Page images

name to the articles written by her for the MONTHLY, but I never got her consent to do so.

0. T. CORSON: It seems to me that there is a lesson coming down to us from the life of LeRoy D. Brown that should be impressed upon the members of this association this afternoon.

Mr. Brown came to Preble County twenty-one years ago to take charge of the schools of Eaton. At that time I was teaching in a country school and attending very regularly all teachers' associations. I was surprised one day to receive from Mr. Brown, superintendent of the schools in our county seat, an invitation to go home with him. I went with him and was very pleasantly entertained. In his cordial manner he began to talk to me about

the necessity of a teacher's knowing more if he wanted to stay in the work. It was through his influence that I started to school at Delaware and that I began to work to get a better certificate. One day in the examination, Mr. Brown came to me and said, “You have done well. I want you to try for a first class certificate. I hope that we can grant you one." These words meant much to me at that time.

I want to say this afternoon that I owe a debt of gratitude to LeRoy D. Brown for his inspiration to me as a boy. I hope that we will not forget the boys and girls who are placed under our care, and that we will not forget the younger teachers with words of encouragement whenever possible.


0. T. CORSON, President of the General Association.

For fifty years the Ohio Teachers' Association has been one of the most potent factors in the educational progress of the State. As members of this Association we again assemble in the midst of these beautiful and historic surroundings to dedicate ourselves anew to the cause of popular education. As we start out on our second half-century, I trust that it may not be out of place to consider briefly a few of the lessons that have come down to us from the past lessons that are full of encouragement, suggestion, and inspiration.

At the time of the organization of the State Teachers' Association, the public schools of the State can scarcely be said to have had an existence as we now understand them. In the country the independent sub-district system existed

in a very general, indefinite way, and under the provisions of the “Akron School Law”, the schools of the more progressive towns and cities were just beginning to organize for effective work. The period of fifteen years from 1838 to 1853 was one of such agitation and change as to lead State School Commissioner Barney to record the following observation:

"Since 1838 the legislation of the State had become so confused that a universal demand existed for a digested school code; and the General Assembly, in furnishing such a code, determined to modify some features of the existing system."

As a result of this determination, the school law of 1853 was enacted, with the general provisions of which nearly


every one present is reasonably familiar, and the schools began to increase in number, importance, and efficiency.

Statistics at best are not absolutely reliable, and, as a result, the lessons attempted to be drawn from them, are very apt to be misleading. On account of the almost total absence of even ordinarily reliable statistics relating to the schools as they existed half a century ago, it is impossible to make a comparison of the present with that time of sufficient definiteness and accuracy to be either interesting

instructive. Enough is known, however, to warrant the statement that, in all sections of the State, the attendance of the public schools, the interest of the people in their welfare, and the money expended in their maintenance, have increased at a much more rapid rate than the pop:1lation. In the State school report for 1854 the first report which contains any statistics of a definite or reliable nature relating to such items —, the total receipts reported for public school purposes were $1,684,689. For the year ending August 31, 1897, the total receipts were $14,184,628 an increase of over seven hundred per cent. 1854, the value of school buildings was estimated to be $2,197,384; in 1897, $40,043,312 — an increase of over seventeen hundred per cent. In 1854, the average monthly salary for men in high schools was $58.00; for women, $28.50. In common schools, men $23.00; women $13.00. In 1897, the high schools paid to men an average monthly salary of $80.00, and to women, $77.00; the common schools, to men, $35.00; and to women, $29.00. The increase in high school salaries has been, for men, thirty-eight per cent, and for women, one hundred and seventy per cent; in common school salaries, for men, fifty-two per cent, and for women, one hundred and twenty-three per cent. A compari

son of these per cents of increase is suggestive to both sexes.

