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THE NATIONAL BUREAU OF EDUCATION.
In February, 1867, Congress passed an act creating at Washington a Department of Education, for collecting and diffusing information in such a manner as should “aid the people of the United States in the establishment and maintenance of efficient school systems, and otherwise promote the cause of education throughout the country.” The act further provided for the appointment, by the President and Senate, of a Commissioner of Education, who should have charge of the department, make a yearly report to Congress, receive an annual salary of $4,000, and be allowed $5,400 annually for clerk hire. Hon. Henry Barnard, LL.D., of Connecticut, was the first Commissioner, having been appointed by President Johnson. He was succeeded, in 1870, by the present Commissioner, General John Eaton, appointed by President Grant.
JOHN EATON, Ph.D., was born at Sutton, New Hampshire, December 5, 1829, and graduated at Dartmouth College, in the class of 1854. He procured the means for his own education by teaching, and, upon graduating, he was Principal of the Brownell-street Grammar School at Cleveland, Ohio, from 1854 to 1856, and Superintendent of the Public Schools of Toledo, Ohio, from 1856 to 1859. Having early intended to devote himself to the work of the ministry, he resigned this position and attended the Andover (Mass.) Theological Seminary from 1859 to 1861, when he was ordained by the Maumee (Ohio) Presbytery. He was commissioned Chaplain of the 27th Ohio Volunteers, August 15, 1861, and, early in 1862, detailed as Sanitary Inspector of the Ohio brigade.
November 14, 1862, General Grant, then commanding the Department of Tennessee, appointed him Superintendent of Contrabands. December 15, 1862, he was appointed General Superintendent of Freedmen for Mississippi, Arkansas, West Tennessee, and Northern Louisiana. He discharged the important duties of that position till May 27, 1865, when he was appointed Assistant Commissioner of the Freedmen's Bureau, and called to Washington to assist in its organization. He had been commissioned, meantime, Colonel of the 63d United States Colored Infantry, October 2, 1863, and Brevet Brigadier-General, March 13, 1865. He resigned his commission, December 20, 1865, and established and edited the Daily Post, at Memphis, Tennessee, from 1866 to 1870.
He was elected State Superintendent of Public Instruction for Tennessee in 1867, and, during the two years he held the office, he organized and put into operation a system of free schools which enrolled an attendance of one hundred and eighty-five thousand pupils.
In 1869 he served as Secretary of the Board of Visitors to West Point Military Academy.
March 17, 1870, he was appointed Commissioner of Education, and, as such, has issued the Reports of the Bureau of Education for 1870, 1871, 1872, 1873. Under his management the usefulness of the Bureau has been largely increased, and its work is now held in the highest esteem by the friends of education at home and abroad.
He received, in 1872, the degree of Doctor of Philosophy from Rutgers College, New Brunswick, N. J.
CIVIL RIGHTS BILL AND EDUCATION.
On the 23d of May, 1874, the United States Senate passed what is known as the Civil Rights Bill, providing that “all citizens, and persons within the jurisdiction of the United States shall be entitled to full and equal enjoyment of the advantages of the common schools, and other institutions of learning and benevolence,” regardless of “race, color, or previous condition of servitude.”
Though it was apparent by votes recorded on several occasions, that the measure had a majority of votes in the House of Representatives, its friends could not command the requisite number of votes to have the bill called up out of its regular order and passed. Repeated efforts to do this failed. The bill was not reached, and accordingly went over to the next session of the House. Inasmuch as this measure, as appears from the sentences we have quoted, aims to place the whites and blacks upon an equality in the public schools, it has occasioned no little excitement and aroused no little opposition among the whites in the Southern States. This opposition made itself especially known in Tennessee. Colonel Fleming, the State Superintendent, recommended that no new school contracts be entered into by school directors until it should be definitely determined whether the Civil Rights Bill would become a law or not. When the measure passed the Senate the
further work upon new school buildings, and considered resolutions to the effect that it would “materially interfere with, if not entirely destroy, our system of public schools.” The views of the Southern Press generally were reflected by such sentences as these from the Memphis Appeal, and the Richmond Enquirer : “It is evident the public school systems of the Southern States cannot survive the enactment of this bill." “ The middle classes cannot be compelled to send their children to the same schools with negro children, and they will not send them to such schools.” Senator Lewis of Virginia, a Republican, wrote a public letter earnestly protesting against the passage of the bill. Senator Brownlow, of Tennessee, has been equally decided in his opposition.
