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WILLIAM G. Ritch, Secretary of New Mexico, to whom the country is mainly indebted for what is known of education in that Territory, was born in Wawarsing, Ulster County, N. Y., May 4, 1830. He engaged in mercantile pursuits, and emigrated to Oshkosh, Wis., in 1857. He was there called to several positions of trust, and secured the location of a new Normal School in his district." He served as a Union soldier in the war, was a Grant Presidential Elector in 1868, and from 1868 to the latter part of 1871 edited the Winnebago County Press. In 1873 he was, without his own knowledge or request, appointed Secretary of New Mexico, which position he has continued to fill very acceptably to the present time, displaying decided energy and executive ability.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST. IN 1855 the Territorial Legislature passed an act providing for the establishment of a system of public schools, to be maintained by a general tax. The measure encountered so much opposition, that it was repealed within a year's time. Several other school enactments encountered a similar fate. The people were seemingly not only not favorable, but decidedly hostile, to schools, and ignorance carried the day. In 1870 there were only forty-four public and private schools in the entire Territory, embracing seventy-two teachers, and one thousand seven hundred and ninety-eight pupils.
PRESENT SCHOOL SYSTEM.
The Legislative Assembly of 1871-'72, however, provided a new school system, which has since worked very satisfactorily. It created a Board of Supervisors and Directors of Public Schools for each county in the Territory, consisting of three persons, elected biennially, with the Probate Judge of the county as, ex officio, President of the Board. These Boards have the sole and entire management, supervision, and control of the public schools within their respective counties. They likewise have the entire and exclusive management and supervision of the school funds of their respective counties.
The School Fund, for which provision was made in 1871-'72, consists of twenty-five per cent. of the entire tax on property, a
poll tax of $1 on every male citizen above the age of twentyfive years, and any “surplus of more than $500 in the treasury of any county, after paying the current expenses of such county.”
An Officer of the Territory sends us the following:
At the beginning of 1874 there were in the Territory one hundred and sixty-four schools, public, private, and Pueblo Indian, of which number one hundred and thirty-three were public, with an attendance, at all the schools, of seven thousand one hundred and two pupils, under one hundred and ninety-six teachers. The average number of months taught in each school was seven. The average wages of teachers per month was $28.69. Seventeen of the schools were English, one hundred and eleven Spanish, and thirty-one English and Spanish. The public school fund was $29,721.57; private school fund, $27,100; Pueblo Indian fund, $4,000. The latter fund was contributed jointly by the Presbyterian Board of Missions and the General Government. Among the private schools, eight were Catholic ; five were convent schools under the “Sisters of Loretto," and three were under the “ Christian Brothers,” with an aggregate attendance of seven hundred and twenty-six pupils. There were also, several schools under the Jesuits. There were likewise three Protestant mission schools, one Methodist and two Presbyterian, with an aggregate attendance of one hundred and sixty pupils. Several of the private schools teach both the common and higher English and Spanish branches, and are of great value in educating teachers. The public schools, with few exceptions, are confined to the elementary branches; in Santa Fé, Mora, Albuquerque, and other places, the Catholic parochial and Jesuit schools share in the public school fund.
The condition of New Mexico, as one of the Territories of the United States, with her native element predominating in society, and the controlling power at the ballot-box, is to-day, as it ever has been, decidedly anomalous as compared with any other of the political divisions under the General Government. Notwithstanding all the disadvantages under which the Territory has labored, there has been an increase, as compared with 1870, of one hundred and twenty schools, five thousand three
hundred and four pupils in attendance, and one hundred and thirty-four teachers.
The number of public schools now in the Territory affords, at least, one to each election precinct, and has popularized the system to such an extent, that we may conclude the people will never more experiment in attempting to run schools without funds, and that prejudice has given way to better feeling, has yielded to the inexorable logic that taxes are essential to the support of free schools. The success has stimulated increased generosity at the hands of the people through the Legislature, who, at the last session, diminished the exemptions from taxation without reducing the percentage appropriated to schools, and made more stringent provisions for collecting the poll tax, a tax specially set apart to school purposes, thus materially increasing the school fund.