It is well to pause here long enough to consider the significance of the tremendous increase in the value of school buildings in the past forty years as compared with the slight increase in salaries of teachers. Taken by itself the fact that school property has grown in value at such a rapid rate is very encouraging as being indicative not only of the pride taken by the people in their public schools, but also of the deep interest felt in the physical comfort and welfare of the children. We have a right to be proud of the magnificent buildings found in nearly all of our towns and cities, and in many of our sub-districts, dedicated to the cause of public education, but when we consider the insignificant increase in salaries paid the teachers of the State on an average, we are compelled to conclude that in too many instances fine buildings are supposed to stand for fine schools, and that the real source of all genuine improvement in the schools strong, vigorous, earnes:, well educated, progressive teachers lost sight of: In some instances, familiar to many of us, teachers' salaries have been reduced to meet the financial demand made lipon boards of education resulting from extravagance in the erection and equipment of buildings. While we should carefully foster a healthy interest on the part of the people in the material equipment of their schools, we also need to work constantly to develop and keep alive more of the sentiment that “Mark Hopkins at one end of a log, with an earnest student at the other makes a university.” By all means let us have both fine ma'erial equipment, and strongminded, great-hearted teachers, but lei us never forget that while the former is a great aid, the latter is a necessity. We have been passing through an era



of brick in the erection of magnificent lower grades in furnishing them with school buildings; let us hope and pray an objective point toward which to dithat we shall soon enter upon a moie rect energy and effort, and in thus makimportant era of brain in furnishing ing necessary systematic and each school with a thoroughly educated, thorough work in these grades, fully juswell trained teacher.

tifies the Staťe in establishing and mainPerhaps the most encouraging feature

taining such schools. In attempting to connected with the development of the estimate the value of the high school, public school system is found in the

this important fact must ever be kept in rapid growth of high schools in the

mind. State. The Ohio high school is very As a means of inspiring young people largely the growth of the last twenty- of all classes and conditions with such a five years. A brief comparison of 1897

love for knowledge that they will seek with 1877 will be gratifying to all friends a college education, the high school is of higher education. In 1877, the total of prime importance. The fact that the enrollment in all the township high attendance of the colleges in Ohio has schools in the State was 1,188; in all increased from about nine thousand in other high schools, 26,207. In 1897, the 1877 to twenty-eight thousand in 1897— total enrollment in township high over two hundred per cent–is concluschools was 5,268; in all other higlı sive proof that the high school is fulschools, 47,483—an increase in township filling its important mission in this parhigh schools of over three hundred and ticular, and it is gratifying to note that forty per cent, and in all others of

the authorities representing both the eighty-one per cent. In this connec- public high schools, and the higher intion it should be stated that a very large stitutions of learning are striving each part of the very large increase of at

year to come to a better understanding tendance at township high schools has regarding thať vexed problem of their been within the past six years and is the proper relations. In Ohio with her nudirect result of the Boxwell Law. This

merous and important colleges and uniplainly demonstrates the value of this

versities, both public and private, this law even if the payment of tuition is not problem presents more than ordinary mandatory on the part of boards of edu- difficulty, and in our attempt to solve it, cation.

we must see to it that all the different While the mere fact of the rapidly in- interests involved shall be treated with creasing attendance of high schools is absolute fairness and justice. I have no important in itself as indicating an in- sympathy whatever with any movement creasing public interest in higher edu- which would sacrifice in the least decation, yet the influence of such attend- gree the interests of the smallest instituance upon both the elementary schools tion of learning, public or private, in and colleges is, in my judgment, of even an attempt to build up a huge educagreater importance. The additional in- tional machine under the name of a formation, power, culture and character State system of education. We must resulting from the completion of a high guard just as zealously the rights of the school course are well worth the time

smallest institution as we would those and effort of the student to secure them, of the largest and most powerful. I am and the expenditure on the part of the perfectly willing that Ohio should conState necessary to carry on the work, tinue to be the object of the ignorant and but the influence which the high school bigoted criticism of all those who point has on the work of the pupils in the the finger of scorn at her numerous col

leges as long as her citizenship, which is the product of an educational sentiment due very largely to these colleges, continues to command the influence in the affairs of the nation which it has for the past fifty years. All honor to the small colleges of Ohio, and may they continue to be in the future as they have been in the past, a mighty influence for good in the educational welfare of the State.

As we have read of the numerous changes taking place in the management of the public schools in the State within the past two months, the question of the insecurity of tenure of office has presented itself for consideration to many of us. I am happy to state that a very careful investigation into the actual conditions as they have existed in Ohio for the past twenty-five years furnishes much substantial encouragement in this particular. The school commissioner's report for 1897 contains reports from sixty-two cities of different classes, each one of which has a population of five thousand or over. In three of these cities, Elyria, Fremont and Wellsville, there has been no change in the superintendency in a quarter of a century; in. ten, Bucyrus, Circleville, Columbus, Massillon, Newark, Piqua, Steubenville, Urbana, Youngstown, and Zanesville, there has been but one change in that period; in eleven, but two changes; in eleven others, three changes; in thirteen, four changes; in six, five changes; in one, seven; in another, eight; and in still another, nine. The average length of term of service in these sixty-two cities is slightly over seven and a half years. To my personal knowledge at least twenty of the changes have resulted either from death, or voluntary resignation to accept a better position. Taking into consideration this fact, and the fact that, in some instances, at least, the good of the schools has demanded the dismissal of inefficient and incompetent superintendents, we readily con

clude that, under ordinary circumstances, the tenure of office of the city superintendent who does his duty, is reasonably secure.

