statutes Illinois. Laws.

School laws of Illinois online

. (page 6 of 26)
Online Librarystatutes Illinois. LawsSchool laws of Illinois → online text (page 6 of 26)
Font size
QR-code for this ebook

welfare and prosperity of said Normal University.

§ 6. The board of education shall appoint a principal, lecturer
on scientific subjects, instructors and instructresses, together with
such officers as shall be required in the said ISTormal University,
fix their respective salaries and prescribe their several duties.
They shall also have power to remove any of them for proper
cause, after having given ten days' notice of any charge, which
may be duly presented and reasonable opportunity for defense.


They shall also prescribe the text books, apparatus and fiirmture
to be used in the university, and provide the same ; and shall
make all regulations necessary for its management. And the
board shall have the power to recognize auxiliary institutions when
deemed practicable: Promded^ that such auxiliary institutions
shall not receive an appropriation from the treasury^ or the semi-
nary or university fund.

§ 7. Each county within the state shall be entitled to gratuit-
ous instruction for one pupil in said Normal University; and
each representative district shall be entitled to gratuitous instruc-
tion for a number of pupils equal to the number of representatives
in said district, to be chosen in the following manner : The county
superintendent in each county shall receive and register the names
of all applicants for admission in said Normal University, and
shall present the same to the county court, or, in counties acting
under township organization, to the board of supervisors, as the
case may be ; who shall, together with the county superintendent,
examine all applicants so presented in such a manner as the
board of education may direct, and from the number of such
as shall be found to possess the requisite qualifications, such
pupils shall be selected by lot; and in representative districts
composed of more than one county, the county superintendent
and county judge, or the county superintendent and chairman
of the board of supervisors, in counties acting under township
organization, as the case may be, of the several counties composing
such representative district, shall meet at the clerk's office of the
county court of the oldest county, and from the ai3plicants so
presented to the county court or board of supervisors of the
several counties represented, and found to possess the requisite
qualifications, shall select by lot the number of pupils to which
said district is entitled. The board of education shall have the
discretionary power, if any candidate does not sign and file with
the secretary of the board a declaration that he or she will teach
in the public schools within the state, in case that engagements
can be secured by reasonable efforts, to require such candidate
to provide for the payment of such fees for tuition as the board
may prescribe.

§ 8. The interest of the university and seminary fund, or
such part thereof as may be found necessary, shall be and is
hereby appropriated for the maintenance of said Normal Univer-
sity, and shall be paid on the order of the board of education from
the treasury of the state ; but in no case shall any part of the
interest of said fund be applied to the pm-chase of sites, or for
buildings for said University.

§ 9. The board shall have power to appropriate the one
thousand dollars received from the Messrs. Meriam, of Spring-
field, Massachusetts, by the late superintendent, to the purchase
of apparatus for the use of the Normal University, when estab-


lished ; and hereafter, all gifts, grants and demises wliich may
be made to the said Normal University shall he applied in accord-
ance with the wishes of the donors of the same.

§ 10. The board of corporators herein named, and their
successors, shall each of them hold their office for the term of six
years : Provided, that at the first meeting of said board, the said
corporators shall determine, by 'lot, so that one-third shall hold
their office for two years, one-third for four years, and one-third
for six years. The governor, by and with the advice and consent
of the senate, shall fill all vacancies which shall at any time occur
in said board, by appointment of suitable persons to fill the same.

§ 11. At the first meeting of the board, and at each biennial
meeting thereafter, it shall be the duty of said board to elect one
of their number president, who shall serve until the next biennial
meeting of the board, and until his successor is elected.

§ 12. At each biennial meeting it shall be the duty of the
board to appoint a treasurer, who shall not be a member of the
board, and who shall give bond, with such security as the board
may direct, conditioned for the faithful discharge of the duties
his office.

§ 13. This act shall take effect on and after its passage, and
be published and distributed as an aj)pendix to the school law.

Appsoyed February 18, 1857.


I shall now take up and consider, seriatim, the several sections
of the school law which were amended or changed by the act
passed by the 24th General Assembly, and approved February
16, 1865. I shall endeavor to analyze and explain each amend-
ment and to show in what manner and to what extent the rights
and duties of school ofiicers and others are affected thereby.


The first section of the act is so amended as to extend the term
of office of the state superintendent of public instruction, from
two years, to four years. The amendment takes effect from and
after the election to be held on Tuesday after the iirst Monday of
N^ovember, a. d. 1866. The state superintendent elected at
that time, will hold his office for fom' years, which will thereafter
constitute the legal official term of that officer.

