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How can we relieve our over-crowded and over-burdened institutes and yet provide for the academic instruction of that large and growing class of young people who desire to prepare for teaching? Some suggestions are here submitted which are believed worthy of careful consideration.
A county normal school should be held annually in each county, and should continue for a term of twelve weeks or more. It should be in charge of the county superintendent, who should be required to occupy the position of principal teacher, with power to employ one assistant. The board of supervisors should be required to provide a suitable place for holding this school, and to supply all necessary furniture, fuel, apparatus, etc.
The State should appropriate fifty dollars for one such school in each county, and a fee of from $2.00 to $3.00 might be charged which would supply funds to meet all expenses of the school. The law should further provide that the course of study for this normal school shall be prepared by the Superintendent of Public Instruction.
The course of study should extend over two years, or twenty four weeks. All persons with less than one year's experience in teaching should be required to complete this course before being admitted to the normal institute, or permitted to teach.
The great benefit to be derived from such a law would result not only from the better scholarship of applicants but from their increased age, and more mature judgement. The normal institute would be smaller-fewer instructors would be needed-and better work could and would be done.
I have repeatedly recommended a change in the law fixing the term of office for subdirecters at three years instead of one year as now provided. The reasons for such a change are numerous. In independent districts it would be regarded as unfortunate should an entire school board be changed at any one time, or if even a majority of new and inexperienced men should be called at any given time to the management of the affairs of the district. The possibility of such an occurrence is equally unfortunate in country districts. Under our present law this frequently occurs, but in independent districts such a thing cannot occur by reason of the expiration of the term of At least two thirds of the town, city and rural independent district boards are old and experienced members. A director should
know his district thoroughly, and to this end a longer term is necessary. A three years term would give stability and permanence to all the affairs of the district. It would result in lengthening the term of office of the teacher. It would render mistakes and illegal actions and orders much less frequent. It would simplify the law. But one section of the law is necessary to specify the term of office of a school director, whereas it now depends upon several sections and repeated references.
The law makes it the duty of the boards of directors of independent districts to employ and contract with teachers for all the schools of their district, while subdirectors are authorized to employ and contract with teachers for their respective subdistricts. This is a source of trouble and disturbances that might and should be avoided. Experience has demonstrated that to place the selection and employment of the teacher in the hands of one man is a mistake that should be corrected. The selection and employment of teachers should be done by the district township board. In the majority of cases the board would no doubt defer to the judgment and the wish of the subdirector, but where many of the people of the subdistrict were opposed to the employment of the teacher sought to be employed by the subdirector, they would have a remedy in a remonstrance to the board of directors. It frequently occurs that a teacher who is in a general way competent and successful, and who has taught the school in the district in question for a number of terms, should not be reemployed. Trouble arising from discipline or some unfortunate occurrence results in prejudice and ill will, which cannot be overcome, and while no one in particular may be to blame, it is often better that the teacher should be changed than that the success of the school should be interfered with. But subdirectors frequently become unduly partisan in these disturbances and rather than yield to the demands of an opposite faction will retain the teacher whether the children are sent to school or not. Under such circumstances, even though objectors are in the minority, the matter should be reviewed and passed upon by the board. This would also afford a remedy against the employment of persons who, on any account, are objectionable, in that an appeal would lie from the action of the board employing them. As the law now is there is no remedy, except where the board of directors have restricted the subdirector. Where a contract is made with a teacher the president may be compelled to approve the contract.
We have been receiving of late years more than the usual number of letters of inquiry as to the
RIGHTS AND LIABILITIES OF TEACHERS.
For the information of teachers and school officers, we subjoin the substance of an excellent article which has recently appeared in the Central Law Journal, bearing directly upon this subject:
1. "The earlier authorities, as well as some of the modern ones, seem to place the anthority of the teacher over the pupil, while it exists, upon the same footing as that of the parent over his child. But this seems to be too broad, and even as far back as Blackstone we are taught: That the teacher has such portion of the power of the parent committed to his charge, viz.: that of restraint and correction, as may be necessary to answer the purpose for which he was employed.' But this power must be temperately exercised, and no school master should feel himself at liberty to administer chastisement co-extensively with the parent, howsoever the infant might have appeared to have deserved it.' In the case of Lander vs. Seaver, the court says: The parent, unquestionably, is answerable only for malice or wicked motives, or an evil heart, in punishing his child. This great and, to some extent, irresponsible power of control and correction, is invested in the parent by nature and necessity. It springs from the relation of parent and child. It is felt rather as a duty, than as a power. This parental power is little liable to be abused, for it is continually restrained by natural affection, the tenderness which a parent feels for his offspring, an affection ever on the alert, and acting rather by instinct than by reasoning. The school master has no such natural restraint. Hence he may not be trusted with all a parent's authority, for he does not act from the instinct of parental affection. He should be guided and restrained by judgment and wise discretion, and hence is responsible for their reasonable exercise.'"