The report for 1897, previously referred to, also contains reports from forty-six towns and villages whose school organization can be traced back through the annual reports for a period of twenty-five years. In two of these, the village of Avondale, now a part of Cincinnati, and Delphos, no change has been made in the superintendency. Four have made but one change, and seven, buť two; nine have made three changes; eight, four changes; seven, five changes; four, six changes; three, seven changes; and two, nine changes. The average length of term of service in the fortysix towns and villages is six and onehalf years. From twenty to forty of the changes noted have been the result of such efficienť work on the part of superintendents that they have been called to better positions at larger salaries, and perhaps an equal number have been retired because of failure to do good work. It will be readily determined from the foregoing statements that, even in the villages and smaller towns, as well as in the cities, the tenure of office of the superintendent is more secure than we have been accustomed to believe. It should also be remembered in this connection that the custom of electing a superintendent for a term of two or three years is now practiced by a majority of the cities, and quite a large number of the villages and towns.

So far as principals anu teachers of the villages, towns, and cities are concerned, it may be safely said that as a rule their tenure of office is even more secure than tnat of superintendents. In fact, I am sometimes almost constrained to believe that in a few instances, especially in our larger cities, there is too much security for either the welfare of the schools, or the growth of the teacher


or principal. There are two sides to this question as to all questions of importance. Tenure of office should always be secure enough to encourage faithfulness and efficiency, but never so secure as to make possible permanency, in spite of laziness, incompetency and inefficiency

What has just been said on the brighter side of this subject for the encouragement of superintendents and teachers, and to the credit of boards of education who represent the people in the management of the schools, must not be construed as an apology for some of the changes in school administration which occur in our State each year as the result of the whims of so-called educational reformers whose imagined criticism of the work of public schools serves only to show their absolute ignorance of every phase of the subject; or for changes made at the dictation of some political boss whose influence is never fele in public education except to debase and degrade it; or for those changes determined by the decree of ecclesiastical bigotry, be it Protestant or Catholic, which assumes to use the public school to further the selfish and un-Christian ends of some particular denomination; or worst of all, those changes which are initiated by a fellow worker who never tries to build up himself except as he tears down another.

The high moral stand taken by the teachers of Ohio is another source of encouragement to us at this time. While it is true that a few modern educators who seem to have only very recently discovered that moral training is the end and aim of all education, are attempting to take to themselves the credit for a so-called new movement in which moral training is given special prominence, yet it is known by every one who has given any attention to the work of the public schools of this State for the past twenty-five years that character build

ing has always been uppermost in the minds of the great majority of the teach.

It is no exaggeration to state that in this all-important work the public school is to-day a factor second in importance to no other. In instilling lessons of obedience, promptness and punctuality, attention to business, industry, truthfulness, honesty, temperance and virtue, the public school is a tremendous power. It will be a happy day for this country when the moral training of the average home becomes as effective as it now is in the average school.

The past furnishes many suggestions which the present will do well to consider carefully. I desire to call especial attention to one which in my judgment is of vital importance—the necessity of awakening and keeping alive a strong public sentiment in favor of the best schools possible. In my judgment the present tendency is to underestimate the importance of this, and to depend too much upon law and system for the betterment of our schools. In the past six years it has been my happy privilege to visit every county in Ohio a number of times and to talk to educational meetings of every conceivable character. Out of that experience comes the deep conviction that all genuine improvement in the public schools must result in a very large measure from a demand on the part of the people for better things. The people of any community can have just as good a school as they want, and they will have as a rule just as poor a school as they will permit. While no one can doubt that efficient laws are an aid, it must be remembered that they are only a means to an end, and that all true and enduring educational progress must have its roots down deep in the hearts of the common people.

In the early history of this association the importance of a healthy public sen

« PreviousContinue »