While the colored population of the South were seemingly in favor of the measure at first—the Tennessee Colored State Convention passed resolutions indorsing it—“there are now," says the Buffalo Courier, “ the strongest reasons for believing that the thinking part of the colored population in the South do not desire that portion of the Civil Rights Bill which relates to the schools. Its passage would destroy the progress of education of the negroes at the South, and many years would necessarily elapse before it would be renewed."
The educational journals through the country do not regard with favor the school provisions of the measure. The Iowa School Journal says: “In our opinion the bill, should it become a law, will greatly annoy the cause of education in certain parts of the Union. If the law shall be so worded or interpreted as to demand that a school system supported by general taxation shall provide as good schools for the blacks as for the whites, leaving it with the boards and school officers, or the localities, to determine whether or not the blacks shall be entitled to seats in the schools provided for the whites, and vice versa, it would meet every demand of justice and equality. In Keokuk, in our own State, the Board of Education has provided for a 'colored school,' with suitable buildings and competent teachers. We can see that a law which would step in and break up this distinction under the plea that the Board has made a discrimination on account of color, would be absurd and foolish in the extreme."
In view of these and similar expressions of opinion, Congress should deliberate well before pushing the Civil Rights Bill to a final passage. Those claiming to speak for him assert that, in the event of its passage, President Grant would veto the measure.
The Columbus (Ohio) National Teacher says: “It is hoped that the Civil Rights Bill, now pending in Congress, may be so amended as to permit the organization of separate schools for colored youth, but on condition that these schools be made EQUAL in accommodations, instruction, and length of session to those provided for white youth. It is believed that the passage of either the Senate Bill or the House Bill, without such a condition, will do the cause of public education in the South very serious injury. Race prejudices are too strong for such a measure."
THE requirements as to qualifications of teachers, and the manner of conducting the examinations in ascertaining those qualifications in the principal cities of the Union, is a matter of much interest to teachers, and to those who have the granting of certificates of qualification for teaching. At present there is no uniformity in either the scholastic attainments of teachers nor in the manner of conducting the examinations. Each city or Board of Education has an independent standard for itself in all of these matters.
For the purpose of directing attention to this important subject, we purpose giving brief outlines of the plans pursued in two cities, by way of illustration, and to invite correspondence and information on this subject, that we may present in our next ANNUAL a statement of the chief requirements and modes of examination of teachers in the principal cities of the Union.
In the city of New York, the examination of all candidates for positions in the public schools is conducted by the City Superintendent, or such of his assistants as he may delegate for this purpose, in the presence of at least two School Inspectors, who shall concur in granting the certificate of qualification, and sign the same.
These examinations are held one day (usually Friday) of each week during the period in which the schools are in session, viz., from September to July 1.
Candidates for full licenses are examined in the following subjects; reading, spelling, English grammar, English literature, history, arithmetic, algebra, geometry, astronomy, natural philosophy, chemistry, zoology, physiology, and principles and methods of teaching.
Teachers in the public schools of New York city are ranked as principals, assistant teachers, and teachers of special subjects. The candidates who pass a satisfactory examination for a position as assistant teacher, receive a provisional license of the following form, which is generally given for a period of six months : “I, — - City Superintendent of Schools of the City of New York, do hereby certify that – -- has been duly examined and found qualified, in respect to learning and moral character, to teach in the common schools of said city, as an assistant teacher of the — grade in schools, and is hereby licensed as such for the term of — from the date of this certificate.”
PERMANENT LICENSE. At the expiration of six months, the City Superintendent takes steps to ascertain whether the teacher holding the provisional license is successful in discipline, and has shown ability to teach. Whenever the information upon these points is satisfactory, a permanent license is given in the following form:
“1, — - City Superintendent of Schools in the City of New York, do hereby certify that —
has been duly examined and found qualified, in respect to learning, ability, and moral character, to teach in the common schools of said city as - , and is hereby licensed accordingly."
Each permanent license contains the following:
“ This license shall not be valid after a discontinuance of service for a period of two years or more, as a teacher in the common schools of the city.”
About one hundred and fifty new teachers are required each year to meet the wants of the schools in New York city alone, where there are employed over two thousand six hundred teachers. About one hundred graduate from the city Normal College as teachers.
Neither holders of State Normal School diplomas and State Certificates, nor college graduates are allowed to teach in New York city, without first obtaining a certificate from the City Superintendent, in whom rests the chief power of determining what candidates are qualified.
In the city of St. Louis, Missouri, the “Committee of Examiners” consists of the Principais of the Normal, High, and Branch High Schools, with the City Superintendent and Assistant Superintendents, and the duty of this committee is to examine applicants for situations as teachers in the schools, and report the results to the Teachers' Committee of the Board of Education.