In Morrow vs. Wood, it was claimed that the teacher had the right to prescribe the studies which the pupil should pursue, even as against the express directions of the parent. This, however, was denied by the court, in the following language: "We do not think she had such right or authority, and we can see no necessity for clothing
432 Vt., 114.
5 S. C. Iowa, 1874; 13 Am. L. Reg., 692.
the teacher with such rights and arbitrary power. We do not really understand that there is any recognized principle of law, nor do we think there is any rule of morals, or of social usage which gives to the teacher an absolute right to prescribe and dictate what studies a child shall pursue, regardless of the wishes of the parent, and, as incident to this, gives the right to enforce obedience even as against the orders of the parent. From what source does the teacher derive this authority? From what maxim or rule of the law of the land? Ordinarily it will be conceded the law gives the parent the exclusive right to govern and control the conduct of his minor children, and he has the right to enforce obedience to his commands by moderate and reasonable chastisement. And, furthermore, it is one of the earliest and most sacred duties taught a child to honor and obey its parents. Now, we can see no reason whatever for denying to the father the right to direct what studies included in the prescribed course his child shall take.”
While the holding above cited is probably correct, it should be stated that where the studies to be pursued by the pupil may be subject to the election of the parent, the school authorities are not left without a remedy, as they certainly should not be. Boards of directors are authorized to make rules and regulations for the government of their schools, and the courts have held that this includes power to make a course of study; or, in other words, to determine what studies pupils shall take, and the order in which they shall be taken, so as to entitle pupils to be advanced from grade to grade. Now, while the board may not have power to compel pupils to take the studies as laid down in the course, they have power to refuse admission to a higher grade until the prescribed studies of the grades below have been taken, and to refuse promotion and graduation to those who have not conformed to the course.
2. Power to inflict corporal punishment." The authorities all concede the power of the teacher, under proper circumstances to inflict a reasonable corporal punishment."
(a.) In the case of Quinn v. Nolan', Judge Harmon, in his charge to the jury, makes use of the following language: "From the time. of Solomon to the present, parents have had the right, in a proper manner and to a proper degree, of inflicting corporal punishment on their children, and when a parent sends his child to a public school
64 Cin. L. Bul., 81.
the teacher has the same right while the child is under his or her control."
It is not disputed that by the express rules of the school in question, to which rules the father assented when he sent his child there, corporal punishment was permitted in proper cases and in a proper
The question, therefore, in this case, is not whether the defendant inflicted corporal punishment on the child, for that is admitted; but whether, considering the offense of the child, if any, his age, condition, and all the circumstances, the defendant inflicted extreme and unnecessary punishment, because while the teacher has a right to punish, it is the right to punish only in a proper degree. If the teacher goes beyond that, the act becomes unlawful, and she is responsible for the consequence.
In determining this question, the jury should consider the offense, the size and apparent condition of the child, the character of the instrument of punishment used, and the testimony as to the manner in which, and the extent to which, the punishment was inflicted.
The State v. Pendergrass is an early and leading case upon this subject, and is very plain and full as to the extent of this power. Here it is said: "The welfare of the child is the main purpose for which pain is permitted to be inflicted. Any punishment, therefore, which may seriously endanger life, limbs or health, or shall disfigure the child, or cause any permanent injury, may be pronounced in itself immoderate, as not only being unneccessary for, but inconsistent with, the purpose for which it is authorized. But any correction, however severe, which produces temporary pain only, and no permanent ill, cannot be so pronounced, since it may have been necessary for the reformation of the child and does not injuriously affect his future welfare. When the correction administered is not in itself immoderate, and not therefore beyond the authority of the teacher, its legality or illegality must depend entirely on the quo animo with which it was administered. Within the sphere of his authority the master is the judge when correction is required, and of the degree of correction necessary; and, like all others imparted with a discretion, he cannot be made penally responsible for error of judgment, but only for wickedness of purpose."
In inflicting such punishment, the teacher must exercise sound dis
7 2 Dev. and Bat., 865.