soon evince
evidence of vitality. If change and fickleness must characterize our
educational policy, then farewell to progress, permanency or perfec-
tion. Better die at once, than swallow all the nostrums that have
been prescribed for the malady, by self-conceit and inexperience.

It is confidently believed that the suggestions interspersed through
this Report, relative to several features of the system, requiring
modification, expansion, or concentration, will be found worthy of
consideration and adoption. The demand for the introduction of
divers supplementary provisions will become more and more imper-
ative. It is only a matter of time. Come they will. The stern decree
of necessity has gone forth, and its fiat will be obeyed. Experience
elsewhere shows that it is vain to hope or expect, that our educa-
tional enterprise is doomed to any retrogression. There is no reason-
able ground for comfort of this kind, and to those needing such con-
solation, it can only be said, be resigned to the relentless destiny of
progress.

We have suffered too much already, by gazing at the glories of the
golden future, through the medium of swamp land exhalations, and
relying on a bank fund of magnificent proportions, but distant pos-
session, to the shameful neglect of our childrens present necessities.
Their demands for a six months school should not be any longer
postponed. The claim is just, and their constitutional rights should
be both acknowledged and satisfied. Their half a million of sup-
pliant voices should be heeded, and a gracious responce be returned



496

to their educational prayer, by the Legislative Fathers of the com-
monwealth. If we will "help ourselves in a legitimate way, there are
more than thirty thousand non-resident tax payers, many of whom
living in various States of the Union, who will come to our aid in a
legal method, and their thirty millions will contribute a due share to
the enlargement of the current resources for educational expenses.
Unless we make statutory provision for a full and adequate supply
of funds, these foreign property-holders, these owners of broad acres
and boundless prairies within our State, will render no assistance to
those parents now compelled, by the inadequacy of the public
funds, to supplement the present modicum of State tuition, and by
whose labor and enterprise the adjacent lands of the said non-resi-
dents are annually enhanced fifty per cent. An additional levy of a
one mill property tax will add $30,000 annually to our school funds
from that source alone, and it will be sure and reliable, for the lands
are good for the levy.

With the proposed addition to the property assessment, which
would only bring us up to an equality with our sister State on the
west, and the present poll tax, we may hope, with the collateral
helps of good school houses, improved teachers, intelligent Trustees,
Normal Schools, and an Educational Periodical, to reach, at no dis-
tant day, a position that will reflect honor on the commonwealth,
entitle us to the compliments for intelligence, enterprise and progress,
which some are disposed to bestow in advance, and demonstrate to
the world, that our childrens educational patrimony is fully adequate
to their necessities, and worthy of an intelligent Parent's wisdom,
forecast and liberality. When that culminating point is attained, we
can cheerfully review the past, enjoy the present, aud contemplate
the glorious future for our offspring, our country and the race.



CALEB MILLS,

Superintendent.
Department of Public Instruction,)
Indianapolis, Jan. 21, 1857.^



Note.— On page 18th, eighteen lines from the bottom, " intervals of three," should read
" intervals of nine months."



APPENDIX.



I. Abstract of Township Reports.
II. Summary of the same by Counties.

III. Report of the School Funds, Common and Special.

IV. Tabular view of the avails of the School Sections sold.

V. Tabular view of the Colleges of Indiana, showing the
number of Students, Graduates, Endowments, cost of
Instruction, value of Buildings, number of volumes in
the College and Students Libraries, Src.
VI. Circular to Township Boards.

VII. Decision of the Supreme Court on the Constitutionality of
the Legislative power to equalize the inequalities of
the Special Funds, by the township apportionment
of the common funds.

VIII. Superintendent's Address to Youth.

IX. Catalogue of the Books embraced in the last purchase of
Township Libraries.

X. Index.



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