While the number of public schools has increased so remarkably, there is a need of organization, of an elevation and adaptation of the same to the prevailing ideas of education. This need is nowhere more apparent than in a disposition of a considerable number of the schools to cling to the Spanish, to the exclusion of the English language; to cling to ancient traditions and to ancient industrial and social customs, to the exclusion of progressive ideas.
The directors of a school district in Preble County, Ohio, recently discharged their teacher, in the midst of his term, for repeating to one of his pupils the following verse:
“Over the hills a great way off,
The woodchuck died with the whooping-cough ;
THE Toledo Blade holds that public school records show that
suasion than the East, and brings up as proof the case of Chicago, which contains six schools in which no whipping or suspension occurred last year.
Hon. R. S. CAMPBELL, Superintendent of Public Instruction at the time, wrote the last report of Common Schools for Utah Territory, viz: for the year 1872 and 3. In April, 1874, he was removed by death. Governor Woods appointed as his successor, Hon. O. H. Riggs. His appointment is for two years, and his Post Office address is Salt Lake City. July 20th, he wrote us that he had printed and circulated through the Territory the more important sections of the school law, and was endeavoring to awaken an interest in educational matters. He proposes to introduce several reforms during the coming year.
EDUCATION IN THE PAST.
UTAH was originally a part of Upper California. It was ceded to the United States by treaty with Mexico, in 1848, and erected into a Territory September 9, 1850. It was occupied mostly by wandering tribes until settled by the Mormons in 1847. After their expulsion from their settlement of Nauvoo in Illinois, they emigrated to this Territory, and having located on the borders of the Great Salt Lake, assumed a provisional form of government, and gave to their Territory the name of the State of Deseret. In 1850 this form of government was surrendered, and the name of the Territory changed to Utah. The Governor and Secretary are appointed by the President of the United States for a term of four years. The Legislative Assembly is composed of a Council and House of Representatives. In 1864 an act was passed authorizing the collection of certain moneys for the maintenance of common schools. In 1865, a bill was passed entitled “An act consolidating and amending the school laws." In January, 1866, both of these measures were repealed and a new school bill was passed, entitled an "Act providing for the establishment and support of common schools.” In February, 1868, the Territorial Legislature passed a bill entitled “ An act defining the meaning of the term common schools, and in relation to the further duties of County and Territorial Superintendents of common schools." February 20, 1870, an act “appropriating money for school purposes ” was passed. These various enactments constitute the present school system of Utah Territory. The following are its main features: The Territorial Superintendent of Common Schools is elected for two years, by the joint session of the Legislature. No salary is provided, an appropriation being made for him at each session. For the past two years, he has annually received $600 and expenses. The amount will probably be increased in the future. He is required to give $10,000 bonds, and among other duties to yearly make a pro rata dividend of the school money to the various school districts of the Territory, according to the number of all the children in the districts between the ages of four and sixteen years. He, and the County Superintendents together, decide upon the text-books to be used in the schools.
County Superintendents to the number of twenty are elected for two years by the people, and are required to give such bonds as the respective County Courts may determine. They have the general supervision of the schools, audit all school accounts, see that the School Trustees are diligent in the discharge of their duties, visit the schools at least once a year, and report yearly to the Territorial Superintendent of Schools the number of all children between four and sixteen years of age in each district of their counties. The present Territorial Superintendent writes us that he is unable to give the average pay of the County Superintendents. The Superintendent of Salt Lake County receives $450 annually.
Trustees, three for each school district, are elected for two years. They provide and keep in repair school-houses, and for this purpose are empowered to assess and collect annually a tax on all taxable property within their districts, not exceeding one-fourth of one per cent. Two-thirds of the tax-payers may, if they see fit, increase the tax for school purposes in any school district to three per cent. By a similar vote a tax may be assessed and collected of any sum not exceeding one per cent, per annum, to pay teachers and furnish fuel, books, maps, and other suitable articles for school purposes. The trustees have power to remit taxes, to prescribe the manner in which schools shall be conducted, to establish out-houses, play-grounds, and other appurtenances.
County Board of Examination consist of three competent persons appointed by the County Courts. They judge of applicants for schools and grant certificates to competent persons of good moral character.