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The thanks of tbe Association and of the teachers of Milwaukee, by vote, were extended to the speakers, after which the meeting adjourned.-Milwaukee Sentinel.
GENEVA.-The educational interests of this beautiful village are well cared for. The Union School, of four departments, occupies one large, tasteful and commodious building. J. E. BURTON; Principal. Geneva has its aspirations as well as larger places, one of which has lately culminated in the establishment of a newspaper-the" Geneva Lake Herald,” J. E. BURTON, editor; GEO. M. UTTER, publisher.-COM.
MENTON.— The Graded School here, in charge of Mr. and Mrs. GEO. W. HowARD, is doing finely, as we learn.
BOOKS. THE UNITED STATES READER.-By J. J. ANDERSON, A. M., Author of School His.
tories. New York: Clark & Maynard. 414 pp. 12mo.
This is a timely and useful book. It embraces selections from eminent American Historians, Orators, Statesmen and Poets, with explanatory observations, notes, etc., the whole so arranged as to form a chronological and very interesting manual of the history, and to some extent of the literature of our country, from the earliest period, without the dryness and stiffness of a regular history. We should say the compilation is well calculated to inspire patriotic sentiments in the young as well as to instruct them; and that it may be mada to subserve a valuable purpose in the school-room, especially in all schools where history is not otherwise taught. Appended are a chronological table, a vocabulary of difficult or technical words and a biographical index of th authors quoted—which add to the value of the book. A SCHOOL HISTORY OF THE UNITED STATES. By W. H. VENABLE, of the Chicker
ing Classical and Scientific Institute. Wilson, Hinkle & Co. Cincinnati and New York. 286 pp. 12mo. This new candidate for favor is very attractive, both in appearance and in style of composition, and is written on a judicious plan. Leaving out unimportant matter, the outline of our history is presented in a clear and graphic manner, and with an evident desire to give a truthful and impartial statement of facts. This renders the work reliable and therefore very valuable. The workmanship and illustrations are decidedly superior to what is usually seen in books of this class, and fully sustains the reputation of the publishers. Altogether we like the book very much, and refer our readers to the advertisement.
PERIODICALS. THE ALDINE for June is the most American of all our magazines. It contains three full page original Illustrations of American Forest Scenery, by Moran, Nehlig, and Hows. Moran has selected the primitive forest, and given us a glimpse of its wildness and grandeur. His subject is “Kwasind, The Strong Man,” in the “Song of Hiawatha,” and he has handled it magnificently, with all the strength and none of the extravagance of Doré. Nehlig has selected the Colonial forest, so to speak, and has given us a glimpse of its sunny openings, roofed with foliage, draped
with vines, carpeted with flowers and moss, and peopled with happy birds. His subject is Campbell's “Gertrude of Wyoming,” the spirit of which he has realized in his figures of Gertrude and Albert, who are rambling through the woods in fanciful Indian garb. Hows has selected the forests of the Adirondacks, and has given us a glimpse of the pines of the Racquette. They shoot up before us, with their tall trunks and crooked, ragged branches, struggling with summer sunshine, brightened and darkened by turns as they stretch along the winding stream that brawls over its rocky bed. A nobler trio of forest pictures than these were never drawn, and they ought to make the fortune of THE ALDINE, as an Art Journal. The rest of the illustrations are of various degrees of merit. The literature is of a more varied character than that of most of the periodicals published in this country.
The system of courty superintendents has now been long enough in operation in Wisconsin for the people of the state to fairly judge of it, and their verdict is that it is far preferable to the old town superintendency. Every attempt which has been made to abolish it and return to the town superintendency has failed, until the few petitions which were presented last wirter for such a change were received by the Legislature with an expressive and contemptuous silence. It is plain that the people are generally satisfied, and that what little dissatisfaction exists arises from dislike of certain superintendents, rather than the system itself.
The advantages of the system may be summed up as follows:
1. A superior class of men on the wliole has been employed in the supervision of schools. It is easier to find one man in each county who is qualified to supervise schools, and willing to undertake it, than to find one man in cach town equally well qualified, who will do the work.
2. A county superintendent, from the nature of the case, can make broader plans and carry them out more thoroughly than a town superintendent can.
3. A much higher standard of qualification can be required by county superintendents than could be or was required by town superintendents. The examinations are now mostly public, and are uniform for the county. The unqualified candidates can be much more easily thrown out than they could be, human nature being what it is, under the unsystematic, hasty private examinations of town superintendents.
4. A much greater amount of institute work has been done than was possible under the old system. In some cases, as in that of Viebahn of Sauk county and others, the county superintendent has done a great deal
of Institute work himself, in addition to that paid for by the state. In many cases, the examinations have been made very profitable to teachers by institute work connected with them.
5. The schools being thus grouped together by counties, (or superintendent districts), there is room for a healthy rivalry between counties, as to which shall have the best school system; a rivalry possible between sixty-three superintendent districts, but impossible between nearly a thousand towns.
As contrasted with the old Town Superintendency, therefore, the County Superintendency is a great improvement. But compared with an ideally perfect superintendency, it has several serious defects:
1. In the character of the men often elected to the office. Selected as they are, by political conventions, and elected by the ordinary political machinery, it is not wonderful that unfit men are often elected to this place-men who know nothing about schools, who sometimes are not even capable of taking a third grade certificate; men of no moral 'principle, or of bad habits; men who care nothing for the office except to draw their pay. Such men are very sure to lower the standard of the teachers in their counties.