Probably no other of the recent changes in the school law, will
meet with more general approval among thinking men, than
this. The duties of the superintendency are difficult and compli-
cated. They require an intimate knowledge, not only of the
school law, but of many other state laws ; as well as of such de-
cisions of the courts as have been, and from time to time may be,
rendered in relation to common schools. They also require a
thorough acquaintance with the history, progress, and workings
of the system in past years ; the evils to be remedied or avoided,
and the benefits to be secured. They demand a knowledge of a
great variety of legal and official forms, and of the intricate de-
tails connected with the collecting, arranging, and tabulating of
educational reports and statistics. The superintendent must also
be conversant with all the official decisions and instructions of his
predecessors in office ; with the line of sanctioned precedents in
matters which are not, and cannot be, specifically provided for by


law ; and with tlie general history of common school legislation
and administration in other states. He mnst understand the
principles of educational philosophy ; the theory and methods of
teaching ; and the organization, classification, and management
of schools ; so that he may be the prompt and intelligent ad-
viser and counselor of teachers and school officers. He should
keep himself informed of the character and merits of the princi-
pal common school text-books of the country and of the improve-
ments or charges made therein, in order to make safe and pru-
dent suggestions on the subject, when applied to for information
or advice in the premises.

It would be easy to extend this statement of the preparation
necessary for the proper discharge of the duties of the superin-
tendency, but enough has been said to show that no man, with-
out previous experience, can be more than just prepared for the
efl3.cient discharge of the duties of his position, within the time
formerly allotted to the official term ; and that the public inter-
ests must necessarily suffer by such frequent changes.

A still more important consideration is the impossibility, under
a two years' tenm-e, of carrying out any comprehensive educa-
tional policy. Knomng that such a policy would be liable to be
arrested, and perhaps reversed, before its legitimate results could
be realized, no superintendent could feel encouraged, under the
former system, to attempt it ; while, on the other hand, the loss
to the common school interests of the state, consequent upon the
lack of a definite plan of administration, is too obvious for remark.
A poor policy is better than none — an imperfect system of means
is better than uncertain and frequent changes.

The duties of many offices are so simple, so much a matter of
rule and routine, that frequent changes work no detriment to the
service — the new incumbent can readily take up the work where
his predecessor left off, and carry it forward without material in-
terruption. In this case it is not so. A long and studious prep-
aration is indispensable. It is not too much to say that any super-
intendent can accomplish double the amount of effective labor
during a second term of two years, that' he can during the first,
and that the work will be more than twice as well done. For
these reasons, and others that will hereafter appear, it cannot be
doubted that the amendment under consideration is eminently
judicious, and one that wiR largely contribute to the future pros-
perity of our educational system.



Section eleven is amended by substituting the term " county
superintendent of schools," for that of school commissioner;" and
by extending the term of office to four years, to take effect from
and after the election on the Tuesday next after the first Monday
in November, 1865. The change of official designation will be
approved for its obvious fitness and propriety. IsTo one will need
to ask what is meant by " county superintendent of schools,"
while no one, not previously informed, could be sure of the nature
of the office referred to by the words, "school commissioner."
The former is definite and appropriate ; the latter, vague and
almost unmeaning. The appellation, "commissioner," is a fa-
miliar and general one, as "bank commissioner," "canal commis-
sioner," etc., and the meaning of the term, when so used, is gene-
rally understood; but nothing could be further from the truth than
to suppose that the word had a similar import when applied to the
highest county school officer. The new title indicates the true
nature of the service to be performed by the officer so designated.
He is to suj)erintend the common schools and school affairs of his
county; all of his other duties are subordinate in importance.
His relations to the county are similar in character and jurisdic-
tion to those of the state superintendent to the state. It is in one
sense a small matter by what appellation an officer is known, but
that is no reason why the rules of taste and fitness should not be
observed when practicable. The designation, " county superin-
tendent of schools," has long been suggested by school commis-
sioners and teachers, and is now happily adopted by the legisla-

Eights of property, and all other interests affected by the
change of name, are guarded and protected by the following pro-
vision :

"The said county superintendents of schools shall be succes-
sors to the school commissioners, as heretofore known and desig-
nated in the act to which this act is amendatory, and all other acts
where the term 'school commissioner' is used. And all rights of
property, and rights and causes of action, existing or vested in
school commissioners, for the use of the inhabitants of the county,
or any township thereof, or any part of them, shall vest in the
county superintendents of schools, as successors, in as full and
complete a manner as was vested in the school commissioners."