2. If an efficient superintendent attempts to raise the standard in in his county, he must of course make enemies of some persons by that course, and politics being what they are, it is comparatively easy for a few disaffected persons to play on popular prejudices enough to throw out a too efficient superintendent at the next election. There are some counties in which this is not the case; but in most the superintendent is constantly hampered by the knowledge that his best plans for promoting the efficiency of the schools are liable to be scattered to the winds by the result of the next election. Most superintendents, therefore, cannot do all that they see is necessary to be done, because their office is a political office and liable to be taken from them by better politicians but worse superintendents.
3. The radical defect of the County Superintendency is that it cannot secure such a supervision of the schools as they need. In the smaller counties this is not the case. But in most of the counties it is as much as the superintendent can do to make a hasty visit to each school once a term. And in the larger counties even this is impossible. Hasty visits of an hour or two are of some value, but no thorough inspection of schools of any size can be made in that time. Monthly reports from teachers can only partly make up for this. This defect is in the nature of the County Superintendency itself. It is not the fault of individual superintendents, but of the system.
Now is there any way to remedy these defects? I think there are several ways in which they might be remedied.
To secure better men it is but a partial answer to say, pay them better.
In many counties that would work well; in others it would simply make the office a more desirable one for politicians to scramble for. Undoubtedly if county superintendents were paid as much as good teachers are paid, such men as Lloyd of Columbia county, Kanouse, of Dane, Barns, of Kenosha and Shaw of Winnebago last year, and others like them in previous years, would not have resigned; but on the contrary they would have remained in office for many years, and other men of equal ability and energy would accept the office who now cannot afford to take it. As it is no superintendent does his duty unless he does a great deal more work for the school than he is paid for. But in
many counties the result would simply be to make office better worth the while for politicians to fight over, and no better men would be elected if the salary was increased. The remedy for all this is to tak e the office out of politics. It is in no sense a political office, and men ought not to be elected to it for political reasons. Our legislature did a wise thing in putting the election for this office in the years when most county officers are not elected. They would have done a wise thing had they put the election in the spring, as that of judge is now. This can now be done at any session of the legislature, and I for one hope it may be done. This change would involve no great revolution in the political habits of our people, no change in our constitution, no departure from the regular method of choosing all offices by the people, and it would in most cases, if not always, leave the people free to choose candidates upon their merits, without regard to their politics, and I for one, believe that the interest which our people have in our common schools, would lead them, generally to choose the very best men they could get, if the office was once taken out of politics. Then pay superintendents at least as well as the best teachers in their districts are paid, and a superior class of men will be obtained and retained.
2. The change proposed above can be carried out easily and in ascordance with the habits of our people, and it is therefore a practical change to propose, because it is not a violent one. If with this the State Superintendent should take the responsibility which the school law gives to him, of fixing the standard of the different counties, and should instruct the county superintendent in the duties of their office, and see that his instructions are carried out in some regular and syste. matic manner, county superintendents could do much more than they now can, to raise the standard of teachers and of scholars. Now, each superintendent must work for himself, forming his own plans, bearing all the responsibility of his efforts to advance the schools in his district and learning only by experience or by the valuable but brief session of the superintendent's convention. And the result is tliat the more å county needs to have a thorough orerhauling and shaking up in educational matters, the less likely is it, in most cases, to be done. Occasionally a superintendent when sustained by the best men of his district can do such work as was done by Cheney in Walworth county, by Rosenkrans in Columbia, by Graham in Kenosha, by Shaw in Wirnebago, and by other noble men like them. But these are exceptional men in exceptional counties. Ordinarily a superintendent, unless he propo. :ses to make a martyr of himself, and make his ideas also odious or ridiculous, must not try too much to raise the standard. Superintendents are elected by the people, and the people are watchful that superintendents, like other officers, shail be honest and shall earn their salary. But the people are also conservative in educational matiers, and distrustful of novelties. Hence if the State Superintendent (or the Board of Normal Regents, for that matter), could compel supei intendents to do that which most of them are anxious to do now, the standard could be raised much easier than it is now. And what is more, a constant plan of improvement in educational matters could be carried out in all parts .)f the state, and be carried on from year to year, without being seriously afected by changes of superintendents.
Thus far I have proposed changes which are not revolutionary, and which could therefore be easily introduced and carried out. Other much more serious changes in the system have been proposed. Hon. J. T. KINGSTON some time ago proposed in the JOURNAL OF EDUCATION that superintendents should be appointed by the state superintendent, one for each Senate District. There is no doubt that superintendents appointed for larger districts, without regard to politics, could do very much more to raise the standard of teachers, to introduce better methods of instruction, to do away with bad school-houses, and to better the schools every way, than superintendents can generally now do. "They would be better qualified and better paid; they would be more independent in their action; and they would be more likely to work harmoniously upon a general plan for the whole state. There is no doubt of the desirableness of such an arrangement. Whether it would be approved by the people of the state or by the legislature, is quite another question, which I am not prepared to speak upon. Such a change would be constitutional. Under article XIII, section 9, of our state constitution, County Superintendents of schools must be either elected by the people or appointed by the boards of supervisors. But under the same section, if the state were divided into districts of convenient size, whether Senate Districts or not, superintendents of schools for the sereral districts could be appointed by the State Superintendent,