The section is also amended by extending the tenure of the


office of county STipermtenclent to four yeai's, tlie same as the
state superintendent. County superintendents elected last 'No-
veniber will, therefore, hold their offices till Koyember, 1869.
The arguments in favor of this extension of tenure are forcibly
stated by my immediate predecessor in his biennial report, as fol-
lows : "With reference to the school commissionership, three
things ought to be provided for in the duration of the official ten-
ure. Fii'st, sufficient time should be allowed the officer to devise,
mature, and carry into effect his plans of administration, particu-
larly those relating to school supervision, — ^in a word, to establish
system, and to test by patient opei-ation its practical utility. Op-
portunity should be given not only to devise a policy, but to es-
tablish it, as our school system can only be secm-ed against the
evils of capricious experiment and change by the permanency of
its local policies. Permanency of pohcy cannot be expected,
when an officer is subjected at very short intervals to the contin-
gencies of succession, and when the incumbents appear and dis-
appear as rapidly as the supernumerary characters in a play upon
the boai'ds of a theater. Om* county superintendents can effect
nothing in their jmisdictions worthy of theu" pains, without the
aid of system — system necessai'Uy requires time for development,
matmity, establishment, and time to demonstrate its efficiency by
the production of results which follow in the course of its opera-
tion. It is something of a personal vexation, to say nothing of
the public injmy which follows, for an officer to be called off from
his work just at a time when he has succeeded in perfecting Ms
plans and adapting his agencies to some happy and useful consum-
mation which he has set his heart upon, and leave his work to
another, who has neither the will to approve, nor the wisdom to
execute the plans which have been elaborated with so much
pains. Worse than this is it, to have a useful and harmonious
system, which has been actually put into operation, and whose
operation promises so much of real good to the interests it was
designed to subserve, misapprehended, misapplied and misman-
aged, to the detriment of those great interests, by the ignorance
or carelessness of an incompetent successor. Doubtless the short-
ness of the official term has operated greatly to the discom'age-
ment of systematic effort for the improvement of our educational
interests, because plans of improvement which require time for
matm-ity, and whose success depends upon the personal super-


vision and direction of the mind that originates them, will, either
not be undertaken for want of time to develop and apply them,
or they will soon be suspended or superseded by the interference
of some unappreciative follower in office, and their whole effect
disannulled. A policy which will encourage system in our
county administrations — system which could have something of
permanence and fixity associated with it, which would be secure
from interference, innovation, supercession, would tell directly
and powerfully upon the common school interests of the state.
It is believed that a lengthening of the official term of our com-
missioners would have such a tendency.

"The second object which ought to be regarded in the appoint-
ment of the term of office should be, to secure to the officer the
incumbency of his place for such a term as will involve some
high idea of official responsibility. The sense of responsibility
in office will generally be in proportion to the duration of the of-
ficial tenure. A too limited tenm-e of office is likely to lessen the
sense of responsibility. The very shortness of the connection
which identifies the man with the position seems to detract from
the importance of the officeand tempts to neghgence and care-
lessness. It would seem reasonable that the feeling of responsi-
bility should be deepened as the official term is lengthened, for
the reason that the officer stands responsibly associated with the
results of his public acts until the expiration of his term, and in
proportion as the period of expiration is future, will the sense of
responsibility be sustained. From the files in my office, I could
select two reports from county commissioners, one returned by a
retiring officer and the other by a re-elected officer. The first
bears unmistakable evidences of official remissness, the other
bears as unmistakable evidences of official diligence and care.
"With the first the sense of responsibility had ceased to operate —
with the other it was active and sustained. The connection of
the first with the obligations of office was about being dissolved,
and responsibility died with the prospect. The connection of the
other was perpetuated, and responsibility was kept alive with the
recollection of continued accountability. This, I think is a ra-
tional account of the difference. At all events, the sustained in-
terest of an officer in the business entrusted to him depends great-
ly upon the fact of his continuous and continuing accountability.


"The third object to be provided for in fixing the tenure of the
office is to make the incumbent feel secure of retaining his position
for such a length of time as will render the office in the estima-
tion of the holder really valuable and desirable. If such provision
is made for permanent incumbency, the office is taken possession
of with a satisfied and contented disposition, which is highly
favorable to efficiency and success. If such provision is not made,
the officer accepts the position with the knowledge of its merely
temporary tenure, and with a consequent unsettledness of mind
which disposes him to regard his place in the light of a mere
incident to some higher and more permanent position. He can-
not look upon his office as aflbrding him employment and
emolument for any considerable time to come^he cannot feel
fixed in his station. There is a temptation, consequently, •to use
the office as a stepping-stone to higher preferment — a mere round
in the ladder of ambition by which the incumbent can mount to
higher honors. He will be liable, in all such cases, to use the
influence of his office with reference to his ulterior design. In-
stead of addi-essing himself to the earnest and faithful discharge
of his duties, with a single eye to the great interests committed
to his hands, his eyes are oftener fixed upon the political chances
occurring around him, with the hope of discovering both the
opportunity and the means of official promotion. This tempta-
tion to demagogism arises out of the limited tenure of the office.
An extension of the official term to a period which would render
the incumbency more permanent, would weaken the temptation —
perhaps remove it altogether. Could a change be effected here,
and the term of the school commissioner's office be extended to
twice the length of the present term, 1 think we would witness
many good effects following. Systematic administration would
take the place of unmethodic and disorderly policies which now
too often prevail — official responsibility would be heightened and
sustained, and in consequence, the duties of the office would be
discharged with more earnest zeal and fidelity — a feeling of
secmity, growing out of the knowledge of fixed and permanent
incumbency would possess the minds of our officers, and regard-
ing theu' position as one of permanent and honorable service, and
not as a mere temporary accommodation, they would labor con-
tentedly at their stations, not coveting or seeking other more
permanent offices. That these results would foUow such a change


seems reasonable, and if so, they would be quite sufficient to
justify the innovation."

It will be observed that these arguments apply with equal
force — most of them with still greater force — to the tenure of the
state superintendent. They cannot fail to convince all thinking
men of the wisdom of the change, and experience will, I doubt
not, still farther vindicate the same. It is proper to add that
this extension of tenure is in accordance with th^ theory and
practice of the older free school states, where the opinion in its
favor is almost unanimous.


■ The object of the amendment to this section is to throw further
safeguards around the township funds, by requiring a closer
scrutiny of the bonds of township treasurers, on the part of counyt
superintendents. For lack of such scrutiny many townships have
suifered heavy losses ; and there is reason to fear that many
bonds now on file are worthless by reason of fatal defects of form,
or failure of renewal for a term of years, and the consequent
present insufficiency of the securities. It is true that the duty
of passing upon the sufficiency of the township treasurer's secu-
rities, and of approving his bond, rests by law, primarily, upon
the board of trustees, and that the penal consequences of neglect
faU. chiefly upon them. (§ 74.) But it is plain from the language
of this section, as amended, that it is the intention of the legisla-
ture to require greater vigilance than heretofore on the part of
county superintendents, as an additional safeguard for the funds
of the township. Hence, if a bond is " in any respect defective"
they must "return it for correction." Their duty is not fulfilled
by simply acting as the custodian of the bonds of township
treasurers, and accepting, without investigation, all that are pre-
sented, provided only that they are approved by the requisite
number of trustees. They must closely examine every instru-
ment, to see that it is in strict conformity with the law ; that it is
duly renewed every two years, and, as far as practicable, that the
securities are " good and sufficient." And until the bonds are
purged of all defects, they must refuse to pay over the funds, or
to deliver up the papers, etc., to the township treasurers concerned.
"When a bond is perfected, according to law, and to the require-
ments of the county superintendent, and not before, that officer


will " indorse his approval thereon, and file tlie same witli the
papers of his ofiice."


The basis of distribution of the state and county school fund,
by county superintendents, remains unchanged, viz : one-third
by territory, and two thirds by census of white children under
twenty-one years of age. But no distribution is to be made to
townships in which schools have not been kept according to law.

By the amendment, county superintendents may loan the
principal of their respective county funds, at any rate of interest,
not less than six per cent,, nor more thp^^i ten per cent, per an-
num, payable half-yearly, in advance, as heretofore. Loans may
be made at ten per cent., by the county superintendent, without
reference to or consultation with the county court or board of
supervisors ; the object of the amendment being simply to author-
ize loans at a less rate, when ten per cent, cannot be obtained, so
that the funds may not lie unproductive. But loans cannot be
made at a less rate than ten per cent., without the consent of the
county court or board of supervisors, by whom such lower rate
must be determined. The interest accruing from the loan of all
county funds must be apportioned, annually, in the same manner
as the state school fund is apportioned.

In order to guard, in the most effectual manner, against pay-
ing out funds to irresponsible parties, and as a check against the
neglect of township treasurers in respect to the prompt execution
or renewal of their bonds, it is provided by the amendment to
this section:

" That no part of the state, county or other school fund, shall
be paid to any township treasurer, or other person authorized by
said treasurer, unless said township treasurer has filed his bond
as required by the fifty -fifth (55th) section of the act; nor, in-
case said treasurer is reappointed by the trustees, unless he shall
have renewed his bond, and filed the same, as aforesaid."

County superintendents are here forbidden, in the most posi-
tive terms, to recognize the claims of any township to a share of
the public funds, until a good and vahd bond is on file from the
treasurer of said township. To this rule they must conform with
unswerving firmness, in all cases, or else become personally and
officially liable. Before making any distribution of funds, super-

Online Librarystatutes Illinois. LawsSchool laws of Illinois → online text (page 6 of 26)